Review: ‘Hellzapoppin’’

There's the thinnest thread of a romantic story, but it's incidental to Olsen and Johnson's [1938] stage formula for Hellzapoppin'.

There’s the thinnest thread of a romantic story, but it’s incidental to Olsen and Johnson’s [1938] stage formula for Hellzapoppin’.

The yarn itself can be summed up in a few words: the rich girl in love with the poor boy, who in turn doesn’t want to cross his rich pal, favored by the girl’s socially conscious parents. The poor boy stages a charity show for the girl, and his stagehand pals (O&J) think they can save him from the girl, by lousing it up.

One of the picture’s saving graces is the originality of presentation of screwball comedy. The business of O&J talking from the screen to the comic projectionist (Shemp Howard) is one such detail; ditto the slide bit telling a kid in the audience, ‘Stinky go home’, with Jane Frazee and Robert Paige interrupting a duet until Stinky finally leaves.

Don Raye and Gene De Paul have contributed several nice songs for this film. There are some lavish production numbers [choreographed by Nick Castle and Edward Prinz] . Jules Levey (Mayfair), producer, was obviously unstinting.

1942: Nomination: Best Song (‘Pig Foote Pete’)



Universal/Mayfair. Dir H.C. Potter; Producer [Jules Levey]; Screenplay Nat Perrin, Warren Wilson; Camera Woody Bredell; Editor Milton Carruth; Music Frank Skinner Art Dir Jack Otterson, Martina Obzina


(B&W) Extract of a review from 1942. Running time: 92 MIN.


Ole Olsen Chic Johnson Martha Raye Hugh Herbert Jane Frazee Robert Paige
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