Fifty Million Frenchmen (Warner Brothers, 1931)

Fifty Million Frenchmen Photoplay Magazine, April, 1931

Trade ad from Photoplay Magazine, April, 1931

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The third of Bela Lugosi’s four colour films. Although based on Cole Porter’s stage musical of the same name, Warner Brother’s cut all of the musical numbers from the film before releasing it in America due to a loss of public interest in musicals at the box office. It was released intact in other countries. Only a black and white print of the American cut release is currently available. It is unknown if a copy of the uncut Technicolor original has survived. Bela Lugosi is reputed to have been paid $1,000 for his brief unbilled performance as a magician which was filmed prior to the release of Dracula.

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Production Company: Warner Brothers

Director: Lloyd Bacon

Screen Adaptation: Joseph Jackson and Eddie Welch

Based on the stage musical by Cole Porter, Herbert Fields and E. Ray Goetz

Dialogue: Al Boasberg

Cinematography: Dev Jennings

Music: Cole Porter

Orchestra: Vitaphone Orchestra

Vitaphone Orchestra Conductor: Leo F. Forbstein

Editor: Robert O. Crandall

Wardrobe: Earl Luick

Running Time: 68 minutes

Copyright Number: LP2046, March 4 1931

Cast:

William Gaxton: Jack Forbes

Ollie Olsen: Simon Johanssen

Chic Johnson: Peter Swanson

John Halliday: Michael Cummings

Helen Brodrick: Violet

Claudia Dell: Lulu Caroll

Lester Crawford: Billy Baxter

Charles Judels: Permasse, the hotel manager

Carmelita Geraghty: Marcelle Dubrey

Nat Carr: Jewish tourist

Vera Gordon: Jewish tourist’s wife

Norman Phillips, Jr.: Jewish tourists’ son

Bela Lugosi: Orizon the magician

Evalyn Knapp: Miss Wheeler-Smith

Daisy Belmore: Lulu Caroll’s mother

Rolfe Sedan: Taxi driver

Kernan Cripps: Jealous husband

Jay Eaton: Effete bar patron

Lee Phelps: Bartender

Katherin Clare Ward: Dowager tourist

Barbara Weeks: Dowager’s daughter

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The Evening Independent, August 16, 1930

50,000,00 Frenchmen, The Evening Independent, August 16, 1930*

The Evening Independent, August 29, 1930

50,000,00 Frenchmen, The Evening Independent, August 29, 1930*

The Evening Independent, September 8, 1930

50,000,00 Frenchmen, The Evening Independent, September 8, 1930*

Boston Herald, October 3, 1930

Fifty Million Frenchmen, Boston Herald, October 3, 1930*

San Diego Union, November 2, 1930

Fifty Million Frenchmen, San Diego Union, November 2, 1930*

Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland), January 6, 1931

PROFITABLE TWO MINUTES

Two minutes work on Warner Bros’s. First National Vitaphone special, “Fifty Million Frenchmen, netted £ 200 to Bela Lugosi, the Hungarian actor. Only Lugosi, according to the casting director, fitted the role of the East Indian magic who enters towards the close of the piece. To secure his services, Warner Bros’s. First National guaranteed him a week’s salary of £ 200. When the picture was completed, he had worked a total of two minutes. “Fifty Million Frenchmen” is photographed entirely in Technicolor.

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Palm Beach Daily, March 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Palm Beach Daily, March 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Palm Beach Daily, March 5, 1931 2*

San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen, San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1931*

The New York Times, March 26, 1931

THE SCREEN

Buffoonery in Paris.

By MORDAUNT HALL.

Only a few mildly amusing episodes are depicted in the Vitaphone-Technicolor version of the musical comedy, “Fifty Million Frenchmen,” which is now holding forth at the Winter Garden. This film has been produced without the songs of Cole Porter and the prismatic work is at times poorly lighted. The players, including Olsen and Johnson, William Gaxton, Helen Broderick, John Halliday, Claudia Dell, go about their work with marked enthusiasm, but they are unfortunate in the vehicle.

