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HISTORY

The 26 Nov 1929 and 29 Dec 1929 issues of Film Daily reported that the firm of Aarons and Freedly were in the process of licensing several Broadway musicals to Paramount Publix Corp. Among them were Oh, Kay, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, Hold Everything, and Heads Up. The $40,000 licensing of the latter property was confirmed in the 15 Jan 1930 Var. According to the 12 Jan 1930 Film Daily, principal photography would take place at Paramount’s New York City studios in Astoria, Queens, featuring cast members from the stage production. The 8 Mar 1930 Hollywood Filmograph claimed that the picture was to be shot in Technicolor.
       A news item in the 5 May 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today stated that an entirely new musical score was being written for the film, although two songs, “A Ship Without A Sail” and “My Man Is On The Make,” were retained from the stage version. The cast included Charles “Buddy” Rogers in his first starring role, comedienne-singer Helen Kane, and Victor Moore, who co-starred in the Broadway show. Making her screen debut was stage actress Margaret Breen, as noted in the 7 Jun 1930 Motion Picture News. The 20 May 1930 Film Daily reported that director of photography George Folsey had been assigned to the project, once he finished work on the Marx Brothers picture, Animal Crackers (1930, see entry). As stated in the 22 Jun 1930 Film Daily, Folsey was ...

