Friday, May 25, 2018

'A Night in the Dormitory' is a fun artifact

A Night in the Dormitory (1930)
Starring: Ruth Hamilton, Ginger Rogers, Thelma White, Si Wills, and Eddie Elkins
Director: Harry Delmar
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A college girl (Hamilton) returns to the dorm after sneaking out for a night on the town. She relates her experiences to one of her bunkmates.

"A Night in the Dormitory" is an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular that gives the viewer a sense of what it must have been like to go to a night club that featured floor shows Back in the Day. Heck, the obviously underrehearsed chorus lines that back Thelma White and Ginger Rogers (in her second screen appearance) probably added a healthy dose of verisimilitude to audiences watching this short in theatres back in 1930.

If you enjoy musical production numbers and vaudville routines, I think you'll enjoy this 22-minute collection of bits loosely tied together by the college girl's walk on the Great Depression wildside. The tunes are catching--I find myself humming the one performed by White as I type this--and sloppy chorus lines aside, they're fun to watch.

For everyone else, though, this film is little more than a historical artifact that records the live entertainment preferences of a by-gone era... and one that is probably quite faithful to the nightclub experience, since the producer and director of the film got his start booking and staging the kinds of shows this movie revolves around.

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