COCKEYED CAVALIERS. RKO, 1934. Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, Thelma Todd, Dorothy Lee, Noah Beery Sr., Robert Greig, Henry Sedley, Billy Gilbert, Franklin Pangborn, Alfred James, Jack Norton, Snub Pollard. Director: Mark Sandrich. Shown at Cinevent 40, Columbus OH, May 2008.

   Wheeler and Woolsey were a very popular comedy team in the 1930s, turning out some 19 comedies for RKO from 1929-1937, with the team’s career cut short by a serious illness that forced Woolsey’s retirement.

   Jim Goodrich was a great fan of the pair, but I’ve never been able to sit through all of one of their features. However, encouraged by the favorable write-up in the program-notes, I agreed to make another stab at appreciating their work.

   I am happy to report that Cockeyed Cavaliers, in which the boys, decked out in period garb but losing none of their contemporary edge, play con men who are taken to be the king’s physicians, dispatched to cure the ills of the Baron (Noah Beery), is a delightful musical, with director Mark Sandrich also responsible for several of the Astaire-Rogers musicals.


   His sure touch keeps the film consistently afloat, aided and abetted by a talented cast headed by gorgeous Thelma Todd and lovely and delightful Dorothy Lee, with veteran film villain Noah Beery blustering through his role as Todd’s lecherous husband and displaying an impressive bass in a couple of the songs.

   The score may not be memorable, but it’s melodious, and if I hadn’t seen parts of a number of Wheeler and Woolsey comedies that I didn’t care for, I would have been convinced that the team was very much to my liking, with their other films worth tracking down.