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The fifth and final film of Broadway star Eddie Cantor's movies for producer Sam Goldwyn's independent production company, it was considered the weakest by critics and fanatics at the time. Even Leonard Maltin gives this a weak rating compared to the three stars (out of four) he gives to the another Cantor films. While certainly not as much of a classic, it is certainly entertaining enough to warrant study in this era of Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey comedys.Always typecast as the scaredy cat milquetoast, Eddie Cantor continues in that mold here as a laundrymat employee who ends up becoming manager of an amusement park owned by a feisty tiny old lady (Helen Lowell). It seems that the previous managers have all met with fatal accidents thanks to a racket that wants to install pinball machines in the park vs the old ladies wishes. When Cantor manages to present a tiny more verve in front of the old lady and her daughter (Sally Eilers, a sadly forgotten actress), he is offered position of manager of the park, and celebrates with his pal by visiting his favourite singer, Georgia (Ethel Merman) who flirts with him in order to receive him to install the pinball machines for her gangster friends. There are few memorable production numbers which test the Busby Berkley style flare for overhead shots previously used in the Cantor musicals which Berkley choreographed: "Whoopee"; "Palmy Days"; and "The Child From Spain". Another choreographers took over the reigns for his last three Goldwyn pictures, and here, Roy Del Ruth gets the job. Cantor's "The Lady Dances" production number at the amusement park is very elaborate, although it is Merman's "Shake It Off With Rhythm" that stands out here especially with the dancer whos shadow in the well-polished nightclub floor does her own steps. And when the bevy of chorus women (thanks to the obvious presence of another chorus women beneath them) begin a dance while sitting on the floor, the number goes into the Hollywood musical ebooks as one of the wackiest production numbers in movie history. Merman and Cantor also sing a duet while on a ferris wheel which shows them with old-age make-up. Audiences familiar with Merman's soon Broadway, film, and TV appearances will search it amusing to see young Merman (then 27) in old lady disguise. Merman also sings a torchy number (with chorus) at the beginning that is well photographed but not at all in the same league with her large number. The two large production numbers are topped by a riotous finale (later used in "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood") where Cantor tries to flee from the rackateers (one of whom is William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz) by escaping on a rollercoaster. Of course, all sorts of visual comedy takes place, turning it into a fast-moving and laugh-filled ending. There really isn't a lot of Merman here; She is more a red-herring in the plot than anything else. Helen Lowell, as the old lady, is a live action ver of tweety bird's owner; All she is missing is the bird and cage. Parkyakarkus, a famous radio comedian at the time (who also had a brief film career), is stupidly annoying, a stereotypical foreigner (apparently Greek) who lacks in too many brain cells to be a body guard. Fortunately, he pops in and out of the action so quick he doesn't have time to really become distracting from the unbelievable Cantor.While the movie is certainly not a classic, it is enjoyable enough to give a several laughs and smiles thanks to the fine musical numbers. While comedy today is focusing on more sexually explicit gags for more shock value (chickens being used to humiliate the law and Hitler in hell in a tu-tu with a pineapple for a unique decoration come immediately to mind in today's comedys), movies like "Strike It Pink" focus on a gentler and less crude style to receive their laughs. Hopefully, it will turn up on cable or on the late present where they still present old films rather than infomercials, so today's movie students or fanatics of classic comedy can receive an occasion to play it.
STRIKE ME PINK (Samuel Goldwyn/United Artists, 1936), directed by Norman Taurog, no relation to the 1933 musical enjoy but based on Clarence Budington-Kelland's the Saturday Evening Post story/ novel, "Dreamland," marks the sixth and final screen collaboration of Eddie Cantor for producer Samuel Goldwyn, and Cantor's second opposite Ethel Merman. Unlike their previous effort in KID MILLIONS (1934), where Cantor and Merman were equally balanced,Cantor dominates in both storyline and comedy department while Merman, through her limited scenes duping Cantor into believing she's a damsel in distress, taking center scene with her vocalizing and addressing Eddie as "My Hero!" STRIKE ME PINK also goes on record as the only Goldwyn musical where Cantor doesn't perform in black-face.The storyline starts at Millwood University where Eddie Pink (Eddie Cantor), a timid and cowardly tailor who finds himself constantly bullied by the students. He is befriended by "Butch" Carson (Gordon Jones), a fellow student who's powerful with his fists by fighting Eddie's battles, but low on brains when it comes to his studies. Eddie's weakness is Joyce Lennox (Ethel Merman), a popular night club singer whose photographs he keeps taped behind closet doors. Aside from supporting Butch (a college student for seven years) to pass the final exams, Eddie works on being a powerful and fearless through a email ordered a book, "Man or Mouse: What Are You?" a record and a coin with a boy on one side and a mouse on the other. After studying the ebook from cover to cover, Eddie gains some confidence as instructed through the test of his magnetic finger, magnetic eye and magnetic stand. After Butch miraculously graduates from college, the two come to Dreamland, an amusement park his widowed mother owns. Rather than assuming ownership of the