“The kid deserves a better break. Why, this burlesque racket is no place for her!”
An aging burlesque star (Helen Morgan) with a manipulative boyfriend (Fuller Mellish, Jr.) tries to prevent her daughter (Joan Peers) — who has fallen in love with a kind sailor (Henry Wadsworth) — from following in her footsteps.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Rouben Mamoulian Films
- Single Mothers
Rouben Mamoulian’s directorial debut remains one of the most creatively conceived early talkies; as noted in Stuart Galbraith IV’s review for DVD Talk, “Compared with the stage-bound, bolt-the-camera-to-the-floor look of nearly all the earliest sound films, Applause is downright astounding.” A glimpse at the stills below provides evidence of Mamoulian’s (and cinematographer George J. Folsey’s) visual brilliance and effective use of on-location shooting. The film is also notable for providing torch singer Helen Morgan with one of a handful of leading cinematic roles as a Stella Dallas-like mother sacrificing all for her daughter. Unfortunately, the storyline itself is pure melodrama through-and-through, with few surprises and many cliches, making this one merely recommended rather than must-see.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Creative direction and cinematography
- Fine on-location shooting
No, though it’s certainly worth a look. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book.