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Eddie / Oedipus
Released by United Artists | Directed By Frank Tuttle
- “The empress Agrippa, the one I was sleeping with, was his wife.”
- The chief of police is named ‘Charles A. Pratt’.
- Cantor’s reaction to briefly holding a baby seems to indicate that it pooped itself.
- Lots of skin. Eddie accidentally vacuums a woman’s dress off, and moves a curtain to cover her only to reveal a woman showering.
Lucky they weren’t Scottish or they may have let him keep going.
Tells a Roman soldier to put on some pants and then playfully flips up his skirt.
- “I can take care of the children. If there are no children, I can take care of that.”
- Unsurprisingly for a movie set in Ancient Rome, there are a few homosexual undertones.
- One woman wants to purchase slave boy Cantor for non-work reasons.
- Nude slave girls galore.
- “I have lava gas!”
“You’ll be alright, just take a little bicarbonate of soda…”
- Lava gas makes you laugh really hard. Like, you know. Certain illicit substances.
- When explaining Minnie Mouse to the Emperor of Rome (as you’re apt to do), Eddie warbles a few bars of “Minnie the Moocher”. In particular the line, “kicking the gong around”, which is a slang reference to smoking opium.
- A large musical number taking place in a bath house. And, sigh black face.
- “You’ll always have your way if he likes you in a neglige.”
- A man caught in the bathhouse sings, “Oh, death, where’s thy sting, I don’t care because I’ve seen everything…”
- The royal crocodile bites Eddie on the butt.
“Methinks thou art nuts.”
Eddie Cantor has never really been my cup of tea. If you think I’m exaggerating, you can check out my Kid From Spain or Whoopee! review. Cantor was a big box office draw in the early thirties, both on Broadway and on the screen. His films often slip into trainwrecks of overblown inanity, and, because Cantor’s fondness and fame for blacking up always factor in, the movies are pretty offensive too.
Well, in Roman Scandals, the jokes are better, the songs are better, the action is better, and the direction looks like it was done by someone at least half alive. Yes, Cantor still busts out the old greasepaint, but, eh, the is the least offensive of his outings so far. (Important note: this is not a defense of black face, it is still horrible.)“Friends, Romans, viewers at home…”
The plot kicks off with Eddie playing ‘Eddie’, a young, nice guy bum in the town of West Rome who unfortunately can’t make enough money to afford his own place. So he spends his nights at the Roman museum built by the town’s banker, Warren Finley Cooper (Willard Robertson). Cooper is in cahoots with the mayor and chief of police to systemically revitalize the town by getting rid of all the poor people and then pocketing the difference by underbidding on contracts, which, as you can imagine, probably wouldn’t sit too well with the populace. Their latest scheme involves kicking out a whole neighborhood to level the block and build a new jail. When the police chief notes that they don’t need a new jail, Cooper winks at him and assures him that he’ll find a way to fill it. Modern California was built on this entire ethos!
This leads to the movie’s first number, where Eddie encourages all of the people forced on the street by the corrupt officials to turn the street into their new home. He warbles the rather lovely, “Build a Little Home” and soon the whole town is in on it, incensing Cooper and getting Eddie walked to the town’s border and thrown out. As Eddie is walking away from his home, he suddenly finds himself avoiding chariots instead of cars. That’s right, he’s whisked himself away to Ancient Rome and is instantly caught up in the titular scandals.Probably one of the most sex slave filled movies I’ve watched in a while.
This leads to the usual Cantor mishmash of sly, dopey jokes, and bombastic musical numbers, this time mixed with very serious men wearing skirts. The first we meet, after an array of Roman archers try and use Eddie for target practice, is the harsh Josephius, played by David Manners as a character stroking his coiled whip with a little too much intensity for the family audience at home. Eddie is quickly taken to the slave market which, as choreographed by Busby Berkeley in his last major outing before sticking to Warner Brothers full time, is an enormous sexual tragedy full of grief, horror, and undulating nude women. So it’s not all bad, I guess.
