AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Let's Sing Again
Alternate Title: The Show Goes On
Director: Kurt Neumann (Dir)
Release Date:   12 Jun 1936
Production Date:   11 Jan--late Feb 1936 at RKO Pathé Studios
Duration (in mins):   67 or 70
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Cast:   Bobby Breen (Billy Gordon)  
    Henry Armetta (Joe Pasquale)  
    George Houston (Leon Alba)  
    Vivienne Osborne (Rosa Donelli)  
    Grant Withers (Jim "Diablo" Wilkins)  
    Inez Courtney (Margie Wilkins)  
    Richard Carle (Carter)  
    Lucien Littlefield (Superintendent Henry Perkins)  
    Ann Doran (Alice Alba)  
    Clay Clement (Jackson)  

Summary: Tired of her life of poverty in Naples, Alice Alba leaves her aspiring opera singer husband Leon and returns to America with their baby son. Years later, the now orphaned boy, Billy Gordon, lives at the Mapleton Orphanage in Connecticut, unaware of his parentage. When Carter's Traveling Theatre rolls into town, Billy sneaks in to see the show and meets Joe Pasquale, a former opera star and teacher, now reduced to playing the singing buffoon. Taken with Joe, Billy hides in a basket in his trailer, where he is discovered by the singer the next morning, far away from the orphanage. Although he is at first reluctant to allow Billy to stay, Joe eventually makes him a member of the troupe and begins to develop the boy's superior young voice. At the same time, Jim "Diablo" Wilkins, the show's misanthropic trapeze artist, sees Billy as a way out of his penny ante life and wires the orphanage with an offer to adopt the boy. As Diablo and the orphanage authorities are about to grab Billy, Billy and Joe escape and head for New York, where Joe, sick with fever, arranges a meeting with his ex-pupil, Rosa Donelli, a successful soprano. Concerned for Joe's health, Rosa brings Joe and Billy to stay at her lavish home, unaware that her friend, Leon Alba, who has been searching vainly for his long-lost wife and son, is Billy's father. Diablo and the police soon track Billy to Rosa's, but before they can lay claim to him, Leon, who is giving a concert there, begins to sing the lullaby that he wrote for Billy as a baby. Recognizing the tune that his mother taught him, Billy joins in, and father and son are at last reunited. 

Production Company: Bobby Breen Productions, Inc.  
  Principal Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Kurt Neumann (Dir)
  Fred Tyler (Asst dir)
Producer: Sol Lesser (Prod)
Writer: Don Swift (Scr)
  Dan Jarrett (Scr)
  Don Swift (Story)
  Harry Chandlee (Story supv)
Photography: Harry Neumann (Photog)
  Frank Good (Photog)
Art Direction: Ben Carré (Art dir)
Film Editor: Robert Crandall (Film ed)
Music: Hugo Riesenfeld (Mus setting conceived and dir by)
  Abe Meyer (Assoc)
Sound: Richard E. Tyler (Sd eng)
  Hal Baumbaugh (Sd eng)
Production Misc: Edward Gross (Prod mgr)
Country: United States

Songs: "Let's Sing Again," words and music by Jimmy McHugh and Gus Kahn; "Lullaby," words and music by Hugo Riesenfeld and Selma Hautzik; "Farmer in the Dell," words and music by Samuel Pokrass and Charles O. Locke.
Composer: Selma Hautzik
  Gus Kahn
  Charles O. Locke
  Jimmy McHugh
  Samuel Pokrass
  Hugo Riesenfeld

PCA NO: 2152
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Victor System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Italian Americans
  Long-lost relatives
  Opera singers
  Orphans
  Reunions
 
Subjects (Minor): Adoption
  Aerialists
  Concerts
  Connecticut
  Desertion (Marital)
  Escapes
  Naples (Italy)
  New York City
  Orphanages
  Police
  Sideshows

Note: The working title of this film was The Show Goes On . Bobby Breen, the "Wonder Boy," a popular eight-year-old radio performer and a protégé of Eddie Cantor's, made his screen debut in this film. After the success of Let's Sing Again , Principal Productions made seven other "Bobby Breen" movies for RKO, which touted Breen as its resident child star. Other songs performed in part by Breen were the aria "La donna e mobile" from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto , and the Italian folk song "Oy, Marie." According to a HR news item, producer Sol Lesser tried to cast opera star Marion Talley in the "Rosa Donelli" role, but was "unable to get together" with her on a salary. Because of a delay in the start of production, Kurt Neumann had to replace Arthur Greville Collins as director, according to HR . HR also noted that during production, Breen had an emergency appendectomy, which delayed production for about two weeks. As indicated by HR production charts, after filming resumed, Harry Neumann replaced Frank Good as photographer and Richard E. Tyler replaced Hal Baumbaugh as sound engineer. HR production charts add Spencer Charters and Renee Whitney to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Although the viewed print of the film included a copyright statement for Variety Film Distributors, no record of such a copyright has been found. It is presumed that Variety was a television distributor. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   15 Apr 36   p. 3.
Film Daily   17 Apr 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jan 36   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Jan 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jan 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jan 36   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Feb 36   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 36   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   25 Apr 36   pp. 36-37.
New York Times   9 May 36   p. 11.
Variety   13 May 36   p. 14.

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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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