The Life of the Party (1930 film)

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The Life of the Party
The Life of the Party 1930 Poster.jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Written by Darryl F. Zanuck
Arthur Caesar
Music by Earle Crooker
Sidney D. Mitchell
Cinematography Devereaux Jennings
Frank B. Good
Edited by William Holmes
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • October 25, 1930 (1930-10-25) (US)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Life of the Party is a 1930 American musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor. The musical numbers of this film were cut out before general release in the United States because the public had grown tired of musicals by late 1930. Only one song was left in the picture. 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. The film only survives in a black and white copy (of the United States release print) made in the 1950s for television.


Winnie Lightner and Charles Butterworth in a scene from the film.

Winnie Lightner and Irene Delroy work in a Broadway music shop. Lightner sings while Delroy plays the piano. Eddie Kane, their employer, complains to them that they are selling as much sheet music as they should be and that they will have to change their technique. After Lightner sings a song for a customer, after which, one of Delroy's admirers, Monsieur LeMaire (Charles Judels), an eccentric Frenchman who owns a modiste shop, enters the shop. He begins annoying Kane when he stars chatting with Delroy and asking her out and when Kane tells him to come back after they finish working Judels flies into a rage. LeMaire throws sheet music all over the store and then throw a phonograph out the front store window. Because of this, Kane immediately fires both Delroy and Lightner. The scene moves to the apartment where Lightner and Delroy live. Delroy is reading the newspaper and finds out that her boyfriend has eloped with a rich elderly widow. She is so angry that she accepts Lightner's proposal that they be gold-diggers. Lightner suggests that their first victim be Judels and so the next day they begin to work for him. Judels soon asks Delroy and Lightner to a private party. Lightner tells Judels that they would love to attend but that they have no clothes. Judels tells them that they can borrow all the clothes they want from his modiste shop. Lightner and Delroy agree to attend the party and then pack off all the clothes they can carry with them. They head off to the train station with their luggage of expensive clothes and decide to go to Havana to make some real money.

Once Lightner and Delroy arrive in Havana they find that a millionaire named Smith, who invented a famous soft drink, is staying at the hotel. They assume that a mean spirited, and snobby acting man, played by John Davidson, is the millionaire but the true millionaire is a young, pleasant and down to earth man played by Jack Whiting. Delroy falls in love with Whiting, much to the chagrin of Lightner who forces her to try to get Davidson. Davidson, unbeknownst to Lightner and Delroy, is actually a gigolo looking for a rich woman to pay his meal ticket. Just as Delroy is to marry Davidson, Judels arrives and exposes Lightner and Delroy. In spite of this, Whiting, who has fallen in love with Delroy, writes a check to Judels to cover the amount he lost, and he ends up winning Delroy as his future wife.

A subplot involves Lightner and Charles Butterworth, who plays as a Colonel who raises horses. Butterworth is attracted to Lightner and can't stop talking to her, even though she does her best to avoid him. After some time, Lightner is convinced by Butterworth that his horse can not lose in the upcoming horse-race. She takes a chance and bets all her money, only to lose everything. Eventually they grow fond of each other and Butterworth asks Lightner to marry him by the time the film ends.



  • "Poison Ivy"
  • "Can It Be Possible?"(Cut from United States release print)
  • "One Robin Doesn't Make A Spring" (Cut from United States release print)
  • "Somehow" (Cut from United States release print)


Only a black and white copy of the cut print released in the United States (without most of the musical numbers) 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.


The music heard of the credits at the beginning of the film was added in the 1950s. These credits are also not original but have been redrawn, removing all indication that the film was photographed in Technicolor. The original music survives on Vitaphone disks. The rest of the film, beginning with the first title card ("New York was originally purchased from the Indians..."), has the original sound.

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