Kid Millions (1934)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Stage and radio comic Eddie Cantor found a welcome home on the silver screen in the 1930s, but his films haven't proven as timeless as the best of other comic talents like the Marx Brothers or W.C. Fields. Still, his films tend to offer more than a fair share of delights and Kid Millions is a lot of fun, even if it's dated and titanically inconsequential. The script is sheer folderol, a coat rack on which to hang a number of jokes (some unbearably corny), vaudeville routines, physical schticks, and musical numbers. The script is so unimportant that the conflict involving juvenile George Murphy and ingénue (!) Ann Sothern is simply dropped without resolution and a minstrel show and the yummy Technicolor ending are shoehorned in with neither rhyme nor reason. Fortunately, Cantor and company provide enough entertainment to make up for the inferior material. Cantor is not to everyone's taste, especially when he dons blackface (as he habitually does), but his spirited milquetoast persona served him well and he has an undeniably engaging presence and an unerring delivery. He's joined by a cast that's almost all aces: In addition to Sothern and Murphy, Ethel Merman is on hand to sock across some songs, Eve Sully to knock off some jokes, and some very young Nicholas Brothers to provide fancy footwork. Seymour Felix's choreography tries very hard to emulate Busby Berkeley; it doesn't come close, but it's more than adequate and the bizarre finale is definitely a treat. Put together with spit and glue, Kid Millions is not great filmmaking, but -- blackface aside -- it's quite entertaining.