Say what you will about Bing Crosby, not many popular singers to-day would sing an entire song while straddling a live bear. That accounts for just two of the stars of 1934's We're Not Dressing, a good ensemble comedy that also includes Carole Lombard, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ethel Merman, and a very young Ray Milland.
As is so often the case, Lombard steals the show. No matter how dopey her lines--and everyone but Crosby has a screw loose in this screwball comedy--Lombard always comes off as the most sensible person in the movie. Something about the quickness of her eyes and gestures, everyone else seems like they're acting underwater by comparison.
Second place would go to Burns and Allen, though, who are introduced in a decidedly pre-code moment where Burns, spotting a pair of panties by Allen's ankles, says casually, "Gracie, you lost something." When she pulls up the panties to find she's already wearing a pair, she assumes it's a present from Burns. But actually they belong to Lombard who lost them to the wind which picked them up from the other side of the island where she, the passengers, and the crew of her shipwrecked yacht are stranded.
Crosby's one of the sailors. In addition to taking care of Lombard's bear, he's also a long suffering voice of the working class, making dry, fatigued observations about Lombard's flighty and ridiculous behaviour.
The other singer in the film, Ethel Merman, gets some nice musical numbers about trying to seduce Lombard's uncle played by Leon Errol.
It's the capable sailor Crosby who sees everyone through when they're shipwrecked. I wonder how much the story of the people least deserving of wealth having most of it resonated during the Great Depression. Watching it now, it's mostly Lombard one sympathises with, however silly her antics, though Crosby has a charming, melancholy laid back quality--he comes off a bit like Robert Mitchum's peppier brother.