WriterJoseph Jackson, Al Boasberg Release dateFebruary 14, 1931 (1931-02-14) Based on1929 Musical play:
E. Ray Goetz SongsOverture CastOle Olsen (Simon), Chic Johnson (Peter), William Gaxton (Jack Forbes), Helen Broderick (Violet), Claudia Dell (Lu Lu Carroll)
TaglineSometimes funny, sometimes painful
Sophie tucker 50 million frenchmen can t be wrong
Fifty Million Frenchmen is a 1931 American Pre-Code musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. The film was produced and released by Warner Brothers, and was based on Cole Porter's 1929 Broadway musical Fifty Million Frenchmen.
The movie was originally intended to be released, in the United States, late in 1930, but was shelved due to public apathy towards musicals. Despite waiting a number of months, the public proved obstinate and the Warner Bros. reluctantly released the film in February 1931 after removing all the music. The film was released outside the United States as a full musical comedy in 1931.
Set in Paris, the story concerns the exploits of wealthy Jack Forbes (William Gaxton), who bets his friend Michael Cummings (John Halliday) that he can woo and win Looloo Carroll (Claudia Dell) without using any of his money or connections. Cummings hires Simon and Peter (Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson), a pair of erstwhile detectives, to make sure that Forbes doesn't win his bet.
Instead, Simon and Peter befriend our hero and decide to help him out. Olsen & Johnson have all the best material, notably an early double entendre encounter with a randy American tourist (Helen Broderick) and a scene in which Olsen impersonates a mind-reading fakir (Bela Lugosi) -- who loses his clothes in the process! The finale has the comedians being chased by every law officer in Paris.
Ole Olsen as Simon Johanssen
Chic Johnson as Peter Swanson
William Gaxton as Jack Forbes
Helen Broderick as Violet
John Halliday as Michael Cummins
Claudia Dell as Lu Lu Carroll
Lester Crawford as Billy Baxter
Evalyn Knapp as Miss Wheeler-Smith
Charles Judels as Pernasse - Hotel Manager
Carmelita Geraghty as Marcelle Dubrey
Nat Carr and Vera Gordon as Jewish tourists
Bela Lugosi as Orizon the Magician (uncredited)
This was originally a Cole Porter musical, but the songs were omitted from all prints of the film in the United States because box-office receipts for musical films at that time were down.
Only a black and white copy of the cut print released in 1931 in the United States seems to have survived. The complete film was released intact in countries outside the United States where a backlash against musicals never occurred. It is unknown whether a copy of this full version still exists.