Review by TV Guide
Of the six films Eddie Cantor made for Samuel Goldwyn, Roman Scandals was his fourth and second only to The Kid From Spain in popularity. When Goldwyn’s idea to adapt George Bernard Shaw’s “Androcles And The Lion” as a vehicle for Cantor proved too difficult, the producer hired Robert Sherwood and George S. Kaufman to fashion a story that would take Cantor to imperial Rome. Displeased with their draft, Goldwyn brought in Nat Perrin, George Oppenheimer, and Arthur Sheekman to add jokes, and William Anthony McGuire to get the whole thing into shape for shooting. This film turned out to be one of the best Cantor-Goldwyn associations. With humor, music, and more than a little female flesh, Roman Scandals is a sort of Wizard of Oz in that Cantor, a wacky delivery boy in West Rome, Oklahoma, goes into a dream sequence and imagines himself to be a slave in old Rome. His major job is official food taster to the evil emperor, Edward Arnold. The slim plot includes Cantor proving that Arnold is a fraud, a love story between Gloria Stuart and David Manners, and a chase (this time a chariot chase, a direct satirical shot at Ben Hur by the sequence’s director Ralph Cedar). In the end, Cantor wakes up and is back in the present. Making the story a dream was a mistake; the prolog and epilog were not needed. The picture is slapstick nonsense from the moment it goes to Rome and is verbally funny as well, although Cantor has a totally anachronistic “black face” scene that sticks out badly. Every penny of the then-huge million-dollar budget is on screen. Busby Berkeley, in his last choreographic job before going on to Warner Bros., staged one scene in which The Goldwyn Girls, including Lucille Ball, are totally nude except for long blonde wigs. Harry Warren and Al Dubin, who would later join Berkeley at Warner Bros. for a host of hits, wrote several tunes including: “No More Love” (sung by Ruth Etting, Goldwyn Girls, danced by Grace Poggi), “Build a Little Home” (sung by Cantor, Goldwyn Girls), “Keep Young and Beautiful” (sung by Cantor, Goldwyn Girls, Billy Barty), and “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day.” Warren and L. Wolfe Gilbert teamed to write “Put a Tax on Love” (sung by Cantor).
1.83GB | 1 h 31 min | 708×531 | mkv