Mixing Couples and Cocktails in Stepping Out (1931)
A musical that's not a musical that's not much of a comedy either. Charlotte Greenwood and Cliff Edwards are both
here, but there's only one song. Were tuners so toxic by 1931? The
four-cushion marital farce plays like filler between numbers we never hear. Charlotte gets in not one
high kick, and scat-man Cliff barely consults his ukulele. Madame Satan had come out
earlier a same year, from the same MGM, and with a same Reginald Denny in a
same story, only there's no zeppelin crack-up in Stepping Out, nor big-scale revue aloft. Instead, there's old wheeze of husbands caught with chorines, one of the
latter Merna Kennedy from Chaplin's Circus payroll. Denny and dallying pal "Tubby"
are investors in a crooked movie venture, which we're assured has
"independent" origin, the majors making no allowance for pic
producers outside monopoly's club. Precode amenities are observed, Lillian Bond
offering to swim naked in Denny's pool moments past their introduction. There
was location at Caliente, playground for idlers/industry folk and background to
sex shenanigans engaged here. A would-be seducer of pre-Freaks Leila Hyams is
heavily-rouged Kane Richmond, demonstrating measures a young actor would take toward his next meal. Warner Archives has Stepping Out in a nice transfer.
It's worth a look for comics perhaps less comical than on usual occasion, but
fill-up enough for the 73 minutes it lasts.