Playmates (1941)





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Movie Info

The much-maligned Playmates callously offers the appalling spectacle of a thoroughly dissolute John Barrymore in his final screen performance, but the film isn't quite as bad as it's supposed to be. Barrymore plays himself, a washed-up ham actor up to his ears in debts. When the IRS demands payment for back taxes, Barrymore's press agent Pete Lindsey (Peter Lynd Hayes) and manager Lulu Monohan (Patsy Kelly) suggest a sure-fire moneymaking scheme: the venerable thespian will transform bucolic bandleader Kay Kyser (also playing himself) into a Shakespearean actor, in exchange for a fat radio contract. Neither Kyser nor Barrymore are keen on this set-up, but while Kyser is willing to go through with the plan, Barrymore seeks various devious methods of wriggling out of the committment. Barrymore goes so far as to sic his peppery girlfriend Carmen del Toro (Lupe Velez) on poor Kyser, hoping to dissuade the bandleader from showing up at the climactic Long Island Shakespeare Festival peformance. When this fails, Barrymore spikes Kyser's throat spray with alum, only to be rendered speechless himself when the spray bottles are switched. Suffice to say that all ends happily, with Kay Kyser and his aggregation (Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Ish Kabibble et. al.) performing a rather pleasant "swing" version of Romeo and Juliet. Admittedly, it's rather hard to watch Playmates knowing that John Barrymore had once been regarded as the greatest actor of his generation. Even so, a few bright moments shrine through, notably a poignant scene in which Barrymore briefly recaptures the old magic by reciting a few passages from +Hamlet's soliloquy.
Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Pictures

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Peter Lind Hayes
as Peter Lindsey
George Cleveland
as Mr. Pennypacker
John Barrymore
as John Barrymore
May Robson
as Grandma Kyser
Ray Cooke
as Bellhop
Walter Walker
as Comedy Bull Team
Kay Kyser
as Kay Kyser
Patsy Kelly
as Lulu Monahan
Dave Willock
as Cameraman
Ginny Simms
as Ginny
Lupe Velez
as Carmen del Toro
Leon Belasco
as Prince Maharoohu
Sally Payne
as Gloria
Alice Fleming
as Mrs. Pennypacker
Jack Carr
as Pee Wee
Marshall Ruth
as Comedy Bull Team
William Halligan
as Mr. Loomis
Vinton Haworth
as Commentator
Bill Cartledge
as Page Boy
George McKay
as Taxi Driver
Sally Cairns
as Manicurist
Harry Babbitt
as Himself
Ish Kabibble
as Himself
Sully Mason
as Himself
M.A. Bogue
as Himself
Joe Bernard
as Thomas
Grace Lenard
as Madeline
Wally Walker
as Comedy Bull Team
Rube Schaffer
as Masseur
Jacques Vanaire
as Alphonse
Bill Chaney
as Call Boy
Dorothy Babb
as Autograph Girl
Fred Trowbridge
as Hotel Clerk
William Emile
as Fencing Instructor
Jack Carr
as Pee Wee
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Critic Reviews for Playmates

All Critics (1)

John Barrymore's last film is a stinker.

Full Review… | September 14, 2014
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