Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Johnny Downs Featured in Two Films

In a scathing commentary on Hollywood, the Asian actor Philip Ahn confesses that he can make more money as a valet rather than an actor if he speaks pidgin rather than English.  This is part of a 1937 musical, “Something to Sing About,”  from poverty row studio Grand National featuring James Cagney who was involved in a stink with Warner Bros. at the time. The attempts of the major studios to use and abuse the talent is center stage in this provocative gem.  Go to for more.

In another outrageous Hollywood stereotype, Franklin Pangborn is an over the top pansy who is mimicked by a radio studio employee in “High Hat” from Imperial Pictures.  Pangborn portrays a fussy opera singer in this ‘30s musical.

One of the better PRC horror movies from the 40s is “Mad Monster” with George Zucco as at the disgruntled college professor seeing revenge on his colleagues by creating a wolfman monster played by Glenn Strange.  Johnny Downs is the handsome hero newspaper reporter who saves the damsel in distress Anne Nagel in the last reel.  Lots of fun for your Halloween viewing.

Martha Tilton headlines PRC’s 1944 musical “Swing Hostess” where she plays the equivalent of a disk jockey.  Tlilton, a band singer of the ‘40s, did a live show at NBC in Burbank in the 60s with singer Morton Downey while I worked at KNBC/NBC news in ‘1963-64 as an editorial assist ant.

Johnny Downs is hilarious in drag as a college boy in “All American Co-ed” from Hal Roach United Artists in 1941.  It’s a brisk, well written yarn that must have inspired Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” years lat

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