Hips, Hips, Hooray - 1934
Hips Hips Hooray - Released February 2, 1934. Directed by Mark Sandrich
You can see why the production code was just around the corner with Hips, Hips, Hooray! rolling into theatres in early 1934 (the code landed in the fall of the same year). This tale, which is mostly a connected series of comical sketches by Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey (with Thelma Todd and Dorothy Lee along), is partially about two goofy street corner salesmen trying to unload a bag of flavored lipsticks who get caught up in the accidental theft of an identically-shaped bag full of securities. The other part of the film is director Mark Sandrich and the gag writers* filling the farce with bevies of young women in 1930's-style underwear while apparently selling bathroom accessories, other girls in strange rubber-looking usherette costumes in garters and stockings, and the many secretaries populating the film (much of the story takes place in skyscraper offices) are all young and attractive and subject to slightly double-entendre wisecracks. It's more than a little gratuitous and the film ends up seeming like a cleaned-up version of a dirty vaudeville act (the villain of the piece is George Meeker as Mr. Beauchamp who leers at the girls about as much as, I guess, the audience is supposed to, judging by the way the gooseflesh is presented).
In between all of this is a song sung by Ruth Etting (who gets a starring position in the credits but only appears for a few minutes) singing "Keep Doin' What You're Doin'" which was originally meant for the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup. Wheeler and Woolsey get funny and inventive episodes in which they demonstrate how two men can bed, cook and dress themselves from out of an automobile, making coffee using the radiator, the wheels to press pants, etc. A long pool-room episode features trick shots that get more and more preposterous as the scene rolls along.
Thelma Todd (as Amelia Frisby, the owner of "Maiden America Products") appears throughout the film as a secondary character. She is sometimes the familiar platinum-blonde Thelma we've seen in so many other early 30's films (she died in Dec 1935), but at other times in Hips, Hips, Hooray! she is black-haired, though in one dressing room scene the dark hair is obviously a wig and somewhat crookedly fastened to her head.
Dorothy Lee is the "love interest" that Bert Wheeler pursues in the story, and she isn't called upon to do much more than to provide a perfect smile and a lovelorn look when things aren't working out, though she does have a scene in which she hangs from a chandelier when Wheeler and Woolsey run rampant through a businessman's office suite.
The dancing numbers are by Dave Gould and Hips, Hips, Hooray! is larded with a lot of gorgeous art deco design work (by Carroll Clark and Van Nest Polglase) with costumes by Walter Plunkett.
*Script by Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Edward Kaufman
AMAZON: Wheeler and Woolsey - RKO Comedy Classics Collection DVD Set
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