AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Footlight Varieties
Director: Hal Yates (Dir)
Release Date:   Apr 1951
Premiere Information:   San Francisco opening: 21 Mar 1951.
Production Date:   began 25 Jul 1950
Duration (in mins):   60-61
Duration (in feet):   5,452
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Cast:   Leon Errol (Leon Errol)  
    The Sportsmen    
    Jerry Murad's Harmonicats    
    Frankie Carle   and His Orchestra
    Red Buttons    
    Buster West    
    Melissa Mason    
    Grace Romanos    
    Dorothy Granger (Vivian Errol)  
    Patti Brill (Barbara)  
    Emory Parnell    
    Elaine Riley    
    Byron Foulger (Dr. Twitcham)  
    Harry Harvey (Leon's friend)  
    Jack Paar (Himself)  
  Confidence excerpt: Florence Lawrence (Florence)  
    David Miles    
    Herbert Yost    
    Charles Inslee    
    Arthur Johnson    
    Owen Moore    
    Bill Williams    

Summary: From a theater stage, master of ceremonies Jack Paar greets the audience, then introduces radio quartet The Sportsmen, who sing three numbers. Next, Paar discusses the growing influence of television on popular culture, as scenes featuring unusual visual effects are shown on two television sets situated on the stage. Posing as a radio contest emcee, Paar then introduces comedian Red Buttons, who performs a routine about his public school days.
       An excerpt from the short film He Forgot to Remember is next: When his wife Vivian catches him jitterbugging with a young woman in a nightclub, Leon Errol, who is supposed to be on a fishing trip, feigns amnesia. The next day, a seemingly concerned Vivian insists that Leon be seen at home by Dr. Twitcham. After the doctor concludes that Leon is actually suffering from dementia, a seductive woman named Barbara arrives and informs a startled Leon that she is his wife. Vivian soon discovers Barbara hiding behind her couch, and the two women start to argue, then Vivian suddenly offers to sacrifice Leon to Barbara. Unknown to Leon, Barbara is Dr. Twitcham's nurse, and both she and the doctor are helping Vivian teach Leon a lesson. Their ruse climaxes when Barbara pretends to shoot Vivian, and two policemen storm in to question Leon. Believing that Vivian is on her deathbed, a contrite Leon finally confesses his deception. Vivian responds by hitting Leon over the head, which results in a genuine case of amnesia.
       Back in the theater, dancer Inesita performs a flamenco number. Paar then provides humorous offscreen commentary as excerpts from a 1909 silent film, titled Confidence, or Beautiful Romance of a Nurse , are screened. Next Paar introduces pianist Liberace, who plays a classical piece as well as a boogie number. Jerry Murad's Harmonicats perform next and are followed by a comic rumba routine featuring Paar and dancer Grace Romanos. In a film excerpt, Buster West, Melissa Mason and several pairs of black jitterbuggers perform a hillbilly-themed dance number. After The Sportsmen sing a final number, Paar bids the audience good night. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Hal Yates (Dir)
  Jack Scholl (Dir of "Carle Comes Calling" excerpt)
  Ben Stoloff (Dir of "Radio City Revels" excerpt)
  D. W. Griffith (Dir of "Confidence" excerpt)
  Doran Cox (Asst dir)
Producer: George Bilson (Prod)
Writer: Hal Yates (Leon Errol scr)
  Felix Adler (Leon Errol scr)
Photography: J. Roy Hunt (Dir of photog)
  Frank Redman (Dir of photog)
  Jack MacKenzie (Photog for "Radio City Revels" excerpt)
  G. W. Bitzer (Photog for "Confidence" excerpt)
  Arthur Marvin (Photog for "Confidence" excerpt)
Art Direction: Walter E. Keller (Art dir)
Film Editor: Edward W. Williams (Film ed)
  Jay Whittredge (Film ed)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Norman Bennett (Mus supv)
Sound: Frank Sarver (Sd tech)
Special Effects: Weegee (Elastic lens eff)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "La Paloma" by Sebastian Yradier, arranged by Frankie Carle; "Fantasie Impromptu" by Frédéric Chopin; "Hungarian Fantasy" by Franz Liszt; "The Galloping Comedians" by Dimitri Kabelevsky; "Love Rhumba," composer undetermined.
Songs: "Good-Night Ladies," music by Egbert Van Alstyne, lyrics by Harry Williams; "The Show Must Go On," music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Ira Gershwin; "Hi Time," music and lyrics by Martin Sperzel and John A. Rarig; "You Only Want It Cos You Haven't Got It," music and lyrics by Harry Parr Davies, Barbara Gordon and Thomas Basil.
Composer: Thomas Basil
  Frankie Carle
  Frédéric Chopin
  Harry Parr Davies
  Ira Gershwin
  Barbara Gordon
  Dimitri Kabelevsky
  Jerome Kern
  Franz Liszt
  John A. Rarig
  Martin Sperzel
  Egbert Van Alstyne
  Harry Williams
  Sebastian Yradier
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 14/3/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP814

PCA NO: 14718
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Compilation
Subjects (Major): Comedians
Subjects (Minor): Amnesia
  Flamenco dancers
  Jitterbug (Dance)
  Rumba (Dance)

Note: The film's title card reads: " Footlight Varieties A New Musical Revue Including Highlights from RKO Film Hits." Footlight Varieties was the third and last compilation film released by RKO between 1948 and 1951. The previous two pictures, Variety Time (1948) and Make Mine Laughs (1949), also featured Jack Paar as emcee (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). The Leon Errol excerpt was taken from a 1944 short RKO film entitled He Forgot to Remember . George Bilson produced the short and Hal Yates directed and co-wrote it. Frankie Carle's "La Paloma" number first appeared in the 1947 RKO short film Carle Comes Calling , directed by Jack Scholl. The silent excerpt was taken from a 1909 American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. short entitled Confidence , directed by D. W. Griffith (see AFI Catalog. Film Beginnings, 1893-1910 ). Some of the actors listed above for Confidence may not have appeared in the excerpt. The number featuring Buster West and Melissa Mason first appeared in the 1938 RKO film Radio City Revels , directed by Ben Stoloff.
       According to HR news items and production charts, the following performers were cast in the picture: Red Nichols and his New Orleans jazz band, The Elder Lovelies from Ken Murray's Blackouts , Pat Hall, Mona Knox, Sue Casey, Blanche Taylor, Suellen Wiere, Spec O'Donnell, Sara Serenado and Wendy Waldron. The appearance of these performers in the final film has not been confirmed. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   31 Mar 1951.   
Daily Variety   22 Mar 51   p. 3.
Film Daily   6 Apr 51   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jul 50   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jul 1950   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jul 50   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jul 50   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jul 50   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Mar 51   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   24 Mar 51   pp. 766-67.
Variety   28 Mar 51   p. 16.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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