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Roman Scandals (1933) HD online

Roman Scandals (1933) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Comedy / Fantasy / Musical / Romance
Original Title: Roman Scandals
Director: Frank Tuttle
Writers: George S. Kaufman,Robert E. Sherwood
Released: 1933
Budget: $1,000,000
Duration: 1h 32min
Video type: Movie
A kind-hearted young man is thrown out of his corrupt home town of West Rome, Oklahoma. He falls asleep and dreams that he is back in the days of olden Rome, where he gets mixed up with court intrigue and a murder plot against the Emperor.
Complete credited cast:
Eddie Cantor Eddie Cantor - Eddie / Oedipus
The Goldwyn Girls The Goldwyn Girls - Slave Girls
Ruth Etting Ruth Etting - Olga
Gloria Stuart Gloria Stuart - Princess Sylvia
Edward Arnold Edward Arnold - Emperor Valerius
David Manners David Manners - Josephus
Verree Teasdale Verree Teasdale - Empress Agrippa
Alan Mowbray Alan Mowbray - Majordomo
Jack Rutherford Jack Rutherford - Manius (as John Rutherford)
Willard Robertson Willard Robertson - Warren Finley Cooper
Lee Kohlmar Lee Kohlmar - Storekeeper

The chorus girls - among them Lucille Ball - chained to the wall in the "No More Love" number are actually nude. The number was filmed during the night, when no studio bosses were around on the lot, with a minimum of technicians involved.

Film debut of Lucille Ball.

The studio had say over which girls Busby Berkeley could or could not use in his chorus lines and could reject one of them for any reason, though Berkeley usually fought for all of his casting decisions. For this film the studio rejected only two members of the chorus--Barbara Pepper and Lucille Ball.

Gloria Stuart was cast without taking a test. When Samuel Goldwyn was searching for an actress to play Princess Sylvia, Eddie Cantor suggested Stuart. Goldwyn took one look at the actress and decided that she was perfect for the role.

According to' Lucille Ball''s autobiography, often the slave girls were left chained up high in the rotunda in between shots and retakes. One day while feeling ill, Lucille fainted, her fake chains gave way and she fell, almost hitting and getting burned by the lights. Another extra playing a slave driver caught her, and she was unharmed.

Film debut of Barbara Pepper.

Since The Goldwyn Girls is credited in the early cast credits, but is not in the more comprehensive set of cast credits, the early credits are listed first in the IMDb cast, followed by those in the comprehensive credits not yet in, as required by IMDb policy on cast ordering.



Reviews: [20]

  • avatar

    Ishnsius

    I recently read an account of the creation of Roman Scandals and the miracle is the film got made at all. A whole lot of creative minds butted creative heads.

    Sam Goldwyn had it in mind to make a film version of Androcles and the Lion starring Eddie Cantor and I think Cantor would have been perfect in the title role. Unfortunately George Bernard Shaw thought there would be more Cantor than Shaw in the finished product and he nixed that idea with Goldwyn quick.

    The idea of a story in ancient Rome had really taken hold with Goldwyn so he then hired George S. Kaufman and Robert Sherwood to write a screenplay. They did come up with the story outline you see on films, but got into problems with Cantor who insisted he wanted the lead role more personalized along with the gags that went with it. Kaufman and Sherwood quit on Goldwyn.

    Sam got a few more writers and gave Cantor more creative input into the film and the result is Roman Scandals. Admittedly Roman Scandals is one of the best showcases for the talents of Eddie Cantor.

    Eddie plays one of his usual meek little schnooks who turns the tables on those oppressing him. He's the curator of a small museum in West Rome, Oklahoma and uncovers evidence of corruption by the local bigwigs who give him the bum's rush out of town. He soon finds himself walking on a road leading out of ancient Rome and gets involved in the political situation there.

    Co-starring with Cantor are Gloria Stuart, David Manners, and as the Emperor Edward Arnold who is playing one of his early villains. Cantor uses both Arnold and his chief henchmen Alan Mowbray to great effect in several gags. My two favorite scenes are his avoiding the Emperor's poisoned food by feeding it to the royal crocodile and Cantor being sold at the slave market with the bidding done by people who want him for all kinds of purposes.

    Ruth Etting who co-starred on Broadway with Cantor in Whoopee has a part and a real good torch song number No More Love. Busby Berkeley gave it and other songs sung by Cantor a big production number. Etting of course was the subject of bio film Love Me or Leave Me with Doris Day playing her. Roman Scandals is your opportunity to see the real deal and what a talent she was.

    Gloria Stuart who was on loan from Universal could not believe the lavishness of a Sam Goldwyn film, she was used to more cost conscious operations at her home studio. But if you hire Busby Berkeley lavish comes with the territory. Two of Cantor's numbers Build a Little Home and Keep Young and Beautiful got the lavish treatment and they were good.

    Eddie Cantor an entertainer of amazing talent should be seen and studied today. I can't think of anything better to start with than Roman Scandals.
  • avatar

    Agamaginn

    This was my first look at Eddie Cantor, whom I subsequently saw in a few other films. I thought he was funny, a very entertaining entertainer - a guy who could sing well and tell jokes and perform slapstick comedy. With all that, he reminded me a bit of the Marx Brothers. He could fit in with those guys, particularly Groucho with his comparable wit and short stature.