That’s set to the tune of “No More Love” and sung by Ruth Etting. Etting was a pretty famous warbler who got shoehorned into a couple of movies around this time– see also Hips Hips Hooray— and this is probably the shoehornediest. Her character of Olga was the Emperor Valerius’ main hookup, but they misunderstood him and sold her into slavery. There’s no consequences, she’s brought back to him off screen. Later, she helps the Princess Sylvia (Gloria Stuart), escape, much to the joy of Eddie and Josephius. The two men have become friends despite both having a thing for her.More scandal
There are many digressions I’ve skipped over, such as Eddie escaping prison thanks to huffing ‘lava gas’, becoming the emperor’s food taster (the position has a high turnover rate), and basically making fun of Valerius and his minions (including a rather stuffy/funny majordomo played by Alan Mowbry). Empress Agrippa (Verree Teasdale) has also been trying to seduce Cantor, unsuccessfully to a surprising degree.
The best part of the picture probably comes in the “Keep Young and Beautiful” number– and it’s most uncouthly un-PC to boot. First, the good, which is Berkeley going all out with gorgeous women in various states of undress and a truly catchy (and deeply sexist) song about the joys of being a good looking young woman. The scene is elaborately choreographed, between the nymphish Goldwyn Girls twirling about in revealing states of undress. They twirl along with their servants– unsurprisingly, Nubian women dressed modestly and helping the Girls get ‘young and beautiful’.
The simple act of separately categorizing them is inherently unpalatable, emphasizing white beauty and black servitude in stark terms. Berkeley even goes one further, separating the two sets of women for the lengthy number and using their contrasting skin color to emphasize compositions and give the film an impressive visual mix of contrasts, also built against white and black revolving walls as well as a spectacular compartmentalized shower in the middle of the room.Scandaly clad women.
While this is happening, Eddie has disguised himself in black face so he can sneak around the nubile women. A common Cantor trope, for certain (Cantor’s appearance as his younger self in The Will Rogers Story (1954) is, in fact, done entirely in black face to hide his age), and while we’re not treated to a whole lot of racial ugliness (relatively), it again reveals how Hollywood desexualized the black man– an Ethopian beauty expert is allowed in the women’s baths since he’d be no threat at all.
If you can get past that (and I’m certainly not going to make you), there’s a lot to like in Roman Scandals, including Eddie’s glib and euphemism laced wisecracks and some impressive looking sets. The film ends with a chariot race which I’ve seen described as ‘spectacular’ and I’d just say more or less passes the time. It shows Eddie, with his shoes actually nailed to the floor of the chariot, being pursued by the emperor’s archers.
(The version of the movie I caught also seemed to be missing a sequence before the chariot chase wherein he escapes Valerius’ guards after Olga goes to free him. I saw no other reference to this scene missing in other reviews, so perhaps Etting simply skipped out on that day? Who knows.)HONK HONK
Roman Scandals is pretty dopey on a couple of levels. Let’s be honest, outdoor Rome probably doesn’t resemble Southern California quite as much as this movie would have you believe, and, as noted above, the racial politics are pretty much everything bad about the 30s in one solid package.
But it also is about how government corruption has been as constant through human history as love and romance. The movie is a weird mix of being a Capra-esque paean to small town hope and ingenuity, a bawdy satire of mankind’s decadent past, and a lavish mad musical. It’s charming in its way.
Hover over for controls.
- This film constitutes one of the earliest appearances of Lucille Ball on film debut. (She’s hard to miss.) You can read more about her lengthy friendship with Eddie Cantor over at A Trip Down Memory Lane.
- Another supporting Goldwyn Girl, Barbara Pepper, gets her whole life laid out in a timeline over at Glamour Girls.
- I really love the posters for this one– appropriately breezy and sleazy. You can find a few over at Doctor Macro including publicity photos, including a few of Ms. Ball wearing her big blonde wig and nothing else.
- DavidManners.com sure seems to be one of the sites that really enjoys David in a toga. They have more Manners-focused images for your pleasure.
- Tons of production notes for this one at TCMDB. Basically, everyone involved in writing the movie sued everyone else at one point or another.
This movie has all the good taste of a gladiator fight. Fortunately, my tastes aren’t much better. By all means, bring on the bread and circuses!
