Gift of Gab

Directed by Karl Freund, with a screenplay written by Rian James, from a story by Jerry Wald and Philip G. Epstein, Gift of Gab starred Edmund Lowe and Gloria Stuart, with Ruth Etting, Boris Karloff, and Béla Lugosi, in supporting roles. The film was released in 1934.

A comedy about a man who can sell anyone anything – he has the “gift of gab” – the plot involves a conceited radio announcer who irritates everyone else at the station. Ruth Etting sings Talking to Myself and Tomorrow Who Cares? but her role was little more than a singing cameo. The Three Stooges were originally slated to appear in the film, but were dropped at the last minute. The scene written for them is recognizable – three Stooge-like actors were hired to replace them. Besides Lugosi and Karloff, the film also features Chester Morris (“Boston Blackie”) and other character actors and comedians.

This was the second film Ruth Etting appeared in with Gloria Stuart, who went on to be nominated for an Oscar in 1997 for her role in Titanic.

Gift of Gab was widely regarded as a “lost” film, but a copy has recently been unearthed. Unfortunately, the picture quality is not great, but the sound is good and this is the only way to see this otherwise impossible to find movie.

Gift of Gab, (1934)

Universal Pictures, USA, Black and White, 70 minutes

Full Credits:
Directed by Karl Freund
Screenplay by Rian James
Story by Jerry Wald and Philip G. Epstein.
Produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.
Associate producer Rian James
Original Music by Herb Magidson, Jack Meskill, Charles Tobias, Edward Ward (incidental music), Albert von Tilzer
Non-Original Music by Con Conrad, Sam Perry (stock music) (uncredited)
Cinematography by George Robinson and Harold Wenstrom
Film Editing by Ray Curtiss
Art Direction by David S. Garber
Costume Design by Vera West (as Vera)

Cast: (in credits order)
Edmund Lowe: Phillip “Gift of Gab” Gabney
Gloria Stuart: Barbara Kelton
Ruth Etting: Ruth
Phil Baker: Absent-minded Doctor
Ethel Waters: Ethel
Alice White: Margot
Alexander Woollcott: Cameo Appearance
Victor Moore: Colonel Trivers
Hugh O’Connell: Patsy
Helen Vinson: Nurse
Gene Austin: Radio Artist
Tom Hanlon: Radio Announcer
Henry Armetta: Janitor
Andy Devine: McDougal the waiter
Wini Shaw: Cabaret Singer
Marion Byron: Telephone Girl
Sterling Holloway: Sound Effects Man
Sid Walker: Stooge
John ‘Skins’ Miller: Stooge
Jack Harling: Stooge
Edwin Maxwell: Norton, President WGAB
Leighton Noble: Orchestra Leader
Maurice Black: Audition Room Owner
Tammany Young: Thug
James Flavin: Alumni President
Billy Barty: Baby
Florence Enright: Mother
Dick Elliott: Father (as Richard Elliott)
Warner P. Richmond: Cop
Boris Karloff: Cameo Appearance (as Karloff)
Paul Lukas: Cameo Appearance
Roger Pryor: Cameo Appearance
Bela Lugosi: Cameo Appearance
June Knight: Cameo Appearance
Chester Morris: Cameo Appearance
Binnie Barnes: Cameo Appearance
Douglass Montgomery: Cameo Appearance
Graham McNamee: Cameo Appearance
Beale Street Boys: Cameo Appearance
Downey Sisters: Cameo Appearance
Douglas Fowley: Cameo Appearance
Sidney Skolsky: Cameo Appearance
Gus Arnheim: Cameo Appearance
Bob Davis: Member, Beale Street Boys
Dave O’Brien: (uncredited)
Dennis O’Keefe: (uncredited)

"Gift of Gab" - A Universal Production
Original, vintage 8” x 10” photograph of torch singer Ruth Etting and Edmund Lowe in the 1934 Universal Studios musical comedy Gift of Gab directed by Karl Freund.

Gift of Gab
Gloria Stuart, Gene Austin, and Ruth Etting, in Gift of Gab

More Publicity Shots from Gift of Gab
Ruth Etting in “Gift of Gab” A Universal Production

2 Responses to Gift of Gab

  1. Pingback: | Universal Music Group donates Music Archive to Library of Congress

  2. Pingback: | Gift of Gab this Saturday at the Billy Wilder Theatre

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