USA Today - 03/07/1997
"...A Rodgers & Hart-scored curio with Depression subtext....[It] endures as the one indisputable gem of Al Jolson's career..."
This offbeat musical was certainly a departure for director Lewis Milestone, featuring rhyming dialogue and an excellent score by Rodgers and Hart. The film stars Al Jolson as Bumper, mayor of the hobos, a man who would rather sleep in the park than get a job. But after he saves the real mayor's amnesiac girlfriend June (Madge Evans) when she tries to drown herself, he falls in love with the woman and even contemplates the possibility of gainful employment.
As difficult as it may be to imagine homelessness as the subject of a musical comedy, this fantasy genre was a staple of the Depression. Featuring a script written in rhymed dialogue by Ben Hecht and S.N. Behrman, and a musical score by Rodgers and Hart, it stars Al Jolson as Bumper, mayor of the hobos, a man whose love of the great outdoors precludes labor of any kind. Returning to New York City's Central Park from his "vacation" in the South, Bumper is greeted by his enthusiastic constituency, who gather to hear him extol the virtues of the hobo life. His friend Egghead (Harry Langdon), a street cleaner, lectures Bumper about his responsibility to the workers, but the hobo is decidedly apolitical. When June (Madge Evans), the girlfriend of the actual mayor of New York City (Frank Morgan), tries to drown herself, Bumper saves her life. He falls in love with the beautiful woman, who, suffering from amnesia, returns his affections. Since they need a place to live, Bumper realizes that he'll actually have to get a job. While the film may be something of a cult item, the Rodgers and Hart score is excellent, as are the performances of Jolson and Langdon.
Theatrical release: February 4, 1928.
Songwriters Rodgers and Hart make cameo appearances as photographers.