Series: All Stars w/ The Taxi Boys

Director: Del Lord
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: Art Lloyd
Editor: Louis McManus
Sound: James Greene

Stars: Ben Blue, Billy Gilbert, Almeda Fowler, Billy Bletcher, Eddie Baker
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 01 April 1933
Length: 2 reels
Production No.: T-8
Filming dates: December 19-24, 1932
Rating: 4/10


Taxi Barons

NOT ON DVD

Cabbies at the Black & Blue taxi company are fooling around with a finger-tie contraption when they attach it to sleeping Billy Gilbert's fingers. Ben is busy pissing about with a faulty carburetor on his car by trying to extinguish the steam with an over-inflated water hose before it finally explodes. Unable to get the contraption off his fingers completely, Billy ends up tagging Ben with the open end and together they drive off through the streets of Culver City. After some careless driving (excusable under the circumstances), they almost mow down a traffic cop, who gives them chase and pulls them over. He gives them a ticket and tells them to get out of the area. Billy reverses the taxi into the cop's motorcycle and drives off.
The cop once again gives chase, all the way to the shipping yard. The incompetent cabbies are chased onto the boat, where they overpower a Baron and his General and exchange clothing but are questioned by the motorcycle cop, a police officer and the ship's steward. Some young ladies even ask Billy for his autograph before he and Ben escape from the ship and drive off but not before they once again knock over the motorcycle cop's bike!
The stupid taxi drivers seem to have escaped the cop and park up outside a large house where a party is underway for the Baron whom Billy had overpowered on the ship. Billy and Ben are ushered inside by an eccentric butler (Charlie Hall) and announced as the Baron von Hoffenslipper and his assistant General Puff. The guests are excited to meet the pair, who are greeted by the host (Billy Bletcher), his big-breasted wife (Almeda Fowler) and their squeaky-voiced daughter Jenna (Carol Tevis). The host asks Billy some questions which sets him off on a comic rant, whilst Ben stands close by with an uncomfortable pointlessness. Fortunately the over-long and boring scene is interrupted when dinner is served.
The two imposters are served coffee followed by oysters, neither of which are complimented by them. Their lack of table etiquette is observed by the host and the guests who look on in disgust, whilst the hostess looks on with her ample cleavage stealing the male viewer's attention. The tedious scene continues on as both men make utter prats of themselves fiddling around with the food as Ben plays with a sandwich. Just then the motorcycle cop arrives with the real Baron and General. Ben picks up a large chicken from the table with a sword and hurls it at the motorcycle cop before he and Billy leave. They run outside and jump into a stationary car and drive off, little realising there are four cops waiting for them in the back seat....

Favourite bit
Ben Blue's etiquette takes a turn for the worse when he uses a large sword to spear the chicken before launching it in the direction of the motorcycle cop.

Trivia
Copyrighted March 6, 1933.
Released under Roach's 'All-Star' banner, this was the seventh film in The Taxi Boys series.
In the opening scene there are a total of eight cabbies in the garage, including Billy Gilbert and Dick Gilbert (who are not related by the way).
Judging by the reactions of Ben Blue and Billy Gilbert in this scene, I don't think they like Eddie Baker too much!
Ben Blue is so unfunny, like he tries too hard to be a comedian and comes off looking silly. In actual fact, there is a perfect bit of dialogue in the film where Billy Gilbert addresses Ben Blue and says "every time I look at you something's wrong". Well said.
When traffic cop Eddie Baker gives the boys their ticket and tells them to back their car up, they reverse straight into his motorcycle. Well sorry, but that was his fault, not theirs. How was Billy Gilbert supposed to have known the bike was behind their car? And furthermore, the cop did know his bike was there and yet gave Gilbert the instruction to reverse. To me, that is a no-brainer. Billy Gilbert was not at fault.
When we first see the dowager hostess (Almeda Fowler) she turns to face Billy Bletcher in what I think looks like a very deliberate attempt to show off her enormous cleavage!
As Billy and Ben arrive at the party they get out of their taxi in the street, yet there is a noticeable echo in their voices which would suggest this was shot on a sound stage.
Ben Blue takes four sugars in his coffee.
You can't help but laugh at the contrasting voices of the father and daughter of Billy Bletcher and Carol Tevis. One booming baritone and the other a squeaky mouse.
The significance of this movie being "Taxi Barons" is to cash in on the fact that the vaudeville comedian Jack Pearl had just been a huge hit on the radio with his character Baron Munchausen, a spinner of tall tales in a "Dutch" accent. At this point in the Taxi Boys series, Billy Gilbert suddenly becomes "Dutchy" - and it's a characterisation he used for the rest of his career. Jack Pearl, however, soon wore out his welcome and was forgotten by the end of the decade. He's in two movies : "Meet the Baron" (which is so bad it's NEARLY good) and "Hollywood Party", with Laurel & Hardy.
When Ben and Billy begin chewing on the oyster shells the sound synchronisation doesn't even come close to matching their mouths.
What the experts say
"It's a strange film with very little plot. The two halves of the film are completely unrelated it seems. I tried hard to find anything to laugh about here but failed miserably. It's just another 'Taxi Boys' film, and you know what that means!" ~ Lord Heath.

Ben Blue
Ben
Billy Gilbert
Billy
Almeda Fowler
Dowager hostess
Billy Bletcher
The host (Jenna's father)
Eddie Baker
Motorcycle cop
Harry Bernard
Cop
Bill Elliott
Ship boarding officer
Otto Fries
Banquet waiter
Charlie Hall
James, the butler
Eric Mayne
General Puff
Charles McAvoy
Cop
Dick Rush
Taxi company foreman
Carol Tevis
Jenna
Howard Truesdale
Baron von Hoffenslipper
Ellinor Vanderveer
Dinner party guest
Estelle Etterre
Dinner party guest
Ham Kinsey
Patrol car cop
Charles Dorety
Charley, cabbie
Dick Gilbert
Cabbie
Jack Hill
Cabbie
Lew Davis
Cabbie

UNIDENTIFIED CAST

CREDITS STILL

SHOT ON LOCATION
(click any image to enlarge)

Chris Bungo's "Then & Now" video presentation

SHOT ON THE LOT
(click any image to enlarge)

Acknowledgements:
Michael Brydon (corrections)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Lew Davis and Charles Dorety)
Jim Dallape (Back Lot Tour shots)
Geoff Collins (trivia information)
Richard Finegan (still)

This page was last updated on: 04 June 2019