Hellzapoppin' (film)

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Hellzapoppin movie.jpg
Film poster
Directed byH. C. Potter
Joseph A. McDonough (assistant)
Edward F. Cline (additional comedy scenes)
Produced byAlex Gottlieb
Jules Levey (uncredited)
Glen Tryon
Written byNat Perrin
Warren Wilson
Alex Gottlieb
StarringOle Olsen
Chic Johnson
Music byFrank Skinner
Ted Cain
Charles Previn
CinematographyElwood Bredell
Edited byMilton Carruth
Ted J. Kent
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 26, 1941 (1941-12-26)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.7 million (US rentals)[1]

Hellzapoppin' is a 1941 film adaptation of Hellzapoppin, the musical that ran on Broadway from 1938 to 1941. It was a production for Universal Pictures directed by H. C. Potter.[2] Although the Broadway cast was initially slated to appear in the film,[3] except for Olsen and Johnson and the Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, no one else from any of the stage productions appeared in the movie. The cast includes Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, both of whom produced and starred in the Broadway musical, as well as Martha Raye, Mischa Auer, Shemp Howard, Slim and Slam, and Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. The film is fourth wall breaking and full of surreal humour.


Shemp Howard begins the film as the projectionist of a cinema, displaying on its screen what appears to be the start of a song-and-dance number including classily dressed performers walking down a staircase. The staircase collapses as in a fun-house ride, sliding them all straight to hell, where they are tortured by demons. Ole and Chic arrive in the midst of the mayhem by taxi, and after a bit of funny business, step back to reveal that it's a movie sound stage. They work for Miracle Pictures, a company using the slogan "If it's a good picture, it's a Miracle!" A mousy screenwriter played by Elisha Cook, Jr. outlines his script for the screen adaptation of Hellzapoppin, and the rest of the movie depicts Cook's script.


The 1942 Academy Awards nomination for Best Song of "Pig Foot Pete," (which lost to "White Christmas"), was attributed to Hellzapoppin; however, the song never appeared in the film -- it was actually performed in the Abbott and Costello film Keep 'Em Flying, another Universal Pictures production from 1941.


The film has a 5-minute long jazz and lindy hop dance sequence at approximately the 48th minute of the film. The dance routines are very fast and athletic and include many aerials. They are performed by The Congaroo Dancers, played by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers, including Frankie Manning and Norma Miller. Slim and Slam are also part of the act. Manning choreographed the routine.



  1. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  2. ^ "Hellzapoppin' Company Party". The New York Times. June 22, 1941.
  3. ^ "Mayfair Will Film Hit Broadway Revue". The Los Angeles Times. August 2, 1940.

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