Series: Musical Comedy

Director: Leigh Jason, Hal Yates
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Kenneth Peach
Editor: Louis McManus
Sound: Warren B. Delaplain

Stars: Patsy Kelly, Lillian Miles, Billy Gilbert, Eddie Foy Jr.
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 28 April 1934
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: M-5
Filming dates: February-March 1934
Rating: 4/10

Roamin' Vandals

A hemp root wagon containing Doc Gilbert and his musical entourage is heading for the state line when a police call goes out over the radio for the arrest of Patsy Kelly, who is wanted for assaulting a sheriff. Doc tells driver Eddie to get to the county line quick so they can be safe from the sheriff's car that is in hot pursuit behind them. The sheriff's car pulls up at the crossroads and the antagonistic Patsy begins a verbal assault on the sheriff. As luck would have it the sheriff of the new county they have arrived in shows up and protects Patsy but warns her to behave in his county. She punches him in the mouth.
The travelling musicians set up a stage from their wagon and begin performing to a small crowd (Dick Gilbert eating his own cigar is a highlight). Midway through the performance the sheriff shows up and warns Doc Gilbert that if he finds anything crooked with their show then they will all go to jail. The show continues as Eddie dresses up as a sharpshooter to shoot targets off Doc's hat. When the sheriff realises Eddie is shooting blanks, he replaces the gun with his own one, loaded with real bullets. The blindfolded Eddie then takes aim and fires three separate shots at Doc. Doc sees the bullets are real and tries to tell Eddie but the sheriff insists that the show continues. He quickly regrets the decision when Eddie shoots aimlessly through a hand mirror and ends up shaving half of the sheriff's hair off in the process.
Inside the wagon Lillian, Patsy and Eddie discuss their frustrations with the show whilst Doc continues to entertain the crowd. Later, Patsy takes to the stage and begins singing whilst dressed as a Native Indian. I'm not sure if that is actually Patsy's real voice or if a double was used but if it is her then she's pretty decent. An Native Indian joins the crowd of onlookers and gets emotional listening to the song. Afterwards the Indian walks into the trailer where Patsy nervously tries to offer him some medicine but he seems more intent on making her is squaw. Enraged, Patsy gets physical and shoves the Indian out of the trailer and into the crowd below. Brusied and shamed, the Indian rubs his wounds and walks off.
Lillian tries to calm Patsy down but Patsy simply dismisses her and throws a towel onto the bullhorn switch, activating it. Her angry words inside the trailer are heard by all the onlookers on the outside who start to get annoyed when she confesses that the medicine they are trying to sell is a load of fake rubbish. Doc and Eddie scramble for the key to get back into the trailer to stop Patsy's tirade before the angry crowd turns on them and try to storm the wagon. Patsy jumps out and begins attacking the crowd with a hot iron whilst Lillian uses a set of mechanical teeth to bite people's bums. When the sheriff tries to get on board Doc makes a hasty getaway. His erratic driving through the mountain roads has everything (and everyone) in the back rolling around and when a hot plate ends up going through the panelling it begins to melt the steering wheel. Doc finally comes to a crashing halt and everything spills out the back of the wagon. Patsy, Lillian and Eddie see they are back at the state line and quickly move the signpost a few feet to avoid being arrested but the sheriff jumps out on them and handcuffs Patsy as she celebrates. He goads her into hitting him... so is happy to take him up on the offer and punches him in the face through her handcuffed fists!

Favourite bit
Patsy Kelly taking no shit from anyone!

Copyrighted May 17, 1934.
At around 17:33 into the film, just as the van crashes and the cast fall out of the back, you can hear somebody off-camera say "stop the picture here".
Some sources list PAT WEST as being in the film. This is wrong. It is in fact JACK HILL.
During the angry responses from both sheriffs, they each call Patsy a "nincompoop". The language! Disgraceful.
The wagon leaves Boulder County and makes it into Rattlesnake County at the beginning of the film.
Patsy Kelly has a spot in the film where she sings on the stage and you know what, she isn't that bad!
When Patsy is singing and playing her bongo drum the beat does not match up with her hands.
At 14:43 Jack Hill delivers one of his very rare spoken lines, "So, it was bug juice huh?" when he addresses fellow crowd onlooker Dick Gilbert.
The last line of the film is spoken by the sheriff who entices Patsy "now try and hit me". The audio does not sync with his mouth so this was obviously recorded in post production.
My opinion
Purely as an intriguing entry in the Hal Roach library it is worth seeing once, but for a "musical comedy" (as it was billed) it is more musical than it is comedy, and to be fair it isn't that musical to begin with. A dull affair with the occasional spark of violence from Patsy's character makes this a pretty much one-and-done kind of deal. I also thought the ending was a bit lame too. Not an easy film to find so you may have to go the route of private collectors to get your hands on it.

Patsy Kelly
Lillian Miles
La Belle Lillian
Billy Gilbert
Doc Gilbert
Eddie Foy Jr.
Dick Gilbert
Man in audience
Jack Hill
Man in audience
Cy Slocum
Sheriff's driver
Harry Bernard
Man in audience
Dorothy Adams
Woman in audience


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

(click any image to enlarge)

Matthew Lydick (trivia)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Cy Slocum)
Brent Seguine (identification of Dorothy Adams)

This page was last updated on: 19 September 2022