After being teamed up with comic genius Buster Keaton for a
trio of early talkies in 1932-1933, Vaudeville star Jimmy Durante was
with the south-of-the-border beauty Lupe Velez for a couple of films. The second of these, Strictly Dynamite, is a
fun light romp that has recently been released through Warner's MOD
Warner Archives. Durante is a bit more
restrained in this film than usual (though just a bit) and Lupe Velez
utilized as much as she could have been, but it's still a gem of a film
well worth checking out.
Moxie Slaight (Durante) and his partner Vera (Velez) are a
pair of radio show comics who are quite popular. The
only problem is that Moxie wants better
material from his writers. They keep
recycling the same old jokes, but he wants something high brow.
Enter Norman Foster (Nick Montgomery). He
has aspirations of being a respected
writer and penning the Great American Novel, but when he gets fired
job and can't sell his poetry, it looks like he and his wife Sylvia
Nixon) will have to return home to the country.
That's until Sylvia gets a bright idea.
Norman's a great writer, yet he
that Moxie's show is horrible, so why doesn't Norman write the show.
She pitches the idea to Norman's
agent, who just happens to know that Moxie is unhappy with his current
and the next thing you know Norman
is taking a meeting with the radio star.
They hit it off largely because Norman
uses big words and sounds intellectual, and soon Norman is writing Moxie's show.
Things go well for a little while. Norman
quickly becomes writing in high demand.
With money and prestige he seems to have it made.
He starts hanging out with Vera (who wants
her part in the show increased) going to parties and staying out late
night. He can't burn the candle at both
ends and write good scripts, so he finds himself stealing material from
joke books. The cost of success is too
high for poor Norman,
but will he realize that before he looses Sylvia or before Moxie has
out for spending too much time with Vera?
For a Jimmy Durante vehicle (he gets top billing) it's a bit
surprising he's not in the film more. As
the synopsis implies, the plot mainly revolves around the writer and
the way to
simple, honest county people deal with fame and money in the big city. Durante has some good scenes, but a good
portion of his screen time is in the form on his radio show, which he
performs in public on stage.
Durante isn't as wild in this picture as he is in some of
his other films, but when he's on screen the movie is more interesting. He drops frequent humorous malaprops and some
of his best lines go by so quickly that many people will miss them. (When a stage mother introduces her son to
Moxie and being "originally from the legitimate" the star replies "I'm
was legitimate once.")
Lupe Velez does a great job being the fiery costar and holds
her own against Durante. The scene where
she brow-beats him into giving her a bigger part of the show is great
steals almost every scene she's in. Her
role her is very similar to her Mexican Spitfire role that she'd take
up in a
few years and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this film inspired
character in those.
One other aspect of this movie that will thrill film fans is
the supporting and bit players who turn up.
The movie is filled with faces that many people would recognize
they don't know the names. Tom Kennedy,
Holloway, and Franklin Pangborn are just some of the people who pop up
This film comes on a made-to-order DVD-R.
The mono soundtrack fits the movie well. There
isn't any noticeable hiss or background
noise at normal volumes, and the dialog is easy to discern.
I was very pleased with the full frame image. Though
these haven't been restored, the
prints look very, very good. The lines
are tight and the image is very clear.
There's a lot more detail than I was expecting and digital
very rare. Overall this is an excellent
looking set and should please film fans.
Alas, there are no extras.
Though it isn't Durante's most outgoing movie, Strictly
Dynamite is a fun film that is really enjoyable. Lupe
Velez is both beautiful and vivacious
and steals a lot of her scenes and the film is populated with a lot of
supporting comics too. The Warner
Archives print is very good, making this an easy one to recommend.