“Anything can happen and it probably will” – that’s the credo of this wild ‘n’ crazy 1941 comedy so far ahead of its time that we may never catch up. Loosely based on a hit Broadway revue in which no two performances were exactly alike, it faithfully transfers the play’s anarchic ethos to screen, gleefully deconstructing the cinematic apparatus at every turn.
Squint hard and you might find a story – something about a comedy duo (the legendary Olsen & Johnson) trying to turn their play into a movie. Mostly it’s one ferociously funny gag after another, demolishing the fourth wall and taking the audience literally to hell and back. Keep your eyes peeled for memorable appearances from Shemp Howard and the Rosebud sled, as well as entire gags that would later be lifted wholesale for the Daffy Duck.
If you thought “Duck Soup” was just too austere, then get ready to have your mind blown. And remember: “Any resemblance between “Hellzapoppin'” and a motion picture is purely coincidental.”