The Loudspeaker (1934) Poster

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7/10
Fun Comedy-Romance, Great Locations & Sets, Great Girl Trio
catherine-7126 September 2010
This little screwball romantic comedy has a whole lot going for it. The lead character, Joe Miller, played by Ray Walker, is a very funny schtick comedian, and Julie Bishop (billed as Jacqueline Wells) plays his dream-girl most convincingly.

The rise-fall-redemption plot of Joe's self-confidence and pep, which take him into show biz, and his arrogance and drunkenness, which cause his on-air debacle, follows a predictable story-arc, but there are lots of very funny lines, delivered with genuine wit, and enough of a competition with another suitor to bring tension to the drama.

If "The Loudspeaker" had been made in the late 20th century, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, or Jim Carey would have gotten the role of Joe Miller. What we have instead is a tightly constructed, fluffy pancake of a show, well worth watching in its own right. Character actor Charley Grapewin is charming as "Pops," and sweet Mary Carr does a walk-on as a star-struck land-lady.

Best of all, for those who follow old movies for other reasons than the story-line, it must be noted that we have some great 1934 vintage "stuff" on display here: live steam locomotive action filmed at a real railway depot; a Horn and Hardardt's automat set filled with vintage chrome goodness; a fabulous art deco penthouse that should rate a mention in any book on art deco set decoration; a lot of gorgeously chic gowns from an unexpectedly high-class wardrobe department, considering the film's probable budget; and an otherwise-unfilmed but very hot threesome of African American jazz and scat singers billed here as The Brownies Trio. (Sensitive viewers are advised to overlook the radio sponsor's logo of a smiling Black cook and the fact that The Brownies are dressed in silver-spangled Aunt Jemima outfits. Relax -- just enjoy the music!) I liked this one a lot -- unpretentious, well directed, a clean print (from Alpha Video), and lots of vitality make it a perfect little mid-1930s gem -- kinda like the very small diamond on the ring that Joe gives to his gal before he becomes a star.
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5/10
The Joe Miller Joke Book
boblipton25 December 2018
Ray Walker plays Joe Miller, the town wit of a small town. He's got ambition. He wants to be a radio star. When the girl he wants to marry gets together with another man, he heads off to New York, where he fast-talks his way into a rising career. The problem is he has a swelled head, so as he tries to help and pursue Julie Bishop (still credited as Jacqueline Wells), he alienates the people around him.

It's a common enough show-biz plot and Ray Walker and Miss Bishop try their hardest (with a nice small role for Charley Grapewin), but it's fairly thin. Walker's comedy is of the word-play and "Ain't I funny?" variety; while it's certainly better than the show it replaces, it's not particularly amusing .... although the competing shows he mentions are of exactly the same variety. A couple of songs by Harry Akst and Lew Brown enliven the proceedings, but this cheap Monogram programmer, while decent, doesn't particularly appeal, largely because of the unappealing way Walker's role is written and performed.
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4/10
For those who remember when a radio wasn't just in your car.
mark.waltz13 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is basically a combination of a Joe E. Brown movie and a rip-off of the George Kelly play "The Show Off" (made into a movie that year starring Spencer Tracy). It's all about a small town braggart who thinks up corny jokes all day and goes to New York to apply his trade. He manages to become a star (as a radio star on a show produced by a pancake batter company) but his growing egotism is annoying to everybody he encounters. This type of character that Joe E. Brown was usually a milquetoast acting more confidante than he really was, something that some people could identify with, and he was at least fairly likable in spite of that cockiness. This character (played by Ray Walker) simply seems like he's drunk with his own success, and as a result, is hard to take after a while. The film features some well-known character faces who make this a bit more tolerable. Among them are the beloved Scottish actress Mary Gordon and "Wizard of Oz" supporting player Charley Grapewin as Walker's wise uncle. Fans of the Karloff/Lugosi horror gem "The Black Cat" (from the same year) will recognize Jacqueline Wells as Walker's on and off girlfriend, the only one willing to stand by him.
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