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Friday, 4 July 2008

No Contest! (1934)

Made in 1934, the same year as The Goddess which preceded it on the TCM schedules, this two reel short couldn't be more different. The Goddess was a silent feature, featuring an expressive star who could really act without needing sound. No Contest! was a short, featuring a singer who doesn't do much except sing. There's a very loose plot hanging round the songs, but it's very loose. The point of No Contest! is roughly akin to a music video of today, especially as Ruth Etting plays herself.

She's the star of the Albertson Travel Hour on radio, hosted by the Albertson Travel Bureau who have signed her to an exclusive contract to suck people in to their hour long advert. It does seem a little surprising that this has a pretty powerful floor show for a radio broadcast, but shrug. The point is that after it, the producer discovers that the competing Regan Travel Bureau Hour also features his star, Ruth Etting, though they're playing her from a recording.

So because Regan have stolen Albertson's star, Albertson steals Regan's contest gimmick. The idea is that Ruth Etting will appear live and in person at an event or party for whoever wins the contest, it having to do with writing down sentences from words in one of her songs. Anything to get her to sing, because that's the whole point of the movie. So Fred Harris, contest nut, sends in his answers and his friends play a prank on him.

What you have here is a twenty minute movie that features about two minutes of plot. You can see how deep it's going to get. What this really is is an opportunity to see Ruth Etting, notable torch singer of the 30s doing her thing, long before she got a biopic, which she did in 1955 when Doris Day played her in Love Me or Leave Me, unique because it featured a James Cagney role that it was impossible to enjoy.

1 comment:

Bryan James said...

Re: "Doris Day played her (Ruth Etting) in Love Me or Leave Me, unique because it featured a James Cagney role that it was impossible to enjoy."

I beg to disagree - James Cagney was hugely enjoyable playing Etting's husband, Marty "the Gimp" Snyder. Many people, including myself, believe he should have won an oscar for his performance.

Ruth & Marty were 'consultants' on the picture and paid a huge sum for allowing their story to be filmed.