Radio City Revels


1h 24m 1938
Radio City Revels

Brief Synopsis

Burned-out songwriters find man who composes while asleep.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Feb 11, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

Frustrated by his inability to write original songs while he is awake, or remember the tunes that he writes while he is sleeping, Arkansas hillbilly Lester Robin travels to New York City to receive instruction from Harry Miller, a songwriter with whom he has been taking a correspondence course. At Harry's apartment, Lester meets Billie Shaw, an aspiring dancer, and instantly falls in love with her. Although Lester has lost his money, Harry, who with his partner Teddy, has gone broke trying to sell a song to musical producer Paul Plummer, invites him to stay. A tired Lester soon falls asleep on Harry's couch and begins composing a catchy tune out loud. As the song pours out of him, Harry and Teddy copy down every note and word, then rush to Billie's apartment, where Plummer and radio "crooner" Kenny Baker are visiting. After claiming the song as his own, Harry performs for Plummer, who recognizes the composition as a "sure-fire" hit. Now the musical talk-of-the-town, Harry and Teddy, who have already plundered Lester's dreams for another song, throw a lavish party in their apartment. There, Harry proposes unsuccessfully to Billie, who in turn rejects the proposal of Kenny because her older sister Gertie, who is in love with Lester, is still single. At the climax of the party, Lester falls asleep in Gertie's arms and reveals his songwriting ability to her. At the same time, Plummer signs Harry to write the score for a new musical revue but stipulates that the songs must be finished by the next morning. Desperate to succeed, Harry and Teddy prepare to put Lester to sleep, but when Teddy tells him that Billie and Kenny are engaged, the love-struck Lester develops instant insomnia. In spite of Harry and Teddy's night-long attempts at putting Lester to sleep, the depressed hillbilly remains awake until Billie telephones and tells him that she is not engaged. Overjoyed, Lester falls asleep and starts composing Harry's new score. As planned, Harry's show opens at Radio City Music Hall, but Gertie, who is determined to win Lester for herself, exposes Harry's deception to Plummer during the performance. Forced to give half of the show's royalties to Lester, who has fallen in love with Gertie, Harry announces that Lester is his new "protege," and the now engaged Kenny and Billie perform the grand finale.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Feb 11, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Radio City Revels


Radio City Revels was announced in the Hollywood trade papers in 1934 as the first star vehicle for dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, who had made such an indelible impression on moviegoers in supporting roles in Flying Down to Rio (1933). When the dance partners moved on instead to The Gay Divorcee (1944), this project went into turnaround, finally surfacing four years later, with musical numbers choreographed by Astaire and Rogers' frequent dance coach Hermes Pan. Despite the late start, RKO Radio Pictures put a lot of money behind Radio City Revels, which features impressive Art Deco set designs and extravagant musical numbers - albeit now featuring Ann Miller (fresh from Gregory La Cava's Stage Door) and crooner Kenny Baker (as an Arkansas songwriter who can only compose while sleeping). Joining in the fun are supporting players Jack Oakie and Milton Berle (as a pair of down-at-heal Tin Pan Alley types) and Helen Broderick (as Miller's hoofer roommate). Despite high hopes from the front office, RKO lost a bundle on Radio City Revels at the time of its premiere in February 1938 - reportedly as much as $300,000 - and the film was remaindered to the bottom half of a double bill with The Jury's Secret (1938), starring Fay Wray. Returning to radio, Milton Berle did not appear in another feature for several years while both Ann Miller and Kenny Baker graduated to Marx Brothers comedies - Miller to Room Service (1938) and Baker to At the Circus (1939).

By Richard Harland Smith
Radio City Revels

Radio City Revels

Radio City Revels was announced in the Hollywood trade papers in 1934 as the first star vehicle for dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, who had made such an indelible impression on moviegoers in supporting roles in Flying Down to Rio (1933). When the dance partners moved on instead to The Gay Divorcee (1944), this project went into turnaround, finally surfacing four years later, with musical numbers choreographed by Astaire and Rogers' frequent dance coach Hermes Pan. Despite the late start, RKO Radio Pictures put a lot of money behind Radio City Revels, which features impressive Art Deco set designs and extravagant musical numbers - albeit now featuring Ann Miller (fresh from Gregory La Cava's Stage Door) and crooner Kenny Baker (as an Arkansas songwriter who can only compose while sleeping). Joining in the fun are supporting players Jack Oakie and Milton Berle (as a pair of down-at-heal Tin Pan Alley types) and Helen Broderick (as Miller's hoofer roommate). Despite high hopes from the front office, RKO lost a bundle on Radio City Revels at the time of its premiere in February 1938 - reportedly as much as $300,000 - and the film was remaindered to the bottom half of a double bill with The Jury's Secret (1938), starring Fay Wray. Returning to radio, Milton Berle did not appear in another feature for several years while both Ann Miller and Kenny Baker graduated to Marx Brothers comedies - Miller to Room Service (1938) and Baker to At the Circus (1939). By Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Oh, I'm sorry, but when anyone sings or plays, well, my feet won't stay still.
- Billie Shaw
We're gonna have yachts, motorcars, penthouses...
- Harry Miller
Oh boy, don't forget a ham sandwich!
- Teddy Jordan
Honestly, you're as purty as the picture of a seed catalogue tomato.
- Lester Robin

Trivia

Notes

RKO first planned to produce this film in 1934. According to a November 1934 Hollywood Reporter, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were announced as the picture's original stars. In May 1937, Hollywood Reporter reported that the project had been "revived," with P. J. Wolfson replacing Jesse L. Lasky as producer. Paul Yawitz was announced as the new scriptwriter. A November 1937 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Harold Kusell was polishing the script, which Joseph Santley was to co-direct with credited director Ben Stoloff. While the participation of Santley in the production is doubtful, the contribution of Yawitz and Kusell to the final script has not been determined. RKO borrowed Bob Burns from Paramount for this production. Although RKO's Radio City Music Hall is featured in the film, the picture actually opened at the Globe Theatre. The Variety review noted that the "credits, which require numerous frames, are imposed on art work depicting Radio City. The background of the latter would have been more effective with actual camera shots. As things stand, the picture is not especially a plug for R. C. and there are no exterior shots during the action of the Music Hall or other parts of the Rockefeller Center." According to modern sources, the production cost $810,000 and lost $300,000 at the box office.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1938

Released in United States 1938