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Honolulu (film)

Film poster
Directed by Edward Buzzell
Produced by Jack Cummings
Written by Herbert Fields
Frank Partos
Harry Ruskin (uncredited)
Starring Eleanor Powell
Robert Young
George Burns
Gracie Allen
Music by Georgie Stoll
Franz Waxman
Cinematography Ray June
Edited by Conrad A. Nervig
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • February 3, 1939 (1939-02-03)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Honolulu is an American musical film that was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1939. The film stars dancer Eleanor Powell and Robert Young, and was directed by Edward Buzzell. Also appearing in the film are George Burns, Gracie Allen, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, and Rita Johnson.


Inspired by stories about doppelgängers and identical twins such as The Prince and the Pauper, Honolulu features Young in a dual role as Brooks Mason—a top movie star—and as Hawaiʻi-based businessman George Smith. Mason is tired of being in the public eye, so when he discovers that Smith is close enough to be his twin, he arranges to switch places with Smith temporarily. When Mason steps into Smith's life, he finds himself in a tug-of-war between Smith's fiancée, and a dancer named Dorothy March (Powell), with whom he has fallen in love. Meanwhile, Smith discovers that being a famous movie star is not all that it is made out to be.


Eleanor Powell's dance routines were given a mostly Hawaiian flavor. One of her routines was performed in black face in tribute to Powell's idol, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. The comedy of Burns and Allen is also featured, although the two actors work separately for much of the movie, their characters only meeting in the final minutes. The film is also notable for offering a somewhat rare cinematic look at pre-World War II Honolulu.

There is a notable musical sequence featuring Gracie Allen, accompanied by musicians made to look like the Marx Brothers (including two Groucho's), while several actors in the audience are costumed to look like such famous actors as Clark Gable, W.C. Fields and Oliver Hardy.

Footage of one of Powell's dance routines (done in a hula skirt to a tiki drum orchestra) would be reused in the later comedy, I Dood It, while another dance performance that was cut from the film appeared seven years later in the "hodge-podge" production The Great Morgan.


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