Harry Richman was a huge nightclub star back in the 1920s, and also owned a club. His rough face never did translate to the screen and he made just a few films, although he continued delighting audiences with his songs and stories until well into his sixties. Richman, born Harold Reichman,
wrote a fine autobiography entitled A Hell of a Life, which would have made a better movie than this. In his talkies debut, Richman plays a poor performer who makes it big, forgets about all the little people, takes up with the hoity-toity types of cafe society, drinks too much, downs some tainted
bathtub gin, goes blind, and finally winds up with the woman he began with, Bennett. The switch here is that Richman doesn't recover his sight miraculously at the conclusion, so there is some believability in the story. Gleason and Tashman are the comedy relief. This was an early example of color
in films, as there is one reel in that process, a musical version of "Alice in Wonderland." It's jarring to have color in an otherwise black-and-white movie, and since they already had the ability to make films with hues, they should have gone all the way. Songs include "Puttin' on the Ritz,"
"With You" (Irving Berlin), "There's Danger In Your Eyes, Cherie" (Harry Richman, Pete Wendling, Jack Meskill), "I'll Get By" (Fred Ahlert, Roy Turk), "I'll Travel Along" (Sam Messenheimer, Val Burton, Richman). Don't confuse the Sidney Franklin credit with the two other men of the same name.
There was a Sidney Franklin who directed THE GOOD EARTH, PRIVATE LIVES, and many more as well as producing MRS. MINIVER, RANDOM HARVEST, WATERLOO BRIDGE, and others. And there was yet another Sidney Franklin who acted in films, after first having established himself as a matador known as "The
Bullfighter from Brooklyn."
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- Review: Harry Richman was a huge nightclub star back in the 1920s, and also owned a club. His rough face never did translate to the screen and he made just a few films, although he continued delighting audiences with his songs and stories until well into his sixti… (more)