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Hi Diddle Diddle
Director: Andrew L. Stone (Dir)
Release Date:   20 Aug 1943
Production Date:   late Apr--mid-May 1943
Duration (in mins):   71-73
Duration (in feet):   6,584
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Cast:   Adolphe Menjou (Colonel Hector Phyffe)  
    Martha Scott (Janie Prescott [Phyffe])  
    Pola Negri (Genya Smetana)  
    Dennis O'Keefe (Sonny Phyffe)  
    Billie Burke (Mrs. [Liza] Prescott)  
    Walter Kingsford (Senator Simpson)  
    Barton Hepburn (Peter Warrington, III)  
    Georges Metaxa (Spinelli)  
    Eddie Marr (Croupier)  
    Paul Porcasi (Impresario)  
    Bert Roach (Fat man)  
    Chick Chandler (Chauffeur)  
    Lorraine Miller (A friend)  
    Marek Windheim (Pianist)  
    Richard Hageman (Boughton)  
    Ellen Lowe (Maid)  
    Barry McCullum (Cashier)  
    Joe Devlin (Bartender)  
    Hal K. Dawson (Minister)  
    Andrew Tombes (Doorman)  
    Byron Foulger (Watson)  
    Ann Hunter (Sandra)  
  and June Havoc (Leslie Quayle)  

Summary: When Janie Prescott's wedding to sailor Sonny Phyffe is delayed because his ship has not yet docked, the wedding ceremony is combined with a christening to accommodate the pastor's schedule. Sonny's father Hector, a lovable swindler, steals a corsage that was intended for his wife, temperamental opera singer Genya Smetana, unaware that the gift from her opera company also included a diamond clip. When Sonny finally arrives on his forty-eight-hour leave, Hector gives him the corsage as a present for Janie, but the wedding is again postponed when Mrs. Prescott announces that Janie's former suitor, wealthy Peter Warrington III, sunk all her money into shaky investments and at the roulette wheel at the 59 Club, and that she is now broke. Despite Peter's deliberate attempts to sabotage Janie's marriage, the wedding proceeds after Sonny, who is not interested in Janie's inheritance, takes up his father's offer to help Mrs. Prescott regain her fortune. Hector arranges with 59 Club singer Leslie Quayle and her boyfriend to "fix" the roulette tables in their favor. Sonny and Janie are about to leave for their honeymoon when Hector insists that Sonny accompany him to the club. There Hector lures his straight-arrow son into gambling, and Sonny and the croupier are astonished by his repeated wins. Hoping again to disillusion Janie, who believes that Sonny is on a government mission, Peter brings Janie, Mrs. Prescott, and Mrs. Prescott's friend, Senator Simpson, to the club. Hector splits the roulette winnings with Leslie, but is then hard-pressed to explain to Genya, who has just walked in, why he is kissing the singer. To allay Genya's suspicions, Leslie and Hector pretend that Sonny, who Genya does not know is her step-son, has just married Leslie. Janie is then astonished to see her new husband dancing with the singer. The confusion mounts when Genya's impresario identifies Janie's diamond clip as the one intended for her, and Genya believes that Janie has married Hector. Hector momentarily distracts Genya by asking the band to play a selection from Genya's favorite opera, Wagner's Tannhäuser . Before they are able to continue their honeymoon, Janie is called on business as an air-raid warden, and Sonny spends the remainder of his wedding night sleeping on the couch. Hector, meanwhile, schemes with Leslie and Eddie to swindle Peter by tricking him into buying worthless stock at an exaggerated price. When Janie returns to Hector's apartment, Sonny leaves and, having read the fake Wall Street Journal provided by Hector, goes along with Hector to the bank to sell the worthless shares, thereby becoming an unwitting accomplice in his father's swindle. Hector then returns to his apartment, and discovers that Janie has moved in, because she mistakenly believes that he was providing the place for her and Sonny as a wedding gift. Genya, who intends to leave Hector, finally learns that he is older than he told her and has an adult son who has married Janie. Mrs. Prescott and Peter then arrive and tell the couple that Mrs. Prescott never lost her fortune but pretended she did in order to test Sonny's sincerity. Peter and Leslie then confirm that the confused bank manager where they transacted the phony stock purchase bought the shares himself. Sonny gives his father the money he got for the shares and finally runs into Janie as he is leaving the building. The newlyweds return to the Prescott home, where the maid, Florrie, suggests that they spend the rest of their honeymoon in Janie's apartment. When the Senator arrives with a new commission for which Sonny would have to leave immediately, Florrie tells him that the couple went out of town, and the newlyweds spend their remaining hours uninterrupted. All of the new acquaintances gather together in Hector and Genya's apartment and sing Wagnerian operas. The cacophany drives Hector to drink, and he is astonished when the characters in Genya's tapestry, which depicts a Wagnerian opera, come to life and flee from the noise. 

Production Company: Andrew Stone Productions  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Andrew L. Stone (Dir)
  Henry Kessler (Asst dir)
Producer: Andrew L. Stone (Prod)
  Edward F. Finney (Assoc prod)
  Carley Harriman (Asst to prod)
Writer: Frederick Jackson (Scr)
  Frederick Jackson (Orig story)
  Andrew L. Stone (Orig story)
Photography: Chas. Schoenbaum (Dir of photog)
Film Editor: Harvey Manger (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Earl Wooden (Int dec)
Costumes: Adrian (Cost [for] Martha Scott, Pola Negri, Billie Burke)
Music: Phil Boutelje (Mus dir)
Sound: Wm. H. Lynch (Sd tech)
Make Up: Ted Larsen (Makeup)
Production Misc: Leon Schlesinger Productions (Cartoon seq)
Country: United States

Songs: Selections from the opera Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner; "The Man with the Big Sombrero" and "I Loved You Too Little and Too Late," music and lyrics by Phil Boutelje and Foster Carling.
Composer: Phil Boutelje
  Foster Carling
  Richard Wagner

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Andrew Stone Productions, Inc. 20/8/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12325

PCA NO: 9143
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Genre: Comedy
Subjects (Major): Fathers and sons
  Mothers and daughters
  Opera singers
  Swindlers and swindling
  Tests of character
Subjects (Minor): Bankers
  Taxicab drivers
  Richard Wagner

Note: Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Lupe Velez was originally cast as a burlesque queen, but withdrew from the film. The part was changed to a nightclub singer when Constance Bennett was cast. Bennett dropped out of the picture, however, after disputes with producer Andrew Stone over her billing and after Stone insisted that her singing voice be dubbed. Edward Everett Horton was announced for a leading role, and a LAT article reported that Brian Donlevy was cast, but neither appear in the film. This marks Pola Negri's first appearance in an American film since she starred in the 1932 RKO film A Woman Commands (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.5163). Negri's next appearance in a film was not until 1964 in The Moon-Spinners . Hi Diddle Diddle was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   7 Aug 1943.   
Daily Variety   29 Jul 43   pp. 3-4.
Film Daily   1 Aug 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Mar 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Apr 1943.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   14 May 1943.   
Hollywood Reporter   29 Jul 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Sep 43   p. 7.
Los Angeles Times   21 Jul 1942.   
Motion Picture Herald   31 Jul 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   19 Jun 43   p. 1375.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   31 Jul 43   p. 1456.
New York Times   24 Sep 43   p. 26.
New York Times   16 May 1943.   
Variety   4 Aug 43   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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