A musical comedy revue is presented. A Russian Cossack character performs a song before introducing Marion Harris who sings a love song, he hopes to him. Then a man in black face does a comic recitation and tap dance on an incident in the life of Christopher Columbus. He then does an impersonation of all three of the Brox Sisters, who then come out themselves to conclude the revue by performing a couple of ballads.Written by
One 2-strip Technicolor sequence, running 183 feet (approximately 55 m) (2 minutes) features The 3 Brox Sisters in a number most likely intended to be part of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), is missing from the TCM print and is apparently lost. See more »
Benny Rubin is an embarrassment, of course, not just the black face, but also the Russian Jew figure. Still, he provides a view of why Jolson, Cantor, and Jessel were more highly acclaimed on Broadway and vaudeville as black face and comedy performers. Those guys had more energy, more personality, more charisma than Rubin had.
But pay attention to the two featured performers: Marion Harris, who was fired by her recording company for wanting to sing Handy's "St. Louis Blues," is generally acclaimed as the first white woman to sing black blues back in the '20's. Here, she sings a radically alternate version of the Richard Whiting-Neil Moret standard "She's Funny That Way." She sings a dark, very bleak version called "I'm Funny That Way." I can't tell whether Whiting wrote the lyrics, and I can't find the song on any lyrics/song sheet collection on the Net. Still, this now forgotten singer conjures up images of other torch singers of that era -- Helen Morgan and Ruth Etting, for example. She does not come across as second rate by any standard.
Then, there's a couple of songs by the Brox Sisters. Three girls who predated the close harmony of the Boswell Sisters, the Perkins Sisters, the Andrews Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, etc. The song that stands out is "Just You, Just Me" which Woody Allen found good enough to include in his film "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996). Nice to hear how that song might have played way back when. It's still very easy on the ears.
Really, this film short, as shown on TCM, is very much worth watching. Not just for historical purposes, but for the delight of hearing two interpretations of songs that have now become standards.
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