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God's Gift to Women

God's Gift to Women(1931)

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Vaudeville entertainer Frank Fay is remembered for being the first stand-up comedian, a cabaret and nightclub comic who shucked burlesque convention to tell jokes in a conversational manner that would be an influence on Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Milton Berle. Fay transitioned to films in a run of Warner Bros. musicals, beginning with Under a Texas Moon and Bright Lights, both directed by Michael Curtiz and released in 1930. As the vogue for musicals waned, Fay's popularity suffered and God's Gift to Women (1931), a musical romance set in France, was stripped of its songs in postproduction. Again directed by Curtiz (a Hungarian Jewish migr whose professional relationship with the openly anti-Semitic Fay was problematic, to say the least), God's Gift to Women lost money at the box office and ended Fay's tenure as a movie star. Married in 1928 to fledgling actress Barbara Stanwyck, Fay was left behind as Stanwyck's industry stock rose; Hollywood rumor maintains that their rocky, short-lived marriage was the inspiration for A Star Is Born (1937). Haven fallen out of favor due to his ego and dependence on alcohol, Fay rebounded in 1944 as the star of the original Broadway production of Harvey but squandered any new-found popularity he might have enjoyed on pro-Fascist stances lionizing Hitler and Mussolini after World War II. Little remembered today, God's Gift to Women remains noteworthy for an early appearance by newly-signed Warners contract player Joan Blondell, as one of Fay's romantic conquests.

By Richard Harland Smith

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