Hoop-La (1933): Frank Lloyd’s Pre-Code Circus Drama, Starring Clara Bow (in Final Role), Preston Foster, Richard Cromwell, Minna Gombell (Father and Son)

Frank Lloyd directed Hoop-La, a pre-Code dramedy, starring Clara Bow (in her final film role), Preston Foster, Richard Cromwell and Minna Gombell.

Hoop-La is based on the play The Barker by Kenyon Nicholson, which was also filmed in 1928 under the same title.

When the sheltered and educated Chris Miller (Richard Cromwell), the son of Nifty Miller (Preston Foster), manager of a travelling circus, shows up unexpectedly to visit his dad, Nifty wants him to go back to school.

However, he is allowed to stay and work for a while, which means that Nifty and paramour Carrie (Minna Gombell) must cool it for a while. Carrie doesn’t take that at well, and in anger pays worldly Hoochie coochie dancer Lou (Clara Bow) to seduce Chris and lure him away from his dad.

Lou tries her best, shocking the naive Chris when she goes skinny dipping in a pond.

However, instead of taking him for a chump, she ends up falling in love; he proposes marriage. Lou thinks she’s not good enough for Chris, and so does Nifty. Then Chris and Lou sneak off and get married. Needing money to leave the circus, Lou hits up Carrie for the rest of the money she promised, threatening to tell Nifty if she doesn’t pay.

Having fallen on hard times, Lou secretly arranges for Nifty to be the barker for her dancing act. Lou knows Chris won’t be happy until he makes up with his father.

In the happy end, Nifty realizes that Lou is okay and forgives them both.

The film was a box office disappointment for Fox.

The same story was remade in 1945 as Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe starring Betty Grable.

Clara Bow – Lou
Preston Foster – Nifty Miller
Richard Cromwell – Chris Miller
Herbert Mundin – Hap Spissel
James Gleason – Jerry
Minna Gombell – Carrie
Roger Imhof – Colonel Gowdy
Florence Roberts – Ma Benson

Erville Alderson – The Sheriff
Otis Harlan – Town Councilman, Side Show Customer
Frank Mills – Barker
Frank Moran – Side Show Craps Player
Charles Sellon – The Colonel, Billy’s Father