Eager to make a name in radio, ex-vaudevillian Frank Merriweather (Frank Morgan) hits the airwaves by playing all the roles in a skit about Martian invaders. He plays the parts too well, raising panic in the streets and causing station brass to fire him.
Hullabaloo's spoof of the Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" radio event is an antic highlight of this movie musical centered on merrily befogged Merriweather's attempt to restore his career -- all while reuniting with his three children (from his three alimony-seeking ex-wives!). Joining Morgan for the fun is a mix of screen veterans (Billie Burke, Donald Meek), rising talents (Virginia Grey; Dan Dailey, Jr.) and specialty performers that include deadpan song stylist Virginia O'Brien and 31-year-old tenor Charles Holland as a singing bellhop. Holland would find operatic success in Europe and make his long-overdue debut at Carnegie Hall at the age of 73.
It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that the MGM programmer HULLABALOO bears no relation to the 1960s rock-and-roll series of the same name. Frank Morgan plays Frank Merriweather, an old-time actor who tries to revive his fading career on radio (just as John Barrymore was then doing in real life). His first attempt at radio success culminates in a Welles-like "Invasion of Mars" scare, which loses him his job. Merriweather manages to redeem himself in the last scenes by trotting his talented youngsters (Virginia Grey, Virginia O'Brien and Leni Lynn) before the microphones. The film's funniest scene finds Merriweather offering a re-enactment of the recent MGM feature BOOM TOWN, delivering astonishingly accurate imitations of Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr-a bit of cinematic ledgerdemain accomplished by dubbing the BOOM TOWN soundtrack over Frank Morgan's lip movements.
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