Monday, April 16, 2018

Leon Errol Series: GOOD MORNING, EVE! (1934)

GOOD MORNING, EVE! (1934 Vitaphone Short) Starring Leon Errol as Adam, June MacCloy as Eve, Vernon Dent as Nero, Maxine Doyle as Queen Guinevere, Fred Toones as Porter, Wild Bill Elliott as Lancelot, Mildred Dixon as Chorine, Harry Seymour as Harold.  Written by Cyrus Woods, Eddie Moran and A. Dorian Otvos.  Directed by Roy Mack.

The introduction to our Leon Errol Salute Series is at this link.

On a bright day in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve enjoy the sunshine.  While Adam lounges in his fig leaves and spats, Eve prepares their decidedly vegetarian lunch. 

Leon Errol, the first man on earth!  
Adam bemoans the lack of variety in their diet, and he and Eve can't resist adding an apple despite a talking serpent's warning.


Perhaps they should have been more appreciative of the tip-off: after their meal the couple goes on a surreal journey through the next two centuries, passing through Emperor Nero's talent contest and King Arthur's court before ending up on a 1934 beach via airplane(!)--where singing Harold is about to marry his fifth wife and Leon ogles the bathing-suited beauties in front of his first.  (Hey, she'd have to be--right?)

A rare chance to see our boy Leon in color, GOOD MORNING, EVE! is a gloriously silly last gasp for racy content before the Breen PCA began seriously enforcing the Hays Code (released in September 1934).  The second three-strip Technicolor short (LA CUCARACHA beat it to theatres by three weeks), GOOD MORNING EVE! looks amazing and makes little sense. 

A hillbilly band dressed in togas, accompanying Nero's fiddling?  Sir Lancelot winning a swordfight with another of King Arthur's finest--needing Leon's help to do it?  Yes and yes, accompanied in all eras by lovely ladies wearing the shortest shorts allowed, most prominently when we finally reach 1934--of course.

As for our boy Rubberlegs, there's nary a drop of alcohol to imbibe, and no really memorable lines.  On the plus side, he gets several decent physical gags, and plenty of lovely ladies half his age to ogle.  Naturally, Eve turns out to be just as unforgiving of that wandering eye as future RKO wives would be.

Although he could always make the most out of mediocre material, one wishes Leon had better jokes to carry to the finish line here.  Still, GOOD MORNING, EVE! has plenty of trashy pleasures, and lots of familiar faces to spot.   Three Stooges mainstay Vernon Dent makes an appropriately bizarre Nero, future Western mainstay "Wild" Bill Elliott is that uncredited Sir Lancelot, and Gwinevere is played by the future Mrs. William Witney, Maxine Doyle.

An Eve thirty years younger than our Adam (but still unable to keep Leon's full attention), June MacCloy isn't the only scantily clad lovely here.   Yes, the first woman on earth has plenty of competition as the centuries pass.  Busby Berkeley regulars Donna Mae Roberts, Mildred Dixon, Loretta Andrews and Martha Merrill are all recognizable--Dixon on the beach, the others in Nero's Rome.  While the numbers aren't as geometrically complex as Berkeley's (how could they be?) they're fun, and never lacking for eye candy to draw your attention.

The novely of seeing Leon Errol in color is far more memorable than the script, but if GOOD MORNING, EVE! isn't exactly exceptional stuff, it never wears out its welcome in nineteen garish and sometimes titillating minutes.  Worth seeing for historical value, a decent number of laughs for its runtime, and the fun of spotting all those familiar faces--yes, there's a few I didn't mention above, so check it out for yourself.  Oh, and there's a twist ending that I won't spoil here, but could only have happened in a pre-Code.    (**1/2 out of four)

GOOD MORNING, EVE! occasionally airs on Turner Classic Movies, and is available on DVD in the Vitaphone Cavalcade of Musical Comedy Shorts collection, though the price is steep--it's a six disc set.

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