It’s pretty startling when you’re watching a 1930 musical and the Super Mario Brothers crash into it. Especially when they’re played by Jack “the Tin Man” Haley and Eugene “the Fat Man” Pallette.
The movie is FOLLOW THRU (an unintentionally chortlesome title for readers of Viz comic and the generally puerile-minded like me) and it’s a light comedy musical about golf. Yes, golf. Don’t be dismayed — YET — a week before this one’s opening in 1930, MGM released LOVE IN THE ROUGH, another golf-based musical. So it’s not strange at all, see?
Nancy Carroll, who can’t sing but looks charming in two-strip with her red hair and rosy cheeks, is the daughter of a Scottish golf buff (Claude King) who raises her in the ways of the club and tee. Romance blossoms with Charles “Buddy” Rogers (as fresh-faced as ever, and he can sing, a bit) and the usual lightweight complications ensue, resulting in Haley and Pallette dragging up as plumbers and raiding the women’s locker room. This sounds like a cue for PORKY’S style non-hilarity and nudity, but it’s not that pre-code. In fact, the only racy content is Haley’s boob-grabbing hand gestures in this classic number –
But the sight of Nancy Carroll in a mini-kilt at the fancy dress ball may set your pulses racing.
Jack Haley’s a strange performer, isn’t he? He’s the only one in THE WIZARD OF OZ who struck me as “wrong” — it might come off as a dated acting style, but I think it’s a heightened stylisation that would probably seem artificial in any era. His compatriots on the Yellow Brick Road, Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr were just “funny uncle” figures to me, whereas Haley was extraterrestrial in his fey, grinning perkiness. He’s actually less abnormal WITH the funnel on his head and the lead paint.