Yet another backstage musical, but this time featuring a bright script and some nice tunes, KING OF BURLESQUE concerns Baxter, the Ziegfield of the G-string, who wants to get into Broadway-type shows because he feels he's ready to step up in class. Faye, his dance director and number-one
singer, and Oakie, Baxter's sidekick, both think Baxter should stick with what he knows. Faye is in love with Baxter, but he regards her only as an employee. The three of them, together with Judge, Oakie's girl friend, go to a furnishings auction at the mansion of Barrie, a formerly rich woman who
has fallen upon hard times. Baxter is bombastic with Barrie and she refuses to sell him the item (a ship's model) that he craves. When Barrie needs money, she goes to Baxter's office and relents, offering to sell him the model. Baxter becomes interested in her and (after a courtship that seems to
last about a minute) they get married. Faye, thunderstruck, leaves Baxter to go to London, where she soon becomes a smashing success. Baxter and Barrie honeymoon in Europe and, upon their return, she asks Baxter to hire Quigley for his new show, as he has been her longtime "protege." Baxter
presents a classy and first-rate show, but it doesn't have the raucousness that made Baxter's burlesque shows into hits and fails almost immediately. Now that he's down at the heels, Barrie divorces Baxter and he finds consolation making the rounds of the tackier watering holes of the city. Faye
returns with a lot of money and she and Oakie engage Ratoff to pose as a millionaire eager to back Baxter's latest efforts. Faye knows that Baxter would never knowingly take money from her so she has to use that ploy. It is successful, and Baxter opens a Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe-type
theater-restaurant. Faye agrees to star in the new show and Waller, the elevator man, also joins the cast, as do Dunbar, Long, and Baker, formerly the telephone operator, an office boy, and a failed Hollywood dancer. Need we add that the show is a hit? Baxter is, once again, in business and he
realizes that Faye is the cause of it all. They are happily united at the fade as Oakie and Judge, already an item, look on and smile.
The story was remade in 1943 as HELLO, FRISCO, HELLO, with John Payne in the Baxter role and Faye and Oakie reprising. Baxter had played virtually the same role in 42ND STREET, so he's at ease here. Fats Waller makes one of his rare feature appearances but sings none of his own songs,
unfortunately. Songs include: "I'm Shooting High," "Whose Big Baby Are You?" "I've Got My Fingers Crossed," "Spreading Rhythm Around" (Jimmy McHugh, Ted Koehler, sung by Alice Faye), "Lovely Lady" (McHugh, Koehler), "I Love to Ride the Horses" (Jack Yellen, Lew Pollack).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Yet another backstage musical, but this time featuring a bright script and some nice tunes, KING OF BURLESQUE concerns Baxter, the Ziegfield of the G-string, who wants to get into Broadway-type shows because he feels he's ready to step up in class. Faye, h… (more)