    Even though "Roman Scandals" was only 92 minutes, it would have been even better cut about 10, although I'm not complaining. In between the gags and the sappy Roman days story were at least three songs by Canotr, who was a decent singer and whose songs were pretty good, along with two Busby Berkely numbers with a bunch of scantily-clad ladies. It's corny stuff but it's still good. Lucille Ball is supposed to be in here but I didn't spot her in the two times I've watched this movie. I hardly recognized Gloria Stuart, too.

    The last part of the movie was similar to the climax of many a silent film comedy with a great chase scene. Cantor, a la Ben-Hur, raced his chariot with four white horses. Instead of an arena, however, Cantor raced through the countryside. There were great stunts and funny bits in that race.

    It was a great finish to a dated-but-very entertaining film. I wonder why Cantor's films are not available on DVD? I hope that oversight is corrected soon.
  • avatar

    Cordaron

    ROMAN SCANDALS (Samuel Goldwyn, 1933), directed by Frank Tuttle, is the fourth of the annual Eddie Cantor/Samuel Goldwyn musicals of the Depression thirties, and one of their comedic best. Inspired by the recent success to Will Rogers's version to Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE (Fox, 1931), this adaptation relies not on classic literature, but on its own original screenplay and comic supplements, compliments of George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood.

    In the basic storyline, Eddie Cantor stars as Eddie (no last name given), a good natured character of West Rome, Oklahoma, liked by so many. When Warren Finley Cooper (Willard Robertson), a corrupt politician, evicts a group of citizens from their homes in favor of building a jail, Eddie talks out of turn is forced to leave town. After being escorted across the border, Eddie, who happens to be an enthusiast about ancient Roman history, falls asleep on the side of the road and dreams himself back to the real Rome. While in ancient Rome, he encounters corrupt politicians headed the evil Emperor Valerius (Edward Arnold), and finds himself sold as a slave to Josephus (David Manners), who turns out he's rather have Eddie as a friend than a slave. On the romantic side, Josephus falls in love with the beautiful Princess Sylvia (Gloria Stuart), who becomes prisoner to the Emperor Valerius. Valerius has a wife, Agrippa (Verree Teasdale), who pleasures herself into poisoning her husband's food in hope to someday become a Merry Widow, but the Emperor is ahead of the game by hiring taste testers who drop dead after eating an unhealthy meal. Eddie is later hired for the job, but it would be more worthy for him to go on a starvation diet instead. After about an hour or so of ancient Roman dreams, the story reaches its climax with a hilarious chariot chase sequence.

    Also seen in Eddie's dream is legendary torch singer Ruth Etting as Olga. In spite of Etting's name billed second in the opening credits,her performance is on a limited scale, highlighted mostly by a song rendition at an auction gallery of slave girls. Aside from Dorothy's Technicolored dream in THE WIZARD OF OZ (MGM, 1939), Eddie's dream not only remains in black and white, but becomes a lavish scale spectacle with high comedy score composed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin (on loan from Warner Brothers), featuring: "Build a Little Home" (the score that opens and closes the movie/ as sung by Eddie Cantor); "No More Love" (sung by Ruth Etting, danced by The Goldwyn Girls, solo dance by Grace Poggi); "Keep Young and Beautiful," "Put a Tax on Love" and a reprise of "Build a Little Home" (all sung by Cantor).

    With a large cast, only a few are noted in the opening credits. Aside from Alan Mowbray and Lee Kohlmar as the surviving names on the list, the ones receiving no screen credit are Jane Darwell as the beauty saloon manager in Ancient Rome; Charles C. Wilson as a police chief in modern Rome; Stanley Fields as the slave auctioneer; with Paul Porcasi and Harry Holman. Look for midget Billy Barty appearing briefly as the shrunken Eddie in one scene. Among the Goldwyn Girls, there are many, but the one of main interest today is Lucille Ball, in her movie debut. She can be spotted several times throughout the story.

    While the entire movie plays mostly for laughs, the "No More Love" production number, directed by Busby Berkeley, is actually the only serious moment in the story. For Berkeley's choreography, in this production, they're not up to his usual standards. Only "No More Love" has the Berkeley trademark, facial closeups of dancing slave beauties, though nothing really spectacular, with the exception of the lavish sets and costumes that make this look more like a Cecil B. DeMille epic.

    ROMAN SCANDALS at 93 minutes presents Eddie Cantor at his prime, risqué dialog, slapstick comedy, vaudeville-type pratfalls, and a dream sequence only Hollywood could dream up. A forerunner to Zero Mostel's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1966), along with a run-on gag with a plate of poisoned food that echoes the Danny Kaye comedy from THE COURT JESTER (1955).

    During the early years of cable television, this, along with other Cantor/Goldwyn collaborations, were featured on the Nostalgia Channel, Turner Network Television (TNT) and last seen on American Movie Classics during the 1993-94 season. Long unseen on any television in recent years, ROMAN SCANDALS has also become one of the few surviving Cantor/Goldwyn musicals of the 1930s to remain available on video cassette.

