Series: ZaSu Pitts & Thelma Todd
Director: Hal Roach
Producer: Hal Roach
Photography: George Stevens
Editor: Richard C. Currier
Sound: Elmer Raguse
Stars: ZaSu Pitts, Thelma Todd, George Byron
Released: 06 June 1931
Length: 3 reels
Production No.: S-39
Filming dates: May 11-15, 1931
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Inside Waltham's Worlds largest store, Thelma is playing a piano and singing, attracting the attention of a group of men who join in. ZaSu gets into it briefly before realising how bad she sounds and decides to keep quiet instead. The store manager (Ed Dillon) reprimands Thelma, telling her that she is there to plug songs and sell music. Thelma then has a pop at ZaSu for not being firm enough with the Milton (George Byron), a guy she is infactuated with. Just then he walks into the store. He invites ZaSu and Thelma out for the evening with him and a doctor friend of his to attend a cabaret show.
The store manager is prowling around and it's quickly back to work for the girls. ZaSu grabs a megaphone and starts singing along to Thelma's piano playing, not realising she has smeared the mouth-piece in ink, which gives the shoppers a hearty laugh.
That evening as the girls are putting on their powder and make-up, Milton arrives and helps himself to an apple. Thelma, putting on her dress, makes no secret of her feelings of Milton through sarcasm and sly comments regarding how he has worn a path through to their icebox. Sure enough, Milton makes himself at home and sits down at the dinner table to begin eating their food. The doctor (Jerry Mandy) (an osteopath from Boston) arrives and confidently 'cures' ZaSu of a back ailment. Thelma flips and tells ZaSu she is not going out with them on account of a made-up headache. The doctor revels in the thought and has the perfect cure: he picks Thelma up by the head and manhandles her on the bed!
Thelma reluctantly changes her mind to go out because "I don't want to get my neck broke" and pursuades ZaSu to put on Thelma's heeled shoes before going out.
The foursome arrive at the venue and as ZaSu's coat is taken, the sound of a laughing chipmunk (which turns out to be the bellboy Mickey Daniels) penetrates the lobby. Thelma mistakenly grabs a drunk (Charley Rogers) and drags him into the ladies, but he is booted out as Thelma realises her error, and instead grabs ZaSu. The nightclub cigarette girl (the beautiful Mary Kornman) is reprimanded by the owner for serving the cutomers whilst chewing gum. The foursome are seated at a table, where the doctor engages in some small talk with Thelma, much to her disdain, whilst underneath the table, ZaSu continues to reveal how uncomfortable she is in Thelma's shoes.
After quite an uncomfortable scene showing ZaSu's fidgeting, the double dance act comes onto the floor (real-life husband and wife David Sharpe and Gertrude Messinger). As ZaSu mocks their dance moves with her hands on the table, the couple entertain the audience with backflips, frontflips and a semi-boring dance show. As the dance act finish their routine, a game of 'footsie' has started to take place under the girls' table. A guessing game of puzzled looks are exchanged between Thelma and the doctor but Thelma gives him a stern look to express herself further.
A second dance act comes onto the floor, led by the inept Dorothy Granger. A few raised legs and messed-up somersault later, she is carried away into the back!
After the doctor is called into the back, Thelma confesses to ZaSu that she is going to get rid of their unwanted guests once and for all. She begins drinking heavily and acts drunk, as the dance act return to the floor momentarily before leaving again just as quickly due to the injuries they all sustained previously. Thelma starts to attract the attention of the whole nightclub as she grows louder. The manager warns the doctor to keep her quiet of they will be ejected so the doctor suggests he and Thelma dance.
ZaSu (minus her shoes) dances with Milton but at the end of the dance the owner catches the cigarette girl chewing gum again and reprimands her. Poor Mary takes her gum out of her mouth and pins it on the underside of what she believes to be the nearest table In actuality, she sticks it to the underside of ZaSu's feet. This causes her considerable problems when she resumes dancing, as her tights constantly keep getting stuck to the dancefloor. Meanwhile Thelma is getting more and more uncontrollable and ends up launching the poor doctor into a bowl of spaghetti. He is forcibly ejected by an angry waiter (Charlie Hall).
ZaSu is crawling around on all fours under tables, looking for her shoes when she gets scooped up by a waiter with a trolley. Thelma, who has followed her friend under the table, emerges to escort ZaSu out of the premises. Back at the apartment, Milton sits ZaSu down to ask her an important question. Excitedly she waits, as he asks if he can have a piece of pie. Thelma is happy to oblige, launching it at his face from the kitchen.
During the nightclub cabaret scene, a really poor Dorothy Granger leads a group of girls out for the floorshow. With all those legs flying up in the air, it's hard to know exactly where to look!
• Copyrighted May 7, 1931.
• This was the inaugural film in the Pitts/Todd series, though was intended to be part of The Boy Friends series. The film was released under Hal Roach's All Stars banner.
• The music score was recorded on April 2, 1931.
• The film opens with a rooftop shot of Waltham's Worlds Largest Store.
• Six men help Thelma sing her opening song.
• During the scene where Thelma sings at the piano in the beginning of the film, there is a shaky pan shot of the men. This was a typical trait of Hal Roach's directing.
• Even though he was expected to call, don't you think it's a little rude that Milton answers the door to the doctor whilst at the girls' apartment?
• As the doctor is throwing Thelma around in the bed, watch how close she comes to smacking her head on the rail at the foot of the bed.
• When ZaSu puts on Thelma's shoes she struggles with them. This would suggest that Thelma had smaller feet. Just before she puts on the new shoes, ZaSu is seen standing right next to Thelma in a close-up shot in the apartment and they are exactly the same height. After putting on the shoes, she then stands next to Thelma again and there is no height difference - yet the shoes she just put on had at least a 2-inch heel.
• The distance between the girls' apartment and the cabaret is "about nine or ten blocks".
• It seems that even though he shows an obvious talent and flexibility, David Sharpe always has to show off with back-flips and acrobatics. After seeing it so often, it starts to get a bit grating.
• Wow! Dorothy Granger can really get her leg vertical!
• As Thelma starts her drunken flirting with the doctor, it is almost impossible to keep one's eyes on anything other than her dress!
• Thelma Todd does several double-takes throughout the course of the film.
What the experts say
• "It's such a sad shame that Thelma Todd spends too much time showing off her cleavage (if that's what you call it!) for attention instead of relying on her acting talent, which she obviously had." ~ Lord Heath.
Music store manager
Music store customer
Lead nightclub dancer
Nightclub cigarette girl
Music store customer, singer
Inebriated nightclub customer
Richard Finegan (stills, poster, information)
Richard W. Bann (photo, help and assistance)
Lou Sabini (help and assistance)
Mark H. Heller (help and assistance)
Jim Clewer (identification of Venice Lloyd)
Jesse Brisson (identification of William Gillespie)
This page was last updated on: 09 November 2018