Ann Pennington, Oscar Levant, and Carole Lombard: A Night Parade Followup

Night Parade (1929) poster

Apparently, back in December of 2009, I was completely high. I watched Night Parade (1929) on TCM and blogged about it without once realizing that my best sarcastic boyfriend Oscar Levant was in the film. Again, I must assume I was high for days on end to not realize that. The worst part is that I distinctly remember seeing the pianist in a scene with Ann Pennington and thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t that be neat if it was Oscar Levant?”

Yeah. And I think it would be fun to run a newspaper. Sheesh.

The scene from Night Parade in question:

 

Ann Pennington is the sexy little number dancing her skirt off to the tune… also composed by Oscar. To assuage my embarrassment, I did find a very old photo of Oscar online that shows him somewhere near the year this film was made:

Young Oscar Levant
Oscar Levant babies! He looks 12! I never would have believed he was ever this young.
 

Oh and also? The bartender in Night Parade was Heinie Conklin, star of many Mack Sennett comedies.

Night Parade 1929 lobby card
I had no photos of Heinie Conklin in Night Parade, but if you put your eyeballs right up next to the screen, you can see a caricature of him in the upper right corner of this lobby card.
 

Also also, I deleted my copy of the movie months ago. Drugs! Drugs are the only explanation I have for these unforgivable oversights. I don’t remember taking drugs, but I must have. (Editor’s Note: After a decade of requesting Night Parade from TCM, they finally showed it in December of 2021, but my cable provider done me wrong and I wasn’t able to watch it. The word “disappointed” doesn’t quite cover it.)

Ann Pennington was easily the best human part of this dud of a film — the best part being the absolutely amazing balls-to-the-wall art deco set design — and her hiked-over-the-hips ostrich feather skirt was stunning. Here is Ann in a costume very similar to what she wore in Night Parade, if not the same costume, courtesy of Rantings of a Modern Day Glamour Girl:

Ann Pennington in her ostrich feather dress
 

Ann was the subject of another idiotic post of mine in March of last year when I wondered aloud why she was dancing with Krazy Kat in a series of magazine photos. The answer: It was Felix the Cat, not Krazy Kat, and Allure had the answer all along.

Ann Pennington and Felix the Cat
More of Ann with Felix. This and all of the photos from the movie magazine article can be found at Allure and Pulp Factor. Here is the actual article as it appeared in the January 1927 Photoplay:Ann Pennington in Felix Learns the Black Bottom article

It’s a bad scan but the only one I could find online. I own three whole vintage magazines and this unfortunately is not one of them.

More Ann Pennington, from the Broadway play “The New Yorkers” in 1931:

Ann Pennington in The New Yorkers, 1931

 

Ann was known for her version of The Black Bottom dance, and while I could not find a video of a performance of that, I did find a few videos of her performing the similar “Snake Hips,” first from the 1929 film Happy Days:

 

This one is a lot of fun: A color home movie video of her performance of a 1920s dance called “Snake Hips” at the 1939 World’s Fair, from my good pal Jeff of the sadly defunct Vitaphone Varieties. Includes bonus (probably fake) Keystone Kops:

Jeff has looped in a version of “Snake Hips” onto this silent footage of Ann, and while it isn’t precisely synched, you can still see the exact point when the “wiggle wiggle waggle woo” bit happened during Ann’s dance. This is just one of Jeff’s many fantastic posts on the the now-dormant Vitaphone Varieties, and even though he only has eight videos on his YouTube channel, those are eight amazing videos. Watch them all.

Can we end this post on an even higher note than vintage color footage of Ann Pennington? I submit that we can! Have a little Ziegfeld-era cheesecake:

Ann Pennington for Ziegfeld Follies

Ann Pennington promotional photo for Ziegfeld Follies

Ann Pennington promotional photo for Ziegfeld Follies

Ann Pennington promotional photo for Ziegfeld Follies

 

Ann Pennington promotional photo circa 1928

 

If you think those are revealing, check out the Alfred Cheney Johnston portrait at Allure. Hot!

And now, some bonus off-topic yet sexy Carole Lombard in a revealing fashion number that looks like a combination of the Erte designs I posted in the Night Parade (1929) entry.

Carole Lombard by W.E. Thomas, 1929

Thanks to Vince at Carole & Co. who identified this photo last year as being by photographer W.E. Thomas!

 

There you have it: The only post in the whole wide world that has managed to tie in Ann Pennington, Oscar Levant, and Carole Lombard into a semi-cohesive narrative with a bonus Heinie Conklin mention. I win everything. You can shut the internet down now.


Edited in May, 2020 to add more photos, fix links, and correct spelling errors. Updated January, 2022.

10 Comments

  1. VP81955 says:

    Oscar and Carole do have another tie-in: “Nothing Sacred.” She was the leading lady, he composed much of the score.

  2. Stacia says:

    Neat! I had no idea he composed the score.

  3. DorianTB says:

    Stacia, I totally enjoyed your post about NIGHT PARADE, especially your bits about two of our household’s favorites: Oscar Levant and Felix the Cat! And while we’re on the subject, viva Art Deco! :-)

  4. Eric Stott says:

    The tune is “You’re responsible” which Pennington also sings and dances to in the 1929 TANNED LEGS, which also sports a Levant score. Oscar isn’t in it, but donald Lake plays the (very) juvenile.

  5. MJ says:

    There you have it: The only post in the whole wide world that has managed to tie in Ann Pennington, Oscar Levant, and Carole Lombard into a semi-cohesive narrative with a bonus Heinie Conklin mention.

    I just Googled “Ann Pennington Oscar Levant Carole Lombard Heinie Conklin” and you’re right.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Somehow I managed to miss that I am not the only person in the world with Oscar Levant as my imaginary boyfriend. I saw An American in Paris and The Bandwagon and somehow got hold of all of his books in high school (lo, these many years ago), and totally fell for him.

    Cristiane

    PS – I loved the clip, with the ankle bracelet and the feathers falling like snow. Goodness, Ann Pennington really was a sexy little thing, wasn’t she?

  7. Stacia says:

    Oh, I don’t mind sharing imaginary boyfriends and girlfriends. The more the merrier.

  8. VP81955 says:

    You can now find Ann and Felix here, perhaps in better condition: http://www.archive.org/stream/photoplay3133movi#page/n59/mode/2up

    And on the next page…what may be one of the first articles about Fay Wray, long before she was a “scream queen.” (It wouldn’t have helped her in 1927, anyway, as all the films were silent!)

    A merry Christmas to you.

  9. Ann Pennington: what a beautiful girl !!!!

  10. Ann Pennington It Just Reminds me of “Mary E.Winstead” beautiful girl too

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