- This film is available from Amazon.
Bill and Hillary Clinton got together with their pregnant daughter Chelsea just two days after she was confronted by an angry college student over her criticism of a Muslim congresswoman.
The 42nd president and his wife, who was most recently secretary of state before losing to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, looked to be in good spirits as they headed to lunch at a New York City restaurant.
Hillary Clinton marked St. Patrick’s Day with a green scarf and sweatshirt underneath a brown winter coat.
Her husband was rocking a blue blazer jacket over a green sweatshirt. He also had a pin of an Irish shamrock on his left lapel.
Bill (left) and Hillary Clinton (right) were seen out and about on the streets of New York City on Sunday
Hillary Clinton marked St. Patrick’s Day with a green scarf and sweatshirt underneath a brown winter coat
Her husband was rocking a blue blazer jacket over a green sweatshirt. He also had a pin of an Irish shamrock on his left lapel
Chelsea Clinton was seen doting over her two children - one of whom she carried in her arms
Chelsea Clinton was seen doting over her two children - one of whom she carried in her arms.
The former first daughter was in the news this week once again - this time in the wake of the horrific massacre of Muslim worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand.
Clinton on Friday was accused of ‘stoking’ Islamophobia and contributing to the climate which led to the bloodshed in Christchurch.
She was attending a vigil for the Christchurch victims at New York University on Friday when senior Leen Dweik began castigating her in an astonishing moment caught on video.
'This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,' says Dweik, gesturing to the vigil for the 49 who were killed in Christchurch when a white nationalist shooter stormed two mosques.
Over the weekend, the death toll has risen to 50.
'And I want you to know that and I want you to feel that deeply - 49 people died because of the rhetoric you put out there,' Dweik continues, jabbing her index finger toward Clinton as other students snap their fingers in apparent approval of her words.
'I'm so sorry you feel that way,' Clinton responds, only to provoke more ire from the crowd.
'What does "I'm sorry you feel that way" mean? What does that mean?' an unseen male is heard shouting from the crowd.
Clinton was attending the vigil at New York University on Friday when a female student began laying into her in an astonishing moment caught on video
'This right here is the result of a massacre stoked by people like you and the words that you put out into the world,' said Dweik
According to NYU student Rose Asaf, who posted the video on Twitter, students at the vigil were angry about Clinton's accusation last month that Rep Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, used 'anti-Semitic language and tropes' while criticizing Israel.
Omar came under heavy criticism within her own party for her remarks, in which she suggested that money plays a role in U.S. foreign policy toward Israel.
Clinton was one of many who condemned Omar's remarks, writing in a tweet: 'We should expect all elected officials, regardless of party, and all public figures to not traffic in anti-Semitism.'
Asaf blasted Clinton for her criticism of Omar, saying that the former first daughter had incited a 'mob' against the Muslim congresswoman.
'People haven’t forgotten the Islamophobic mob she incited against @IlhanMN. There is no sense of responsibility,' wrote Asaf, who identified herself as a 'Jewish leftist' in her Twitter profile.
Asaf has served in the NYU student senate as Senator at-Large for Marginalized Jewish Students, Student Activists, and Students With Mental Health Struggles, according to published reports.
Asaf wrote in a tweet that Dweik is a 'bold a palestinian muslim woman' who 'doesn't have anything to apologize for.'
Her Twitter account has since been set to private.
People attend a vigil held at NYU Kimmel Center to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand, Manhattan on Friday
Dweik was tagged in Asaf's post as Twitter user @vivafalastin, whose profile says she is an NYU senior and features the Palestinian flag.
Dweik wrote in a Twitter post about the vigil: 'i was on the verge of tears all day today and actually cried on my into and during prayer but the charade of a vigil where more non-muslims than muslims spoke and chelsea clinton was invited made me so viscerally angry and i will not apologize for that.'
Dweik was identified in a November article as an Alternate Senator-at-Large for Middle Eastern and North African Students and Documented Non-citizen Students at NYU.
New Zealand police promised a high-profile presence as schools and businesses in Christchurch reopened on Monday, and the prime minister said she would start work on tightening gun laws.
