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Friday, 26 July 2013

Classic Film Review: The Half Naked Truth (1932)

The Half Naked Truth stars Lee Tracy as Bates, an entrepreneur of sorts working for a carnival. His latest attempt to get money pouring in results in them being run out of town so Bates decides to go to Broadway and make a star out of sideshow dancer Teresita (Lupe Velez), taking his faithful friend Achilles (Eugene Pallette) along with him. They hoodwink impresario Mr Farrell (Frank Morgan) into taking Teresita on but stardom pulls the group apart and Bates's next plan involves a hotel maid (Shirley Chambers) and a nudist camp...

If this one sounds a bit mad that's because it is. Anything that involves a gigantic carnival fight scene, a dancer impersonating a Turkish princess, a lion in a hotel room and nudists driving through New York can't be described as much else. And I wanted to like it but, unfortunately, it left me a little bored.

I found it difficult to care about either Bates or Teresita. Not caring about them as a couple meant that their separation didn't really bother me too much. A character I did care about was Farrell, mainly because he was pushed from pillar to post by Bates and kept struggling to come out on top. Eugene Pallette and Shirley Chambers also put across their characters very well, especially in the scenes where he's 'teaching' her how to act - which usually involves them getting up close and personal.

Lupe Velez puts in a decent performance but without any chemistry between her and Tracy it's a drab film with some highlights. Her opening night performance is quite amusing, as are her interactions with Morgan. The film does feel tacked together in places, with little coherence and some fast-paced dialogue that can be tricky to keep up with. However, it's not all bad and, given how short it is, it's worth sitting through for a few amusing bits.

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