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Talkie Clowns
Topic Started: Mar 14 2013, 07:10 PM (959 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Talkie Clowns #1

Not sure what to do with this, but I've begun watching those Vitaphone and Charley Chase Columbia collections, so here we go.

First, Mr. Chase. He joined the Columbia team in early 1937, but his first five shorts (The Grand Hooter, From Bad to Worse, The Wrong Miss Wright, Calling All Doctors, The Big Squirt) aren't on this disc, which is marked "Vol. 1." The first two were directed by Del Lord, the next two by Charles Lamont, and then all subsequent Chase-starred shorts are directed by Lord, with one exception.

Beginning with the 1937-38 season, Chase not only starred in his own shorts but directed 2-reelers for several other Columbia stars; he was a busy guy.

His first short on this disc is Man Bites Lovebug , released Dec. 4, 1937. Charley, older and much thinner than his last Hal Roach short only 18 mos. earlier, agrees to pretend to make a play for another man’s wife so that the man can “impress” her by showing he’s jealous. She discovers the gag, however, and makes a play right back at Charley. Frank Lackteen as the homicidal butler is the best part of this one. Bud Jamison is a cop in this mediocre offering.

Chase's 8th Columbia short is next, The Mind Needer (Apr. 29, 1938). Charley is so forgetful that he can’t remember anything, and since today’s his wedding anniversary, he’s in BIG trouble with wife Ann Doran, particularly when he goes home to the wrong house and finds himself caught in the wrath of Vernon Dent. Not a good short, but frankly, better than a lot of Columbia 2-reelers of the period: there seems to be some nod toward the reality that Charley's character is not the typical Columbia comic who gets dishes smashed over his head by a shrewish wife. Miss Doran would be around for many of Charley's remaining films.

I also watched A Nag in the Bag, directed by Charley, released Nov. 11, 1938, and starring the vaudeville legends Smith & Dale as a pair of burger-slingers who are addicted to the horses. This is actually a better, funnier short than either of the Chase films I'd watched; it's a shame that Smith & Dale only made two Columbia shorts, because they had potential to be a long-running series with their silly slapstick and ethnic talk. The fine supporting cast includes Dick Curtis, Bud Jamison, and Charley's daughter Polly.

The Vitaphone collection brings together the comeback shorts of Fatty Arbuckle and the first solo Vitaphone work of Shemp Howard.

Hey, Pop! (directed by Alf Goulding and released Nov. 13, 1932) is a very pleasant surprise. In a variation of The Kid, Fatty is a chef (with some fancy juggling moves) who becomes the guardian of a street urchin and tries to keep him against the wishes of the mean orphanage officers. The film ends with an old-style silent movie foot chase. Fatty, clearly the same guy with the same schtick as in the primitive Keystones from 15 years earlier that I've been watching, is actually amusing here. After watching the unamusing Chase shorts, he looks even better. I liked this one a lot.

Paul Revere, Jr. (directed by Roy Mack, released Sept. 7, 1933) gives us Broadway star Gus Shy as Paul Revere Martin, a modern jet-setter who has a musical-fantasy that he’s the real Paul Revere; Shemp Howard is his groomsman. Lots of pretty dancing Vitaphone girls, but one or two appealing musical numbers doesn't make this overly long novelty short palatable.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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AndyFish
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Hey Pop! was hands down the best short in the set.
The others were groaners at best.
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Talkie Clowns #2

All three of our Charley Chase shorts were directed by Del Lord. One thing I really appreciate is that, while they’re not up to his Hal Roach standards, they’re not typical Columbia fare, either: he retains the same overall comic persona that he typically had throughout his earlier films. I also liked that his films seem to get better as they go along, the final one today notwithstanding.

The Chump takes a Bump (5/5/39) Charley acts as a decoy when his boss has a night on the town with a beautiful woman not his wife. Good short, some nice laughs, echos of Mighty Like a Moose and The Pip from Pittsburg, although not nearly as good, so don’t go quoting me on that analogy. Ann Doran, Charley’s leading lady in all of today’s films, has shown herself to be a very nice addition to his films.

