For Reel

Gold Dust Gertie (1931)
November 24, 2014, 1:15 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Bacon
2 Stars
Gold Dust GertieAlthough she’s largely forgotten today (perhaps due to her early retirement in 1934), Winnie Lightner was a significant asset for Warner Brothers in the pre-Code era. A vaudeville veteran, Lightner found success playing gold digger roles and had a voice that worked well in musicals. In Gold Dust Gertie, she’s paired with fellow vaudeville entertainers Olsen and Johnson (remembered for Hellzapoppin’), who were distinguished by the particular brand of mayhem that they brought to their routines. Some of their absurd humor is present here–there’s an amusing scene in which they try to hide Lightner in a myriad of unsuccessful ways–but the act grows thin quickly, with Olsen’s idiotic laughs becoming increasingly grating. Energetic as the performances are, everyone seems a bit desperate for laughs that come few and far between. Claude Gillingwater, who specialized in playing grumpy, conservative men, finds the most success of the lot in playing Lightner’s latest target.

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