    ROMAN SCANDALS may be of sole interest today mainly for I LOVE LUCY fans to try and spot a very young Lucille Ball as one of the extras, but if not for that, watch it for its broad comedy, which has been imitated many times in later years by future film and TV comics, and may continue to do so as long as ROMAN SCANDALS remains available for viewing and film study. (***)
  • avatar

    Marige

    One of the underlying themes is slavery —- mostly as satire, but a disturbingly poignant scene at the climax of the slave bazaar number has a girl throwing herself to her death to escape from bondage. This was at a time when Busby Berkeley, the choreographer, was sometimes inserting serious byplay into his numbers (a la "42nd Street"). Boy, is this example a beaut! The Ruth Etting blues solo "No More Love" directly plays on the same theme. Both songs have undercurrents I've never seen suggested in a comedy before or since. These, along with the nutty, racially integrated "Keep Young & Beautiful" routine, add a curiously (yet fascinating) unsavory aspect to the proceedings that is not really easy to characterize.

    Oh yeah, what about that lively beer garden drinking song near the beginning and Cantor in black-face! Offensive, absolutely —- but somehow, with Cantor, what's not to love? Politically incorrect? You betcha —- but this is not cruel or demeaning stuff. It's mostly just out-and-out dream-like crazy.

    Others have noted the fine production values, and of course the great comic chariot race at the end. Add it all up and what you've got is a nice, unique, big 'ol pastry of a movie musical. If you wanted something to take your mind of things for 93 minutes in 1933, this was just the ticket. If you want something to take your mind off things for 93 minutes in 2007,this is still just the ticket
  • avatar

    Runeshaper

    What needs to be understood about this entertainment film is that it is a revue. The 'hook" for its use of the time-travel gimmick, forward or in this case backward, which it helped to inspire for years to come is a parallel drawn by the authors between a corrupt West Rome, Oklahoma and the governors of ancient Rome's empire. The bridge between the two is opened in the mind of Eddie, played with verve and charisma by Eddie Cantor. In this the most lavish of his four 1930s musicals, with choreography by Busby Berkeley, Cantor imagines himself back in ancient Rome, where he uncovers corruption similar to his own small town's problems. In this musical comedy enlivened by Berkeley, with story and gags by George S. Kaufman, Nat Perrin and and Robert Emmet Sherwood among others, Eddie first finds bribery going on by a developer who wants to build a new jail, dispossessing many residents in the midst of the great Depression. As a result of his protests, after singing a song, Eddie is thrown out of town by police. He then finds himself inexplicably in ancient Rome, and after insulting the Empress, he is condemned to be sold as a slave. Narrowly escaping the clutches of an amorous hag, he is bought by Josephus, handsome David Manners, who wants him as a friend, not a slave. Meanwhile, the Emperor Valerius's favorite, played by Ruth Etting, is being sold away. This leads to the magnificent "No More Love" number involving naked girls covered only by long tresses chained to huge pillars and a Berkeley dance number involving a symbolic slave-girl dancer who plunges from the top of a huge staircase at the end of the number. Meanwhile, the story continues. The four strands involved are Josephus's love for a Princess (Gloria Stuart), Eddie falling afoul of Roman mores, the Empress Agrippina, Verree Teasdale, trying to poison her philandering husband, played with award-level gusto by Edward Arnold, and Valerius pursuing Sylvia (Stuart). Josephus has renamed Eddie "Oedipus"; an hilarious sequence involves "lava gas" being administered to Eddie, then to the royal torturers and finally the Emperor. The Emperor wants Olga back, but still has time to pursue Sylvia. Josephus tries to free both Eddie and Sylvia when the Emperor takes them but is rebuffed. Sylvia agrees to be taken to the palace--to remain there until she falls in love with Valerius-- if he will leave her people unpunished. Then the imperial food taster dies--Agrippina's work, of course; and Eddie gets the job. By this time he has introduced several U.S. vices including crooked dice into ancient Rome. Agrippina summons Eddie to her couch and tells him she wants to poison Valerius. As a precaution, Valerius banishes his rival Josephus who decides to wait for Sylvia, to be spirited away to him, in his chariot. After some tribulations with the palace's majordomo, Alan Mowbray, Eddie gets the message he's been given to Sylvia. After another song in the women's quarters, Eddie finds out about corruption involving Valerius and two senators--a parallel to the West Rome chicanery. Agrippina then warns Eddie not to eat the night's dinner, which he feeds to the royal crocodile. The Empress puts the blame for the animal's demise onto Josephus and Sylvia; Josephus takes Sylvia away in his chariot, and after being condemned to be thrown to the lions himself, Eddie escapes and tries to catch them, to prevent Josephus's being killed at the port of Ostia. After a memorably and funny chariot chase, Cantor wakes up in the U.S. again; and there is a bribe to the police chief as evidence of the wrongdoing he had claimed in his pocket. The satire ends happily, but not without having raised disturbing parallels between republicans' poisoning of the federal reserve and US corruption and the statism of Rome's authoritarian emperors. The piece is a satire from beginning to end, with elements of comedy, drama, parody and song. it is a difficult sort of film to do well, I assert; and to expect this to be any one sort of offering is to fail to comprehend its purpose. This is a thinking-man's light-entertainment, nothing more and a great deal more than less. Girls in revealing costumes, an escapist look at Roman parallels, some delightful actors, a few songs and several spectacular sequences; this was entertainment in the 1930s and for those willing to enjoy it on its own terms, as pure fun, it still is. Every time-travel comedy made since "A Connecticut Yankee" of 1931 and this film owes a great deal to the inspiration of both, but especially I suggest to "Roman Scandals". Frank Tuttle directed this fast-paced and sumptuous romp. The cinematography was by Ray June and Gregg Toland, with costumes by John W. Harkrider, and difficult art direction was provided by Richard Day. Alfred Newman did the music, Harry Warren the original songs. In the cast, Arnold and Teasdale are wonderful, the young leads are attractive throughout and Alan Mowbray delightful in a comedic turns. There are several important actors in small parts including Jane Darwell, Lucille Ball and Billy Barty. With an updated score, I suggest this seminal musical could be successfully remade; but the hard part would be to remove the Eddie Cantor contribution, which was as much a pattern for future comedic talents such as Lou Costello and Jerry Lewis as it was intrinsic to the fun of the production. This Samuel Goldwyn opus may be a trifle pretentious here and there, but not one moment of it I suggest is ever dull.
  • avatar

