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Wheeler and Woolsey Double Feature: Peach o' Reno/Girl Crazy [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Girl Crazy
The 1930 George & Ira Gershwin musical smash Girl Crazy was refashioned for the screen in 1932 as a vehicle for comedians Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey. Most of the original play's romantic plotline has been jettisoned, shifting the emphasis to cabdriver Jimmy Deegan (Wheeler) and his larcenous passengers Slick and Kate Foster (Woolsey and Kitty Kelly). After a tortuous cross-country trip, Jimmy, Slick and Kate end up in Custerville, Arizona, where each of the new sheriffs is routinely bumped off by local reprobate Lank Sanders (Stanley Fields) and his gang. When the newly-opened nightclub of city slicker Danny Churchill (Eddie Quillan) proves successful thanks to the singing talents of Kate Foster, Lank Sanders, owner of a rival cabaret, plots to run for the sheriff's office so that he can close down Danny's establishment. Hoping to stave off this eventuality, Danny conspires with Slick to nominate Jimmy as sheriff (Slick figures that a dead man won't be able to collect his gargantuan cab fare!). With the help of his tagalong kid-sister Tessie (Mitzi Green), Jimmy wins the election then has to run for his life when Lank comes a-gunnin' for him. Ending up south of the border in Mexico, Jimmy and Slick manage to get the drop on Lank, and all's right with the world. Contrary to previously published reports, only three of the original Gershwin songs were retained for the film version of Girl Crazy: I Got Rhythm, performed Ethel Merman-style by Kitty Kelly; But Not for Me, rushed through by nominal romantic leads Eddie Quillan and Arline Judge, then parodied by juvenile impressionist Mitzi Green (who does quickie imitations of George Arliss, Bing Crosby and Edna May Oliver); and Bidin' My Time, used as background music for an opening scene in which the camera slowly pans across the tombstones of Custerville's former sheriffs. Bert Wheeler and his perennial screen vis-a-vis Dorothy Lee deliver the film's best number, You've Got What Gets Me, originally written by the Gershwins for their 1927 production Funny Face. Long unavailable thanks to the 1943 MGM remake, Girl Crazy was resurrected in the late 1970s; though it proved a disappointment for Gershwin purists, it won a whole new fan following for Wheeler & Woolsey, who are very funny throughout. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Peach O' Reno
One of the best of the pre-Production Code Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey vehicles, Peach O' Reno remains as hilariously ribald today as it was nearly 70 years ago. Wheeler and Woolsey play Wattles and Swift, a pair of Reno divorce attorneys whose practice is so successful that their clients have to take numbers to be served. When the working day is over, Wattles & Swift convert their law offices into a nightclub, with the secretaries shedding their street clothes to don skimpy dancing outfits and the junior lawyers transforming into waiters. The story is set in motion when Joe and Aggie Bruno (Joseph Cawthorn and Cora Witherspoon) decide to get a divorce after 20 years of marriage. Wattles agrees to represent Joe in court, while Swift agrees to handle Aggie's case -- a cute conflict of interest that will mean money in the bank for the partners no matter what the outcome. The Brunos' pretty daughters Prudence (Dorothy Lee) and Pansy (Zelma O'Neill) show up in Reno to prevent their parents' breakup, whereupon Wattles falls in love with Prudence and Swift is overcome (quite literally) by Pansy. As part of his legal strategy, Swift arranges for Joe to be seen in public with another woman, who turns out to be Wattles in drag. After several minutes of double- and single-entendre comedy patter, disgruntled ex-husband Ace Crosby (Mitchell Harris), angry over the outcome of his divorce case, comes gunning for Wattles. The latter, still in female disguise, manages to keep Crosby at bay, but soon the ruse is revealed and the shootin' starts. The whole affair ends in up court, where the Brunos' divorce develops into a huge media event, with radio announcer Eddie Kane providing play-by-play and concessionaire Monte Collins hawking peanuts to the spectators. With the help of a melancholy violin rendition of "Hearts and Flowers" Wattles and Swift manage to reunite the warring couple. At this point, the Judge (Sam Hardy) instruct the jurors -- armed with musical instruments -- to "get hot," as he performs a double wedding ceremony, marrying Wattles to Prudence and Swift to Pansy. The musical highlights include a priceless Wheeler-Woolsey terpsichorean number which starts as a sultry tango and ends as an wild Apache dance, and Bert Wheeler and Dorothy Lee's delightful Niagara Falls to Reno, showing off the tapping skills of both performers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Bert Wheeler
    Bert Wheeler - Jimmy Deegan
  • Robert Woolsey
    Robert Woolsey - Slick Foster
  • Eddie Quillan
    Eddie Quillan - Danny Churchill
  • Dorothy Lee
    Dorothy Lee - Patsy
  • Mitzi Green
    Mitzi Green - Tessie Deegan
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