Keep Smiling


1h 15m 1938

Brief Synopsis

Jane breaks into the film business while also reviving the flagging career of her film director uncle (Wilcoxon) and getting him hooked up with his secretary (Stuart).

Film Details

Also Known As
Hello Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 12, 1938
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Aug 1938
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,850ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

When her well-to-do classmates taunt her, Jane Rand, a precocious orphan at Miss Wesley's School for Girls, brags that her famous uncle Jonathan, a Hollywood director, has invited her to spend the summer with him. She then admits to her friend Froggy that Jonathan, whom she has not seen since she was a baby, but who has supported her financially, is always too busy to have her visit him. Jealous that the other girls spend the summers with their families, Jane sells her expensive clothes to Froggy and then sells roles in the play she is directing to girls who did not get parts so that she can afford to travel to Hollywood. Jane arrives at her uncle's mansion in Beverly Hills as his belongings are being auctioned off due to a court order. Jonathan, very drunk, interrupts the proceedings by insulting those who have attended, and when he starts a fight, the police take him away. Carol Walters, Jonathan's former secretary, assures Jane that the police will take him to stay with friends and explains that after success went to his head, he started slipping and now cannot get work. Carol, who has been in love with Jonathan, takes Jane to the Hollywood Guest Home, where she lives with other tenants who are trying to land roles in the movies. Stanley Harper, Carol's old beau, to whom she wrote in a moment of weakness when she felt sorry for herself, arrives to take her back to Iowa so they can get married. When Carol learns that Jonathan has gone on a drinking binge, Jane gets the Nelsons, jugglers who once worked with Jonathan, to help get Jonathan into a vacant room in the boardinghouse. As Jane distracts the landlady, Mrs. Bowman, with her imitations of celebrities, the Nelsons try to get the drunken Jonathan to the room, but they fall down the stairs, and Mrs. Bowman orders Jonathan to be put out. When Stanley, whom Mrs. Bowman likes, objects and says that Jonathan is sick and deserves sympathy, she relents. Jane, whom Jonathan does not know is his niece, reprimands him for his behavior when he sobers up. After he calls her a "brat" and orders her out of her room, Carol informs him of Jane's identity, and then without revealing that he knows, he apologizes to Jane. Jane sneaks into the offices of producer Jerome Lawson at the studios of Globe Pictures to convince him to hire Jonathan, but he refuses because of Jonathan's reputation. She then sees her friend and fellow tenant, J. Howard Travers, an elderly, once-distinguished actor who is now starving, about to test for a small part. She does the test with him, and the next day Jonathan arranges with the projectionist to run the test. As Lawson comes into the screening room, Jonathan, Jane and Travers hide in the back row. Lawson proclaims Travers a fine actor and orders his casting director to sign him to a contract. Jane then feels the release of Travers' hand as he faints and dies. Jonathan comforts Jane, who calls him "Uncle Jon," and he admits that he knew that she was his niece all along. Impressed with Jane's performance in the test, Lawson gives her a big part in the film. The arrogant director, Cedric Hunt, yells at her and fails to get a good performance from her. When he argues with Jonathan, who has requested a role as a bit player, the crew members, still loyal to Jonathan, throw bits of their lunch from above at Hunt. Hunt orders the electricians off the set, and Lawson, who has been watching, fires Hunt and asks Jonathan to direct. Carol, who has received a telegram from Stanley saying that he is taking a train and will go alone back to Iowa if she does not come to meet him, accepts Jonathan's offer to work for him again. Jonathan says that it is only decent to let Stanley get to Pasadena before he proposes marriage, and then directs Jane in a scene.

Cast

Jane Withers

Jane Rand

Gloria Stuart

Carol Walters

Henry Wilcoxon

Jonathan Rand

Helen Westley

Mrs. Willoughby

Jed Prouty

Jerome Lawson

Douglas Fowley

Cedric Hunt

Robert Allen

Stanley Harper

Pedro De Cordoba

J. Howard Travers

Claudia Coleman

Mrs. Bowman

Paula Rae Wright

Bettina Bowman

The Three Nelsons

Themselves

Etta Mcdaniel

Violet

Carmencita Johnson

Brutus

Mary Mccarthy

Froggy

Hal K. Dawson

Casting director

James Blaine

Assistant director

Muriel Kearney

Cassius

Myra Marsh

Head schoolteacher

Ruth Clifford

Schoolteacher

Ruth Peterson

Secretary

Phyllis Fraser

Secretary

June Gale

Secretary

Grace Goodall

Mother

Cecil Weston

Mother

Patsy Mitchell

Girl in casting office

Forbes Murray

Producer Hanley

Harold Goodwin

Taxi driver

Sam Bernard

Head electrician

Edward Gargan

First electrician

Heinie Conklin

Second electrician

Ben Hendricks

Sound boom grip

Gladden James

Cameraman

Allen Fox

Assistant cameraman

Matty Roubert

Page boy

Brooks Benedict

Sound mixer

Sarah Edwards

Governess

Dick Alexander

Grip "Pete"

John H. Elliott

Spence

Perry Ivins

Writer

Murray Alper

Projectionist "Shorty"

Robert Lowery

Man at auction

Chester Clute

Auctioneer

Laura Treadwell

Woman at auction

Ottola Nesmith

Woman at auction

Russ Clark

Policeman at auction

Pat O'malley

Policeman at auction

Grace Hayle

Fat woman at auction

Jayne Regan

Leading woman

Bert Roach

Props man

Syd Saylor

Studio policeman

Jack Trent

Studio policeman

Stanley Mack

Studio policeman

Hamilton Macfadden

Director

Robert Dalton

Leading man

Joan Davis

Herself

Film Details

Also Known As
Hello Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 12, 1938
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Aug 1938
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,850ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Hello Hollywood. According to the Call Bureau Cast Service, "The Three Nelsons" were Henry C. Johnson, Roy Dove and Harry C. Johnson. Variety noted that this film was a "Class A production, more expensive than usually tossed to young Miss Withers." Many of the reviews complimented Withers on her imitations of other performers, and especially called attention to her takeoff on Bobby Breen, an RKO child star. Variety said her imitation was a "sharp deflator of Breen," and Motion Picture Herald commented, "The important and valuable feature of Keep Smiling, and the thing which sets it apart for hundreds of other child movies, is Jane's exquisite, satirical imitation of Bobby Breen (RKO's midget crooner)." Motion Picture Herald in their review noted that Withers was the number six box office star in their recent exhibitors' poll.