Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY Reviewed on 4/19/2012...
The Poverty Row studio Monogram flirted with exploitation in this curious antique. The opening sequence, set on a cruise ship going from San Francisco to Panama City, features one woman in hot-pants and another in a bathing suit. A middle-aged man with a fake English milord accent and worse travesty of a country shooting outfit tosses a coin on the floor so he can have a cover story if he is busted looking through keyholes to peep women changing. Of course, we get a curious camera shot through a keyhole to see just that, in case we weren’t sure what he was doing.
The print looks fair, but it has plenty of skips sound drop-outs due to lost frames. I was tempted to give up about 15 minutes into it. But the characterization got me more interested in the story and less bothered by the imperfections.
Upper-middle-class woman, for reasons that are not made clear, signs up as singer in a troupe of dancers and b-girls. The troupe works in a cabaret called The Bull Ring in wild, anything-goes Panama City. Her working class roommate, played by constant best friend Arline Judge, is frankly puzzled why such an elegant woman, brought up in affluent comfy circumstances, would take up such a job. The Mama is played by a silent screen heroine Juanita Hansen. Not above smacking the girls around to enforce her expectations, she is profane and bossy and effective in this part. The male actors, as usual, are nothing to write home about, but Walter Brennan has a small part in which he does double talk in that odd voice he was saddled with after he was gassed during World War I.
The action moves along briskly, but the real attraction is the setting of the lousy cabaret, the third-rate hotel rooms, and sleazy people. Warner Bros. had the rep for believable settings, but sometimes the Poverty Row studios gave reality in all its sleazy glory that makes us think, “My place is home with mother, but that sure does look fun….”
SENSATION-al Racy Pre-Code!!!
"Tee" | LA | 03/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"SENSATION HUNTERS is a pre-code from poverty row and so racy at times it makes BABY FACE or RED HEADED WOMAN seem like an Andy Hardy picture. Elegant and sweet Marion Burns finds on the ship to Panama that the showgirl act she has signed on with isn't exactly first-class or the most moral bunch of broads but she forms a close friendship with her earthy roommate Arline Judge. While on the ship, Preston Foster romances Marion but when he finds she's a showgirl he thinks she's "that kind of girl" which offends the ladylike Marion.
In Panama, the showgirl revue is a long-running success with Marion's elegant vocals as much a hit as Arline's racy number, "If It Ain't One Man, it's Another". Marion is courted by dashing pilot Kenneth McKenna but several tragic episodes lead to desperate situations.
The first half of the film is as racy a film from the period as you'll see outside of outright exploitation. The film opens with an old coot who drops coins in hotel hallways so he can be on his knees to look in keyholes of girl's rooms, one of the showgirl needing her money as they are about to board the ship goes "to the bank" (raising her dress to expose her garter where she keeps her cash) in full view of the men on the ship, another showgirl necks with the man on her left at a table and then turns to neck with the man on her right, and then there's the priceless and often risque wisecracks of Ms. Judge who, when one sailor boyfriend brags about his string of conquests asks "Just how many ports have you been in?" Later she makes a crack about a former roommate who was a contortunist, "I woke up one night and saw her in bed and I thought I was having a nightmare".
Perennial poverty-row heroine Arline Judge is at her bad girl best but Marion Burns actually has the more substantial role and is extremely appealing, something like a sweet-natured Mary Astor with the elegance of Madeleine Carroll. Ms. Burns' screen career sadly never really went anywhere even in B pictures. Silent serial heroine Juanita Hansen is seen in her only talkie as the blowsy matriarchal showgirl who comes across as Mae West's older, tougher sister.
The print of this public domain programmer alas has several flaws, notably several obvious film repairs which cause a few seconds of screen jumping but let's face it folks, we're lucky this movie even survives. Kudos to Alpha for releasing it and DVD sleeve artwork is terrific, very much in the tradition of a vintage racy movie poster.
