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The original Technicolor film was ten reels in length. The surviving black-and-white print was edited for television and is only seven reels, with many of the musical numbers apparently cut. See more »
The First National Musicals that have been turning up on TCM are interestingly elephantine antiques for fans of old movies. In many ways they are as interesting for what the film makers got wrong as what they got right. No Broadway theater ever had such immense stages as are seen in this one, not even the new ones, miked when they were built. The chorus lines are dwarfed on the stage.
Likewise, director Michael Curtiz and cinematographers Lee Garmes and Charles Edgar Schoenbaum can't seem to figure out how to stage people for camera and microphone. Frank Fay seems stagy and ill at ease in close-ups and two-shots, but when he is performing on stage and shot in medium long range from about the sixth row, (although there are no seats) he is fine. Contrariwise, star Dorothy MacKaill is at her best in Dutch angle close-ups. She may have started as a chorine, but she had become a star in silent pictures.
The other performers offer interesting contrasts. Who know that Daphne Pollard could sing? Can you spot John Carradine in his first film performance? Could Frank McHugh be more annoying as a drunk reporter? These are the things that make this movie interesting more than eighty years later.
They don't make it good. The movie musical went into eclipse for three years from ill-managed things like this. It's certainly not hard to understand why.
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