A silly and occasionally uproarious comedy which stars Barrymore as a film producer who is preparing to have his picture, "The Earth in Flames," premiered in Washington, D.C. To heighten word-of-mouth about his anti-Axis film, Barrymore and his publicity agent, Castle, hire three "spies"
to deliver threatening messages which promise to disrupt the premiere. What confuses the matter, however, is that three actual spies--Rumann, Feld, and Alberni--plan to show a propaganda film in place of Barrymore's much-awaited epic. The spies, in the Keystone Kops tradition, supply the picture
with fast-paced confusion, endless bungling, and a series of side-splitting routines. Their main obstacle in switching the film is getting into the cage of a Bengal tiger--the company mascot of Bengal Pictures--where the film is being kept as yet another publicity stunt. The trip from Hollywood to
Washington is spiced with romance when the film's star, Cortez, finds himself explaining to traveling companion Farmer his attraction for bit player Dale. Meantime, Farmer's annoyance at his crush on Dale is magnified by gossipmonger Wright, who plays her against Cortez in order to get juicy
material for his column. By the time the entourage reaches Washington, Rumann's plan of espionage has been succesfully carried out and, when the curtain rises, the propaganda picture begins to roll. It takes Barrymore a few moments to realize the ruse, but before long everything is straightened
out and the world premiere goes on without any further hitches. As masterful as Barrymore can be, WORLD PREMIERE is a success chiefly because of the comic scene-stealing by Rumann, Feld, and Alberni. Rumann, who two years previously had gained fame in both NINOTCHKA and ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, was
here given license to bring the house down with laughter, and would do so again brilliantly in TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942). WORLD PREMIERE was the directorial debut for Tetzlaff, who had previously gained recognition as a top Hollywood cameraman photographing a number of early Frank Capra pictures
(THE POWER OF THE PRESS, 1928, THE YOUNGER GENERATION, and THE DONOVAN AFFAIR, both 1929) as well as MY MAN GODFREY (1936). After a stint in WW II, Tetzlaff returned to Hollywood for a short time as cameraman on two masterpieces, THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE (1945) and NOTORIOUS (1946), before resuming
his directorial status.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A silly and occasionally uproarious comedy which stars Barrymore as a film producer who is preparing to have his picture, "The Earth in Flames," premiered in Washington, D.C. To heighten word-of-mouth about his anti-Axis film, Barrymore and his publicity a… (more)