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What-No Beer? (1933)

What! No Beer? (original title)
Passed | | Comedy | 10 February 1933 (USA)
Two men decide to cash in on the end of Prohibition by selling watered down beer.


Edward Sedgwick


Robert E. Hopkins (original story), Carey Wilson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Buster Keaton ... Elmer J. Butts
Jimmy Durante ... Jimmy Potts
Roscoe Ates ... Schultz (as Rosco Ates)
Phyllis Barry ... Hortense
John Miljan ... Butch Lorado
Henry Armetta ... Tony
Edward Brophy ... Spike Moran
Charles Dunbar Charles Dunbar ... Mulligan
Charles Giblyn Charles Giblyn ... Chief


Although he has never met her, Elmer Butts loves Hortense secretly and from afar. He dreams of making a million dollars so he can buy her a Rolls automobile and marry her. With prohibition apparently on the verge of ending, Elmer's friend Jimmy Potts gets an idea to make them both rich by opening a brewery just before the legalization of alcoholic beverages. Their timing is off, and the police raid them, but their inept brewing has created a beer with no alcohol, so they are let off. But it has also resulted in a cheaply made beer, and bootlegger Spike Moran realizes that he can vastly increase his profits by partnering with Elmer and Jimmy. But none of them reckons with the competitor, another bootlegger, gangster Butch Lorado. Butch has a girlfriend....Elmer's dream girl, Hortense. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


IT TOOK A NATIONAL EVENT to make the funniest comedy of screen history See more »










Release Date:

10 February 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

What-No Beer? See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Daily Variety in its February 3, 1933 review of the film in preview states the running time was 86 minutes - so many cuts were made before the final print was released. See more »


Elmer and Jimmy are told by the brewery's previous owner that the bank had foreclosed on him "years ago". If so, the bank would own the brewery and it wouldn't be his to sell. See more »


Voting Registrar: What's your name.
Jimmy Potts: Jimmy the Barber.
Voting Registrar: What's your last name?
Jimmy Potts: Do I have to tell you that?
Voting Registrar: Yes!
Jimmy Potts: Potts - and no crack!
Voting Registrar: What - hey - what's your name?
Elmer J. Butts: Elmer J. Butts.
See more »


References Spite Marriage (1929) See more »


Happy Days Are Here Again
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Milton Ager
Played by a band at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Not a Classic But It's Worth Watching
11 March 2012 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

What - No Beer? (1933)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Pleasant time-killer features Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante in a low-rent but entertaining film. Keaton wants to marry a woman his fixated on but needs a million dollars to impress her so Durante talks him into buying a brewery just as Prohibition is about to end. The two plan on making some easy cash but soon a couple gangsters are wanting to know who's cutting in on their sales. WHAT - NO BEER? isn't going to be mistaken for a classic but if you've got 65-minutes to kill then it's worth sitting through at least once. I think the material is certain "B" level and it's a real shame the studio didn't try to do more with the screenplay because with Keaton and Durante they probably could have gotten a classic comedy had they tried. Both actors are in very good form here and the two are clearly playing off one another at ease with this being their third movie together. Keaton gets to showcase a couple good stunts and as usual Durante has no problem running around being loud and causing a scene. The big highlight in the film happens when the two finally get their brewery and start trying to make beer when neither one of them know what they're doing. The "too much yeast" sequence is full of nice gags and perfect timing by those involved. The supporting cast includes Roscoe Ates (FREAKS) doing his famous stuttering act. Fans of Keaton will notice that the film rips off a couple earlier gags from SEVEN CHANCES and SPITE MARRIAGE but they work well here. WHAT - NO BEER? certainly isn't the place to start if you're new to Keaton as it would be wise to begin with his silent masterpieces. With that said, if you do want to get to know Keaton in the sound era then this would be a good place to start.

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