Musical Monday: Double or Nothing (1937)

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.

double or nothingThis week’s musical:
Double or Nothing (1937) – Musical #737

Paramount Pictures

Theodore Reed

Bing Crosby, Martha Raye, Andy Devine, Mary Carlisle, William Frawley, Benny Baker, Samuel S. Hinds, William Henry, Fay Holden, Walter Kingsford, Bert Hanlon, Dennis O’Keefe (uncredited), Victor Sen Yung (uncredited)
Specialty performers: Frances Faye, Elsie Ames and Nick Arno (as Ames and Arno), Steve Calgary and Andre Calgary (as the Calgary Brothers), Harry Barris, Tex Morrissey, Alphonse Bergé, Edward Rickard

When a philanthropist millionaire dies, he leaves little for his family members in his will and instead wants to help an honest person. After wallets are tossed around the city, only four people return them: Lefty Boylan (Crosby), Half Pint (Devine), Liza Lou Lane (Raye) and John Pederson (Frawley). Those four are each given $5,000 and are given 30 days to double the money (legally and without gambling). The first one who does, gets the entire estate. The Clark family isn’t happy with this idea and tries to find a way to keep the money in the family.

• Martha Raye’s comedic strip number is said to be “uranium tinted-azure,” which was a tinting process dating to the silent era, according to Bing Crosby’s biographer.
• Bing Crosby didn’t want to be advertised as the sole star, so he shares billing with Martha Raye, according to Crosby’s biographer.
• Feb. 1937 news briefs say Dorothy Lamour would appear in the film, but she was not in the final cast.

double or nothing2

double or nothing3

• Everyone’s reaction to Martha Raye singing “It’s On, It’s Off”

Notable Songs:
• “All You Want to Do Is Dance” performed by Bing Crosby
• “(You Know It All) Smarty” performed by Bing Crosby
• “It’s the Natural Thing To Do” performed by Bing Crosby
• “The Moon Got in My Eyes” performed by Bing Crosby

double or nothing4

My review:
Though Bing Crosby is the star of this week’s Musical Monday, the cast of “Double or Nothing” seems more like an ensemble.

The plot begins after a wealthy man dies. In his will, he wants to leave his fortune to a deserving, honest person rather than his brother and his family. To locate an honest person, his lawyers throw wallets around town containing $100 and a note to return them to an office. Only four of the 20 are returned — by happy-go-lucky Lefty Boylan (Crosby), rough-around-the-edges Half Pint (Devine), former stripper Liza Lou Lane (Raye) and former crook John Pederson (Frawley). Each is given $5,000 and the will says if they double that money honestly, they get the entire estate. While each of them brainstorm how to double the $5,000, the Clark family is on hand to give them bad advice so that the millions stay in the family.

This was the third film co-starring Bing Crosby and Martha Raye, who shared billing, which was stipulated by Bing Crosby.

This film is fun and Crosby, Raye, Devine and Frawley play well off each other. It’s especially fun when wealthy Mrs. Clark played by Faye Holden tries to talk in tough lingo with Andy Devine. Mary Carlisle makes for a fun and sweet leading lady also.

Something interesting about the cast is that several of them later went on to be MGM players in series like Faye Holden (Andy Hardy), Samuel S. Hinds (Dr. Kildare) and Walter Kingsford (Dr. Kildare).

There are several other cute moments, like during the “All You Want to Do is Dance” number, a policeman rides up and asks Mary Carlisle and Bing Crosby if they had been drinking. When they say no, he breaks out into a tap dance, because he also just wants to dance.

“Double or Nothing” is also oddly filled with lots of novelty acts. For example, there is the “Sing Band,” where instead of instruments people sing the sounds of musical instruments. There were also a few comedy dancers, such as Ames and Arno and the Calgary Brothers. An odd way to cap off the film.

Though the film has some odd novelty acts, overall it’s a good time with a great cast.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at


1 thought on “Musical Monday: Double or Nothing (1937)

Thank you for reading! What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.