Rattling Romeo (7/14/39) Because his girlfriend insists, Charley buys a car, but the darn thing turns out to be held together by scotch tape and wire, and falls apart piece by piece. The best of the Columbia Chases so far, a nice mix of classic Charley and the studio’s slapstick style. A minor gem. Interestingly, that Columbia movie theatre marquee that shows up all the time in Columbia films and serials is heralding Mae Clark & Jack Oakie in “Last Line of Defense”, a film that seems to never have been made. The posters on the front of the theatre, however, are for You Can’t Take it With You! Yeah, I notice stuff like that.

Skinny the Moocher (9/8/39) Charley is a spendthrift with a kleptomaniac valet and a short-tempered fiancé. Ouch. Especially after the last film, this one’s a misfire, closer in spirit to a Stooges short than a Chase outing. The house from several Columbia serials is shown prominently, and I like Cy Schindell, usually a brainless thug in Columbia shorts but in this case a brainless repo man. I’m trying to say something nice here.

On to the Vitaphone disc...

Buzzin' Around (2/4/33, dir. Alf Goulding) Holy cow, I liked this short very much! Fatty Arbuckle has invented a shellac that, applied to china and crockery, makes them bounce rather than break(!). He's off to demonstrate it at a china shop, not knowing that he's accidentally got a jar of brother Al St. John's moonshine. Half the short is Fatty's misadventures in his jalopy on the way to town, including (cartoon) bees and a run-in with a football team. Special guest star here is Petey from the Our Gang films, called "Petey" and with more screen time than the Hal Roach studio normally gave him! Fatty's trick car is wonderful, there's a nice pottery fight, and many, many cops to chase Roscoe down the street at the end. This is the second Fatty Arbuckle comeback short I've enjoyed a great deal, it is actually nice to see him so funny way after his heyday.

Salt Water Daffy (9/13/33, dir. Ray McCarey) Jack Haley & Shemp Howard accidentally join the Navy and make life miserable for Chief Petty Officer Lionel Stander. Hmmm... I've seen this one before, and it's not very good. Haley simply isn't an appealing character, Shemp doesn't have enough to do, and that means Stander actually steals the film, despite getting a lot less screen time. The "examination" in which Shemp pretends to be blind and Haley deaf is the best part of the film, but that's early on and so we're kinda stuck until the final credits roll. Not a terrible short, but hobbled by Haley.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #3

I have noticed that when Charley returned to Columbia for what turned out to be his final season of short subjects, he was no longer executive producer. He also stopped directing shorts for other Columbia comics. A sign of his health problems, no doubt (he died in June, 1940).

The Awful Goof (12/22/39) Okay, so sue me: I giggled all the way through this dumb 2-reeler. Charley's late for his wedding (stuck in the mud) and racing to the church in a car with no brakes (long story). He splashes a lady pedestrian, and gives her a lift home, only she lives across from the church and she's taken off her wet clothes in the back of the car, and yeah, it's a remake of Limousine Love, one of Charley's funniest shorts. But only for six minutes, then it becomes Charley continuing to accidentally make life miserable for the lady, whose husband is giant wrestler Dick Curtis. Classic Hal Roach type stuff as the jealous husband thinks he's destroying Charley's new car, only to discover that it's HIS new car, a gift from the wife. One of Charley's better shorts.

The Heckler
(2/16/40) The most well-known and apparently well-liked of all the Chase Columbias. I dunno, I prefer Charley the family man to this guy, the loudmouthed character Charley played in Sons of the Desert. Charley's annoying antics not only tick off Bud Jamison, Vernon Dent, and everybody else in the baseball stadium, but ice-cold batsman Herman Brix, too. Remade in 1946 as Mr. Noisy with Shemp Howard.

South of the Boudoir (5/17/40) Charley wants to cancel his dinner out with his wife because his boss is in town and wants a home-cooked meal, so the wife storms out and Charley has to pretend his temporary maid is his wife, only the boss (Arthur Q. Bryan, doing his Elmer Fudd voice, which is hilarious) has met Mrs. Chase (Ann Doran) and, not knowing who she is, invites her to Charley's as his date. Wifey plays along in this pleasant comedy.

