Strike Me Pink (1936)

“When confronted with danger, be prompt — be rash — be bold; dominate the situation!”

Strike Me Pink Poster

Synopsis:
A meek tailor (Eddie Cantor) gains newfound confidence from a correspondence course, and is hired to manage an amusement park threatened by gangsters, who want to infuse it with crooked slot machines.

Genres:

Review:
This final entry in Eddie Cantor’s career at Samuel Goldwyn studios (where he made one big-budget musical per year, from 1930 to 1936) is reminiscent of Harold Lloyd’s comedies — so it’s not surprising to learn that Goldwyn originally wanted Lloyd for the lead role (indeed, the script was written with him in mind). The storyline is slight as can be (crooked slot machines?!), but film fanatics may be curious to check this one out simply to see Broadway chanteuse Ethel Merman in one of her relatively few early onscreen roles — here playing the shady nightclub singer Cantor is hopelessly in love with. Also of interest are some — er — interestingly choreographed dances (see still below).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An opportunity to see and hear Ethel Merman in her prime
    Strike Me Pink Merman
  • Some surreal dance sequences
    Strike Me Pink Dance

Must See?
No; this one is only must-see for Cantor fans.

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One Response to “Strike Me Pink (1936)”

  1. First viewing. (Very surprisingly) a once-must (with reservations), for its place in cinema history.

    I never thought I would say this (esp. in light of how I have written about him elsewhere) but this is an Eddie Cantor film worthy of being seen (even though it’s a bit flawed). Overall, the style of most of Cantor’s humor has (in most other films) dated rather badly, but the humor here hasn’t.

    As well, almost any half-decent comedian will probably be seen in a better light if he/she has good material to work with – and, here, Cantor does. Of course, the script is the work of 5 writers, so the result is a bit like a tv variety show – some parts are stronger than others. But the parts that are strong are actually very funny. The rest – if not as funny – is at least consistently amusing.

    The film has some particular plus-factors. Director Norman Taurog, for example. Even if the bulk of his filmography does not consist of top-drawer titles, he is still established-enough as a fairly successful director of comedy. Also: legendary DP Gregg Toland handled the musical sequences (well) and dependable choreographer Robert Alton added some spiffy dance routines.

    It’s also nice seeing Merman – even if the first number she is given (‘High and Low’) is a disappointment. Later she shines vocally, with better numbers.

    The supporting cast lends fine support: esp. dancer Dona Drake (here going as ‘Rita Rio’) – who is reminiscent of Eleanor Powell; Brian Donlevy in fine form as a baddie; Harry Parke (aka Parkyakarkus) as Cantor’s bodyguard…and several others.

    Two fave scenes:
    – Cantor learning from a record with manual: ‘Are You a Man or a Mouse?’ (very funny).
    – Cantor later being threatened by a thug who (as it turns out) has also studied from the same record and manual re: being a man or a mouse.

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