Dr. Rhythm (1938)

Toronto Film Society presented Dr. Rhythm (1938) on Monday, July 18, 1977 in a double bill with Meet Me in St. Louis as part of the Season 30 Summer Series, Programme 3.

Production Company: Paramount.  Producer: Emanuel Cohen.  Director: Frank Tuttle.  Screenplay: Jo Swerling and Richard Connell, from the O. Henry story, “The Badge of Policeman O’Roon”.  Music and Lyrics: James V. Monaco and John Burke.

Cast:  Bing Crosby (Dr. Bill Remsen), Mary Carlisle (Judy Marlowe), Beatrice Lillie (Mrs. Lorelei Dodge-Blodgett), Andy Devine (Policeman Lawrence O’Roon), Rufe Davis (Al, the zoo keeper), Laura Hope Crews (Mrs. Minerva Twombling), Fred Keating (Chris LeRoy), John Hamilton (Inspector Bryce), Sterling Holloway (Luke, the ice cream man), Henry Wadsworth (Otis Eaton), Franklin Pangborn (Mr. Stenchfield, store clerk), William Austin (Mr. Martingale), Harold Minjir (Mr. Coldwater), Gino Corrado (Cazzatta), Emory Parnell (Sergeant Olson), Harry Stubbs (Police Captain), Frank Ellitt (Lorelei’s Butler), Charles Moore (Chauffeur), Louis Armstrong (Specialties).

Crazy musical comedy with Bing Crosby to supply the music and Beatrice Lillie the comedy.  As Dr. Remsen, Bing wakes up on the ‘morning after’ inside Central Park Zoo, the previous night being spent in reunion revelry.  His friend O’Roon, his companion on the night before, has been bitten by a provoked seal and is unable to go on duty, so the doctor goes in his stead and finds he is to act as bodyguard to Mrs. Dodge-Blodgett’s niece who thinks she is in love with a ne’er-do-well gambler.  One glance at Judy and Bill is resolved to be an efficient bodyguard.  How he succeeds following her through an amusement park and ending up at the Policeman’s Ball, makes an inconsequential but gay film.  Bing enters into the part with an assured and easy poise and sings his way effectively into Judy’s heart, Mary Carlisle making an attractive heroine.  But Beatrice Lillie’s genius for clowning and parody, her solemn absurdity and expressive body give the film its most individual moments.  The rest of the cast act with a trained brilliance which gives a polish to an otherwise slight and disjointed plot.

D.E.B., Monthly Film Bulletin, June 30, 1938, Vol. 5, No. 54

An advantage–we might say the only advantage–is the complete informality of the show, an attitude for which Miss Lillie is largely and blessedly responsible.  It is outrageous, of course, for any one to wink into the camera, but she gets away with it.  She also does a neat take-off on the night club rhythm girls, she has a gypsy song and dance and a few chunks of dehydrated dialogue.

Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times, May 19, 1938

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