Well, as mentioned, the Sony Charley Chase collection, marked Vol. 1, includes only 8 Chase shorts (plus one he directed for Smith & Dale). If there's a vol. 2, it might include The Grand Hooter, From Bad to Worse, The Wrong Miss Wright, Calling All Doctors, The Big Squirt, Time Out for Trouble, Many Sappy Returns, The Nightshirt Bandit (the only Chase short directed by Jules White), Pie a la Maid, The Sap takes a Wrap, Teacher's Pest, and His Bridal Fright.

The five Chase-directed Three Stooges shorts are on their DVD collections (Tassels in the Air, Flat Foot Stooges, Violent is the Word for Curly, Mutts to You, Saved by the Belle).

Chase also directed Andy Clyde (The Old Raid Mule, Ankles Away, Boom Goes the Groom), Herman Bing (Oh, What a Knight!), Tom Kennedy & Johnny Arthur(Half-Way to Hollywood), Walter Catlett (Static in the Attic), and one other Smith & Dale short, Mutiny on the Body.

Okay, on to Fatty Arbuckle.

How've You Bean? (6/24/33, dir. Alf Goulding) As much as I enjoyed the first two Arbuckle comeback films, that's how much I didn't enjoy this one. The material, while still a throw-back to the Keystone days, is thinner than ever, with a much of the running time a battle between a store full of guys tossing paper bags filled with flour at each other. Mostly the problem is Fritz Hubert, who seems to be a last-second replacement for Al St. John (wearing the same outfit St. John wore in the last one). He plays a very stupid man who will annoy you, but only when he's not making your skin crawl. He and Fatty are a true team here, but Laurel & Hardy they ain't. Fatty does a little juggling and reprises a very funny bit Charlie Chaplin once did with "catching" bricks, but it can't save a dreary, awful film.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #4

Strike! You're Out (1936, Educational) Dir. Robert Hall

When housewives go on strike, the husbands hire a bunch of chorus girls as maids - and enjoy them singing and dancing way more than they enjoy them cooking and cleaning, leading to the wives having second thoughts about the whole thing.

Entertaining 1-reeler with Russ Brown top-billed but the Carlyle Sisters, Buddy Page and his Orchestra, and others providing all the interest. The spice of the program for sure. A nice print on Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s disc.

What Ho-Romeo (1930, Comedy House) Dir. Scott Pembroke

A mess of a short with Jack Benny as a traveling medicine man who rescues a pretty girl and her little brother from their brutal father; the whole thing seemed familiar to me, and I realized that I was watching a truncated short clipped from the 1930 Tiffany feature The Medicine Man! I've seen the full-length feature, and it's no great shakes, and so this is merely an oddity. It's on Alpha's Comedy Parade: Rediscovered Classics, and another nice print; they've upgraded their material very nicely.

Leave it to Dad (1933, Educational) Dir. Harry Edwards

I liked this one a LOT; a young couple can't get wed because their widowed parents (her mom, his dad) don't approve, so they try to match the grown-ups together, only the two of them got in an auto wreck this morning and can't stand each other. Funny stuff, with George Bickel and Jane Dale in fine form. And a lovely print, on Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s, Vol. 2.

The Grand Hooter (1937, Columbia) Dir. Del Lord

Charley Chase pays more attention to his fraternal lodge, The Hoot Owls, than he does his wife, and to avoid her wrath he takes her on a trip, only to end up in a hotel FULL of Hooters. Probably Charley's best Columbia short, remade a few years later with Shemp Howard, and to good effect there, too. I always wish Charley would sing in more of his films, and he plays guitars and sings (in Spanish!) in this one. A minor gem from the Columbia years, and a sparkling print on the Sony MOD Choice Collection Charley Chase Vol. 2 set.

Davy Jones' Locker (1934, MGM) Dir. Ub Iwerks

After a warm introduction by Leo the MGM Lion, Willie relates how on a fishing expedition he hooked King Neptune and ended up at the bottom of the sea fighting a one-legged pirate. Positively gorgeous HD short on the Thunderbean Willie Whopper Blu-ray, the darn thing just GLOWS in restored Cinecolor, and the film is filled with nice gags and interesting fish. That said, the HD really shows off how poor the animation and drawing was in the Iwerks cartoons of this era.

