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SEARCH FOR BEAUTY (director: Erle C. Kenton; screenwriters: story by David Boehm & Maurine Watkins/based on a play by Schuyler E. Grey and Paul R. Milton/ Frank Butler/Claude Binyon; cinematographer: Harry Fishbeck; editor: James Smith; music: Leo Pobin; cast: Robert Armstrong (Larry Williams), Buster Crabbe (Don Jackson), Ida Lupino (Barbara Hilton), Toby Wing (Salty), James Gleason (Dan Healy), Gertrude Michael (Jean Strange), Frank McGlynn Sr. (Rev. Rankin), Joe (Bradley Page),Miss Pettigrew (Nora Cecil), Mrs. Archibald Henderson-Jones (Virginia Hammond), Adolph (Eddie Gribbon), Caretaker (Pop Kenton); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: E. Lloyd Sheldon; Universal/Paramount; 1934)
A mildly amusing snappy pre-Code con man Depression-era comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A mildly amusing snappy pre-Code con man Depression-era comedy, with a wild-eyed beauty contest scheme used for the plot. It’s adequately directed by Erle C. Kenton(“House of Dracula”/”Island of Lost Souls”/”Melody for Three”) as a screwball comedy. Writers Frank Butler and Claude Binyon base it on the story by David Boehm & Maurine Watkins, who based it on a play by Schuyler E. Grey and Paul R. Milton. Olympic swimming champ Buster Crabbe did this movie after playing Tarzan and before his big breakthrough role as Flash Gordon. This was Ida Lupino’s first Hollywood starring role.

Flim-flam artists, the fast-talking Larry Williams (Robert Armstrong) and the sharp-tongued Jean Strange (Gertrude Michael), are released from prison after serving a two-year stretch for an oil scam. The two hook-up with Dan Healy (James Gleason) to buy a physical-culture magazine that’s based in LA. Dan owes them, as he let them take the rap while he became a wealthy man from the previous scheme. The trio of con artists scheme to run a beauty contest for both sexes. They trick the two innocent Olympian swim champs, the American Don Jackson (Buster Crabbe) and the Brit Barbara Hilton (Ida Lupino), to join the ‘zine as editors. They are unaware the ‘zine’s health and beauty content is merely a front for making dough from dirty photos. When they catch on, they refuse to promote pinup photos.

It plays out as a featherweight smutty sex comedy, that might not be edgy but is easy to take as a pic that doesn’t exercise your noggin too much.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”