    Umrdana

    This 1933 Samuel Goldwyn production is generally regarded as being Cantor's most successful thirties film. A fascinating depression-flavoured movie, it is a bit reminiscent of THE WIZARD OF OZ in that there are "reality book-ends" the majority of the film being a dreamer's fantasy. Rather than having a Technicolored centre, however, this film benefits from Gregg Toland's famous silvery hued cinematography. The rarely seen in films Ruth Etting had her only movie role of any merit as Olga: fortunately her character's dialogue is kept to a minimum for it's rather poorly delivered. As Emperor Valerius, Edward Arnold does fine in a surprisingly modern-styled comedy performance, and the usually wooden and boring David Manners delivers an refreshingly against-type performance as the sprighty Josephus. As Princess Sylvia, a luminously youthful Gloria Stuart is lovely. The film premiere at Graumann's Chinese Theatre and was broadcasted via radio & the film made a million dollar profit. Contrary to popular belief, this wasn't Lucille Ball's film debut: she had appeared in both BROADWAY THRU A KEYHOLE & BLOOD MONEY in bits priorly. However, the lovely young blonde girl in the film's beginning who enthusiastically informs the locals "Here comes Eddie!" is indeed a 22 year-old native of Jamestown, New York named Lucille Ball.
  • avatar

    Beardana

    If you aren't a fan of the Wide-Eyed Wonder already, you should be. He takes the audience of romp after romp from Rome, New York to ancient Rome itself. Cantor was the emperor's food taster in the time of the Roman Empire; what a task! Who else could do it so whimsically? We to go to the movies for fun, right? You will definitely have fun skipping through a loosely written script with the man with the mesmerizing eyes. Considering the time(1930's) and the sad state the entire country was in (the Depression), this had to be the most enjoyable time of a person's week. Absolutely remarkable. And to prove it, this movie made a ton of money! Lucille Ball makes her screen debut in this film and rejoins Eddie a year later in 1934's Kid Millions. Eddie Cantor is said to have commended Lucy for putting "comedy before glamour" in her work on this film.
  • avatar

    Alexandra

    Cantor's name is well-known in the annals of comedy, but his cinematic legacy tends to be overshadowed by Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd. Here is one of his most popular films and one of only several that are still readily available to view. He plays a rather knuckle-headed town dope who is beloved by most of the citizens, but disliked by the corrupt Mayor and Police Chief. When he foils their plan to evict a bunch of families, (by convincing them to set up house in the street!) he is run out of town and proceeds to dream that he's in ancient Rome, experiencing similar difficulties. While discovering the hierarchy of Roman society, he comes into contact with handsome nobleman Manners, beautiful captive slave Stuart and devious Emperor Arnold, whose discontent wife Teasdale is out to poison him. Legendary torch singer Ettig also appears as a slave who bemoans the fate of her kind in an elaborate production number featuring semi-nude, platinum-haired girls chained to a rotating column! Cantor gets into every type of trouble imaginable, giving him a chance to try out innumerable sight gags and quips, the bulk of which are surprisingly funny in spite of the fact that they've been used, heard and stolen many times since! Like any comedian, Cantor's style will appeal more to some than to others. Believe it or not, some of Pee Wee Herman's roots can be glimpsed here, though Cantor has surely inspired many others as well. Manners is lively and attractive here, able to overcome his permed hair and rise to the occasion of being a virile hero. Stuart isn't called upon to be much more than window dressing, but she's lovely. Appearing in the cast is Darwell as the haughty owner of a salon. One of the most memorable numbers is set there with Cantor on the run in (now politically-incorrect) blackface. What happens to him at the end of it is a comic highlight. Buried even further down is Ball, who has one line early on and can be seen occasionally thereafter. Stuart claims to have met Ball here and introduced her to her husband, who was able to get her career rolling a bit more heavily. For a film more than 70 years old, the material is more entertaining and arresting than one might expect. It can't be accused of being slow as Cantor bounces from one locale to the next, causing havoc at every turn. Fans of classic comedy owe it to themselves to give it a look.
  • avatar

    Beanisend

    I saw "Roman Scandals" as a small child. I loved it.

