From a theater stage, vaudeville comedian Gil Lamb introduces a production number, "Who Killed Vaudeville?" featuring Joan Davis, Jack Haley and Allen Watson. This is followed by Manuel and Marita Viera and their two monkeys, Tepe and Cobina, who play a Latin American melody and do tricks with hats and miniature musical instruments. Tepe then plays "Dark Eyes" on a Sonovox machine. The act's finale involves Lamb competing in a banana eating contest with the monkeys. Next on the bill is Frances Langford singing "Moonlight Over the Islands." Lamb then introduces a lengthy excerpt from the two-reel comedy Beware of Redheads , starring Leon Errol:
While dancing at a riotous party, Gloria Richards gives a $200 dollar compact, which was a gift from her husband, to Leon for safekeeping. The next morning, Gloria goes to his office to reclaim it, but the severely hungover Leon remembers nothing about it. His wife Dorothy, however, has found the compact in his pocket and comes to the office demanding an explanation. Leon, who has hidden Gloria in a closet, tells Dorothy that the compact was intended as a present for her, so she leaves, taking the compact with her. Gloria then demands that Leon buy her an identical compact before her husband Marc notices his gift is missing. Leon summons an assistant, Ned Brooks, and sends him and Gloria to a nearby jeweler. Later, however, Gloria phones to say that her husband is divorcing her and plans to name Leon as co-respondent. Leon decides that he must get Dorothy out of town until matters can be straightened out and calls his wife's brother, Dr. Horace Thompson, who does him the favor of examining Dorothy and recommending that she go away for a few days rest. She agrees and goes to see a neighbor about traveling with her. Gloria then arrives at the Errol apartment, and when Dorothy returns, Leon rushes to hide her behind a divan. Gloria's purse opens and her replacement compact falls to the floor, where Dorothy picks it up and, assuming it is hers, puts it in her purse, then leaves with Leon for the railroad station. Horace tries to help Leon by removing Gloria from the apartment, but she stumbles and sprains her ankle. Horace then gives her a sleeping pill and puts her in Dorothy's bed. On board the train, Dorothy, meanwhile, discovers that she has two identical compacts and heads back to confront Leon. Leon has returned to find Gloria passed out in the bed. He calls Horace, who agrees to send an assistant over to take Gloria elsewhere. Before he can get there, however, Dorothy arrives and demands to know about the owner of the second compact. Leon is able to convince her that she is seeing things and puts her to bed after rolling Gloria under the bed. When Gloria's husband then arrives, Leon confuses him for Horace's assistant and drags Gloria from under the bed while Dorothy is sleeping. Marc is amazed to find Gloria there and threatens bodily harm to Leon, whom he has never met before. Leon pretends to be somebody else, but Horace's assistant shows up and identifies him. Marc chases Leon around the room and tries to strangle him. After Dorothy wakes up and comes to Leon's rescue by knocking Marc unconscious with a vase, she spots Gloria, and Leon, finding himself unable to explain the whole mess, goes to pack his belongings. Armed with a plate, Dorothy follows him into the room, and after the ensuing battle, Leon emerges very dishevelled and sporting a black eye.
Freddie Fisher and His Schnickelfritz Band then perform "The Poor Little Fly on the Wall," and Dennis Day and Anne Shirley sing "Did You Happen to Find a Heart?" Next, Lamb presents a Pathé newsreel story from 1920 showing the latest beach fashions at Atlantic City. This is followed by excerpts from a 1908 melodrama, The Violinist , accompanied by a comic narration. Lamb then plays a series of harmonicas of diminishing size and swallows the last one, but is still able to introduce Frankie Carle and his orchestra playing their arrangement of Mozart's "Turkish Rondo." After Ray Bolger performs a dance routine of an imaginary boxing match, Lamb introduces tumbling act "The Titans," in whose routine he becomes involved. Ventriloquist Robert Lamouret and his dummy duck, Dudule, perform several routines, climaxing with their version of "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville . The film closes with Spanish dancers Rosario and Antonio performing "La morena de mi copla."
Richard O. Fleischer
Rosario And Antonio
Tepe And Cobina, Monkeys
Robert De Grasse
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Charles F. Pyke
Gioacchino Antonio Rossini
John E. Tribby
Richard Van Hessen
Edward W. Williams
After problems with the copyright of some of the material used in the movie, RKO removed the movie from General release and shelved it.
Actor and bandleader Freddie Fisher's name was misspelled in the credits as "Freddy." Make Mine Laughs combined previously shot material from RKO films with newly shot footage: The "Who Killed Vaudeville?" number first appeared in the 1945 RKO film George White's Scandals; "Moonlight Over the Islands" appeared in RKO's 1946 picture The Bamboo Blonde; "The Poor Little Fly on the Wall" was seen in RKO's 1944 film Seven Days Ashore; and "Did You Happen to Find a Heart?" appeared in RKO's 1944 film Music in Manhattan (see entries above and below). The two-reel Leon Errol comedy, Beware of Redheads, was produced by George Bilson in 1945. The Frankie Carle number was excerpted from the 1947 two-reel short Carle Comes Calling, also produced by Bilson. Ray Bolger's boxing routine first appeared in the 1942 film Four Jacks and a Jill . No information regarding the 1908 silent film has been found. In late December 1949, Hollywood Reporter reported that Jack Haley was suing RKO for $412,000 in damages for alleged breach of contract, invasion of civil rights and invasion of privacy in connection with this film. Modern sources state that both Haley and Ray Bolger filed suit, contending that RKO illegally used their names and performances in Make Mine Laughs. According to modern sources, RKO awarded Haley and Bolger cash settlements, and the film was forced out of distribution in 1951.