Half Shot at Sunrise (1930)

75 mins | Comedy | 4 October 1930

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HISTORY

The 29 Mar 1930 Hollywood Filmograph announced the upcoming production as the second starring vehicle for the comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, with actress-singer Dorothy Lee returning as Wheeler’s love interest. Described as “the talking screen’s first wartime musical,” the original screenplay was credited to James Ashmore Creelman and Cyrus Wood. Additional writers included Rube Bernstein (24 May 1930 Motion Picture News) and Edwin K. O’Brien (9 Aug 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World). An item in the 31 May 1930 Hollywood Filmograph listed the opening song as “There’s Good Times Coming”; it does not appear in extant prints of the film.
       Rehearsals began 1 Jun 1930 at RKO Studios in Hollywood, CA, according to the previous day’s Inside Facts of Stage and Screen. The 11 Jun 1930 start of principal photography was listed in a 26 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World production chart. The 14 Jun 1930 Hollywood Filmograph included actress June Clyde among the cast. She was not credited onscreen, and was likely replaced by Roberta Robinson, who appeared as “Eileen.” Also joining the cast was Katya Sorina, as noted in the 11 Jul Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today. The 22 Jul 1930 Film Daily listed Major General Alexander Ikonnikoff, Major Owen Martin, and fighter pilot Stanley Campbell, all veterans of World War I, as background actors. The 5 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World estimated that the week’s payroll for background actors was in excess of $75,000. The 6 Aug 1930 Var listed ...

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The 29 Mar 1930 Hollywood Filmograph announced the upcoming production as the second starring vehicle for the comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, with actress-singer Dorothy Lee returning as Wheeler’s love interest. Described as “the talking screen’s first wartime musical,” the original screenplay was credited to James Ashmore Creelman and Cyrus Wood. Additional writers included Rube Bernstein (24 May 1930 Motion Picture News) and Edwin K. O’Brien (9 Aug 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World). An item in the 31 May 1930 Hollywood Filmograph listed the opening song as “There’s Good Times Coming”; it does not appear in extant prints of the film.
       Rehearsals began 1 Jun 1930 at RKO Studios in Hollywood, CA, according to the previous day’s Inside Facts of Stage and Screen. The 11 Jun 1930 start of principal photography was listed in a 26 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World production chart. The 14 Jun 1930 Hollywood Filmograph included actress June Clyde among the cast. She was not credited onscreen, and was likely replaced by Roberta Robinson, who appeared as “Eileen.” Also joining the cast was Katya Sorina, as noted in the 11 Jul Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today. The 22 Jul 1930 Film Daily listed Major General Alexander Ikonnikoff, Major Owen Martin, and fighter pilot Stanley Campbell, all veterans of World War I, as background actors. The 5 Jul 1930 Exhibitors Herald-World estimated that the week’s payroll for background actors was in excess of $75,000. The 6 Aug 1930 Var listed Ian Torrence, son of actor Ernest Torrence, as boom operator and Warren Simpson, brother of actress Jocelyn Lee, as assistant director. Appearing in minor roles were Mira Adorée and Helen Taylor, sisters of actresses Renee Adorée and Estelle Taylor, respectively. An article in the 19 Jul 1930 Hollywood Filmograph identified the featured dance troupe as the Tiller Sunshine Girls of Lancashire, England, under the direction of Mary Read.
       On 10 Jul 1930, Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today described the company’s Glendale, CA, filming location as “the only canvas-topped talkie town in America,” with 4,000 cast and crew members housed in fifty canvas tents. The 15 Jul 1930 issue noted that the company had moved to Sherman Oaks, CA, and two weeks later to neighboring Encino, CA, as stated in the 1 Aug 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today. Among the cast were war veterans from Europe, Australia, Russia, and Senegal.
       An article in the 9 Aug 1930 Motion Picture News revealed that RKO Productions, Inc., employed the “Dunning process” for dubbing songs and dialogue in foreign languages. Carroll Dunning and German producer Frederick Zelnick completed three sequences using German actors and singers while English-language filming was underway. The article claimed that the German sequences were superior.
       The Aug 1931 Silver Screen attributed Robert Woolsey’s musical solo on a set of automobile spark plugs to Murray Spivack, who performed the interlude on tuned metal pipes.
       The 28 Aug 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today stated that Bert Wheeler left the previous day for a brief vacation in New York City following the close of production.
       Half Shot at Sunrise officially opened 4 Oct 1930, although news items in the 16 Sep 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today and the 20 Sep 1930 Motion Picture News indicated pre-release showings at RKO’s Orpheum theaters in Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR. Public response was enthusiastic, with the latter location reporting gross receipts of $14,000. A St. Louis, MO, opening followed, as stated in the 25 Sep 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today. The 24 Sep 1930 Var noted that the entire cast was scheduled to appear on RKO’s weekly radio broadcast two days later, for a program of “songs and music from the picture.”
       According to the 17 Oct 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today, the film’s popularity prompted RKO to encourage exhibitors and publicists to utilize every possible exploitation method available. One such attempt by the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA, featured a depiction of Wheeler and Woolsey posing with a “half-naked” woman, which garnered a negative reaction in the 29 Nov 1930 Harrison’s Reports. Despite the team’s reputation for suggestive humor, the Oct 1930 issues of National Board of Review Magazine and Educational Screen declared the picture suitable for family audiences. The running time was cut from eighty-one minutes to seventy-eight minutes, as stated in the 22 Nov 1930 Harrison’s Reports.
       The 6 Aug 1930 Var noted that the picture’s musical score was the first to be published by Radio Music, a subsidiary of RKO’s parent company, Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Educational Screen
Oct 1930
p. 242
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
3 Jul 1930
p. 6
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
10 Jul 1930
p. 12
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
11 Jul 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
15 Jul 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
1 Aug 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
28 Aug 1930
p. 6
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
16 Sep 1930
p. 1
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
25 Sep 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
14 Oct 1930
---
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
17 Oct 1930
p. 8
Exhibitors Herald-World
5 Jul 1930
p. 37
Exhibitors Herald-World
26 Jul 1930
p. 34
Exhibitors Herald-World
9 Aug 1930
p. 28
Exhibitors Herald-World
27 Sep 1930
p. 41
Film Daily
6 Jul 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
22 Jul 1930
p. 9
Film Daily
12 Oct 1930
p. 14
Film Daily
10 Nov 1930
p. 10
Harrison's Reports
27 Sep 1930
p. 154
Harrison's Reports
8 Nov 1930
p. 182
Harrison's Reports
22 Nov 1930
p. 188
Harrison's Reports
29 Nov 1930
p. 1
Hollywood Fillmograph
29 Mar 1930
p. 18
Hollywood Fillmograph
31 May 1930
p. 32
Hollywood Fillmograph
14 Jun 1930
p. 30
Hollywood Fillmograph
28 Jun 1930
p. 16
Hollywood Fillmograph
5 Jul 1930
p. 24
Hollywood Fillmograph
19 Jul 1930
p. 21
Inside Facts of Stage and Screen
31 May 1930
p. 12
Motion Picture News
17 May 1930
p. 30
Motion Picture News
24 May 1930
p. 104
Motion Picture News
9 Aug 1930
p. 25
Motion Picture News
20 Sep 1930
p. 38
Motion Picture News
27 Sep 1930
p. 41
Motion Picture News
18 Oct 1930
p. 27
National Board of Review Magazine
Oct 1930
p. 18
New York Times
11 Oct 1930
p. 21
Silver Screen
Aug 1931
p. 77
Variety
6 Aug 1930
p. 28, 65
Variety
24 Sep 1930
p. 44
Variety
15 Oct 1930
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Paul Sloane
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
William Le Baron
Prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Nick Musuraca
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Scenery
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Lyrics
Mus dir
Soloist
SOUND
Boom op
DANCE
Dances staged by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Nothing But Love" and "Whistling the Blues Away," words by Anne Caldwell, music by Harry Tierney.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 October 1930
Premiere Information:
Seattle and Portland openings: late Sep 1930; St. Louis opening: 25 Sep 1930
Production Date:
26 Jul--late Aug 1930
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
25 September 1930
LP1588
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
7,059
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

