Friday Video: Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor likes the sheikh, he likes his daughter, but he prefers her…

Here’s a bit of popular entertainment from nearly eighty-eight years ago. This is Eddie Cantor singing and dancing the “Okay, Toots” number in KID MILLIONS (1934).

The movie is a trifle, a musical about a Brooklyn ne’er-do-well who inherits 77 million in depression era dollars and must travel to Egypt to claim. On the way, he encounters a sheikh and his amorous daughter. In the number, Cantor resists temptation from the sheikh’s neglected wives, exalts his Brooklyn and the steadfast nature of his love for her, and puts the sheikh’s daughter in her place.

It’s hokey as hell, culturally insensitive, and firmly embraces a more patriarchal view of women. Still, thanks to the clever wordplay of the song (by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson) and Eddie Cantor’s charisma and energy as a performer, I can’t help but love it. A relic of an earlier time, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless.