Follies Girl (June 26, 1943)
Released on June 26, 1943: A sampling of some of the best burlesque comedy, music and dance from the 1920's performers who dominated the entertainment stage.
Directed by William Rowland
Written by Stedman Coles, Charles Robinson, Marcy Klauber, Pat C. Flick, Lew Hearn and Arthur L. Jarrett.
The Actors: Wendy Barrie (Anne Merriday), Doris Nolan (Francine La Rue), Gordon Oliver (Private Jerry Hamlin), Anne Barrett (Bunny), Arthur Pierson (Sergeant Bill Perkins), J.C. Nugent (J.B. Hamlin), Cora Witherspoon (Mrs. J.B. Hamlin), William Harrigan (Jimmy Dobson), Jay Brennan (Andre Duval), Lew Hearn (Lew), Cliff Hall (Cliff), Marion McGuire (Trixie), Pat C. Flick (Patsy), Anthony Blair (Somers), Jeri Blanchard (Jerri), Serjei Radamsky (Serjei), G. Swayne Gordon (doorman), Ray Heatherton (himself, bandleader), Johnny Long (himself, bandleader), Bobby Byrne (himself, bandleader), Ernie Holst (himself, bandleader), Charles Weidman (himself, specialty), Fritzi Scheff (Fritzi), Claire and Arene (specialty act), Lazare and Castellanos (specialty act), The Song Spinners (singers), The Heat Waves (specialty act), Jack Lambert (unknown), Virginia Mayo (Chorine/chorus girl), Winston Churchill (montage movie footage during Fritzi Scheff song), Joseph Stalin (montage movie footage during Fritzi Scheff song).
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I would have loved to watch William Shakespeare and his hand-picked actors performing one of his amazing plays. It would be amazing to hear a recording of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performing one of his creations. Of course, the machines that could preserve voice and picture for future generations had not been invented yet, so their performances, and everyone that had personally witnessed them have passed silently into history. Now, I am not saying that the performers in this movie are of the caliber of Shakespeare or Mozart, but they are some of the amazing stage performers from the great days of Burlesque that made their living by entertaining small audiences around the U.S. and the world. Thanks to the inventions of photos, motion pictures and sound recording they have not passed silently into the night. In 1943, with America at war, this movie put together a couple of glamour girls of the day, and presented us with a marvelous buffet of talent from the days of Burlesque in the Roaring Twenties which were slowly disappearing from the scene. We not only get to experience some of the talent from the burlesque stage, but even a glimpse of the legendary Prima Dona of the Imperial Opera in Vienna, the great Fritzi Scheff, who also entertained the wealthiest Americans on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. And get this . . . as a young girl in Europe she sang for Queen Victoria at Covent Garden! Talk about history coming to life . . . . what a rare treat this movie is on so many levels. You will catch a glimpse of several burlesque bandleaders and specialty acts of the early 1900's . . . . and don't be fooled into thinking that they are not great acts just because they appear very corny compared to humor and music of today. Make no mistake . . . without their talents and humor and dancing, we wouldn't have the great performers of today, who learned and progressed because of the foundation built by these pioneers of entertainment. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn, then melt a stick of real butter to drizzle over it and enjoy the show.
Anne Barrett as Bunny
Arthur Pierson and Gordon Oliver
Cora Witherspoon as Mrs. J.B. Hamlin
Doris Nolan and William Harrigan and J.C. Nugent in Follies Girl
Doris Nolan and William Herrigan
Doris Nolan as Francine La Rue
Doris Nolan sings on stage
Fritzi Scheff sings with Ray Heatherton and his band
Gordon Oliver and Cora Witherspoon
Gordon Oliver as Private Jerry Hamlin
J.C. Nugent and Jay Brennan
J.C. Nugent as J.B. Hamlin
Jay Brennan as Andre Duval
Jay Brennan fires Wendy Barrie from the costume shop
Lew Hearn and Anne Barrett in a burlesque song and dance number
burlesque performer Lew Hearn in Follies Girl
Marion McGuire, William Harrigan and Doris Nolan
Ray Heatherton and his band plays for Fritzi Scheff
Wendy Barrie and Doris Nolan and Marion McGuire
Wendy Barrie and Jay Brennan
Wendy Barrie as Anne Merriday in Follies Girl
William Harrigan and J.C. Nugent
Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin from film montage during Fritzi Scheff song