During World War I, U.S. Army Colonel Marshall is stationed in Paris, France, charged with the delivery of important orders pertaining to a major offensive. He receives a series of love notes from Olga, a French flirt whom he tries to keep secret from his wife. In turn, the colonel disapproves of his daughter Eileen’s boyfriend, Lieut. Jim Reed. Meanwhile, buck privates Tommy Turner and Gilbert Simpson are absent without leave (AWOL), disguising themselves as various officers to evade military police and fraternize with the women of Paris. During one of their escapes, Tommy and Gilbert steal the colonel's car, along with his teenaged daughter Annette. To win them the colonel's forgiveness, Annette and Olga conspire to make the boys heroes by intercepting an important dispatch intended for Jim, and send them to the front on the lieutenant’s mission. The war ends, and Tommy and Gilbert return to Paris, admitting that they did not complete their task. When the colonel threatens to have them shot, they reveal that he had accidentally substituted the dispatch with of one of Olga's perfumed love letters. Fearful of both his superiors and his wife, Colonel Marshall agrees to forgive the ...

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During World War I, U.S. Army Colonel Marshall is stationed in Paris, France, charged with the delivery of important orders pertaining to a major offensive. He receives a series of love notes from Olga, a French flirt whom he tries to keep secret from his wife. In turn, the colonel disapproves of his daughter Eileen’s boyfriend, Lieut. Jim Reed. Meanwhile, buck privates Tommy Turner and Gilbert Simpson are absent without leave (AWOL), disguising themselves as various officers to evade military police and fraternize with the women of Paris. During one of their escapes, Tommy and Gilbert steal the colonel's car, along with his teenaged daughter Annette. To win them the colonel's forgiveness, Annette and Olga conspire to make the boys heroes by intercepting an important dispatch intended for Jim, and send them to the front on the lieutenant’s mission. The war ends, and Tommy and Gilbert return to Paris, admitting that they did not complete their task. When the colonel threatens to have them shot, they reveal that he had accidentally substituted the dispatch with of one of Olga's perfumed love letters. Fearful of both his superiors and his wife, Colonel Marshall agrees to forgive the boys.

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GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
with songs


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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