Hello, Everybody! movie review: In rare big-screen appearance, radio & stage singer Kate Smith experiences unrequited love
Radio and stage performer Kate Smith was a force to be reckoned with when Paramount tapped her to star in William A. Seiter’s 1933 musical Hello, Everybody!.
But how do you harness such a big talent?
The answer was to cast the stout singer as an innocent farm girl who falls in love with handsome Randolph Scott. The Power and Water Company had sent him out to convince her to sell her land so the county could go through with a dam project to provide water for the city folk.
How to tackle a woman
“There’s only one way to tackle a woman…” one of the company employees tells Scott, “…Around the waste.” Now, you’d have to have arms as long as those of an octopus to put them around Kate Smith.
Now, I don’t mean to make fun of her size. Smith got enough insults on and off stage when she appeared as Big Tiny Little in the Broadway hit musical Flying High (1930–31).
In any case, as it turns out Scott only has eyes for Smith’s younger – and much prettier and thinner – sister, Sally Blane (real-life sister of Loretta Young).
Taking it all in stride, Smith goes on a crusade to save her farm from the wicked city folk. She goes on the radio and becomes a success singing “Twenty Million People,” “Out in the Great Open Spaces,” and the dreadfully morose “Moon Song.”
Much more memorable is the tune she sings to “all the little colored children” in the orphanages: “Pickaninnies’ Heaven.” It’s a lullaby about a place where “all good little pickaninnies” can go to enjoy watermelon vines, pork-chop bushes, and lemonade rivers. To put it mildly, an embarrassment in the 21st century. (One reminiscent of Warner Bros.’ – much more elaborate – Wonder Bar number “Going to Heaven on a Mule” the following year.)
But there’s more. She sings a rousing chorus of “Dinah” on her radio show, followed by a frantic Charleston – the 300-pound-plus Smith dances like a featherweight. She then goes offstage doing high kicks that must have registered on the Richter Scale.
Superb vocal pipes
Kate Smith had some of the most superb vocal pipes of all time. And thanks to that big, beautiful voice, her career survived the disastrous Hello, Everybody!.
Smith wisely returned to radio – where audiences wouldn’t get preoccupied over her avoirdupois looks – and with her patriotic ditties she would have a lasting impact on the American music scene for years to come.
Hello, Everybody! (1933)
Director: William A. Seiter.
Screenplay: Lawrence Hazard & Dorothy Yost.
From a screen story by Fannie Hurst.
Cast: Kate Smith. Randolph Scott. Sally Blane. Charley Grapewin. George Barbier. Julia Swayne Gordon.
Uncredited: 1940s leading man Dennis O’Keefe is supposed to have a bit part in the film.
“Hello, Everybody! (1933): Rare Kate Smith Film Appearance” review text © Danny Fortune; excerpt, image captions, bullet point introduction, and notes/endnotes © Alt Film Guide.
“Hello, Everybody! (1933) Movie Review” endnotes
Randolph Scott, Sally Blane, and Kate Smith Hello, Everybody! movie image: Paramount Pictures.
“Hello, Everybody! (1933): Rare Kate Smith Film Appearance” last updated in October 2021.