Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Florodora Boys

The "Florodora Boys" number from Warner Brothers' 1929 all-star extravaganza The Show of Shows is more remarkable for who is in it rather than for any inherent entertainment value it may have.. which apparently holds true for most of the film. The number is a reference to the musical Florodora which opened in 1899 at the Lyric in London before running on Broadway for 505 performances at the New York and the Casino between 1900 and 1902. It was revived three times, the last being a Schubert production of 1920. For reasons that are beyond me, the question of what happened to the original Florodora Boys became a common pop reference for years. A 1938 Screen Gems cartoon, Midnight Frolics, features the ghosts of the original Florodora Boys. This number is introduced by Frank Fay doing his self-depreciating shtick that probably played better in person than it does in this film. I personally think he's rather funny in small doses, but he's omnipresent in The Show of Shows. The Warners clearly felt they had a find in Frank. The number itself opens with a chorus line consisting of Alice Day, Lila Lee, Myrna Loy, Patsy Ruth Miller, Marian Nixon, and Sally O'Neil who really do nothing more than chant and look pretty (again, the novelty was in the lineup and frilly Edwardian costumes). Ben Turpin, Heine Conklin, Lupino Lane, Bert Roach, Lloyd Hamilton, and someone else I have yet to identify (he plays the plumber.. Would you help me out here, folks?) then take the stage and each gets a stanza and a little bit of business; Turpin does his forward somersault, Lane does his jackknife split, Conklin stares blankly, etc.. Lupino Lane is particularly interesting here as he crosses back over the line from silent slapstick to the world of musical comedy from which he originally came (and in which he would eventually find his greatest success, largely as the originator of "The Lambeth Walk").

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The other comedian in this clip is Lee Moran, formerly of the Al Christie/Universal team Lyons and Moran. - Brent W.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

THANK YOU! He's quite funny in this little turn.. has a touch of Ray Bolger about him.

9:09 PM  

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