“They didn’t put people out on the street in Rome.”
When a nebbishy do-gooder (Eddie Cantor) is thrown out of his home town of West Rome, Oklahoma, he suddenly finds himself a slave in Ancient Rome, fighting to save Princess Sylvia (Gloria Stuart) from the clutches of corrupt Emperor Valerius (Edward Arnold).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Ancient Greece and Rome
- Busby Berkeley Films
- Eddie Cantor Films
- Edward Arnold Films
- Time Travel
Often cited as one of Eddie Cantor’s best vehicles, this lavish Depression-era musical features two far-out Busby Berkeley sequences, a bevy of nearly-nude “Goldwyn Girls” (including Lucille Ball), and a healthy dose of pre-Code humor (while selling himself on the slave market, Cantor coyly asserts, “I can take care of the children. If there are no children, I can take care of that. By being a son to you!”). In both West Rome and Ancient Rome (where he mysteriously time-travels after being knocked over on the street), Cantor gets to play one of his most likable characters — a genuinely well-meaning if timid guy who takes enormous risks to help others.
Although a little of Cantor goes a long way (and he’s on-screen all the time), fans will have plenty to enjoy. Meanwhile, Gloria Stuart (wearing a long blonde wig) has never been more fetching:
and statuesque Verree Teasdale is humorously villainous as the Emperor’s murderous wife.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Typically lavish Busby Berkeley musical numbers
Yes, simply to see the enormously popular Cantor in one of his best films. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.