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Hallelujah, I'm a Bum

An intriguing but curiously botched follow-up to the enchanting Love Me Tonight, again using a Rodgers & Hart score structured by rhyming recitative. Jolson, hardly the ideal R&H interpreter anyway, is horribly miscast as the leader of a band of Depression down-and-outs who haunt Central Park: he just hasn't the persona to play a Byronic hero of social protest who accepts a job because he falls in love, and drops out again when love fails him. The script, mixing cynicism with sentimentality in a manner typical of Ben Hecht (who co-authored with SN Behrman), also veers uncertainly between pursuing its Depression themes and elaborating its singularly turgid romantic complications (where the heroine, conveniently amnesiac, shuttles between two equally unlikely suitors). Some of the infelicities were probably due to production problems, since the film was started by Harry D'Abbadie D'Arrast, continued by Milestone (who brought in R&H), and completed (apparently at Jolson's insistence) by Chester Erskine. The songs make pleasant but not great listening.

Release details

Duration: 82 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Lewis Milestone
Screenwriter: SN Behrman, Ben Hecht
Cast: Al Jolson
Madge Evans
Harry Langdon
Frank Morgan
Chester Conklin
Bert Roach
Edgar Connor
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