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The John Roberts Costume Company is being run super-efficiently by Doris Roberts, but her husband demands that she give up her position to stay at home with their young son. Without her wheeling and dealing skills the company starts to lose money and when John leaves for Europe on a tryst, Doris returns to save the firm. Hooking up with an obviously disturbed producer and a pair of theatrical backers, the costume company seems to be on the road to riches again when John returns and wants his share of the profits.Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although it was filmed in 2-strip Technicolor, 35MM surviving material is in black & white, but UCLA holdings include a 16MM color print. Two songs by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, "I Love a Parade" and "Temporarily Blue," were cut before release, although "I Love A Parade" is heard over the opening and closing credits. "I'm Happy When You're Jealous" by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby was also cut before release. See more »
Possibly you boys don't know what I've been up against this year. Why, do you know I've had to have the bottom of my yacht scraped - twice?
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More historical curiosity that entertainment, "Manhattan Parade" is an early sound effort that has dated badly. Perhaps hysterically funny in 1932, the film's static shooting technique only emphasizes the flatness of the jokes. A recurring pair of theatrical producers, played by the comedy team of Smith and Dale, overstays their welcome with a series of tiresome exchanges. Abbott and Costello they are not. The story, which originally had songs, revolves around a theatrical costume company, whose successful president is played by Winnie Lightner. However, Lightner surrenders her feminist credentials early on when she meekly submits to her husband's demands that he run the company and she stay home where she belongs and care for their young son. Needless to say, the philandering husband is no better at business than he is at marriage, and the company falls into debt.
Were it not for Bobby Watson, who plays a designer named Paisley, "Manhattan Parade" would rarely be unwound from its reels. However, Watson's limp wristed character is yet another prime example of gay stereotyping in early Hollywood. His threats to slap his foes or quit and stay home to decorate his apartment are evidently accepted by the other characters as quite normal for a sissy. Whining about fabric that should be maroon rather than cerise, Watson underscores filmdom's concept that gays are silly, shallow freaks with no values of consequence in their lives. While not as offensive as some gay characterizations, Paisley, nevertheless, will irritate viewers who are sensitive to negative stereotypes. Interestingly, the film also features two other male characters, a shy, daffy researcher and an effete, snobbish actor, whose sexuality could also be questioned. The concept of the theatrical world as a haven for gays had already taken root.
Unfortunately, there is little to recommend in "Manhattan Parade" other than its status as a footnote in gay film history. The performances are competent, although Dickie Moore is a scene-stealer as Lightner's son, and Lloyd Bacon's direction is perfunctory given the restraints of the period. This short comedy will seem to drag on humorlessly for hours to viewers who are not dedicated film historians.
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