Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"A Night at Earl Carroll's"

We get to spend lots of time inside the Earl Carroll Theatre -- and get to see Mr. Carroll himself -- in the lighthearted romp "A Night at Earl Carroll's" (Paramount, 1940).  The famous neon sculpture on the theatre's facade of Beryl Wallace, Mr. Carroll's wife, is used for the opening credits.

Another shot from the credit sequence. The plot is slim -- about a mobster trying to embarrass the mayor and show him who's more powerful. The mobster (Steve Kalkus) engineers a kidnapping of Mr. Carroll and the lead performers so there won't be a show and the mayor will be shown up in front of all his guests.

Kurt Neumann, the film's director, gets a great credit card. Stars include Ken Murray, Rose Hobart, J. Carrol Naish, Lela Moore and Forbes Murray. And, of course, Earl Carroll.

The great stage was used for dancing before the shows. Down in front there's sort of a private box on the left of the stairs -- in the film the mayor and his party are there. On the right of the stairs is the orchestra -- on a lift that we see used in the film.

Barney Nelson (Ken Murray) and Rose Hobart (Ramona Lisa) try to figure out how to thwart the mobster's plans -- and put on a show without Carroll and all the principal performers. Lots of delays while they figure out what to do.

And a show we get -- and it's a treat to see the wonders of the stage all demonstrated. The stage featured a 60' revolve with separately operated inner and outer sections. There was also a water curtain, the orchestra pit lift, a small circular lift downstage center for a soloist, and a revolving tower of four pianos stage right.  We even spend some time backstage.  A low-res version of the film is on Vimeo.

The theatre, at 6230 Sunset Blvd., still retains many of its original deco features, especially in the lobby. See the Earl Carroll Theatre page on the Los Angeles Theatres website for more about the building, now a television production facility.

On IMDb: "A Night at Earl Carroll's"

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