Sensation Hunters (August 30, 1934)
Released August 30, 1934: Dale Jordan is a cabaret star that hob-nobs with the wealthy on her way to a performance in Panama.
Directed by Charles Vidor
Written by Whitman Chambers with screenplay by Albert DeMond and Paul Schofield.
The Actors: Arline Judge (Jerry Royal), Preston Foster (Tom Baylor), Marion Burns (Dale Jordan), Kenneth MacKenna (Jimmy Crosby), Juanita Hansen (Trixie Snell), Creighton Hale (Fred Barrett), Cyril Chadwick (Upson), Nella Walker (Mrs. Grayson), Harold Minjir (Hal Grayson), Finis Barton (Miss Grayson), Zoila Conan (alcoholic girl), Sam Flint (Ship's Captain), Walter Brennan (stuttering waiter), Ed Brady (ship's officer), Olin Francis (barfly), Clyde McClary (barfly), Frank Moran (bartender), Jack Pennick (Olaf Anderssen), Charles Stevens (Indian Joe).
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Pretty girls with boy-names, an actress that pioneered silent films, and a young and stuttering Walter Brennan, many years before he was Grandpa in the old television show that I remember, "The Real McCoy." Cabaret show dancers in exotic and dangerous Panama, South America, American millionaires down there on business that are probably more dangerous than the South American bandits, and a behind-the-scenes look at the hard-boiled side of show business. This pre-code movie has it all.
Dale is a cute gal on a steamship travelling from somewhere in the Northwest down to Los Angeles, and then on to Panama, South America. Since the Panama Canal opened, it has become a hot spot for travel and tourism. Dale is a sweet and innocent girl that wants to become a singer, and when she cannot find a job singing, she agrees to join a 'Cabaret Troupe' of girls headed to Panama to entertain the men in the night spots. When the ship stops at Los Angeles the rest of the troupe gets on board, and Dale gets Jerry, an experienced cabaret performer, as her roommate. Dale and Jerry become good friends throughout the movie, sharing the ups and downs of the show business life in the wild land of Panama. The head of the troupe is Trixie Snell, a hard-Sboild old gal that has been around the seedy side of show business for a long time. Trixie Snell is played by Juanita Hansen, who played in the 1915 classic silent motion picture, The Martyrs of the Alamo.
On the way down, Dale falls in love with a shipboard passenger, Tom Baylor. Tom is on his way to a remote jungle plantation that he has business with. He wants Dale to get out of the Cabaret business before she gets in, warning her of the great misfortunes that often happen to the girls in the chorus. But Dale is sure that she is smart enough to keep out of the pitfalls of the other girls, and goes on to her new job with the Cabaret. At first Dale and Jerry are the hit of the nightclub circuit, getting the acclaim and money of the wealthy men in Panama on business. Tom goes off to his business in the interior and during her time with the Cabaret Dale meets millionaire Jimmy Crosby, who falls fatally in love with Dale. She tells him that she will never love him, because her love is for Tom, but he is gone, probably for good, and Dale agrees to marry Jimmy as long as he takes her back to the U.S. and away from the seedy side of life in Panama. Unfortunately Jimmy is already married, and his wife will not give him a divorce. Jimmy is afraid to tell Dale, and instead kills himself, leaving Dale back at the Cabaret with Jerry.
Soon Dale and Jerry squabble with Trixie, and leave the Cabaret, heading out into South America with nothing but their singing and dancing talents. They try desperately to earn enough money for passage back to the U.S. but more misfortune falls their way when Jerry is accidentally knifed in a bar brawl, leaving Dale on her own in the untamed lands of South America, all alone and with little hope of every getting back to the United States. Will this one end happily ever after, or will the girls meet the fabled end that Tom predicted so long ago? Will it take a Chinese Admiral to set thing right, or will Dale and Jerry become statistics in the long line of girls that disappear in wild foreign lands never to be seen again? Don't forget that this one is pre-code, so a 'happily-ever-after' ending was not demanded of the producers. Munch that hot, buttered popcorn and enjoy this tale of beautys and the beasts.