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Hullabaloo

Hullabaloo(1940)

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Hullabaloo was the first producing effort of veteran radio and theater executive Louis Sidney. This picture also marked the film debuts of actors Leni Lynn and Virginia O'Brien, and black radio tenor Charles Holland, who was under radio contract to NBC. In the picture, Frank Morgan does voice impersonations of film stars Al Jolson, Ted Lewis, Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor, Mickey Rooney and Hedy Lamarr. Morgan's "Battle of the Planets" sequence and the national panic that it inspires is reminiscent of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio hoax, which was broadcast on the Mercury Theatre on the Air on October 30, 1938. In the film, Morgan also impersonates the voices of Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert in his rendition of a scene from M-G-M's Boom Town (see below), a film the studio released three months prior to Hullabalo, and in which Morgan also appeared. Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items indicate that production on the picture was held up for two days due to musical number rehearsals. While the Hollywood Reporter review states that the film is "probably the worst bowl of hash which ever came off the M-G-M lot," and blames its failure on a "miserable script and a pinch-penny production," the Motion Picture Daily review calls the film "unorthodox and giddy, but funny to the point of hysterics."
       The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library contains a letter from the PCA to M-G-M, in which the studio was warned to "get away from the suggestion that Merriweather has had three wives, and, as a consequence, three sets of children." The PCA insisted that this aspect of Merriweather's character would surely "give great offense to motion picture patrons in all parts of the world, because of its suggestiveness as a travesty of marriage." As an alternative, the PCA suggested that Merriweather have only one wife with one large brood of children. M-G-M also received requests by the PCA to omit suggestive language and questionable gags from the script, as well as the verse "I'm just a snake-in-the grass; A two-time lassie who is so untrue," which appears in the first verse of the song "Hullabaloo." Modern sources note that Hullabaloo was one of the first films to show a television set as home furniture.