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Broadway Thru a Keyhole
Alternate Title: Broadway Love
Director: Lowell Sherman (Dir)
Release Date:   27 Oct 1933
Production Date:   14 Aug--13 Sep 1933
Duration (in mins):   85 or 90
Duration (in feet):   8,370
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Constance Cummings (Joan Whelan)  
    Paul Kelly (Frank Rocci)  
    Russ Columbo (Clark Brian)  
    Blossom Seeley (Sybil Smith)  
    Gregory Ratoff (Max Mefoofski)  
    Texas Guinan (Tex Kaley)  
    Abe Lyman and His Band    
    Hugh O'Connell (Chuck Haskins)  
    Hobart Cavanaugh (Peanuts Dinwiddie)  
    Frances Williams (Blues singer)  
    Eddie Foy Jr. (Joan's partner)  
    Barto and Mann    
    C. Henry Gordon (Tim Crowley)  
    William Burress (Thomas Barnum)  
    Helen Jerome Eddy (Esther Whelan)  
    Bradley Ward (Willie Stacko)  
    John Kelly (Louie)  
    Franklin Ardell (1st columnist)  
    Charles Levinson (2nd columnist)  
    Ronnie Cosbey (Little boy)  
    Marceline Medcalf (Little girl)  
    Arthur Franklin (Pianist)  
    Fred Santley (Decorator)  
    Lucille Ball (Girl with Louie)  
    Edith Allen (Girl with Louie)  
    Rodney Hildebrand (Member of Rocci's mob)  
    Tom London (Member of Rocci's mob)  
    Billy Sullivan (Member of Rocci's mob)  
    Ethan Laidlaw (Member of Rocci's mob)  
    George McGrill (Member of Rocci's mob)  

Summary: Frank Rocci, a familiar but feared patron of Broadway establishments, is the president of a protection racket that demands one dollar per coop from poultry companies for assurance that "accidents" do not occur. When a childhood neighbor from the Bronx, Esther Whelan, visits and tells him that her mother has died and her sister Joan needs a job, Rocci arranges with Tex Kaley, owner and hostess of the Klub Kaley, and the perfectionistic, but easily intimidated, impresario Max Mefoofski to put Joan in the chorus. After Rocci gives Joan the eye during her first number, he invites her to his apartment, but when she speaks innocently of their childhood and says she feels she can trust him, Rocci curbs his salacious inclinations and takes her home. Rocci then buys the club and demands that Max star Joan in his new revue. After Walter Winchell's column links Joan and Rocci, Esther, greatly upset, confronts her sister, but she stands up for Rocci. Joan is a success, and Rocci sets her up in a Park Avenue apartment. As he talks about marriage and implies that he will ask her once he is able to get out of the racket, gunshots from a rival shatter the window and mirror. For her protection, Rocci sends Joan to Miami with Sybil Smith, the girl friend of Rocci's lieutenant, Chuck Haskins. At a dinner show, radio croooner and bandleader Clark Brian invites Joan to sing with him. Although Joan discovers that Clark is a chronic hypochondriac and he admits he is a coward, during the next couple of weeks they grow fond of each other. After the funeral of the rival responsible for the gunshots in Joan's apartment, Rocci reconciles with his main rival, Tim Crowley. When Rocci calls Joan to tell her she can return, she says she wants to stay a little longer. Just then, a telegram arrives from one of Rocci's pals in Miami, stating that he saw Joan with Clark. Rocci immediately orders Joan to take the next plane. When she returns to New York, Rocci asks Joan about Clark, but because she is afraid to hurt Rocci, she says that Clark means nothing to her. Clark follows and visits Joan at the club. She warns him about Rocci, but when he says that he will not be afraid if she loves him, she acknowledges her love. Rocci confronts Clark, who says that he wants to marry Joan and that he is willing to die for her if necessary. After some hesitation, Rocci tells him to be good to her and leaves. When Joan is hijacked after the wedding, a battered Clark accuses Rocci. Crowley, who engineered the kidnapping, tells Rocci that he had Joan taken to a hotel room to please him. Rocci then goes there, and Crowley tips off the police, who shoot Rocci in the corridor. At the hospital, Rocci gives his blessing to Joan and Clark. Comforted by Winchell's column, which exonerates him with regard to Joan's kidnapping, and by the news that Crowley has been shot, Rocci wistfully looks out over the lights of Broadway. 