Lloyd Bacon directed this film and it should be said that its buffoonery aroused quite a deal of laughter in the Winter Garden at the opening performance. A closing sequence in which there is a chase has its ludicrous moments, for the Parisian policemen gradually increase in number as they run through streets and squares, leaping on the tops of congested automobiles and taxicabs, being stuck in the soft asphalt and then slipping on other sections of the roadway. Jack Forbes, played by Mr. Glaxter, is an unfortunate victim of a wager, that is unfortunate for a good deal of the time. His rival bets him $50,000 that he cannot start without any money (in the French capital) and keep himself going by what work he can find and become engaged to the pretty Looloo Carroll within two weeks. The pseudo comic Simon and Peter, impersonated by Olsen and Johnson, are employed to follow Forbes and worry him. In the course of his anxiety over his love for Looloo, Forbes, in order to be presentable, borrows a waiter’s short coat and trousers and then tacks a pair of boys knickers to the back to look like tails. At the race course, which is quite well pictured, Forbes after thinking that he has won a tidy sum, hears that the horse on which he had made the bet has been disqualified and he tears up his betting tickets. Then he learns that the animal has won. This causes further disappointment and for some reason, not quite clear, Looloo is not particularly pleased with Forbes. And so it goes until at the last second Looloo is pacified and consents to listen to Forbes’s proposal of marriage. Miss Broderick makes the most of her rôle. Mr. Halliday also does what he can in his part. Miss Dell is very attractive and Charles Judels is faintly amusing as a Frenchman. Olsen and Johnson are a trifle too boisterous to be funny. Buffoonery in Paris.  FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN, based on the musical comedy; directed by Lloyd Bacon; produced by Warner Brothers. At the Winter Garden.  Simon and Peter . . . . . Olsen and Johnson  Jack Forbes . . . . . William Gaxton  Michael Cummings . . . . . John Halliday  Violet . . . . . Helen Broderick  Looloo Carroll . . . . . Claudia Dell  Billy Baxter . . . . . Lester Crawford  Pernasse . . . . . Charles Judels  Marcelle Dubrey . . . . . Carmelita Geraghty  Jewish Tourist . . . . . Nat Carr  His Wife . . . . . Vera Gordon  Their Son . . . . . Norman Phillips Jr.

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San Francisco Chronicle,March 27, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen, San Francisco Chronicle,March 27, 1931*

 Photoplay Magazine, April, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen Photoplay Magazine, April, 1931*

Canton Repository, April 3, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen, Canton Repository, April 3, 1931*

Pitsburgh Post-Gazette, April 4, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Pitsburgh Post-Gazette, April 4, 1931*

San Francisco Chronicle, April 5, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen, San Francisco Chronicle, April 5, 1931*

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 17, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 17, 1931*

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 19, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 19, 1931*

The Berkeley Gazette, April 25, 1931

50,000,000 Frenchmen, The Berkeley Gazette, April 25, 1931*

50,000.000 Frenchmen*

Aberdeen Daily News, May 3, 1931

Fifty Million Frenchmen, Aberdeen Daily News, May 3, 1931*

Eugene Register-Guard, May 22, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Eugene Register-Guard, May 22, 1931*

Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1931 2

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Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 1931

50,000,00 Frenchmen, Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 1931 2*

Courtesy of https://scenesfromthemorgue.wordpress.com

Fifty Million Frenchmen 3

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https://scenesfromthemorgue.wordpress.com

Fifty Million Frenchmen 2

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https://scenesfromthemorgue.wordpress.com

Fifty Million Frenchmen 1

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Lobby card

French lobby card of 500,000 people

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Set Photo

Courtesy of  Art Directors Guild archive http://www.flickr.com/photos/79596692

Photos of 50 million French set*

Stills

50,000,00 Frenchmen Front of House Card

50 Million FrenchmenBela Lugosi (Courtesy of  beforecode.com)