Seasoned Greetings

Director: Roy Mack

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Starring Lita Grey Chaplin, Seasoned Greetings (1933) is a Vitaphone/Warner Brothers musical short called "a Broadway brevity" at about twenty minutes length.

Seasoned GreetingsIt features features two original songs by Cliff Hess who wrote songs for a number of Vitaphone shorts, & two much better songs by Harry Warren & Al Dubbin, who did the music for such great films as 42nd Street (1933).

The stage-set is a storefront with a sign declaring "going out of business sale." Mr. J. Beetle (Carleton Macy), the old coot of an owner, brags, "This is the biggest last day we've had in the last two years, but it really is the last last day."

Lita tells him he should be ashamed of himself with his phony sales scheme. Her own storefront is next door to this old scoundrel, & he wants to buy her out, cheap, & in the meantime will keep trying to run her out of business through his deceptive advertising for his company. When she refuses to sell, he promises he'll own her store within three months.

Lita goes into her shop & discusses with her one employee, Parky (George Haggerty), how to defeat that old scoundrel. It'll be Valentine's Day tomorrow, & since her business is selling greeting cards, she's got to get attention to her shop quick. She thinks cards have gotten too cliche -- reindeer for christmas, hearts for valentines day.

She wants to think up something really different. Between her & Parky, they come up with the idea for "talking greeting cards" in the form of records. She imagines sound valentines, as the picture fades to her in a new outfit singing the great Warren & Dubin composition "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song." She has a powerful Ethel Mermonesque voice, a super talent.

Seasoned GreetingsLita's new business begins to thrive. They start selling talking or singing greeting cards hand over fists.

A comic with a fake Scottish accent comes in looking for an anniversary card for his parents, & Lita already has recorded a Scottish anniversary sound-card. She plays it for the customer, & we cut to a little vaudeville comedy bit about a stingy Scottish husband & his wife on their anniversary.

Absurdly enough, she has a complete, elaborate recording studio set up behind the shop where any customer can make their own sound-card to send to friends. She shows the nasty Mr. Beetle her set-up in back, where the Village Barn Hill Billies are making a record right at that minute.

We get to see a mildly amusing hillbilly act though the hillbillies are dressed as city slickers, doing "Listen to the Mocking Bird" on a wide variety of instruments, from mouth harp to banjo to fiddle to jug.

Leaving this impossible back room & returning to her shop, a customer is looking for a singing-card for her Uncle Ben. She selects a card with Lita singing "Sunny Weather." For this we see the scene fade to a garden pool & Lita dressed rather like southern belle, singing the so-so Cliff Hess composition.

There are scenes within the scene given as "memories" reflected in the pool as Lita sings. She remembers a beau who left her but returned to her, the beau played by Bob Cummings who isn't included in the credits. Now that he's back, they've soon gotten married & have a kid, & it's all sunny weather. Quite elaborately edited, but the song hardly merited it.

The customer doesn't think a love song is quite the thing for an uncle, so she gets a sympathy card instead, since he's in the hospital. But Mr. Beetle is trying to sabotage Lita's business, & manages a switcheroo. When Uncle Ben (Harlan Jones) gets the card from his niece, his nurse puts it on the record player, & it's a congratulations card, as though his niece is pleased he's in the hospital. Not much of a joke really.

Seasoned GreetingsWhen Lita adds ten-cent record-cards made out of chocolate, "You play it then you eat it," it puts Mr. Beetle right out of business. A little black kid sees the ad in the window for chocolate records, & he hurries inside. This too-cute-for-words kid is Sammy Davis, Jr.!

But before we get to see what Sammy's going to do, someone is putting a record-card on a player at that moment, & we fade to a scene of a singing trio, the Sizzlers, dressed in navy outfits & singing to a pair of lovers at the front of their rowboat.

They don't exactly sizzle with their rather ordinary harmony rendition of a song hard to ruin, "Pettin' in the Park." It's really more of a Boswell Sisters arrangement but these guys just seem sissy & kind of blow it.

]They got this role because they appeared (uncredited) as singing policement in 42nd Street, but someone must've realized they sucked as they're not to be heard from again. It is, at least, very perverse, the three sailors stairing at the lovers trying to get them to make out in public with an audience.

Sammy puts a dime on the counter & Lita asks, "Which one do you want?" That sweet, sweet little kid says: "I don't care, as long as it's chocolate." Lita suggests "London Bridges Falling Down" at which point the wee smart sprite asks, "Have you got the Saint Louis Blues?"

Henry can't wait to eat his chocolate record, & the needle too, & gobbles it down never having played it. He then leaves the store & immediately runs into his mother, trying not to let on that he just spent a dime, which his momma's still looking for in her coin purse. "I ain't got it!" he swears, & it's true since he spent it already.

About then, "Saint Louis Blues" begins to play in his belly. Momma rushes him to the hospital & the doctor puts him behind a flourescope, revealing the record spinning & playing in his ribcage.

Lita comes to visit Henry in the hospital & brings him a new chocolate record-card. Before he can eat it, though, she wants to play it, & sing along with the instrumental. All the other children on the ward gather round.

She sings the fairly awful song "It's the Little Things" by Cliff Hess, but oit's fine as a song for kids. I'd rather the musical short ended with Sammy dancing.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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