13 user 7 critic

Crooner (1932)

Story of a saxophonist and his rise to fame as a singing star.


Lloyd Bacon


Charles Kenyon (screenplay), Rian James (story)


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Credited cast:
David Manners ... Ted 'Teddy' Taylor
Ann Dvorak ... Judith 'Judy' Mason
Ken Murray ... Peter Sturgis
J. Carrol Naish ... Nick Meyer (as J. Carroll Naish)
Guy Kibbee ... Mike the Drunk with Megaphone
Claire Dodd ... Mrs. Constance Brown
Allen Vincent ... Ralph - Band Member
Edward J. Nugent ... Henry - Band Member
William Janney ... Pat - Band Member
Teddy Joyce Teddy Joyce ... Mack - Band Member
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Louise De Friese Louise De Friese


Hard luck follows Ted Taylor and his band, going to various auditions and tryouts, until he has to replace their tenor. To amplify his soft voice, he uses a megaphone, and it's instantly catnip to feminine ears. His employer, nightclub owner Nick Meyer, gives him a contract as his popularity rises. When it's up, and a better one's offered, publicity agent Peter Sturgis intervenes and gets him better deals, including making records and guesting top radio programs. Soon, it all goes to Taylor's head and he treats his band mates badly, as well as his girl, Judy Mason. After being caught by the tabloids spending time with a socialite, Judy dumps him. This leads to a downward spiral for Taylor, who gets into a drunken brawl, punching out a one-legged war veteran. He's ruined, brought down to being a sax player in a crummy restaurant band. humbled, he wishes Judy and Sturgis well for their upcoming marriage, but at the last second, Sturgis bows out. Written by WesternOne1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HE'S JUST A VAGABOND LOAFER (Print Ad- Milwaukee Journal, ((Milwaukee, Wisc.)) 20 August 1932) See more »









Release Date:

20 August 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Glória do Jazz See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Donald Novis provided David Manners's singing voice. Rudy Vallee was originally considered, but his contract at the time prevented his participation in this film. Having Manners "sing" through a megaphone was a clever way to cover the dubbing. See more »


Banking on the Weather
Music by Sammy Fain
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User Reviews

"He can't sing! He only croons."
29 January 2010 | by mukava991See all my reviews

It is surprising that so few motion pictures dramatized the phenomenon of the crooner during the heyday of that singing style. Aside from a handful of features with plots revolving around actual "crooners" like Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee, the cultural phenomenon of "crooning" - the quiet, intimate delivery of songs by male vocalists which swept America along with the rise of radio as a mass medium - was seldom explored. CROONER is a modest, low-budget, sketchy treatment of this subject. As put together, the story could have, with minor adjustments, just as well have been about a banker, an author or an acrobat or any other professional on the rise, but it happens to locate itself in the popular music world. It says very little of substance regarding the evolution of popular song but does make a few points about the trends of its time.

The plain vanilla David Manners gives an occasionally effective performance in the title role as the saxophone playing leader of a mediocre college dance band who discovers he has a marketable singing voice when he reluctantly subs for the band's ailing vocalist. With the help of his girlfriend (Ann Dvorak) and a publicist she knows (Ken Murray) he achieves overnight fame which over-inflates his ego, creating a crisis which is resolved by film's end. We are repeatedly reminded that his singing appeals to women and offends men, a more or less accurate reflection of the general attitudes towards sotto voce male singers of the period. This state of affairs is crystallized in an amusingly twisted way in a brief sequence during a nightclub performance: an effeminate man praises the crooner ("I think he's superb!") after which his companion, a masculine woman, declares "He's lousy!" The Ken Murray character illustrates how music industry professionals regarded "crooning": he tells Manners to his face that he dislikes his singing, but if the female public buys it he is willing to promote it for 25 percent.

Manners gets interesting after fame goes to his head and he starts behaving in an effete, pretentious manner, which suits his talents. He should have played more haughty, shallow parts, but he was usually cast as a romantic lead and made only a faint impression, and his film career evaporated too soon.

Warner Bros. squeezes every last drop out of a mere two songs: "Sweethearts Forever" by Cliff Friend and Irving Caesar and "Three's a Crowd" by Harry Warren, Irving Kahal and Al Dubin. Inoffensive as they may be, they are repeated excessively. Manners does all of his "singing" into a megaphone, relieving him of the chore of lip-synching to the dubbed voice of Donald Novis. Earlier in the story when Manners is called upon to pretend he is playing a sax, his cheeks don't even move. Director Lloyd Bacon, whose 42nd Street made film history shortly after this effort, handles talking-head dialogue scenes well enough, but his staging of a mini-riot lacks real vigor.

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