Production Company: 20th Century Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A Darryl F. Zanuck Production
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Lowell Sherman (Dir)
  Pat McCoy (Dial dir)
  W. J. Scully (Asst dir)
  Fred Fox (Asst dir)
  Tom Andre (2d asst dir)
  Sam Brown (2d asst dir for musical numbers)
Producer: William Goetz (Assoc prod)
  Raymond Griffith (Assoc prod)
Writer: Gene Towne (Scr)
  Graham Baker (Scr)
  Walter Winchell (Orig story)
Photography: Barney McGill (Photog)
  Peverell Marley (Photog)
  William Whitley (Asst cam)
  Dick Hunsaker (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Richard Day (Art dir)
  Joseph Wright (Art dir)
Film Editor: Maurice Wright (Film ed)
  Dick Billings (Cutter)
Costumes: Ernest Rotchy (Ward man)
  Alice Carey (Ward woman)
Music: Alfred Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: Howard C. Wilson (Mixer)
  Thomas Moulton (Sd crew)
Special Effects: Ray Binger (Photog eff)
Dance: Jack Haskell (Dances staged by)
  Ed. Larkin (Asst dance dir)
Make Up: Helene Ruppert (Hair)
  Bert Hadley (Makeup)
Production Misc: Ed Ebele (Prod mgr)
  Grace Dubray (Scr clerk)
  Walter Stegmeier (Grip)
  John Walker (Props)
  Orville Stewart (Loc mgr)
  Kay Kendall (Asst prop man)
  B. S. Ansley (Still photog)
Stand In: Isabelle Sheridan (Stand-in for Constance Cummings)
  Edna Mae (Stand-in for Blossom Seeley)
  Vernon Jones (Stand-in for Paul Kelly)
Country: United States

Songs: "Doing the Uptown Low Down," "I Love You Prince Pizzicato," "You're My Past, Present and Future" and "When You Were a Girl on a Scooter and I Was a Boy on a Bike," music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel.
Composer: Mack Gordon
  Harry Revel

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
20th Century Pictures, Inc. 27/10/1933 dd/mm/yyyy LP4348 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Noiseless Recording

 
Genre: Drama
  Drama
Sub-Genre: Show business
  Gangster
 
Subjects (Major): New York City--Broadway
  Racketeers
  Singers
 
Subjects (Minor): Courage
  Crooners
  Gunshot wounds
  Hypochondria
  Impresarios
  Kidnapping
  Miami (FL)
  Nightclub owners
  Poultry industry
  Sisters
  Telegrams
  Walter Winchell

Note: The title card for this film reads, "Walter Winchell's Broadway Thru a Keyhole . Some reviews called the film Broadway Through a Keyhole . The film's working title was Broadway Love . According to news items, Darryl Zanuck paid gossip columnist Walter Winchell $25,000 for the story of this film.
       News items state that Zanuck rushed the production because of the national publicity concerning a fistfight between Winchell and Al Jolson at a boxing arena. In a subsequent statement to the press, Jolson said that sometime before the fight, he learned that Winchell's story for this film was in fact the story of Jolson's romance with Ruby Keeler, to whom he was married, and that the story "tried to show some connection" between a gangster, who resembled Larry Fay, a recently slain New York gangster, and Keeler. On the night of 21 Jul 1933, Winchell entered the Hollywood American Legion Stadium and passed by Jolson and Keeler on his way to his ringside seat. Jolson then confronted Winchell and punched him. According to Winchell, Jolson hit him only one time; however, Jolson said he hit Winchell four or five times. Winchell and Zanuck denied that the story for the film was based on Jolson and Keeler, although Winchell stated that his story was based on the life of Fay and "a woman who is now happily married." In a statement to the press, Winchell said he was grateful for the publicity and suggested that Jolson play the lead role in the film. According to a HR news item, in Aug 1933 Winchell sued Jolson for $50,000 alleging assault and damages. No information has been located concerning the disposition of the suit.
       News items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection note the following: Peggy Hopkins Joyce was originally cast as "Sybil Smith," but she collapsed on the set from an illness on the second day of production and was replaced by Lilyan Tashman; Tashman withdrew two days later because of adhesions from an appendicitis operation and was replaced by Blossom Seeley; Ginger Rogers was originally signed to play "Joan Whelan"; Zanuck was negotiating with Jack Benny to play a role; Edward Ellis was originally cast as "Tim Crowley"; Stuart Erwin was pulled from the cast during the first week of shooting to return to his home lot of M-G-M for an immediate assignment and was replaced on this film by Hobart Cavanaugh; James Sauers was originally cast as "Willie Stacko"; and scenes were shot at St. Brendan's Catholic Church in Los Angeles, a beach house in Santa Monica and United Airport in Burbank (which in 1934 changed its name to the Union Air Terminal). This was the first film for dance orchestra leader and popular radio singer Russ Columbo and for Blossom Seeley.
       Correspondence in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that in 1935, PCA Director Joseph Breen, wrote to Zanuck that the film "seems to be not acceptable under the provisions of the Production Code as currently administered. It is our belief that this picture, in its treatment of crime, definitely belongs in the old category of gangster pictures which the industry agreed to abandon." According to modern sources, the cast included the following: Andrew Tombes, Dennis O'Keefe (then known as Bud Flanagan), Ann Sothern and Wheeler Oakman. Modern sources also note that this was Lucille Ball's first film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   7 Oct 33   p. 3.
Film Daily   18 Aug 33   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jun 33   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jul 33   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Jul 33   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jul 33   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jul 33   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jul 33   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jul 33   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Aug 33   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Aug 33   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Aug 33   p. 2, 3
Hollywood Reporter   7 Oct 33   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   23 Jul 1933.   
Motion Picture Daily   6 Jul 33   p. 5.
Motion Picture Daily   28 Jul 33   p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily   2 Nov 33   p. 2, 7
Motion Picture Herald   9 Sep 33   p. 30.
Motion Picture Herald   21 Oct 33   p. 39.
New York Times   2 Nov 33   p. 18.
Variety   7 Nov 33   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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