Hitting a New High


60m 1937
Hitting a New High

Brief Synopsis

A crackpot press agent tries to pass off an aspiring opera singer as a jungle girl.

Film Details

Also Known As
It Never Happened Before
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Dec 24, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Jesse L. Lasky Productions; RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Before millionaire opera benefactor and would-be big game hunter Lucius B. Blynn leaves Paris for Africa with his press agent, Corny Davis, Corny hears Suzette, an impressive French soprano, singing with a band lead by her boyfriend, American Jimmy James. Corny offers Suzette a chance to audition for Blynn in Africa, and Suzette, who longs to abandon jazz in favor of opera, accepts. While hunting in an African jungle, Corny leads Blynn to "discover" Suzette, now called Oogahunga, the Bird-Girl. Dressed in a costume made of bird feathers, Suzette sings her way into Blynn's heart and is transported back to New York, where she is coached by an unsuspecting voice teacher. At the same time, Jimmy, who has no knowledge of Suzette's antics, prepares to open a new club, "Chez Suzette," with Suzette as the show's headliner. When Suzette, posing as Blynn's exotic Bird-Girl, makes her American singing debut on the radio, Jimmy recognizes her voice and sneaks into her bedroom at Blynn's estate. Caught, Suzette reluctantly agrees to sing at Jimmy's club every night in order to maintain her Bird-Girl identity during the day. The arrangement works until Blynn invites opera maestro Andreas Mazzini and composer Carter Haig, who wants Suzette to perform his new opera, to hear his Bird-Girl. When Suzette appears, Mazzini and Haig are stunned but, anxious to keep their potential backer from humiliation, say nothing about their discovery. In spite of Mazzini and Corny's attempts at preventing Blynn from hearing Suzette's nightclub show, Suzette's ruse is finally revealed. Disgusted by the demands of both Mazzini and Blynn, however, Suzette announces that she is giving up opera to marry Jimmy and sing jazz.

Film Details

Also Known As
It Never Happened Before
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Dec 24, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Jesse L. Lasky Productions; RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
60m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Award Nominations

Best Sound

1938

Articles

Hitting a New High


If you've never hear a properly re-mastered recording of Lily Pons, one of the great voices of the 20th century, you owe it to yourself to catch her last starring vehicle for RKO. The studio never really knew what to do with her besides let her do her operatic thing, which she does with Rossini's "Air du Rossignol,"and "Je suit Titania" from Mignon and the Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor. They also saddled her with a nonsensical plot about an aspiring opera singer who decides to launch her career by pretending to be an African "bird girl" so she can be discovered by entrepreneur Edward Everett Horton. Like her other starring vehicles at RKO -- I Dream Too Much (1935) and That Girl from Paris (1936) -- Hitting a New High has all the right parts. Horton, Jack Oakie, as the press agent who masterminds the scheme, and Eric Blore, as another obsequious gentleman's gentleman provide some inspired comic turns between arias. And director Raoul Walsh keeps it all moving at a good pace. But it just didn't come together for movie fans. The film lost money, ending Pons's career as a movie star.

By Frank Miller
Hitting A New High

Hitting a New High

If you've never hear a properly re-mastered recording of Lily Pons, one of the great voices of the 20th century, you owe it to yourself to catch her last starring vehicle for RKO. The studio never really knew what to do with her besides let her do her operatic thing, which she does with Rossini's "Air du Rossignol,"and "Je suit Titania" from Mignon and the Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermoor. They also saddled her with a nonsensical plot about an aspiring opera singer who decides to launch her career by pretending to be an African "bird girl" so she can be discovered by entrepreneur Edward Everett Horton. Like her other starring vehicles at RKO -- I Dream Too Much (1935) and That Girl from Paris (1936) -- Hitting a New High has all the right parts. Horton, Jack Oakie, as the press agent who masterminds the scheme, and Eric Blore, as another obsequious gentleman's gentleman provide some inspired comic turns between arias. And director Raoul Walsh keeps it all moving at a good pace. But it just didn't come together for movie fans. The film lost money, ending Pons's career as a movie star. By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was It Never Happened Before. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Gene Raymond was first slated to co-star with Lily Pons in the production. Although Hollywood Reporter announced that M-G-M songwriters Bob Wright and Chet Forrest had been hired by RKO to write a song for Pons, no song by those composers was heard in the final film. Hollywood Reporter also announced that Carl Harbaugh was writing gags for the picture while it was being shot. Motion Picture Herald's "In the Cutting Room" adds Billy Gilbert to the cast, and Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items add Marek Windheim, Rolfe Sedan, Kathleen Ellis, Larry Law, Edward Hall and Paul Rochin. Their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Some reviews list Jack Arnold as Vinton Haworth, his former stage name. Modern sources state that the film lost considerable money at the box office and severely damaged Lasky's position as a producer at RKO. Hitting a New High was Lily Pons's last film for RKO and the last non-concert film she ever made. She married musical director Andre Kostelanetz in 1938.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1937

Released in United States 1937