    I saw it again as an adult, and it held up beautifully.

    This is the film I'd recommend to give one a sense of what made Eddie Cantor a great entertainer.

    My earliest memories of a radio show was his show -- every Sunday. He had Deanna Durbin and Dinah Shore as guests (at different periods) every week long before their heydays.

    Also, "Roman Scandals" shows Eddie Cantor looking youthful. His stage/screen persona depended on a sense of innocent youth. That's why his later screen efforts didn't work as well.

    But "Roman Scandals" is a delightful early sound musical comedy.

    Bill Gumbiner
  • avatar

    Llathidan

    Eddie (Cantor) is escorted to the city limits of his home town of Rome (Oklahoma, I think) because of a run in with the city fathers who find his charitable, good nature a hindrance. He falls asleep and wakes up in ancient Rome. If you are a fan of ol' Banjo Eyes, this film is for you. It is pure Cantor, from start to finish, with all the attendant jokes, one liners, comebacks, eye rolling and pratfalls. If you are not a devotee, there is little to recommend this 1933 flicker. George S. Kaufman could have done better by the plot, although anything he might have written would have been over powered by Cantor. Busby Berkley and the Goldwyn Girls provide plenty of eye candy, and the music is among the best of the early musicals, especially "Build a little House" which opens and closes the film. Ruth Etting, although billed along with Gloria Stuart and Veree Teasdale, provides but one song, "No More Love". Teasdale and Stuart will remind you of just how glamorously beautiful the female stars molded by the studio system could be. To boot, they could act. The only actors who come close to matching the presence of Cantor are Edward Arnold, as the Emperor, and Alan Mowbray, as the Major Domo; both could be accomplished scene stealers. The chariot chase is spectacular, although marred by the then common practice of speeding up the action by adjusting the film speed. This is not among the best of the depression era comedies and musicals, but I can think of worse ways to spend 90 minutes.
  • avatar

    Nafyn

    A kind-hearted young man is thrown out of his corrupt home town of West Rome, Oklahoma. He falls asleep and dreams that he is back in the days of olden Rome, where he gets mixed up with court intrigue and a murder plot against the Emperor.

    Based on how few people have rated this film (under 500), I am left with the impression that it must not be purchased, streamed or aired very often. And what a shame, because it is pretty funny, and would be enjoyed by anyone who likes the witty kind of humor the Marx Brothers were doing. (There is even a poison sequence that is not unlike a Danny Kaye skit twenty years later: "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!") I suppose the blackface skit may be one reason the film has fallen out of favor, but this is unfortunate. Whether you consider this racist or not, it is part of film history and should not be simply forgotten or hidden.
  • avatar

    Samugor

    This was a cute and relatively decent musical comedy starring Eddie Cantor. In many ways, this film hasn't aged all that well, as I'm sure it was considered a very funny movie back in 1933 when it debuted. While many of Cantor's one-liners seem a bit corny today, he was still such a pleasant personality on the screen that I was able to overlook this. However, the songs Cantor sang weren't all that memorable or funny--something I usually look forward to in his films. Instead, they seemed a little flat.

    Additionally, while some consider Busby Berkely a genius, I have little interest in the over-the-top and seemingly irrelevant song and dance interludes he choreographed--they just don't age nearly as well as most musicals since his numbers are truly bizarre 1930s kitsch. To me, in many cases it's a case of "if you've seen one you've seen them all". By the mid-40s and through the 50s, the "Ziegfeld Follies"-style production numbers that Berkely was famous for had become passé. Although, for curiosity sake alone, you might want to take a look at the dance numbers. This is particularly true of the VERY racy beauty shop sequence that NEVER would have been allowed just a few years later in Hollywood due to a stricter enforcement of the Hays Code. It abounds with naked and semi-naked women with long tresses strategically situated! So, for me, I tended to ignore the song and dance and focus on the comedy. And, in this sense, it's a diverting and harmless fun romp through the days of Ancient Rome. It won't change your life, but is a pleasant way to kill 90 minutes.

    FYI--be prepared to see Cantor in black face. He did this a lot in the 1920s and 30s--it was a pretty popular trend of the day. Sure, it will absolutely offend most, but if you take a few deep breaths and anticipate it, it isn't as bad as many minstrel acts I've seen on film.

    Also FYI--the videotape jacket says the film stars Eddie Cantor and Lucille Ball. Ms. Ball is in the movie for a few seconds only (with very blonde hair) in song and dance numbers, so she doesn't exactly "star" in the film! It's interesting what marketing people will do to sell a film!
  • avatar

    Jode

    I recently "discovered" the hilarity that is Eddie Cantor and am taking every opportunity to see him in action. This is a nice little film that seems to have it all: music, comedy (both physical and verbal), a good cast, and a cohesive storyline. The effort that the filmmakers put into some of the smaller touches, like SPQR stamped on everything from the auctioneer's amulet to the metal plate "Oedipus" uses to cover his rear end in fear that his new master will want to beat him, are particularly impressive, because one wonders how many viewers would have noticed them in the first place. (I definitely wouldn't have, except I've done a lot of walking in Rome and I've seen SPQR on hundreds of manhole covers.)

