There are unusual Soundies, strange Soundies, bizarre Soundies, and Soundies that cause you to ask, “What were they thinking?” And then there is Club Lollypop.
As we’ve noted in the past, hapless L.O.L. Productions was the most cut-rate of Soundies producers. Working with a budget of $1,200 for each film, there was no money for big stars, hit songs, or fancy sets .. or sometimes any sets at all. The company was also particularly insensitive where the portrayal of African-Americans was concerned, which resulted in the cancellation of their contract and a lawsuit that reached the New York Supreme Court. (That’s a story for a future posting.)
Club Lollypop, recorded and filmed in February 1943, was an attempt to produce an entertaining three-minute film using just juvenile talent. Strangely enough, I think it works. With the exception of Roberta Fields, the young mistress of ceremonies, all of the young performers went on to careers in entertainment.
The Tovar Sisters, Lolita and Chachita, we’re both veterans of the silver screen. They had appeared in Toyland Casino, a 1938 Vitaphone short, where they did the same routine that we see here. They later shared the screen with the Andrews Sisters in the Universal “B” musical Moonlight and Cactus. Both sisters, Lolita and Chatita, are interviewed in the forthcoming Soundies history, due from McFarland Press within three or four weeks.
Baby Barbara, no longer a baby when this film was made, was a radio veteran who had appeared on Fred Allen’s show. She was apparently not a regular, as claimed in the catalog description, although she could be heard on radio, and seen on the variety stage, for a few years in the early 1940s.
Marlene Blatz, half of the team of Marlene and Bobby, later changed her name to Marlene Cameron. She later starred on Broadway and in Hollywood films. Marlene was interviewed for the Soundies book where she shares her experience on the set, and her recollections of her partner Bobby Long. Long made only one more film appearance, although it is one in which he dances for, and thoroughly delights, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Durante in It Happened In Brooklyn. Marlene praises his dancing skills and cannot explain why he “fell off the map.”
The print screened here is not my “A” copy, which is in deep storage. It is missing Robert Fields’ initial introduction and the first few seconds of Bobby and Marlene’s dance. I don’t think that will in any way detract from your enjoyment of this Soundie … and indeed, there are even stranger ones to come.