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The 26 Nov 1929 and 29 Dec 1929 issues of Film Daily reported that the firm of Aarons and Freedly were in the process of licensing several Broadway musicals to Paramount Publix Corp. Among them were Oh, Kay, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, Hold Everything, and Heads Up. The $40,000 licensing of the latter property was confirmed in the 15 Jan 1930 Var. According to the 12 Jan 1930 Film Daily, principal photography would take place at Paramount’s New York City studios in Astoria, Queens, featuring cast members from the stage production. The 8 Mar 1930 Hollywood Filmograph claimed that the picture was to be shot in Technicolor.
       A news item in the 5 May 1930 Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today stated that an entirely new musical score was being written for the film, although two songs, “A Ship Without A Sail” and “My Man Is On The Make,” were retained from the stage version. The cast included Charles “Buddy” Rogers in his first starring role, comedienne-singer Helen Kane, and Victor Moore, who co-starred in the Broadway show. Making her screen debut was stage actress Margaret Breen, as noted in the 7 Jun 1930 Motion Picture News. The 20 May 1930 Film Daily reported that director of photography George Folsey had been assigned to the project, once he finished work on the Marx Brothers picture, Animal Crackers (1930, see entry). As stated in the 22 Jun 1930 Film Daily, Folsey was later replaced by William Steiner and his assistant, George Belisario.
       An item in the 21 Jun 1930 Hollywood Filmograph noted that Helen Kane, who was trying to maintain her recent weight loss, was refused a stand-in after learning that she was required to eat during much of her screen time.
       Also included in the production were dialogue director Jack McGowan, who wrote the original stage play (13 Jun 1930 Film Daily); actor Gregory Blackton (15 Jun 1930 Film Daily); and Henriette Kay, formerly of the stage review Earl Carroll’s Vanities (18 Jun 1930 Film Daily). The 11 Jun 1930 Var noted that Paramount was having difficulty finding available show girls for the picture. According to the article, Broadway producer George White had approximately 500 under consideration for 50 parts in his latest project, and none were willing to sacrifice a long-term stage role for a brief stint in a movie. The 10 May 1930 Motion Picture News and 16 Jun 1930 Film Daily credited composers Vernon Duke and Don Hartman as contributors to the musical score.
       The 31 May 1930 Motion Picture News announced the start of principal photography earlier that week. The company reported to the Port Washington, NY, Yacht Club at 6:00 AM the first day of shooting. Items in the 1 Jun 1930 and 9 Jun 1930 issues of Film Daily stated that 250 cast and crew members were sent to the location, along with two sound trucks on shore and one on a barge adjoining a rented luxury yacht. The crew encountered high winds, low tide, and inconsistent sunlight, among other difficulties. O. V. Johnson was identified as location manager.
       According to the 8 Jun 1930, 12 Jun 1930, and 22 Jun 1930 issues of Film Daily, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, was featured in the picture. Fifty background actors were hired to play cadets; all were required to have their hair clipped to military specifications. Academy superintendent Captain Hamilton gave Paramount’s costume department permission to use authentic Coast Guard insignias on the condition that they would be destroyed once they were no longer needed. A news item in the 18 Jun 1930 Var stated that filming was scheduled for completion within the next week.
       Heads Up opened 11 Oct 1930 to mixed reviews, many of which were lukewarm to negative. Months after the film’s release, the Feb 1931 Broadway and Hollywood Movies concluded that Heads Up and Helen Kane’s previous release, Dangerous Nan McGrew, were “almost disastrous.” The production ended Kane’s career as a feature film star, and her recording of “My Man Is On The Make” concluded her contract with RCA Victor Records.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Broadway and Hollywood Movies
Dec 1930
p. 30
Broadway and Hollywood Movies
Feb 1931
p. 48
Educational Screen
Jan 1931
p. 18
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
5 May 1930
p. 5
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
23 May 1930
p. 3
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
9 Jun 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Daily Review and Motion Pictures Today
26 Jun 1930
p. 4
Exhibitors Herald-World
18 Oct 1930
p. 45
Film Daily
26 Nov 1929
p. 6
Film Daily
29 Dec 1929
p. 4
Film Daily
12 Jan 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
20 May 1930
p. 9
Film Daily
1 Jun 1930
p. 5
Film Daily
8 Jun 1930
p. 5
Film Daily
9 Jun 1930
p. 4
Film Daily
12 Jun 1930
p. 7
Film Daily
13 Jun 1930
p. 2
Film Daily
15 Jun 1930
p. 5
Film Daily
16 Jun 1930
p. 42
Film Daily
18 Jun 1930
p. 3
Film Daily
22 Jun 1930
p. 5
Film Daily
12 Oct 1930
p. 14
Harrison's Reports
27 Sep 1930
p. 157
Harrison's Reports
18 Oct 1930
p. 166
Hollywood Fillmograph
8 Mar 1930
p. 2
Hollywood Fillmograph
17 May 1930
p. 31
Hollywood Fillmograph
21 Jun 1930
p. 31
Hollywood Fillmograph
27 Sep 1930
p. 42
Motion Picture News
10 May 1930
p. 37
Motion Picture News
31 May 1930
p. 127
Motion Picture News
7 Jun 1930
p. 59
Motion Picture News
28 Jun 1930
p. 63
National Board of Review Magazine
Oct 1930
p. 18
New Movie Magazine
Oct 1930
p. 6
New York Times
13 Oct 1930
p. 31
Variety
15 Jan 1930
p. 85
Variety
11 Jun 1930
---
Variety
18 Jun 1930
---
Variety
15 Oct 1930
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
MUSIC
DANCE
Dance dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Heads Up , book by John McGowan and Paul Gerard Smith, music by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart (New York, 11 Nov 1929).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHORS
+
SONGS
"My Man Is On The Make" and "A Ship Without A Sail," words by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers; "If I Knew You Better" and "Readin', Ritin', Rhythm," words by Don Hartman, music by Victor Schertzinger.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 October 1930
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 Oct 1930
Production Date:
late May--late Jun 1930
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Paramount Publix Corp.
10 October 1930
LP1635
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
76
Length(in feet):
6,785
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Jack Mason meets Mary Trumbull at a Coast Guard Academy graduation ball and falls in love with her. However, the girl's mother considers wealthy Rex Cutting a more appropriate choice for her daughter. During a yachting cruise arranged by Mrs. Trumbull, Mary refuses Rex’s marriage proposal, as she suspects him of being a bootlegger. Meanwhile Betty, Mary’s impish sister, drives Skippy Dugan to distraction in the galley, where he has installed an automatic kitchen that does most of his work. Jack smuggles himself aboard but is forcibly ejected at port, and Mrs. Trumbull discourages his attempt to elope with Mary. On a subsequent cruise, Jack hides in a lifeboat with two fellow Coast Guard members, and they witness the captain take on a cargo of illicit rum. Jack and his aides attempt to commandeer the vessel and a battle ensues. The yacht is wrecked on an island, where Jack proves his heroism and Rex is revealed as a fugitive bootlegger. ...

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Jack Mason meets Mary Trumbull at a Coast Guard Academy graduation ball and falls in love with her. However, the girl's mother considers wealthy Rex Cutting a more appropriate choice for her daughter. During a yachting cruise arranged by Mrs. Trumbull, Mary refuses Rex’s marriage proposal, as she suspects him of being a bootlegger. Meanwhile Betty, Mary’s impish sister, drives Skippy Dugan to distraction in the galley, where he has installed an automatic kitchen that does most of his work. Jack smuggles himself aboard but is forcibly ejected at port, and Mrs. Trumbull discourages his attempt to elope with Mary. On a subsequent cruise, Jack hides in a lifeboat with two fellow Coast Guard members, and they witness the captain take on a cargo of illicit rum. Jack and his aides attempt to commandeer the vessel and a battle ensues. The yacht is wrecked on an island, where Jack proves his heroism and Rex is revealed as a fugitive bootlegger.

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.