    The songs are catchy, particularly "Build A Little Home" which I was still humming two days later. The blackface number, a Cantor trademark, will hopefully be taken as a product of its time and not as a deliberate affront… so far, I think all his pictures except one that I've seen have had this element. Unfortunately, it does make it a little hard to share the film with others whose levels of tolerance for that kind of thing might differ. I can't say as I enjoy it, but I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater either... Cantor is a very talented comedian/song & dance man, and I enjoy the vast majority of what I've seen of his work.

    For fans on the lookout for a very young Lucille Ball, here's a tip: don't look for her, LISTEN for her. I'm all but 100% sure I heard her distinctive voice at least once in the beginning sequence out in the street of modern-day West Rome, and again at the end after the dream sequence. I'm sure she was also one of the glamour girls in Ancient Rome as well, but I can't figure out which one.

    All in all, an enjoyable movie. I'll definitely be looking for more from Cantor.
  • avatar

    Wooden Purple Romeo

    My primary interest in picking up this film was to get a look at the acclaimed Eddie Cantor, a legendary entertainer in his day who you don't even hear of anymore. The first thing I was impressed with was the 'look' of the movie; filmed in the same year as "King Kong" it looked like the product of perhaps two decades later. The other eye openers had to do with the costuming, or lack thereof on the part of the slave girls in bondage during Olga's (Ruth Etting) "No More Love" number. There's enough skin showing on some of the girls to fuel an over active imagination, perhaps this is the film to inspire the term 'steamy', both literally and figuratively. There's also the risqué dialog, most notably in Cantor's black face routine when he sings - "You'll drive him half insane, in a bathing suit of cellophane". This was the 1930's?

    Additionally, for anyone obsessed with the emphasis on looks and body image in today's entertainment media, the roots of that trend can be found here. The "Keep Young and Beautiful" number isn't complete without mentioning the next line - "If you want to be loved". I wonder how that message might have been received by Depression era movie goers.

    Comedy wise, there are a few good bits - the lava gas (laughing gas) and parsley/poison gags come to mind, along with Josephus' (David Manners) naming of Eddie as 'Oedipus', that was clever. Overall though, I found the comedy to be severely dated, more of a curiosity piece than actually being funny, maybe it's just me upon my initial viewing.

    As another reviewer mentioned, Lucille Ball is credited on the video sleeve as if she were Cantor's co star in the film, but be warned, you're going to have to look for her. By the same token, you can't miss the dynamic presence of Etting and Gloria Stuart, both simply gorgeous. Again, maybe it's just me, but Etting's Olga character reminded me a bit of a slimmed down Dolly Parton.

    Fortunately, for fans of Cantor and the Busby Berkeley musical, this film looks like it's readily available. I actually found it on a drug store bargain shelf and decided it was too good to pass up for just a buck. Even though a lot of the scenes are dated and come off as politically incorrect today, the movie itself is a neat time capsule reminder of the way life used to be seventy years ago, when just like today, the average person went to the movies for a quick and fun escape.
  • avatar

    Yannara

    Roman Scandals (1933)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Eddie (Eddie Cantor) is a dimwitted but good-hearted man from Rome, Oklahoma who is kicked out of town. He ends up falling asleep where he dreams that he is in the actual Rome where he gets involved with a Princess (Gloria Stuart), an Emperor (Edward Arnold) as well as a rebel (David Manners).

    ROMAN SCANDALS is a film that really hasn't aged well in a lot of areas but at the same time fans of Pre-Codes will certainly have a field day with some of the naughty parts that show up here. As you can tell, Cantor is the star of the picture and how much you enjoy this film will certainly depend on how much of the actor that you can take. Some have argued that if you've seen one of his films then you've pretty much seen them all because his "act" really didn't change much.

    As far as this film goes, I thought Cantor was decent in the role but there's no question that not all of the one-liners work as well as I'm sure the star and studio had hoped. There are a couple funny sequences in the film but I thought Cantor was at his best during the early scenes in Oklahoma including the first song sequence where he leads some locals into building their own homes. The rest of the musical numbers by Busby Berkely were good and did I mention The Goldwyn Girls?

    The film benefits from a very good supporting cast with Arnold stealing the picture as the bad guy. I thought he was a lot of fun and added a great bit of entertainment to the picture. I also thought Stuart and Manners were good in their roles as was Ruth Etting. With all of that being said, ROMAN SCANDALS is mainly remembered today for its Pre-Code nature and that includes a lot of sexuality, some dirty jokes and a lot of scenes with beautiful ladies barely wearing anything and only being covered up by the smallest of things.

    Overall ROMAN SCANDALS is certainly a flawed picture and one that doesn't work overall but at the same time the supporting cast and the naughty parts makes it worth watching.
  • avatar

    Ochach

    WARNING: A blackface musical number is included. If sensitive to such, best not to view this film, or close your eyes during this portion.

