Based on the bizarre narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March which celebrates the decadence of the Roaring Twenties in cheerful Kiplingesque doggerel, this tells of a chubby silent comedian who throws a Hollywood shindig that ends in murder. No doubt to emphasise the titillating (but misleading) echoes of the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, the film was originally released in Britain in a version cut and 'rearranged' by American International. Coming on like a sexploiter but failing to deliver, this naturally died the death. Ivory's original cut is a delightful tour de force, choreographed entirely around the serpentine party which represents the fading comedian's last desperate bid for success and happiness, but which ends by swallowing its own wild tail. An acid-tinted elegy for the Dream factory, it features some fine musical numbers and wonderfully baroque settings, but also takes a look at the skull beneath the skin just as the extravagance, the glamour, and the licence were beginning to wear thin under pressure from the coming of sound and of Hays Code censorship.
Cast and crew