Thursday, July 9, 2020

Follow Thru

Paramount, 1930
Starring Nancy Carroll, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Zelma O'Neal, and Jack Haley
Directed by Laurence Schwab and Lloyd Corrigan
Music by various

Of course, color wasn't limited to all-star revues and backstage tales in the early talkie era. Even romantic comedies with music came in shades of peach, turquoise, and gold. Tough gal Nancy Carroll and heartthrob Buddy Rogers were at team in several films before they appeared in this pre-Caddyshack golf comedy. Feisty Zelma O'Neal and lanky Jack Haley were imported from the original 1929 Broadway show. Let's head to the golf club as a champion is being born and find out...

The Story: Lora Moore (Carroll) is literally born into golf. She's the top golfer at the Palm Springs club where her father worked, at least until she loses a match to stuck-up rival Ruth Van Horne (Thelma Todd). Lora eventually hires handsome pro golfer Jerry Downes (Rogers) to help improve her game...but he ends up improving her love-life too when they fall for each other. Ruth also has her eye on Jerry and starts spreading the word that Lora and Jerry are sleeping around. Meanwhile, Jerry's wealthy but girl-shy best friend Jerry Martin (Haley) is pursued by Lora's buddy Angie Howard (O'Neal), who totally refuses to take "no" for an answer.

The Song and Dance: Thank heavens Paramount hung on to their original color print of this one. This is a sweet delight with some of the most delectable uses of color I've ever seen. Carroll's red hair and green eyes were made for two-strip Technicolor. Indeed, the very first shot of her on the golf course shows of an incandescent ruby smile that's brighter than the lights used for the process. She and Rogers simply glow together; Haley and O'Neal have even more fun as the shy guy and the sassy flapper who won't give up on him. Everything pops on the screen, from Rogers and Carroll crooning in an orange orchard to Todd's aqua beads and peach feathers and Carroll's plaid kilt at a costume party.

Favorite Number: The big hit from this one was the standard "Button Up Your Overcoat," and O'Neal and Haley have a great time with it, rubbing and shaking each other in a reminder that "you belong to me." Rogers and Carroll are even cuter crooning "We'd Make a Peach of a Pair" on the golf course. The sole traditional large chorus number is "I Want to Be Bad." Scarlet-clad O'Neal kicks off things by dancing with imps and defying the moral censors of the 20's who wanted women to be dainty. She even stretches this to a chorus of angels, who eventually turn into dancing devils!

What I Don't Like: This is about as fluffy of a romantic comedy as you can get. Other than "Want to Be Bad," it's also pretty small-scale, especially compared to more prestigious early talkies like King of Jazz. There's also times when the early talkies and this being based on a stage show is apparent, including obviously fake scenery during "Peach of a Pair" and the stagy scene where Haley and Eugene Pallatte are trying to retrieve something from the girls' locker room.

The Big Finale: Worth searching the golf course for if you love the early talkies, romantic comedy, or 20's musicals.

Home Media: At press time, this rarity is only available on YouTube.


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