After all this skimming on the wild side of life one is stunned to find one of the best-ever representations of true female friendship presented on the screen in the bonding between the moral yet compassionate Marion and the coarse but big-hearted Arline. To me it's a more moving friendship than BEACHES or any number of latterday "chick films" - and a heck of a lot more fun. "
The Monogram "quickie" at it's height
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 09/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sparky and entertaining little roadshow feature from Monogram which doesn't wear out it's welcome. Marion Burns plays a society cutie called Dale Jordan who boards a cruiseliner headed for Panama. Once in the city she gets a job as a cabaret singer. She and her ballsy gal-pal Jerry (Arline Judge) wow the crowds with their act before getting fired. Dale falls in love with a doomed millionaire airman and Jerry is almost killed in a barfight before the film rushes to it's brisk conclusion.
Alpha's DVD offers a badly-worn print, littered with jumps in picture and sound (though it's a miracle we have this film on DVD at all). Nevertheless this is the Monogram 'quickie' at it's height and film collectors will get a big kick out of it."
Decent movie--Poor transfer
Michael Favareille | Pinole, CA United States | 08/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this DVD last night. Plot involves a young woman (Arline Judge) who goes into Panama hoping to further her career by singing in a club called the Bull Ring. The club is more of a place where the women hustle the male patrons to buy booze at inflated prices. On her way there, she meets a businessman (Preston Foster) who has an interest in her and tries to dissuade her from working in Panama. She winds up falling for a patron of the club and hopes to marry him, but he is still married. Her career goes downhill as she works for a sleasier club, then to prostitution.
This film is more "pre-Code" than noir, but the story is decent. Unfortunately, the print Alpha used is jumpy, quite worn, and the transfer has too much contrast in it. It's not likely a better version will pop up, however.
Walter Brennan has a small role as a frustrated waiter in an early film appearance."
It's enough to make me wanna lose my soul--if it had a prope
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/23/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When they say that Sensation Hunters is racy, they aren't kidding! This movie packs a wallop and the plot moves along so fast you won't have time to get bored. Most of the characters are fairly well developed; and we get a couple of good musical numbers performed by Marion Burns and Arline Judge. The cinematography is rather good for a poverty row movie production; and the choreography works very well for crowd and fight scenes.
When the action starts, we are quickly introduced to several people traveling to Panama City on a ship. Dale Jordan (Marion Burns) is a novice cabaret entertainer who wants a change of pace; and she meets her roommate on the ship who also stars in the cabaret, Jerry Royal (Arline Judge). Dale and another shipmate named Tom Baylor (Preston Foster) start a romance onboard ship but nothing too serious comes out of it. Among the other passengers is the leader of the cabaret pack, a tough old crow named Trixie Snell (Juanita Hansen) who just loves to hit the bottle any old time of the day.
Once in Panama City, of course, there are complications. Tom and Dale have a misunderstanding; and then Dale continues to work in Trixie's show as she meets and eventually starts seeing Jimmy Crosby (Kenneth MacKenna). Jimmy talks marriage to Dale after Dale fights with Trixie; but when Jimmy's estranged former wife won't give him a divorce Jimmy realizes he's got a bad problem on his hands.
At just about the same time Trixie Snell has had her fill of Jerry and Dale--and they can't stand her, either. Trixie and Dale work in dump after dump for peanuts; they barely get by and they're saving up money to return to the Unites States. Some very serious trouble comes, though, when Jerry is accidentally wounded in a nightclub fight.
Believe it or not, up to this point I've still left out a few juicy details of the plot. And, of course, the plot can go anywhere from here. Will Jerry survive? What about Dale--will she ditch Jerry there as Jerry wants her to do and return alone to the United States? How far will Dale go to get money to survive and pay Jerry's hospital bills? Will Jimmy be able to get a divorce and marry Dale after all? And what about Tom--will he ever come back to Dale? Watch the movie and find out!
The DVD comes with no real extras although there is "scene selection." Moreover, the print is very much in need of a serious restoration; the film seems cut with jumps here and there; sometimes an actor's line is only partly comprehensible because of these jumps in the film. I have to wonder, though, just how much they could do; I have a feeling that the bits and pieces of missing footage are long gone. What a shame; this is a film that deserves a good restoration.
Sensation Hunters has lots of action for a 66 minute movie. Despite some flaws because it lacks a proper restoration, I do recommend this picture for people who like "pre-code" dramas. People who like older classic movies may also want to get this film. "