Footlight Fever (1941)
Whilst sequels certainly appear to be more prevalent these days they certainly are not a new idea and go back to the 1930s and 1940s and you will find a few. "Footlight Fever" is technically a sequel to "Curtain Call" as we have the return of the dodgy duo, producer Geoff Crandall and director Don Avery who are still wheeling and dealing their way to the stage. Now in fairness "Footlight Fever" doesn't just rehash the plot to "Curtain Call" as this time we have the duo trying to con their way into some money to put on a play but it isn't the greatest of stories relying heavily on Alan Mowbray and Donald MacBride to make it work.
Producer Geoff Crandall (Donald MacBride) and director Don Avery (Alan Mowbray) have a new play they want to put on, the trouble is that they have no money not just to put it on but pay rent and stop their furniture from being repossessed. That is when they meet Eileen Drake (Elyse Knox) who's reclusive Aunt Hattie (Elisabeth Risdon) controls the purse strings to a fortune and so they decide to trick her in to investing. But it is not only Hattie they need to con as they also have to con her business manager who has a thing for Eileen who in turn has a thing for actor John (Lee Bonnell) who will only propose if he is earning a living as an actor.
"Footlight Fever" lasts just 69 minutes and has a variety of characters from Eileen and John plus Eileen's reclusive Aunt Hattie but this is a movie which rests firmly on the shoulders of actors Alan Mowbray and Donald MacBride. It is their comically deceptive antics as Crandall and Avery which makes up the majority of the movie as we watch them try and dupe whoever they can into lending them money from Willie the elevator man to Aunt Hattie.
Now there isn't really anything wrong with that as they get themselves into various dubious situations especially when they masquerade as a couple of old seadogs to exploit Aunt Hattie and end up in a series of pub brawls. But the trouble is that Mowbray and MacBride end up doing the same thing over and over again, pulling the same faces, recycling the same gags and before the half way mark it is all become tiring. It is why that whilst Mowbray and MacBride are the stars it is the performance from Elisabeth Risdon as Aunt Hattie which provides the best laughs especially when she cottons on to their duplicity and gives them a taste of their own medicine.
What this all boils down to is that "Footlight Fever" is an adequate sequel with some nice jokes and ideas. But it is a movie which suffers because 69 minutes of Alan Mowbray and Donald MacBride is too much.
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