|Oh, happy day! Olsen and Johnson are back for more in All Over Town.|
The flick: All Over Town (Republic, 1937) [buy the set]
Current IMDb rating: 5.1
Director: James W. Horne (Way Out West, Big Business, and other Laurel & Hardy features and shorts)
Actors of note: Olsen and Johnson (Hellzapoppin', Country Gentlemen, Ghost Catchers), Mary Howard (The Great Ziegfeld), Harry Stockwell (voice of the Prince in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, father of Dean Stockwell), Franklin Pangborn (Sullivan's Travels, My Man Godfrey), James Finlayson (To Be Or Not to Be, Foreign Correspondent, many Laurel & Hardy features and shorts, and the guy who popularized the expression "D'oh!" later adopted by Homer Simpson)
The gist of it: Olsen and Johnson, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, are struggling vaudevillians ("the last of their tribe, the true vanishing Americans" according to some title cards at the start of the film) living in a $12-a-week theatrical boarding house in Manhattan and trying to make a star of their trained seal, Sally, who can do the usual seal tricks: balance a ball on her nose, play a tune by honking horns, clap, etc. They bring this dynamite act to the "jinxed" Elridge Theater, a grand old place which has been closed since a murder was committed there two years earlier. During rehearsals for the new show, another murder is committed, setting up a climax in which Olsen and Johnson promise to reveal the identity of the killer live on the radio.
|Scooby and Shaggy's signature bit.|
It ultimately winds up as a wacky, anything-goes live-action cartoon in its last few minutes, with a bumbling cop getting tangled in ropes, a brass band dodging gunfire until only a tuba player is left onstage, and lots of fake "theater snow" falling on everyone and everything as Olsen provides a running commentary for the radio audience. I wasn't bored by All Over Town, but I wasn't really satisfied by it either. The film tries a little of everything, perhaps to distract us from the fact that none of it is really all that good. If nothing else, this movie provides a glimpse of the dying days of Vaudeville, a form of entertainment which (ironically) was displaced by the distribution of motion pictures just like this one.
|Franklin Pangborn and James Finlayson|
My grade: B-
P.S. - Not even a hint of racial stereotyping here, though PETA folks will probably cringe at the treatment of Sally the seal.