Musical Monday: Killer Diller (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Killer Diller – Musical #664

All American

Josh Binney

George Wiltshire, Nellie Hill, Butterfly McQueen, Freddie Robinson, William Campbell, Edgar Martin, Sidney Easton, Augustus Smith (as Gus Smith),
Themselves: King Cole Trio, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, Dusty Fletcher (as Dusty ‘Open the Door Richard’ Fletcher), the Clark Brothers, Andy Kirk and His Orchestra, The Four Congaroos, Patterson and Jackson, Beverlee White (billed as Beverly White)

A theater manager (Wiltshire) gives his girl fiancé Lola (Hill) an expensive string of pearls. Shortly after, a magician (Fletcher) at the theater makes her disappear. As the police search for the pearls and Lola, a show has to go on.
The majority of the film is a variety show of singing, dancing and jokes.

• Moms Mabley is billed as Jackie Mabley.
• Butterfly McQueen’s last feature film until 1970.
• First film or television appearance of the Clark Brothers.
• The dancing girls at the end are the Varietettes Dancing Girls from Katherine Durham’s School of Dancing
• Filmed in front of a live audience

The Clark Brothers

• Patterson and Jackson impersonating the Ink Spots singing “If I Didn’t Care”
• The Clark Brothers dance routine
• Dances by The Four Congaroos

Notable Songs:
• “I Don’t Want to Get Married” performed by Beverlee White
• “It Ain’t Nobody’s Business What I Do” performed by Beverlee White
• “If I Didn’t Care” performed by Patterson and Jackson
• “”Ain’t Misbehavin'” performed by Patterson and Jackson
• “Don’t Sit on My Bed” performed by Jackie “Moms Mabley”
• “Ooh, Kickeroonie” performed by the King Cole Trio
• “Now He Tells Me” performed by The King Cole Trio
• “Breezy and the Bass” performed by The King Cole Trio
• “Basie Boogie” performed by Andy Kirk and His Orchestra

Beverlee White

The King Cole Trio

My review:
“Killer Diller” (1948) may not have much of a plot, but this is an incredibly entertaining film. It’s like you are attending a concert or live performance of top-notch talent, some of which I wasn’t familiar with before watching this film.

The film includes:
– Comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley
– Comedic singers Warren and Patterson
– Singer Beverlee White
– Andy Kirk and His Orchestra
– The King Cole Trio, featuring Nat King Cole, Oscar Moore and Johnny Miller
– Dancing brothers James and Steve Clark
– The Four Congaroos performing the Lyndie hop

Before watching this film, I was only familiar with The King Cole Trio and Moms Mabley, so I was delighted to be introduced to these new performers.

The real highlight was Beverlee White. I also loved Warren and Patterson, especially their hilarious impersonation of the Ink Spots. It had me laughing out loud. I also loved the tap dancing of the Clark Brothers.

You will notice that Butterfly McQueen is in the cast, but unfortunately she does not have very much screentime. McQueen is one of the few actors in the film who isn’t performing on stage, and she plays the stage managers maid. She appeared in this film after deciding to leave Hollywood. After “Killer Diller,” McQueen did not make a feature film until “The Phynx” (1970), according to McQueen’s biographer Stephen Bourne.

“Killer Diller” was filmed in front of a live audience, which gives this even more the feeling of watching a concert. This film is really great fun, especially if you love music of the 1940s.

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