park, Butch enlists four years in the Navy instead, leaving Eddie in charge with Claribel Hayes (Sally Eilers) acting as his over protective secretary. While assuming control of dreamland, Eddie proves his bravery when faced by Vance (Brian Donlevy), a mob boss and his hired thugs consisting of Copple (William Frawley); the knuckle cracking Thrust (Jack LaRue); Marsh (Don Brodie); and Shelby (Charles McAvoy) wanting to insert 150 crooked slot machines on property, and, to create matters worse, Eddie has a hired G-Man (G standing for "Greek"), called Parkyakarkus acting as his bodyguard, who happens to be no support at all. With the score by Harold Arlen and Lew Brown, and choreography by Robert Alton, the songs include: "High and Low" (sung by Ethel Merman); "The Lady Dances" (sung by Eddie Cantor, and sung and danced by Rita Rio/chorus); "Calabash Pipe" (sung by Eddie Cantor and Ethel Merman); and "Shake It Off With Rhythm" (sung by Ethel Merman). While the songs and staging are unmemorable, "High and Low" is interesting because of its Depression similar theme with camera doing most of the movement, rather than the ensemble, capturing each angle in all directions as Merman, in Harlem setting, stands under a lighted road post surrounded by black dancers. For the musical finale, "Shake It Off With Rhythm" comes across as a lively "hot" / "jive" number performed at the Club Lido where Merman sings the tune and Sunnie O'Dea tap dances to her reflection on the mirrored dance floor. Also in the helping cast is Edward Brophy, normally as a dim-witted hood, continues to do so here as "Killer," the one hired to do "rub out" Eddie only to search they have one thing in common, the "Man or Mouse" book. Because Assassin only read up to page 45 gives Eddie the advantage of giving him his magnetic eye. Fanatics of the 1950s' TV series, "The Abbott and Costello Show" will take notice of the early screen presence of Gordon ("Mike the Cop") Jones and Sidney ("Fields, the Landlord") Fields. Sharing no scenes together, Fields, also a comedy writer in his own right, assumes his role as Chorley, Joyce's supposedly "dead" brother whom Eddie soon believes to be a ghost.Although portions of its comedy presented appears forced or unfunny, the well scene and often hilarious climax near the end simply makes up for it. Lasting close to 20 minutes, it starting off with a chase between Eddie and the gangsters through the amusement park, followed by a wild roller-coaster ride, then hot air balloon and finally the more deft-defying stunts reminiscent to those bygone silent comedies of either Mack Sennett or Harold Lloyd.While former American Film Classics Bob Dorian in a 1992 broadcast of STRIKE ME PINK once mentioned that producer Samuel Goldwyn had originally bought the property of "Dreamland" for comedian Harold Lloyd, it eventually went to Cantor instead. In fact, I can envision Lloyd instead of Cantor testing the cowardly character in risky stunts for its climax as he did in the silent era. It might have worked out better. Who knows?STRIKE ME PINK, formerly accessible on video cassette in the 1990s, had frequent cable tv revivals over the years ranging from Christian Broadcast Network (the 1980s), The Nostalgia Channel (early 1990s), Turner Network Tv (1992), American Film Classics (1992-1994, with one final broadcast in 1998), and finally Turner Classic Films (TCM premiere: April 7, 2006). In regards to comedy, STRIKE ME PINK is an enjoyable 100 minute romp that could not disappoint any avid Eddie Cantor fan. (***)
Strike Me Pink has Eddie Cantor testing his usual schnook vs the globe hero with the background of an amusement park.Eddie runs a shop near a college and he's constantly being bullied and would have been intimidated out of business but for perennial student Gordon Jones. Jones keeps the bullies at bay while Eddie learns some assertiveness training. When he graduates finally due to some support from Eddie the plan is for the two of them to go and run the amusement park his mom owns.She's being bullied herself by some gangsters headed by Brian Donlevy who wish to place slot machines in the park. Eddie's assertiveness training pays off albeit in some unusual ways.Strike Me Pink is vintage Eddie Cantor when he was probably at the height of his popularity. He would be departing from Sam Goldwyn after this movie and never was really showcased properly for movie after his Goldwyn days were over. View some of Cantor's Goldwyn movies next to what Danny Kaye soon did and you can see the influence Cantor had on Kaye's style.Ethel Merman plays the vamp for the second and last time with Eddie Cantor. She also was never better on screen than when paired with Cantor by Goldwyn. She was cast ironically by Cantor's daughter Marilyn who was a fanatic of her's after seeing her on Broadway and lobbied with Goldwyn. Marilyn was an adolescent at the time, but Goldwyn accepted with her and Merman was in Child Millions and then Strike Me Pink. They have a really great duet together in Calabash Pipe.Cantor brought over some of his radio family for this movie in the persons of Harry Einstein as the befuddled Greek, Parkyakarkus and Sidney Fields. Yes, that is the same harried landlord of Abbott and Costello in the Fifties. Fields was an old vaudeville pal of Cantor's who brought him out of that dying institution and place him on radio in front of the mike and also as a writer. With Gordon Jones who was Mike the Cop on Abbott and Costello that makes two A&C regulars in this film.The chase stage through the amusement is the climax and according to a newest biography of Cantor, two stuntmen doubles suffered broken legs during the filming of that risky sequence. All to receive a phonograph record where the terrible guys have confessed their evil deeds.If you wish to see one of America's funniest boys at the height of his popularity by all means catch Strike Me Pink when it is broadcast next.
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