Cast & Crew
After master of ceremonies Jack Paar introduces himself to the audience, pianist and composer Frankie Carle plays an original jazz number with his band. Paar then jokes about the post-war housing shortage and sets up an extended excerpt from an Edgar Kennedy short:
Convinced that all contractors are crooks, Edgar decides to build an addition to his house without the aid of experts. Enlisting help from his wife Florence, brother-in-law Bert and their mother, the short-tempered Edgar begins construction full of confidence but is soon plagued by mishaps. In addition, he dismisses a state building inspector, thinking that he is another greedy contractor. After many weeks, the addition is still unfinished, and Edgar has accidentally destroyed his brick fireplace a number of times. Despite these setbacks, the stubborn Edgar perseveres, plastering the ceiling while Bert lays insulation above him. When Bert crashes through the ceiling and causes Edgar to fall into a vat of wet plaster, however, Edgar is beside himself with frustration. Before he can throttle Bert, however, Florence announces that the building inspector has returned. Recognizing the visitor from before, Edgar assumes he is really a contractor trying to pass himself off as the inspector and throws him into a trough of plaster. The plaster-covered Edgar then learns that the man in the trough is the inspector.
Back in the studio, Paar introduces the film audience to a traditional tap dance number performed by vaudevillian Pat Rooney, which is followed by a contemporary number executed by black tap dancers Jesse and James. Paar then presents excerpts from three silent films--a melodrama, a fashion newsreel and a western--and adds his own comic voice-over narration to them. The films are followed by a short featuring Leon Errol:
Upon returning home from work one day, Leon learns that his wife Dorothy has told her rich aunt Jessie, who is about to arrive for a visit, that she is still married to her first husband, because she fears that Jessie, who disapproves of divorce, will disinherit her. At Dorothy's insistence, Leon agrees to pose as the family butler during Jessie's visit, while Dorothy's ex-husband, Jack Drinkwater, poses as her spouse. Unaware of Leon's impersonation, Jack, a longtime drunk, inadvertently reveals to him his intention to win Dorothy back and collect Jessie's money. Outraged by Jack's boldness around Dorothy, Leon struggles to maintain his composure in front of the bossy Jessie and nearly gives himself away when she catches him kissing his wife in the kitchen. That night, after the two men and Dorothy engage in frenetic bedroom switching, Jessie finally discovers the truth. To Dorothy and Leon's relief, Jessie endorses their marriage, stating matter-of-factly that she would have divorced the drunken Jack years ago.
Following the short, dance trio Lynn, Royce and Vanya perform a comic adagio. Paar then introduces "Rudy La Pays," a French café singer. While accompanying La Pays on the piano, Paar provides a comic English translation to La Pays's equally silly French song. The film concludes with a musical number performed by Miguelito Valdes and an accompanying dance duet by Harold and Lola.
Harold And Lola
Jesse And James
Lynn, Royce And Vanya
Russell A. Cully
Vincent J. Farrar
Robert De Grasse
Francis M. Sarver
Vernon L. Walker
Edward W. Williams
This film's subtitle was "A revue of specialties and highlights from RKO film hits." The "Carle Boogie" number was first seen in the 1946 RKO picture Riverboat Rhythm, while the Lynn, Royce and Vanya adagio was first presented in RKO's 1942 film Seven Days Leave and "Babalu" was first heard in Pan-Americana, a 1945 RKO release ( entries). According to RKO studio files, Jesse and James's and Pat Rooney's numbers were shot for RKO's 1944 film Show Business , but were cut from the final print. The two shorts included in the film were Edgar Kennedy's 1946 comedy I'll Build It Myself and Leon Errol's Hired Husband, which was released in 1947. George Bilson produced and Edward W. Williams, who is listed on this film as editor with Les Millbrook, edited both shorts. The silent film excerpts were taken from The Two Paths, a 1911 Biograph release, which was directed by D. W. Griffith and starred Florence LaBadie, Dorothy Bernard, Grace Henderson and Alfred Paget; The Taking of Luke McVane (later called The Fugitive), a 1915 two-reeler, directed by William S. Hart and starring Hart and Enid Markey; and a 1922 Pathé newsreel.
According to a pre-release Hollywood Reporter news item, Variety Time was "intended to be used as a second feature only" and was being advertised as a "new form of movie entertainment." Both the film itself and reviews compare the picture to television. Variety points out that Variety Time "resembles closely the format that's been clicking on the Texaco Star Theatre...inasmuch as there's a good emcee (Jack Paar) tying together various song, dance, and specialty sequences." Variety adds that the film is "virtually perfect video fare," but speculates that because of the small number of television stations in existence (twenty-eight) and the limitations of "television light projection," RKO would have a difficult time selling the picture for broadcast use. Comedian Jack Paar made his screen debut in the picture. Modern sources note that the film was made for only $51,000 and brought in $132,000 at the box office.