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Duke Is Tops

1938

PG CC
Available on Prime
3.7 out of 5 stars (10) IMDb 5.3/10

A theatrical producer puts aside his own success to boost the career of a talented singer.

Starring:
Ralph Cooper, Lena Horne
Runtime:
1 hour, 15 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Musical
Director William L. Nolte, Ralph Cooper
Starring Ralph Cooper, Lena Horne
Supporting actors Laurence Criner, Monte Hawley, Willie Covan, Neva Peoples, Vernon McCalla, Edward Thompson, Johnny Taylor, Ray Martin, Guernsey Morrow, Charles Hawkins, Basin Street Boys, Rubberneck Holmes, Cats and the Fiddle, Marie Bryant, Swing Band Harlemania Orchestra, Everett Brown, Arthur Ray, Mildred Boyd
Studio Reel Enterprises
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brenna E. Lorenz on August 31, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is Lena Horne's first movie. In it she plays a singer, the Bronze Nightengale or Bronze Venus, who partners with the good-hearted Duke of the title. This is not Duke Ellington; the role is played by Ralph Cooper. It is fascinating to compare Lena's somewhat tentative performance in this movie to her confident and dynamic appearances in later movies such as Stormy Weather and Cabin in the Sky. This movie is characterized by a good, sound plot in which Duke and Lena are forced to split up for business reasons. I expected it to be one of those typical plots where the woman learns to know her place, and realizes that she shouldn't put her career ahead of her love-life. I was pleasantly surprised. Ralph Cooper does a fine job playing Duke, and we also get to see him at work as a band leader. There are several other thoroughly enjoyable characters as well, such as Duke's humorous con-man buddy who becomes Duke's partner after he splits with Lena. The scenes where Duke and the con-man sell patent medicine in small southern towns are really funny. We also get to see some fine musical performances not only by Lena Horne and Ralph Cooper, but also by an obscure but wonderful group called The Cats and the Fiddle, who resemble the Mills Brothers. This is a movie that I enjoy watching again and again. The sound isn't too great in the beginning (maybe that's just my copy), but then it improves after the first few scenes. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you are, as I am, a fan of early jazz and African-American cinema.
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Format: DVD
Niche market DVD purveyor REEL CLASSICS FILMS' product is "best available source," with quality that varies from only fair to acceptable. Extras are non-existent.

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THE DUKE IS TOPS, an 80-minute movie shot in just ten days, was also twenty-one-year-old Lena Horne's inauspicious screen debut. As Ethel, the so-called Bronze Venus, she's unrecognizably fat, has pencil line brows, plus a bad hairstyle and make-up. That classic voice hasn't emerged yet and wouldn't until her 1947 marriage to Lennie Hayton. His invaluable support and encouragement helped make Lena a star.

SYNOPSIS
The "Duke" is a show promoter who falls on hard times when he makes sure that his star performer, Ethel has a shot at the Big Time. Now impoverished, Duke is reduced to working in an itinerant medicine show. This unlikely format eventually leads to renewed success for him. Some especially good musical sequences include talented tapping by Willie Covan, also the Basin Street Boys, a quartet with guitar that sound like the early Mills Bros. A film worth seeing.

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Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(5.2) The Duke is Tops (1938) - Ralph Cooper/Lena Horne/Laurence Criner/Monte HawleyWillie Covan/Neva Peoples/Johnny Taylor/Basin Street Boys/Rubberneck Holmes/Cats and the Fiddle
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Format: DVD
WESTLAKE ENTERTAINMENT is a Chatsworth CA. based DVD outfit that's been in operation for some years, yet they don't seem to have a website. In 2006, Westlake's new owners changed their catalog from public domain material to first run features. This title predates the transition.

.
THE DUKE IS TOPS, an 80-minute movie shot in just ten days, was also twenty-one-year-old Lena Horne's inauspicious screen debut. As Ethel, the so-called Bronze Venus, she's unrecognizably fat, has pencil line brows, plus a bad hairstyle and make-up. That classic voice hasn't emerged yet and wouldn't until her 1947 marriage to Lennie Hayton. His invaluable support and encouragement helped make Lena a star.

SYNOPSIS
The "Duke" is a show promoter who falls on hard times when he makes sure that his star performer, Ethel has a shot at the Big Time. Now impoverished, Duke is reduced to working in an itinerant medicine show. This unlikely format eventually leads to renewed success for him. Some especially good musical sequences include talented tapping by Willie Covan, also the Basin Street Boys, a quartet with guitar that sound like the early Mills Bros. A film worth seeing.

.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(5.2) The Duke is Tops (1938) - Ralph Cooper/Lena Horne/Laurence Criner/Monte Hawley/Willie Covan/Neva Peoples/Johnny Taylor/Basin Street Boys/Rubberneck Holmes/Cats and the Fiddle
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Founded in 1993, Chandler, AZ. based AFA ENTERTAINMENT wholesales and retails PD motion pictures. They also provide a transfer to DVD service for videotapes and 8mm home movies. Their film dubs offer no commentary, deleted scenes, subtitles or other bonus features. Quality of these unrestored transfers is based on condition of source material, which can vary from very good to only fair.

.
THE DUKE IS TOPS, an 80-minute movie shot in just ten days, was also twenty-one-year-old Lena Horne's inauspicious screen debut. As Ethel, the so-called Bronze Venus, she's unrecognizably fat, has pencil line brows, plus a bad hairstyle and make-up. That classic voice hasn't emerged yet and wouldn't until her 1947 marriage to Lennie Hayton. His invaluable support and encouragement helped make Lena a star.

SYNOPSIS
The "Duke" is a show promoter who falls on hard times when he makes sure that his star performer, Ethel has a shot at the Big Time. Now impoverished, Duke is reduced to working in an itinerant medicine show. This unlikely format eventually leads to renewed success for him. Some especially good musical sequences include talented tapping by Willie Covan, also the Basin Street Boys, a quartet with guitar that sound like the early Mills Bros. A film worth seeing.

.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(5.1) The Duke is Tops (1938) - Ralph Cooper/Lena Horne/Laurence Criner/Monte HawleyWillie Covan/Neva Peoples/Johnny Taylor/Basin Street Boys/Rubberneck Holmes/Cats and the Fiddle
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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