    The 4th in a series of Eddie Cantor musicomedies produced by Sam Goldwyn from 1930-36, contains my favorite song and musical production in this series ,in "Build a Little House". Within the context of a community having been just evicted from their homes, the idea of setting up the contents of their homes on their lawns and sidewalks is rather bizarre, which adds to the attraction They are expressing their defiance against Mr. Cooper: the 'town boss', who apparently owns their former homes or the mortgages on them, and who wants to build a new jail in place of their homes. At present, Mr. Cooper is leading the dedication ceremony for a Museum of Roman Art, which consists mainly of statues of ancient Roman big wigs and gods, which he previously donated land for. Somehow, Eddie got into the museum ahead of this ceremony, and hung his clothes on various statues, while sleeping. This, along with Eddie's constant correction of his identification of the beings represented by the statues much annoys Mr. Cooper. Eddie complains that he promotes destroying the homes of law-abiding citizens in order to build houses for statues and criminals. The idea of unjust, as well as justified, evictions was especially relevant to Depression audiences. For his embarrassments of Mr. Cooper and the rest of the town big wigs, Eddie is banished from his town of West Rome. During his walk out of town, he imagines he's back in ancient Rome, where hopefully there is less political corruption than in Depression America. However, Eddie finds that corruption and exploitation of the powerless by the powerful was just as pervasive in ancient Rome as in West Rome. He, himself, is sold as a slave, fortunately , to a kind-hearted aristocrat, who sets him free. However, he witnesses the selling of naked beautiful young women(Goldwyn Girls) as slaves. He witnesses the over taxation of the populace to finance construction of new monuments and other public buildings, while the excess is used to finance the exorbitant living expenses of the emperor and his retinue. Eddie is thrown in prison with a captured princess(Sylvia), from which he escapes by having his guards, and even the emperor, inhale a laughing gas from his magic vase.

    The emperor comes up with a sneaky idea to get rid of Eddie. He orders him to be his new wine and food taster, knowing that the lifespan of recent food tasters has been very short. Seems the empress is determined to hasten the death of her husband by feeding him poisoned food and wine. After the royal crocodile dies from eating poisoned nightingale, the emperor orders Eddie thrown to the lions. However, Eddie escapes and takes over a chariot, with Josephus and Princess Sylvia in a chariot ahead of him, as they are chased by palace guards. As Eddie's chariot is wrecked, he awakens to find himself back on the edge of West Rome. He remembers a check he found on the street from Mr. Cooper to the police chief, for $5000. He thinks this is proof of bribery by Mr. Cooper. Apparently, it stands up in court, and the participants in the bribery are sent to jail. His friends now can move back into their homes, as Eddie reprises "Build a Little Home".

    I have a problem with the whole business of Mr. Cooper's corruption and Eddie's discovery of it. The nature of Mr. Cooper's corruption is unclear to me. How does he benefit from donating property he owns toward construction of a jail? Tax breaks? Construction profits? Eddie's finding of the $5000. bribery check dropped on the street is highly unlikely, and how could he prove this check was for bribery?

    Harry Warren and Al Dubin were borrowed from Warner to composed the new songs. It was found that they worked well with choreographer Busby Berkeley. This was Busby's last film for Goldwyn, he moving to Warner where he would again be teamed with Warren and Dubin for a series of very popular musicomedies. Then, both moved to 20th Century Fox, where they collaborated in "The Gang's All Here", with Mack Gordon in place of Al Dubin.

    Besides the "Build a Little Home" production, in another big production, Eddie puts on blackface and sings "Keep Young and Beautiful" In one portion, a circle of Goldwyn Girls are nude, except for wigs of extra long hair that cover their breasts and privates. This was the year before the new Motion Picture Code went into full effect, when I'm sure, this would not be allowed.
  • avatar

    Soustil

    This film is billed as a comedy, fantasy and musical, and it is all of that. And it clearly seems to be a social statement for the time about the wealthy, proud and powerful and their seeming disregard for the common man, especially the less fortunate. I suppose that would ring well with audiences of 1933, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Anyway, "Roman Scandals" opens that way. A local founder of the town of West Rome is being hailed at the dedication of the new museum he funded. Then we see families evicted from their homes where a new jail is to be built.

    Eddie Cantor is the hero, Eddie, who livens things up with his witty remarks and a song. When he's evicted from town as a troublemaker, the film transforms to the days of Imperial Rome. In this setting, Eddie become Oedipus. There we see "scandals" of that time and place. There's little sense in this switch in the plot, other than to create the fantasy picture of ancient Rome under Emperor Valerius (most likely the historic Emperor Valerian). The plot has some bizarre twists. It has black face, takes on slavery, and some satire.

    Eddie has a couple more songs and Ruth Etting sings "No More Love." This is one of the few feature films that Etting made, and one would like to have seen and heard this great singer of the 20s and 30s in more numbers. Busby Berkeley stages a couple of extravagant numbers with dancers and players. One of the public come-ons for the film was the inclusion of six attractive blond women in the nude except for their long hair that covered their breasts and genitalia. This might be off-putting to some adults and a concern for parents who are careful about movies that their children watch.

    This was in the days before the Breen Office enforcement of the Hays Code. That was a self-imposed means for Hollywood studios to police themselves against public uproars and possible government sanctions. As it turns out, the Hays Code led to some very funny comedies throughout the 1930s. They were all the more funny because of their script changes and comedic ways the directors and writers tried to worm around the code. Hollywood discovered that innuendo had great comedic power, that would be missing in scenes that were played straight.

