Cast & Crew
Dashing film star Brooks Mason and shy pineapple plantation owner George Smith meet in Hollywood, and upon discovering that they are exact doubles, they hit upon a cunning scheme. Brooks will assume George's identity and return to Honolulu for a restful vacation, while George will fulfill his yearnings for glamor and sophistication by substituting for Brooks on a personal appearance tour. George leaves for New York with Brooks's unsuspecting manager, Joe Duffy, as Brooks boards the boat bound for Hawaii. On board he meets musical performers Millie de Grasse and Dorothy March, and while Brooks romances Dorothy, George is mobbed by his fans and is hospitalized in New York. Complications ensue as the ship docks in Honolulu and Brooks meets George's reluctant fiancée, Cecelia Grayson. George has asked Brooks to romance Cecelia for him, and the lady is soon delighted to discover that her slow suitor has finally developed some love techniques. Cecelia's father Horace, however, is certain that George has stolen the $50,000 that he gave him to close a business deal, and has Brooks arrested. Despite Brooks' protests that he is not George Smith, he is jailed, but then released when Jones, the man with whom George closed the $50,000 deal, appears. Meanwhile, Brooks's romantic involvement with Cecelia perplexes Dorothy, who was sure he was in love with her. Brooks's courtship proves a little too successful when Cecelia announces their wedding plans, but everything is straightened out when George flies in from New York just in time to take Brooks's place at the altar, thus allowing Brooks to reconcile with Dorothy.
Jo Ann Sayers
The Kings Men
Hal K. Dawson
Mary Lou Treen
Helen Mac Kellar
Claire Mc Dowell
Edward J. Le Saint
Douglas Mc Phail
Edwin B. Willis
Yet Burns and Allen were a vital part of the film's success. Like most Eleanor Powell vehicles, Honolulu was designed to showcase its star in a series of elaborate tap numbers, this time adding a blackface routine and a hula tap to her repertoire. But nobody, Powell included, expected her singing or acting abilities to carry the movie, so MGM always surrounded her with top talent who could carry the plot and provide vocals where needed. Along with Burns and Allen, this film included Robert Young as her decidedly non-musical leading man, comic character actors Sig Rumann and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, young singers Douglas McPhail and Betty Jaynes, who had prominent roles in the studio's Babes in Arms the same year, and three different musical groups: Andy Iona's Islanders, The King's Men and The Pied Pipers.
Honolulu had a stronger plot than most of Powell's vehicles, which usually featured a "let's-put-on-a-show" storyline. In this case, however, Young was the center of a mistaken identity plot as a movie actor who trades places with a look-alike plantation owner from Hawaii. Just as the incognito actor is falling in love with dancing star Powell, the relationship is complicated by the arrival of the plantation owner's fiancée (Rita Johnson). The project had originally been planned for Robert Taylor, with Jaynes as his show-biz leading lady, before studio executives decided they needed a vehicle to bring Powell back to the screen after a two-year absence.
One member of the Honolulu cast was destined for better things. Although originally announced for a small supporting role, Ruth Hussey instead found herself cast in a glorified bit as Young's leading lady in a film-within-the-film called Women Who Say No. Unhappy with her status at MGM, she was considering leaving, but instead asked for a new screen test to focus on her sex appeal. She must have done something right, because she moved quickly into a scene-stealing, Oscar®-nominated turn as a newspaper photographer in The Philadelphia Story (1940), which in turn led to starring roles.
Burns's next film would prove to be a career breakthrough -- only he'd had to wait 36 years for it to happen. Immediately after making Honolulu, he retired from the screen, focusing on his and Allen's long-running radio series. Allen continued as a solo star in two mystery comedies, The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939) and Mr. and Mrs. North (1942), then devoted herself to the radio show and its later television incarnation. Burn's would finally return to the screen in 1975, starring opposite Walter Matthau in an adaptation of the Neil Simon comedy The Sunshine Boys. His performance would win him an Oscar® and set him on a new career course as a character actor.
Producer: Jack Cummings
Director: Edward Buzzell
Screenplay: Herbert Fields, Frank Partos
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Franz Waxman
Cast: Eleanor Powell (Dorothy March), Robert Young (Brooks Mason/George Smith), George Burns (Joe Duffy), Gracie Allen (Millie de Grasse), Rita Johnson (Cecelia Grayson), Clarence Kolb (Mr. Horace Grayson), Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (Washington), Sig Rumann (Psychiatrist), Ruth Hussey (Eve), Andy Iona's Islanders, The King's Men, The Pied Pipers.
by Frank Miller
The entire "Hola E Pae" number of the Hawaiian Medley was inserted into the movie I Dood It (1943).
Sammy Lee took over as dance director when Bobby Connolly got involved as dance director in Wizard of Oz, The (1939).
A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that Betty Jaynes was to appear opposite Robert Taylor in this picture. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that Sammy Lee took over the direction of dance numbers from Bobby Connolly because Connolly was tied up with The Wizard of Oz. The Call Bureau Cast Sheets originally credit both Ruth Hussey and Judith Allen in the role of "Gale Brewster," which was played by Ann Morris in the film. Allen apparently did not appear in the released film, and Hussey appeared as "Eve."