A fun collection of 1930s comedies.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #5

Say it with a Song (1932, Mack Sennett) Dir. Leslie Pearce

A tenor's mother insists that a couple of gobbly-de-gook speaking radio producers give her son a tryout. Donald Novis is the tenor; apparently, he was popular at one time (and was on Fibber McGee and Molly) but it's hard to see (or hear) why now. Vince Barnett as one of the producers and Dorothy Granger as a secretary are of much more interest. So-so short that was originally released as Ma's Pride and Joy, featured here (Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s) in a pretty good print.

Dental Follies (1937 Educational) Dir. William Watson

Dentist Pinky Lee offers his patients a floor show instead of novocaine, and we're "treated" to singers, dancers, and ha-cha-cha girls in this slight but amiable one-reeler. Nice print (Alpha's Comedy Parade: Rediscovered Classics).

Fairways and Foul (1929) Dir. John Mescall

This is the one I was looking forward to the most, but it's terrible - James and Lucile Gleason (married in real life, of course) are a bickering couple entered into a married-couple golf tournament against a guy who stutters and his snooty wife. The print is okay and Jimmy Gleason's one of my old favorites but the whole thing seems to be a lame reworking of W.C. Fields' material. Simply awful. It's on Grapevine Video's Pathe Talkie Shorts Vol. 1.

From Bad to Worse (1937) Dir. Del Lord

Charley Chase runs afoul of jealous husband Bud Jamison when he helps Bud's wife get into her locked apartment. Typical Columbia short, meaning anybody could've played the lead and taken pottery broken over the head. It's on Sony's Charley Chase Vol. 2.

Not a good group this week, but at least we have a fun cartoon...

Hell's Fire (1934, MGM) Dir. Ub Iwerks

Willie Whopper and his dog fall into a volcano and meet Cerebus, Napoleon, Satan, Nero, and Old Man Prohibition, a new recruit down there, in this Cinecolor treat. Again, the restoration is marvelous (way to go, Thunderbean) but the art and animation is lacking. At least the film LOOKS great and it's suitably wacky (the li'l demons make Prohibition drink alky-hol) and there's a guest appearance by Freddy March as Jekyll and Hyde, plus a cameo by the NRA eagle! Delightful.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #6

Kiddin' Hollywood (Educational, 1932) Dir. Charles Lamont

Flee, my friends, from the Baby Burlesks series, a one-year experiment in awfulness in which toddlers (wearing diapers with oversized pins) spoof current films (The Runt Page, The Pie Covered Wagon, to name two). No one would ever watch these things (except probably me) except they introduced the world to nearly-four-years-old Shirley Temple. In this, she plays what I suppose is a Marlene Dietrich spoof called Morlegs Sweetrick (!), competing with, um, Freta Snobbo for a role. Yes, really. I have nothing else to say about this film or this series except you can find this, if you want, on Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s disc.

Rhythm in a Night Court (Pictoreel, 1937) Dir. Milton Schwarzwald

Aw, heck, *I* enjoyed it - wheezy vaudeville gags from a judge and bailiff surround lame-o stage acts, including a lady who dances with a little kid, a troupe of acrobats tossing some blonde around, and a guy who imitates Charles Laughton as a judge, W.C. Fields as a prosecutor, and Groucho Marx as the defense attorney. He does 'em pretty well, too. A nice but not great print of a rare short, it's on Alpha's Comedy Parade: Rediscovered Classics disc.

Love, Honor, and Oh! Baby (Pathe, 1929) Dir. George LeMaire

In the early days of talking pictures, yelling at each other was considered hilarious, I guess. Two couples - and old one in which the woman is horrid to the man, and a young one where it's the guy who's an abusive twit - share a flat. Evalyn "Perils of Pauline" Knapp is the young lady. Fingers on the blackboard, but it probably played swell in '29 and I did love the turnabout at the ending.

The Wrong Miss Wright (Columbia, 1937) Dir. Charles Lamont

Charley Chase tries to get out of an arranged marriage by acting crazy, not knowing that his bride-to-be is the same woman he has fallen in love with. A remake of Charley's Crazy Like a Fox, a much better 2-reeler, but heck: this is still one of Chase's better Columbias, so I for one will take it. The Punch & Judy voice he affects is pretty funny and it's always nice to see Bud Jamison again. From Charley Chase Shorts Vol. 2.

