This week’s mystery movie has been RKO’s first singing, talking and dancing picture, the 1929 film “Street Girl,” directed by Wesley Ruggles, with Betty Compson, John Harron, Jack Oakie, Ned Sparks, Guy Buccola, Joseph Cawthorn, Ivan Lebedeff, Doris Eaton, and Gus Arnheim and His Ambassadors.
The screenplay was by Jane Murfin based on the story “Scandals of Broadway: The Viennese Charmer” by W. Carey Wonderly, published in the March 1928 issue of Young’s Realistic Stories magazine. Art direction was by Max Ree, photography by Leo Tover, musical numbers by Oscar Levant and Sidney Clare and editing by Ann McKnight and William Hamilton. RKO also adapted the story for the the 1936 film “That Girl From Paris,” starring Lily Pons with a return by Jack Oakie, and the 1942 film “Four Jacks and a Jill.”
The film has never been released commercially on DVD (or VHS as far as I can determine).
“Street Girl” opened in Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 1929, at the RKO Theatre (formerly the Hill Street), with Jack Benny as master of ceremonies. Adjusted for inflation, the top opening night ticket ($5) was $70 USD 2016. Celebrities scheduled to attend included the stars of the picture, and Richard Dix, Bebe Daniels, Olive Borden, Ann Pennington, Kathryn Crawford, Marie Prevost, Mary Eaton, Carmelita Geraghty, Colleen Moore, Thelma Todd, Leatrice Joy, Sally Blane, Frank Faye, Rita LaRoy, Robert Z. Leonard, Gertrude Olmstead, Leonore Ulric, Norma Shearer, J. Grubb Alexander, Cecil B. De Mille and Joseph M. Schenck.
Although the stereotype of the early talking pictures is that they ended the careers of silent star, Compson expressed a different view in an interview with the Los Angeles Times (Sept. 22, 1929):
For Monday, we have a happy mystery guest.
Update: This is June Clyde.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery gent.
Update: This is John Harron.
Wednesday’s gent is on the ’phone. (“Hello? Weren’t you a mystery guest last year?” “Why whatever do you mean?”)
Update: This is Joseph Cawthorn.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Tuesday’s mystery gent), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery guests) and Sheila (Tuesday’s mystery guest).
For Thursday, we have a mystery violinist.
Update: This is Betty Compson.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guest), Don Danard (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Mike Hawks (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Dan Nather (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Sheila (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guest) and Bob Hansen (Wednesday’s mystery guest).
Note to Dan Nather: Fear not; all will become clear by tomorrow.
These mystery gents come as a pair.
Mystery gent No. 1
Update: This is Jack Oakie.
And mystery gent No. 2
Update: This is Ned Sparks.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery woman), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery woman), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), Dan Nather (mystery movie and mystery guests), Bob Hansen (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery woman) and Sheila (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery woman).