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Lucille Ball - Star of the Month
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,Go Chase Yourself

Go Chase Yourself

Lucille Ball took on her first leading role in Go Chase Yourself (1938). But the real star of the show was radio comedian Joe Penner who received top billing. The plot of the film revolves around Penner's character, a meek bank clerk, who is inadvertently taken hostage during a robbery. Ball plays his wife who, along with the police, believes that Penner actually committed the crime. Go Chase Yourself comes with an impressive pedigree in the form of its director – Edward F. Cline, the comedy director behind many of Buster Keaton's hits.

Go Chase Yourself was a first for Penner too; it was the first time he received star billing. As the story goes, it was Penner who pushed for Lucille Ball to be cast in the film after hearing her on The Phil Baker Show on the radio. Penner, himself, was best known as a radio personality who rose to fame during the Depression; his famous trademark catchphrase was "Wanna buy a duck?"

Penner was born Josef Pinter in Hungary. He moved to New York with his parents as a child, where he would later get his comedic start on the vaudeville stages. Penner's act generally involved his carrying a prop on stage and asking the straight man if he wanted to buy it. Most nights it wasn't a raving success, until the day Penner hit on his money prop – a wooden decoy duck. For some reason, buying a wooden duck was funny; audiences went wild. Penner was soon on the radio and a household name. He was one of the first stars to have a regular radio series broadcast from Los Angeles. The show also featured another rising star - Mel Blanc as the voice of Goo-Goo the duck.

In no time Penner made the leap to the movies. His introduction to Hollywood came in 1932's Here, Prince. The comedy short, which also featured Margaret Dumont, was also known under the alternate title, You Nasty Man, another of Penner's catchphrases. Penner's first feature came in 1934 with College Rhythm. He followed that with Collegiate (1936), another campus musical, that once again co-starred Jack Oakie, and featured another famous face, Betty Grable. Other highlights from Penner's movie career include Mr. Doodle Kicks Off (1938) with June Travis and Jack Carson and The Day the Bookies Wept (1939), again with Betty Grable. Penner's final film is probably his best known - The Boys from Syracuse (1940). Based on the Broadway musical, The Boys from Syracuse co-starred Allan Jones and Martha Raye and allowed Penner to stretch his comedic talent in a dual role. Sadly, Penner died of a heart attack in 1941. He was only 36-years old and still at the height of his popularity.

A few other familiar faces to watch out for in Go Chase Yourself are June Travis as Judy the debutant with car trouble; prolific character actor Granville Bates plays Hamilton Halliday (Bates may be best remembered as the judge from My Favorite Wife [1940]); and Jack Carson, in an early role, appears as a reporter.

Producer: Robert Sisk
Director: Edward F. Cline
Screenplay: Bert Granet, Sascha Laurence, Edward Melcher, Walter O'Keefe, William W. Watson, Paul Yawitz
Cinematography: Jack MacKenzie
Film Editing: Desmond Marquette
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Roy Webb, Hal Raynor
Cast: Joe Penner (Wilbur P. Meely), Lucille Ball (Carol Meely), Tom Kennedy (Icebox), Richard Lane (Nails), Bradley Page (Frank), June Travis (Judith Daniels).

by Stephanie Thames



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