Saturday, April 13, 2013

1933 - HALLELUJAH I'M A BUM, forgotten 1930's musical from Rogers and Hart

You would think a film written by Ben Hecht, S. N. Berman, Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart would be better remembered.  However you don't see a lot of cabaret singers crooning songs from this film probably because the approach to presenting them was very unusual.

Rogers and Hart in addition  to writing the songs contributed to the dialog with "musical rhyming" scenes where the actors sang/spoke lengthy portions of the film.  This is sort of like a 1930's version of Les Miserables, except the songs and in particular the lyrics are a lot better.

The interesting cast included Al Jolson as the mayor of the Hobos, silent film comedian Harry Langdon as a Communist and Frank Morgan as the mayor of New York.  In one scene Morgan lies in his bed drunk repeating "there's no place like home" six years before TheWizard of Oz came out.

The film was directed by Lewis Milestone in his full moving camera and montage editing mode. A fascinating experimental film combining, sound, visual florish and music.

82 minutes.

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