Robin Hood, Jr. (Ub Iwerks, 1932) Dir. Ub Iwerks

Willie Whopper tells us about the time he was Robin Hood, sang with his Merry Men, and rescued Maid Marian from marriage to Prince John. Y'know, these cartoons are ungood but still, the Thunderbean BD releases look and sound so great we enjoy 'em anyway. I can't wait for the upcoming Flip the Frog set, though: always liked those.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #7

The Road is Open Again (1932) Dir. Alfred E. Green

Songwriter Dick Powell falls asleep while trying to right a song about FDR's National Recovery Administration and dreams that Presidents Washington, Wilson, and Lincoln come to visit and say nice things about FDR. He writes and sings "The Road is Open Again" and leads us, the audience, in a singalong.

Stupendously wonderful short with Alan Dinehart as George, Samuel S. Hinds as Woodrow, and Charles Middleton as Abe. An absolute gem of a short; way to go, Brothers Warner. We need a good singalong these days. (Classic Shorts of the 1930s, Alpha)

Hotel Anchovy (1934) Dir. Al Christie

A nice lady is trying to sell her unsuccessful hotel, so she hires the Ritz Bros. to make sure the place looks busy so she can find a buyer.

Y'all know by know what I think of the Ritz Bros. This isn't as bad as one of their features because it's shorter, but still... (Comedy Parade Rediscovered Classics, Alpha)

High Toned (1930) Dir. Paul Powell

Buck and Bubbles (a/k/a "The Wildcats") are a pair of Black guys who return to the plantation where one of them used to work, hoping to be hired. They get in a wrasslin' match with the new manservant of the Colonel and try to romance Victrola, the fried chicken cook in the kitchen.

Well, THIS is different. I knew there were "race" features made for Colored-only theatres, but it never occurred to me there were short subjects as well. Ford Washington Lee and John William Sublett are Buck & Bubbles, and apparently they were a team until well into the 1940s. Not nearly as offensive as I'd feared, with some good comedy. (Pathé Talking Shorts Vol. 1, Grapevine).

Calling All Doctors (1937) Dir. Charles Lamont

Hypochondriac Charley Chase is driving his wife, doctors, and co-workers insane, so they hatch up a plot to teach him a lesson with the help of the goony Dr. Kronkeit.

One of Charley's better Columbia shorts, which is of course not sayin' a whole lot. The undertaker's name is "Phil Graves," which made me laugh. Bobby Watson is one of Charley's friends, and it's nice to see him not playing Hitler for once. (Charley Chase Shorts Vol. 2, Sony Choice)

Insultin' the Sultan (1934) Dir. Ub Iwerks

Willie Whopper's girlfriend is kidnapped by a sultan in Constantinople (not Istanbul, but Constantinople) who wants her for his harem, so it's Willie to the rescue. Of all the Willie Whopper cartoons, this is certainly one of 'em. Beautiful print, though. (The Complete Willie Whopper, Thunderbean)
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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The name Kronkeit (which is spelled in many different ways) is from the German word 'Krankheit' which means 'sickness'. This name for a doctor was meant to be a joke. I assume that Yiddish had an identical or nearly identical word with the same meaning so that Yiddish speaking audiences at least would get the joke and it is possible the name came through Yiddish rather than directly from German. The Dr. Kronkeit name goes back to the first German-dialect comedians in vaudeville and burlesque.
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Bert Greene
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The Columbia shorts department remade Chase's "Calling All Doctors" a few years later with Vera Vague, and it's probably her best short. Usually the remakes are inferior, but this might be a rare exception. Overall, Vera Vague's others entries are just too rambunctious and too filled with sloppy slapstick, but I think her version, entitled "Doctor, Feel My Pulse," hit the right note, with a bit of silly, goofy charm.
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Talkie Clowns #8

The Super Snooper (1934) Dir. Harry Edwards

Millionaire Andy Clyde thinks that hotel clerk Jason Robards is wooing Andy's daughter for her money, so he goes undercover as a hotel porter to snoop around - not knowing Robards is really an undercover cop looking for a ring of jewel thieves, and he thinks Andy's one of 'em.

