In celebration of a fifty-second jubilee commemorating the venture of B. F. Keith into vaudeville, the Memorial starts a series of ambitious stage shows. The result is one of the best vaudeville bills Boston has seen in many a day and a program that is worthy of interest despite a decidedly mediocre accompanying film.
One of the things expected of a Harvard man, almost without saying, is to scorn the antics of Joe Penner, but the fact remains that that gentleman can be really quite a funny fellow. His present performance, however, is merely a succession of his stock phrases, strung together with the least possible justification of any absorbing continuity. As a result, only those who worship at the shrine of "You nasty man!" and "Don't never do that!" and can thrill to hear them repeated "in person" will get much enjoyment out of the headliner. The Boswell Sisters are a different story, doing their customary excellent work with a generous and well selected program. The full, throaty tones of the stellar member of the trio, Connie Boswell, are satisfying enough to justify the whole bill, in our opinion, Stan Kavanaugh, a dead-pan juggler, who is indeed a master of his craft, makes a bold bid to steal the whole show. The rest of the bill, consisting of tumblers and a six-couple dancing act, round out a fare that is varied and fast-moving enough to entertain throughout.
The movie "Carnival," with Lee Tracy, Sally Eilers, and Durante, is appropriately reduced to second position. It is almost completely without imagination, and one feels that its situations would have been howled off the stage when Mr. B. F. Keith himself was in his prime. Before the film has run its course we witness the scene of the expectant father in the hospital anteroom, the carnival riot when all the members of the troupe shout their riot cry to start things moving, and a fire with Lee Tracy's little boy supposedly locked in a box within the flaming tents. Another explanation of the mediocrity of the picture may be that the theatre believes that a dull setting best sets off a jewel, that their vaudeville may better shine beside a poor film. However that may be, the vaudeville is entertaining and the screen fare distinctly second rate.