- ARGENTINE NIGHTS 1940
Director: Albert S. Rogell
Stars: The Ritz Brothers, Al Ritz, Harry Ritz
When Al, Harry, and Jimmy, variety promoters, get into trouble over a scheme in New York, they stow away on the boat taking their performers Bonny, Maxene, Patty, and LaVerne to a show date in Argentina. Bonnie falls for Eduardo, a wealthy polo player she later mistakes for El Tigre, a famous local bandit. Al, Harry, and Jimmy team up with the girls to try to save the hotel owned by Mama and Papa Viejo.
- THE RITZ BROTHERS 1936
They followed in the huge clown shoes of the Marx Brothers and stumbled a bit in doing so, but the Ritz Brothers slapstick trio (comprised of Al Ritz, Jimmy Ritz and Harry Ritz) were troupers all the way as they did their part in helping American audiences forget about the Depression and World War II. All three brothers were born in Newark, New Jersey (Al in 1901, Jimmy in 1903 and Harry in 1906), the sons of an Austrian haberdasher whose last name was Joachim. Raised in Brooklyn, the boys developed an early interest in show business and pursued solo careers at the onset -- with rather lackluster success. Following Harry's graduation from high school, they decided to band together (1925) and put together a song-and-dance act they could take out on the road. Building up their reputation in various night clubs and vaudeville houses, they appeared in the George White and Earl Carroll revues to great success. Their act remained fairly constant for all four decades, which included precision dancing, tongue-twisting patter songs, ethnic humor and physical schtick. They managed to break into films in the mid-30s and earned a contract with 20th Century-Fox as specialty items in Alice Faye and Sonja Henie musicals. Slowly evolving into stars of their own, some of their better known vehicles would be The Three Musketeers (1939), The Gorilla (1939) and Argentine Nights (1940), which also featured the Andrews Sisters. Their hyperbolic style and unsubtle brand of insanity, however, were not always complemented in their films. They were an acquired taste (or an acquired lack of taste) and their critically-drubbed clowning never achieved the box-office distinction of Groucho, Chico and Zeppo. Discontented at Fox for not promoting them into an "A" film attraction, they left and tried their hand at Universal in 1940. Things not only didn't improve, their films grew even more inferior in quality. In the end, their forte would be as supper club headliners and once their film career was finished in 1943, they went back to the nitery circuit, occasionally finding work on TV. Eldest brother Al's death of a heart attack in 1965 put a serious cog in the team wheel. Harry and Jimmy continued for a time but floundered and eventually settled into semi-retirement, appearing on talk shows or in cameos for Mel Brooks (Brooks was a huge fan of their work). Jimmy died of heart failure and Harry of cancer within a year of each other in the mid-1980s. Though they remained in the comic shadow of the Marx Brothers, Al, Jimmy and Harry certainly made their broad mark in comedy and have found new legions of fans with every passing year.
- THE ANDREWS SISTERS 1940
The defining sister act of all time with well over 75 million records sold by which the swinging big-band era could not be better represented were the fabulous Andrews Sisters: Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne. With their precise harmonies and perfectly syncopated dance moves, the girls reached heights of worldwide fame still unattained by any group which followed. They delivered an optimistic, upbeat war campaign that instilled hope, joy and allegiance through song, comedy, and lively movement. They provided a musical security blanket to a war-torn country via records, films, radio, clubs, stages, canteens, and overseas war zones emphasized the motto that America was strong and proud...and to keep on singing and swinging! Second only to perhaps Bob Hope in commitment and extensive USO touring, the girls' profound influence extends even today with such current pop idols as Bette Midler, The Pointer Sisters, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Transfer, The Star Sisters, and Christina Aguilera all having reinvented themselves in Andrews Sisters' style at one time or another. Unfortunately, while the adhesive harmonies of The Andrews Sisters were intricately close, their personal harmonies were more discordant.