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Top Speed

Top Speed(1930)

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teaser Top Speed (1930)

The end of the screen's first cycle of musicals proved a boon for comedian Joe E. Brown. He was cast as the lead in this adaptation of the Bert Kalmar-Harry Ruby musical that had introduced Ginger Rogers to Broadway, but most of the musical numbers were jettisoned. In their place, Warner Bros. built up Brown's comedy routines, which helped turn him into the studio's top clown. Brown and Jack Whiting star as a pair of office workers on vacation in Florida. To get out of an arrest, Brown starts telling tall tales about being a millionaire and even labels Whiting a champion boat racer. In short order, the two have found new girlfriends, and Whiting is scheduled for the big race. Rogers was unavailable to repeat her role, which went to Laura Lee. Brown's love interest, Bernice Claire, was advertised as "the screen's youngest soprano" but had little to do when most of the numbers were cut. Both she and Lee would leave Hollywood after only a few pictures. Oddly, the cut numbers included the only songs from the original show and a few new ones written by the play's songwriting team, Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Those numbers are now thought lost, though the soundtrack remains.

By Frank Miller

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