Meet the Baron (1933)

65 or 79 mins | Comedy | 20 October 1933

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Big Liar and What a Liar! In the onscreen credits, Jack Pearl is referred to as "the famous Baron Munchausen of the Air" and Jimmy Durante as "the favorite 'schnozzle' of the screen." Pearl recreated his popular German radio character "Baron von Munchausen" for the film. Although bearing some similarities to the seventeenth century German adventurer and story teller of the same name, Pearl's interpretions were not historical or biographical. Pearl introduced his "Munchausen" character in 1932 on the Ziegfeld Follies of the Air program. Later, the baron character appeared on The Jack Pearl Show, a weekly hour-long broadcast on the NBC radio network, which was sponsored by Lucky Strike. A half-hour weekly version of the baron's adventures, which was sponsored by Royal Gelatin, began broadcast in 1933. Pearl's famous "plug line" as the baron was "Vas you dere, Sharlie?" which he uttered to his "straight man" (played by Ben Bard in the film). The Stooges are referred to twice in the opening credits, first as "Ted Healy and His Stooges," and a few frames later as "The Stooges," with their individual names listed as indicated above.
       According to an 3 Aug 1933 HR news item, James Gleason was assigned to write dialogue for the film, but his contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined. Early production news items in HR announced that Russell Mack was slated to direct the picture but turned down the assignment because he did not "like the story." According to a May 1933 FD ...

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The working titles of this film were The Big Liar and What a Liar! In the onscreen credits, Jack Pearl is referred to as "the famous Baron Munchausen of the Air" and Jimmy Durante as "the favorite 'schnozzle' of the screen." Pearl recreated his popular German radio character "Baron von Munchausen" for the film. Although bearing some similarities to the seventeenth century German adventurer and story teller of the same name, Pearl's interpretions were not historical or biographical. Pearl introduced his "Munchausen" character in 1932 on the Ziegfeld Follies of the Air program. Later, the baron character appeared on The Jack Pearl Show, a weekly hour-long broadcast on the NBC radio network, which was sponsored by Lucky Strike. A half-hour weekly version of the baron's adventures, which was sponsored by Royal Gelatin, began broadcast in 1933. Pearl's famous "plug line" as the baron was "Vas you dere, Sharlie?" which he uttered to his "straight man" (played by Ben Bard in the film). The Stooges are referred to twice in the opening credits, first as "Ted Healy and His Stooges," and a few frames later as "The Stooges," with their individual names listed as indicated above.
       According to an 3 Aug 1933 HR news item, James Gleason was assigned to write dialogue for the film, but his contribution to the final script, if any, has not been determined. Early production news items in HR announced that Russell Mack was slated to direct the picture but turned down the assignment because he did not "like the story." According to a May 1933 FD news item, Stuart Erwin was to co-star with Durante and Pearl. On 23 Aug 1933, HR announced that Zion Myers was to direct the song routines, but it is not known if the director actually worked on the production. A 15 Aug 1933 HR news item announced that Doctor George Rockwell, a "musical comedy and vaudeville entertainer from New York," was selected for a "featured spot" in the production. By 25 Aug 1933, however, Rockwell had withdrawn from the cast because, according to HR, the "part did not please the famous comic." FD news items include Lyda Roberti, Jobyna Howland and Helen Shipman as cast members, while HR production charts and news items list Asta Muir, Gloria Hatrick, Nora Cecil, Gwen Lee, Margaret Nearing, Peanuts Byron , Henry Kolker, Richard Carle, Robert Greig, Claire Meyers and the Boswell Sisters as performers. The participation of these performers in the final film has not been confirmed. According to HR, Claire Myers replaced June Brewster in the production. In 1989, Terry Gilliam directed John Neville and Eric Idle in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, a Columbia Pictures release. Gilliam's film was inspired by the historical German adventurer, however, and not by Pearl's variations on the baron.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1933
p. 3
Film Daily
26 May 1933
p. 2
Film Daily
4 Aug 1933
p. 6
Film Daily
19 Aug 1933
p. 7
Film Daily
22 Aug 1933
p. 12
HF
2 Sep 1933
p. 8
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1933
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1933
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1933
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1933
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1933
p. 4, 6
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1933
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 1933
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 1933
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1933
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
28 Oct 1933
p. 4
Motion Picture Herald
4 Nov 1933
p. 37
New York Times
28 Oct 1933
p. 20
Variety
31 Oct 1933
p. 17
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Joe Boyle
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Allen Siegler
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
MUSIC
Orch dir
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"Hail to the Baron Munchausen," "Clean as a Whistle" and "Drumming Out," music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Big Liar
What a Liar!
Release Date:
20 October 1933
Production Date:
began mid Aug 1933
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
17 October 1933
LP4190
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65 or 79
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

