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O-Kay For Sound (1937)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Goldberger Studios is faced with bankruptcy after a run of unsuccessful films. Goldberger attempts to convince bank officials that the films currently in production will reverse the studio's fortunes, but they are determined to withdraw funding. In desperation he pretends he has acquired a new backer, the northern industrial tycoon Rigby, who has in fact only offered a lump sum to turn the studio into a garage. Telephoning Rigby for their benefit, he tells the tycoon that he will send his car to his hotel to collect him. Appeased, the bank officials offer to extend their overdraft.

Guggenheim, the studio's explosive German director, enters, bemoaning the fact that the actors he has hired to play six 'city types' have not turned up. Albert, the studio pageboy, suggests casting his six uncles in the roles.

Bud, Ches, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy, Charlie and Jimmy Gold - the Crazy Gang - are unsuccessfully busking a theatre queue. Bud and Ches sing 'Free'. As the queue begins to move, the Gang race to follow it into the building and it is revealed that the queue is for the local unemployment exchange. Albert arrives and tells them that they have a job waiting for them as actors at Goldberger's studio.

They visit a theatrical outfitters to obtain their city gent costumes, and launch into a routine in which various props are used to suggest film titles via a series of elaborately contrived puns. While there they watch the act of Lucienne and Ashour perform a novelty 'fight dance'.

Leaving the building, they follow an attractive woman into her hotel, only to encounter her enormous boyfriend. As they leave in their city gent clothes, Goldberger's waiting chauffeur mistakes them for Rigby and his associates.

They are driven to the studio, where Goldberger tells them that their advice will be taken without question. They watch a dance sequence being filmed and decide to reshoot it with Teddy in the principal male role and the others essaying female characterisations. The meticulously choreographed routine degenerates into a series of slapstick pile-ups. Guggenheim rings Goldberger to complain that the financiers are ruining his film, but he insists they be given complete freedom of action as only their funding can save the company.

Guggenheim resigns, and the Gang takes over a western entitled 'Cow Punching Romeo'. Ches is cast as the cowboy, with Bud providing offscreen sound effects. A series of misunderstandings reduces the shooting to chaos, and Bud and Ches become embroiled in semantic confusion over the meaning of the phrase 'a cow grazing pasture'.

Next, they shoot a wrestling sequence with both British- and American-style ringside commentary and Charlie and Jimmy providing a display of live slow-motion wrestling. This is followed by 'Bud's plantation number': a negro-spiritual performed by Bud in black-face and featuring tap and acrobatic dancing from variety act Three Little Words.

Goldberger's secretary rushes in to say that the film must be finished in time for its world premiere the following day. She discovers that they are not financiers but they offer her a leading part in the film in exchange for her complicity. She is cast as the imperilled heroine in a remote British outpost under attack from Middle Eastern tribesmen, the only member of which to be seen is played by Bud in a fake beard. The drama is set to end with the blasting of a dam, flooding the set. During production, however, Goldberger arrives to throw them out. A slapstick altercation ensues, the dam bursts, some performing geese are released, and Goldberger is knocked unconscious.

Next day, flashing lights announce the world premiere of 'Goldberger's sensational revue Okay For Sound', which has somehow been completed in time. Goldberger is in hospital, but hurriedly dresses and arrives in time for the last scene, a lavish musical sequence with the Gang as sailors, supported by the band of the Royal Marines.

The film is a roaring success. With the studio saved, Rigby decides he will invest in it after all. Goldberger tells the Gang that as a reward he will put them "where they belong". This proves to be back where they began, busking theatre queues.