AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Jitterbugs
Alternate Title: Me and My Shadow
Director: Mal St. Clair (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Jun 1943
Production Date:   15 Feb--mid-Mar 1943
Duration (in mins):   74-75
Duration (in feet):   6,750
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Stan Laurel (Stan Laurel)  
    Oliver Hardy (Oliver Hardy)  
    Vivian Blaine (Susan Cowan)  
    Bob Bailey (Chester Wright)  
    Douglas Fowley (Malcolm Bennett)  
    Noel Madison (Tony Queen)  
    Lee Patrick (Dorcas)  
    Robert Emmett Keane (Henry Corcoran)  
    Charles Halton (Samuel J. Cass)  
    Edwin Mills (Bell boy)  
    James Bush (Gangster)  
    Chick Collins (Gangster)  
    Anthony Caruso (Gangster)  
    Jack Green (Policeman)  
    Bud Lawler (Intern)  
    Harrison Greene (Agitator)  
    Jimmy Conlin (Barker)  
    Syd Saylor (Barker)  
    Francis Ford (Desert rat)  
    Hal K. Dawson (Desk clerk)  
    Gladys Blake (Cigar counter girl)  
    Danny Duncan    
    Lester Dorr    

Summary: As they drive through a desert, bumbling musicians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, whose two-man band is advertised as "a symphony in a nutshell," run out of gas. They are rescued by confidence man Chester Wright, who convinces them that he has invented a pill that can turn water into gasoline. Chester takes the unsuspecting Stan and Ollie to the nearby town of Midvale, where he has them sell the phony pills at a carnival. When an angry crowd demands its money back, Chester pretends to be a bunco squad investigator and "arrests" Stan and Ollie. Chester drives away with the boys, but also inside their trailer is Susan Cowan, a lovely Midvale woman whose purse Chester had put in his pocket while they were dancing to Stan and Ollie's jitterbug music. As Chester is returning Susan's purse, out falls a photograph of her mother, finalizing a real estate deal with financiers Malcolm Bennett and Henry Corcoran. Chester recognizes the alleged businessmen as swindlers and warns Susan that her mother has been cheated out of the ten thousand dollars that she invested. When Chester drives Susan back to town, she investigates and learns that he is telling the truth. Chester persuades her to let him pursue the men instead of calling the police, but she insists on accompanying him and the boys to New Orleans, where Chester thinks Bennett and Corcoran have gone for the racing season. Checking into the hotel where Corcoran is staying, Ollie pretends to be the rich and romantic Col. Watterson Bixby of Leaping Frog, Texas, with Stan as his valet and Chester as his secretary. Hoping to entrap "the colonel," Corcoran sends his girl friend Dorcas to his room to romance him. Ollie and Dorcas flirt over cocktails while Stan hides under the chaise and drinks brandy. The outraged Corcoran enters and threatens to sue Ollie for estrangement of his wife's affections, but Ollie pretends to be a Midvale sheriff. Ollie claims to have an arrest warrant for Corcoran and accepts the con man's five-thousand dollar share of the money he stole from Susan's mother in exchange for letting him go. Chester then sends Susan to the riverboat run by Bennett to audition as a singer. Bennett is impressed by Susan's abundant talent and asserts that he could build a big show around her if only he had an investor. Armed with Stan, who is dressed as her rich aunt, Emily Cartwright, Susan returns to the boat, and Bennett, who has borrowed his stake from gangster Tony Queen, is taken in by the deception. After Chester disappears with Tony's money, Bennett and Tony's men discover the swindle and take Susan, Stan and Ollie aboard the boat, where Bennett decides to open the show as planned. Stan and Ollie are sent below to work the boiler, but, using Chester's gas pills, they succeed in escaping their guard and in rescuing Susan from Tony's advances. The ship then escapes its mooring and the beleaguered Stan and Ollie must steer it along the crowded river. Their adventure nears an end when Chester appears on a police boat and assures Susan that he has wired the money to her mother. As Chester and Susan leave together, Stan and Ollie are forced to jump into the river to escape their pursuers. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Mal St. Clair (Dir)
  Percy Ikerd (Asst dir)
Producer: William Goetz (Exec prod)
  Sol M. Wurtzel (Prod)
Writer: Scott Darling (Scr)
  Henry Lehrman (Contr wrt)
Photography: Lucien Andriot (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: James Basevi (Art dir)
  Chester Gore (Art dir)
Film Editor: Norman Colbert (Film ed)
  Allen McNeil (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
  Al Orenbach (Set dec)
Costumes: N'Was McKenzie (Cost)
Music: Emil Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Special Effects: Fred Sersen (Spec photog eff)
Dance: Geneva Sawyer (Dances staged by)
Country: United States

Music: "I Had the Craziest Dream," music by Harry Warren; "That's A-Plenty," music by Lew Pollack.
Songs: "The Moon Kissed the Mississippi," "If the Shoe Fits, Wear It" and "I've Gotta See for Myself," music and lyrics by Charles Newman and Lew Pollack.
Composer: Charles Newman
  Lew Pollack
  Harry Warren

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 11/6/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12220

PCA NO: 9215
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Bumblers
  Confidence men
  Disguise
  Money
  Swindlers and swindling
 
Subjects (Minor): Chases
  Dancing
  Deserts
  Drunkenness
  Female impersonation
  Gangsters
  Gasoline
  Hotels
  Mobs
  Musicians
  New Orleans (LA)
  River boats
  Romance
  Singers
  Southerners

Note: Although HR news items indicate that the working title of this film was Me and My Shadow , information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, reveals that the screenplay for Me and My Shadow bears no resemblance to the story of Jitterbugs . Me and My Shadow , an unproduced screenplay by Paul Yawitz, was a spy comedy in which Laurel and Hardy were to tangle with Nazis while attempting to care for an orphaned baby. The extent of Yawitz' contribution to Jitterbugs , if any, has not been determined. According to HR news items, contributing writer Henry Lehrman was a former production executive for Twentieth Century-Fox who "returned to the studio after an absence of more than two years to aid in script preparation" for the production. Some scenes in the picture, which marked the screen debut of radio actor Bob Bailey, were shot on location in Palmdale, CA, according to HR . The studio story files reveal that in 1950, a 3,770-foot cut version of the film was released. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   29 May 1943.   
Daily Variety   24 May 43   p. 3.
Film Daily   25 May 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Sep 42   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Oct 42   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Feb 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Feb 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Mar 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   24 May 43   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   29 May 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   8 May 43   p. 1305.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   29 May 43   p. 1338.
New York Times   5 Jun 43   p. 12.
Variety   26 May 43   p. 8.

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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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