Chelsea Clinton (center) watches during the NYU vigil. Some student were angry at her presence though, and berated her for criticizing Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar
Democratic representative from Minnesota Ilhan Omar (left) prepares to address several hundred students at rally outside the US Capitol on Friday
Families of victims were still waiting for bodies of those killed to be released after post mortems, with some of the dead to be taken overseas for burial.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police would be out in force to assure people as they returned to their weekday lives in Christchurch, with 200 extra police staff on duty.
Helicopters flew back and forth over the city on a grey, overcast Monday morning.
‘You will see a highly visible police presence on the streets, around your businesses, around your schools, and even in the air, right across the country,’ Bush said on Sunday.
‘So you will feel safe to go about what you want to do.’
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday.
Tarrant was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5 where police said he was likely to face more charges.
Friday’s attack in Christchurch, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled terrorism, was the worst ever mass shooting in New Zealand.
Rose Asaf, who posted the video, has served in the NYU student senate as Senator at-Large for Marginalized Jewish Students, Student Activists, and Students With Mental Health Struggles
A man holds a placard at a vigil on Friday held at NYU Kimmel Center to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand
Imam Khalid Latif, Muslim Chaplain at NYU speaks at a vigil held at NYU Kimmel Center to mourn for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand
Brenton Tarrant, the accused Christchurch shooter, appears in court on Saturday. He is seen making an 'OK' sign with his hand, which has been adopted as an ironic white power symbol
Tarrant, 28, originally from Grafton, New South Wales but more recently a resident of Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, was arrested and charged for the attack
Ardern’s cabinet will meet on Monday for the first time since the attacks, with a tightening of gun laws on the agenda.
‘What we have a responsibility to pursue in the aftermath of this terrorist attack will include work around gun laws...there are other areas we will discuss as well,’ she told One News.
Parts of the city, including schools, were put into lockdown on Friday after the shootings as authorities assessed whether there were further threats.
Ardern said trauma support would be available at centers across the community and in schools.
Police said the airport in the southern city of Dunedin, had been reopened early on Monday after a suspicious item found on the airfield turned out to be a hoax object.
The airport had been closed on late on Sunday, with some flights diverted to other airports, after the object was found.
‘The NZDF (New Zealand Defence Force) Explosive Ordinance team neutralized the hoax object, and the scene where it was found has been secured,’ the police said in a statement.
‘Enquiries are ongoing to establish who left the object.’
Timeline of terror: How the Christchurch shootings unfolded
Friday March 15, 1.30pm local time (12.30am GMT): Gunman identifying himself as Brenton Tarrant live-streams mass shooting inside the Al Noor Mosque as Friday prayers are underway. The Bangladesh cricket team were on their way to the mosque at the time.
Another shooting takes place at a mosque in Linwood, 3.5 miles to the east.
1.40pm: Police respond to reports of shots fired in central Christchurch. People are urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour. Shortly afterwards, all schools in the city are placed into lockdown.
2.10pm: Police confirm they are attending an 'evolving situation' involving an 'active shooter'
3.30pm: Two explosive devices attached to a car are found and disarmed by a bomb squad at Strickland Street, not far from the Al Noor Mosque.
4pm: One person confirmed to be in custody. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush says there have been 'multiple fatalities' at two locations - both mosques. Mosques across New Zealand urged to shut their doors.
4.10pm: Prime minister Jacinda Ardern calls it 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'.
5.30pm: Mr Bush says three men and one woman are in custody. Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirms one of those arrested is Australian.
7.30pm: Ms Ardern says 40 are dead and more than 20 are seriously injured but confirms the offender is in custody
National security threat level is lifted from low to high.
7.45pm: Britomart train station in central Auckland is evacuated after bags are found unattended. The bags were deemed not suspicious.
9pm: Death toll rises to 49 and Police Commissioner Bush reveals a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.
Police are not looking for any named or identified suspects, he says, but adds that it would be 'wrong to assume that there is no-one else'.
11.50pm: Investigation extends 240 miles to the south where homes are evacuated around a 'location of interest' in Dunedin.