Hellzapoppin'

Hellzapoppin'

Director: H.C. Potter, Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, Martha Raye

Cast: H.C. Potter, Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, Martha Raye

     
 
Hellzapoppin' is the film version of the "anything goes" Broadway hit starring Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. The original production was part musical comedy, part "blackout" revue, with wild sight gags, zany props, audience participation sequences, dirty jokes, and never-ending gunshots. There was no plot, and in fact no two performances were exactly alike. When

Overview

Hellzapoppin' is the film version of the "anything goes" Broadway hit starring Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. The original production was part musical comedy, part "blackout" revue, with wild sight gags, zany props, audience participation sequences, dirty jokes, and never-ending gunshots. There was no plot, and in fact no two performances were exactly alike. When Hellzapoppin' was optioned by Universal, the original intention was to film the play as it stood (minus the more ribald one-liners), but the studio got cold feet and grafted on a conventional plot and romantic interest. The film's story concerns a musical show being staged at a fancy estate, and the romantic triangle of the show's producer (Robert Paige), the wealthy girl who lives at the estate (Jane Frazee), and the girl's erstwhile fiance (Lewis Howard). The show's stars are Olsen, Johnson, and Martha Raye. Martha is mistaken for the wealthy girl by a penniless Russian aristocrat (Mischa Auer), and the entire proceedings are "investigated" by a goofy private detective (Hugh Herbert). Olsen and Johnson are thus reduced to supporting players in their own film, but when they do manage to command the screen, the results are hilarious. The best moments range from a throwaway gag about Citizen Kane (Johnson finds a sled marked "Rosebud" and mutters "I thought they burned that!") to the more elaborate special-effects routines involving the mixed-up projectionist (Shemp Howard) who's ostensibly running Hellzapoppin for the benefit of the film audience. While the movie version fails to completely capture the spirit of the original play (except in a bizarre opening sequence), and the finale is a major disappointment, Hellzapoppin remains one of the few sustained filmic examples of the "nut humor" exemplified by Olsen and Johnson.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Not many film comedies, especially from the 1940s, would open in Hell, but that's how Hellzapoppin gets off to its zany start. It isn't really Hell, of course, but it's still a starling thing to see in a studio film of the period, and if only Hellzapoppin had stuck strictly to this kind of surprise, it would probably be a film that many people know, rather than one which is rarely shown nowadays. Unfortunately, the powers that be saw fit to saddle this revue with a vapid, irritating storyline, and that diminishes the fun somewhat; still, even with this storyline, the creators manage to have some fun, as when the romantic dup interrupt their wooing to tell an audience member that he needs to go home because his mother is calling him. When Hellzapoppin is "on," it's similar to one of Mel Brooks' wackier efforts, and the humor is infectious. Even when its jokes don't really land or land with a groan, which is actually fairly often, it's still entertaining, because it's simply daffy. The style of the humor, and of its main creators, Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, won't be for everyone; but those who tune in to it will find Hellzapoppin fun and flighty.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/15/2015
UPC:
0644827257522
Original Release:
1941
Source:
Nostalgia Family
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:24:00
Sales rank:
10,763

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ole Olsen Ole Olsen
Chic Johnson Chic
Martha Raye Betty Johnson
Hugh Herbert Detective Quimby
Mischa Auer Pepi
Jane Frazee Kitty Rand
Robert Paige Jeff Hunter
Shemp Howard Louie
Clarence Kolb Mr. Rand
Nella Walker Mrs. Rand
Lewis Howard Woody Taylor
Eddie Acuff Drafted Devil
Sig Arno Cellist
Don Brodie Theater Manager
George Chandler Man
Elisha Cook Assistant Director
Billy Curtis Taxi Driver
Frank Darien Photographer
George Davis Butler
Hal K. Dawson Photographer
Jo Gilbert Blonde
Harlem Congeroo Dancers Specialty
Olive Hatch Specialty
Gil Perkins Butler in Pool
Bert Roach Man in Audience
Andrew Tombes Producer
Dale Van Sickel Man Who Falls into Pool
Slim and Slam Specialty
Richard Lane Director
Gus Schilling Conductor
Harry Monty Midget

Technical Credits
H.C. Potter Director
Elwood Bredell Cinematographer
Miton Carruth Editor
Nick Castle Choreography
Gene de Paul Score Composer
John P. Fulton Special Effects
Jules Levy Producer
Nat Perrin Screenwriter
Eddie Prinz Choreography
Vera West Costumes/Costume Designer
Warren Wilson Screenwriter

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