Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hips, Hips, Hooray!

I've been looking through the list of films I've watched off my DVR recently, and surprisingly, I've picked a bunch of films that are out-of-print on DVD, which is a shame, since I'd really like to recommend some of the movies. One that does happen to be available is Hips, Hips, Hooray!, which is on a nine-film set of the works of Wheeler and Woolsey.

In this one, Wheeler and Woolsey (the latter is the one with the glasses and cigar) play Andy and Dr. Dudley respectively, but more on them in a bit. The movie starts off with the Maiden America beauty products company doing a radio show, complete with opening song by Ruth Etting (she of the Love Me or Leave Me biopic; the opening song is all she appears in the movie, however). It turns out that the company is floundering, and if sales don't increase, people will have to be let go. What they don't know is that their adman Beauchamp (George Meeker) is in cahoots with competitor Irene (Phyllis Barry).

Meanwhile, Andy and Dr. Dudley are just across the street from the Maiden America flagship, hawking products out of the back of their car and attracting a crowd the way a carnival barker does. In this movie, they're selling flavored lipsticks. The cops are on to them, however, and they have to beat a hasty escape. But Andy's girlfriend Daisy (Dorothy Lee) works for Maiden America, and when she hears about the flavored lipsticks and Dr. Dudleys lies about how wealthy the two are (why would anybody believe those two guys?), she tells her boss Miss Frisby (Thelma Todd) that Maiden America should partner with these guys.

So Andy and Dudley commandeer an office to pitch their product to Frisby. It turns out to be the office of an investment banker, who is just about to take a satchel full of securities to be deposited. Eventually, that banker returns to the commandeered office, and Andy and Dudley have to beat a hasty escape. They take what is supposed to be their satchel full of the flavored lipsticks, but of course they take the wrong satchel and wind up with the bonds. Oops.

Eventually, they have to leave town entirely, and it just so turns out that Frisby has sponsored a car in a cross-country car race, just as Irene has. Andy and Dudley eventually come across the car while they're hitch-hiking, and get in it, taking part in the race themselves.

Wheeler and Woolsey can be an acquired taste, and Hips, Hips, Hooray probably requires a bit more acquisition than some of their other movies. That's not to say that the movie is bad; it's just that it requires a certain mindset. There are some trick photography shots at a pool hall that I don't think will be everybody's type of humor, as well as a lot of comedy that can be grating. I've mentioned on several occasions that I'm not a fan of what I call the "comedy of lies", where the main character lies and then has to expand upon that lie to keep the ruse going. That happens quite a bit in this one. But there's enough in the movie that's wacky enough to be entertaining, and the movie is short enough that even if you don't like it, it's not as if you'll feel you've wasted a lot of time. (And if it's that bad you can fast forward through the musical numbers.)

If you like Wheeler and Woolsey, you can get the nine-movie set at a relatively reasonable price. But then again, I wouldn't be surprised if Wheeler and Woolsey fans have already done that. On the whole, though, I think I'd recommend waiting for one or two of the duo's movies to show up on TCM and watch there before deciding whether to buy the set if you haven't already seen any of their films.

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