Julius, a former pants presser, and Joe McGoo, a former sailor, are servants of Baron Munchausen, a famous German explorer now traveling in the jungles of Africa. After Julius accidentally spills their already limited water supply while climbing a tree, Munchausen deserts camp during the night, taking the last drops of water with him. The next morning, after they read Munchausen's nasty farewell letter, the parched Julius and Joe are discovered by a safari of white explorers, who have been searching for the baron for many months. To assure their rescue, Julius pretends to be the baron, while Joe poses as Munchausen's manager. After the duo is treated to a hero's welcome in New York City, Julius is hired to speak on the radio at the rate of $2,000 for 2,000 words. While Joe attempts to count Julius' every word, Julius delivers a nonsensical speech about his adventures in Africa and the Arctic. The duo then heads for Cuddle College, a women's school at which Julius has been invited to lecture. Arriving on an elephant, Julius and Joe greet a crowd of adoring college students and are happily escorted to their rooms. There, Julius meets ZaSu, a sweet, fluttery maid, and instantly is taken with her. Back in Africa, the real Baron Munchausen sees a newspaper headline announcing "his" return to civilization and immediately sets off for America. Oblivious to the baron's discovery, Julius romances ZaSu in the college's meat locker, then confers with Joe on how to avoid giving any lectures. While the duo plots their excuses, a group of students cajole Julius to demonstrate his equestrian skills in the ...

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Julius, a former pants presser, and Joe McGoo, a former sailor, are servants of Baron Munchausen, a famous German explorer now traveling in the jungles of Africa. After Julius accidentally spills their already limited water supply while climbing a tree, Munchausen deserts camp during the night, taking the last drops of water with him. The next morning, after they read Munchausen's nasty farewell letter, the parched Julius and Joe are discovered by a safari of white explorers, who have been searching for the baron for many months. To assure their rescue, Julius pretends to be the baron, while Joe poses as Munchausen's manager. After the duo is treated to a hero's welcome in New York City, Julius is hired to speak on the radio at the rate of $2,000 for 2,000 words. While Joe attempts to count Julius' every word, Julius delivers a nonsensical speech about his adventures in Africa and the Arctic. The duo then heads for Cuddle College, a women's school at which Julius has been invited to lecture. Arriving on an elephant, Julius and Joe greet a crowd of adoring college students and are happily escorted to their rooms. There, Julius meets ZaSu, a sweet, fluttery maid, and instantly is taken with her. Back in Africa, the real Baron Munchausen sees a newspaper headline announcing "his" return to civilization and immediately sets off for America. Oblivious to the baron's discovery, Julius romances ZaSu in the college's meat locker, then confers with Joe on how to avoid giving any lectures. While the duo plots their excuses, a group of students cajole Julius to demonstrate his equestrian skills in the school's stables. After Julius is thrown by Rosebud, a fiery-tempered mule, he is called into Dean Primrose's office. There, Julius and Joe are exposed as frauds by an indignant Munchausen. When Julius threatens Munchausen with his incriminating "dead men tell no tales" letter, the baron backs down from his accusations and claims amnesia. By coincidence, however, Julius' aunt Sophie, a cleaning woman just hired by the college, sees Julius and identifies him as her nephew, the pants presser. Angry and ashamed by the revelation, ZaSu denounces Julius as a liar and, in spite of his explanations and pleas, breaks off with him. Julius and Joe then are thrown off campus in disgrace and are chased onto a train by two large men. After one of the men traps Julius, he reveals that he is not a detective, but a representative of the General Broadcasting Company. Relieved, Julius happily accepts the radio company's offer of $2,500 a broadcast, even though it means he will have to continue posing as the baron. Julius then discovers a forgiving ZaSu on the train and, vowing reformation, says that the chances that he will tell another lie are about as good as their future children becoming acrobats. Sometime later, ZaSu gives birth to acrobatic twins.

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

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