    The original story for this film came from writer/actor George S. Kaufman. But many squabbles developed over the movie. It took some imagination to make this a comedic situation. Emperor Valerian was a principal persecutor of Christians, condemning many to death. It would be a huge stretch to equate such persecution to the modern eviction of families from their homes. The producers here obviously concluded that audiences may not find it very humorous. So, the ancient Roman segment is devoted to the intrigue around a plot to kill Valerius, with some allusion to the pagan worship and likely hedonism of the time.

    The cast are all quite good. Besides Cantor and Etting, some who would become very familiar Hollywood faces have roles. Edward Arnold plays Valerius and Alan Mowbray is Majordomo. Gloria Stuart is Princess Sylvia and Verree Teasdale is Empress Agrippa. David Manners plays Josephus and Lucille Ball is on screen a short time as one of the Goldwyn Girls.

    Quite a lot went into the lavish production of this film. Huge sets, very large casts with many extras, the Roman costumes and settings. And a chariot chase-race is very well done. The songs are good, but nothing special to remember. Cantor is good and not overly bombastic as he often was on radio shows and public appearance, especially later in his career. Ruth Etting played Olga. It would have been nice if she had been given one or two more songs.
  • avatar

    Daron

    No song and dance man could tickle your funny bone while being suckered more than Eddie Cantor. He always had an angel over his shoulder as he always came out on top over the various bullies, gangsters, con-artists and in this case a Roman Emperor who tangled with him. This film has two settings, starting off in modern times and moving to an era when toga parties were a common occurrence. Cantor scores in the modern set "Build a Little Home", a tribute to those displaced by the depression which has subtle hints of innocent communism in it.

    Annie Lennox fans will recognize "Keep Young and Beautiful" which Cantor performs in his signature blackface. It may offend some, but you can't deny its shear artistry, especially with the galaxy of Goldwyn Girls. Lucille Ball is totally recognizable as one of them, particularly in the slave market set "No More Love", a torch song performed by Ruth Etting. That number has the chorus girls totally naked with the exception of their long blonde hair covering their flesh.

    Titanic fans will recognize the name of Gloria Stuart, here the ingénue. Edward Arnold is an imperious Roman Emperor and the luscious Veree Teasdale is his delightfully scheming wife. A climactic chase sequence has elements of the great silent comedies and is sure to have you riveted to your seat.
  • avatar

    Shalinrad

    This very funny spoof on Roman-era epics (I had previously watched it one morning some 18 years ago on Italian TV) is considered to be star comedian Eddie Cantor's best vehicle - though I must say that it's the only one I've managed to catch up with myself over the years (but do own his debut film, WHOOPEE! [1930], on VHS).

    The 'modern man dreaming himself in another era' plot line is a favorite comedy theme - an idea dating back to Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court". The film boasts a remarkable line-up of writers (George S. Kaufman, Robert E. Sherwood, Nat Perrin, Arthur Sheekman and George Oppenheimer), many of whom had worked with contemporaneous comedy acts - notably the Marx Bros.; though the star's personality doesn't lend itself to quite that level of lunacy, the script provides a satisfying balance of sight gags and one-liners (often commenting on the basic difference between the two ages). Alongside the humor are the musical sequences - virtually a requisite of the period - highlighting not only a couple of good tunes for Cantor (one of them sung in blackface!) but also Busby Berkeley's choreography featuring The Goldwyn Girls (among them Lucille Ball), including an outrageous number in which they're chained nude to revolving walls! Typical of Goldwyn's output, the production values are impeccable - with cinematography by the legendary Gregg Toland and the impressive set design of Richard Day.

    The cast, too, is notable - with Eddie (amusingly dubbed Oedipus while in Ancient Rome) being flanked by the likes of David Manners and Gloria Stuart (supplying the romantic interest), Edward Arnold (the Emperor) and Alan Mowbray (as Cantor's prime foil, a Roman General); Arnold's favorite slave girl is played by Ruth Etting in one of her irregular film appearances: she was the chanteuse/gangster's moll later portrayed by Doris Day in the musical biopic LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955)! The film's best gags include: Cantor cracking a whip and 'catching' Mowbray; an alligator flipping upside down in reaction to poisoned food given it by Cantor (appointed by Arnold as his personal food-taster); the prison scene in which Arnold and a couple of guards are exposed to laughing gas while torturing Cantor; Eddie demonstrating the correct moves in a fistfight on Mowbray. Incidentally, the wordplay gag involving the poisoned dish was re-used by Danny Kaye for his classic THE COURT JESTER (1955). Still, the undoubted highlight of the film remains the uproarious (and quite spectacular) chariot chase at the climax - supervised by Ralph Cedar.
  • avatar

    Lightseeker

    Dates badly and is generally a snore; however the musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley liven things up, and there is the unusual appearance of singer Ruth Etting who was quite famous at the time. Gregg Toland's very early B&W photography is amazing, and could be more properly called "grey-scale"; what he did was very difficult to pull off given the crude state of the technology of the time.