Very, very funny Educational short. I can see why Columbia snapped up Clyde for a long-running series of short subjects: this is a marvelous 2-reeler. It's funny that, although playing a well-dressed rich man, Andy's unkempt facial hair is still in place. (Andy was also the same age as Robards, but with his old-age character, you'd never guess it.) It would be nice to get a set of Andy's Educational pictures (not to mention his Columbia offerings). This can be found on Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s Vol. 2 disc in a very nice print.

A Perfect Match (1930) Dir. George LeMaire

Very amusing Jewish-dialect comedy; a young couple's post-wedding dinner is filled with speeches and malapropisms, but it's the morning after that causes consternation. The kind of movie we used to call "a hoot," and the dialect - although silly - is undeniably funny.

Speaker: "There are three main periods in a person's life..."
Kid, Interrupting: "And an Exclamation Point. And a Semi-Colon."
Speaker: "Sammy Cohen couldn't be here."

That sort of thing. Hey, it made ME laugh. This is on the Grapevine Video Pathé Talkie Shorts Vol. 1 disc.

The Biffle Murder Case (1935) Dir. James Parrott

Biffle & Shooster delivery a trunk (clearly marked dn puǝ sᴉɥ⊥) to a dark old mansion full of murder suspects, and sooner or later, yes, a body falls out of the closet. Luckily master detective Milo Nance(!) is on the job.

My first exposure to the all-but-forgotten comedy team of Benny Biffle and Sam Shooster; they were okay (their habit of talking to the us in the theatre can get annoying) but the supporting cast, including Patsy Kelly, Montague Shaw, Sam McDaniels, and - of all people - Edmund Lowe are really the selling point for this thing, which I watched twice (and enjoyed even more the second time). Looking forward to seeing more of their films (it's on the new The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster! set from Kino and Balcony pal Michael Schlesinger).

The Big Squirt (1937) Dir. Del Lord

Charley Chase is a soda jerk hooked on true crime stories, but he doesn't recognize Public Enemy #1 when the guy strolls into his drug store, much to the chagrin of local cop Bud Jamison.

One of the better Chase Columbias, helped a lot by Charley performing a musical number ("Drug Store Desperado"). A funny sequence set on a street car, too. This set (Sony's Charley Chase Shorts, Vol. 2) and the set from the Sprocket Vault have really made a very, very nice of bookends for Charley's talkie career.

The Cave Man (1932) Dir. Ub Iwerks

Willie Whopper relates about how as a vine-swingin', Tarzan-yellin' cave man in prehysterical times he saved his girlfriend from a terrifying woman-eating dinosaur. Uh-huh. Great print from Thunderbean's Willie Whopper Blu-ray and it's actually a good cartoon, not something we expect from a Willie Whopper, frankly.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Talkie Clowns #9

Making the Rounds (1934) Dir. Del Lord, 2 reels
Phil L. Ryan Productions
DVD: Alpha's Classic Shorts of the 1930s, Vol. 2

Eugene Pallette and Walter Catlett are a pair of drunks flirting with a couple of hot women with their other-kind-of-hot wives in pursuit.

One supposes that a fat guy and a non-fat guy teamed in a comedy short would be a natural, particularly Gene and Walter, two funny guys, but one would suppose wrong. They make look like Laurel & Hardy from the rear, but they'd need better material than this. A middlin' print; wonder if they made any other shorts together, but not wondering enough to go looking for any.

Nevermind. I just noticed that the next short on this disc is another Pallette & Catlett whiz-bang. Got that to look forward to.

The Druggist's Dilemma (1933) Dir. Mark Sandrich, 2 reels
RKO Radio
DVD: Alpha's Lost Comedy Classics Collection: Clark & McCullough

Druggist James Finlayson has lost his pants (literally) in a poker game, and his two soda jerks (with an emphasis on the second word) are tasked with bringing him another pair before his jealous wife sees his, er, predicament. Somehow, the two jerks end up atop a hire wire between two buildings (you have to be there).

Golly, I've seen so many stills of Clark & McCullough (the former has eyeglasses painted on his face and the latter has a goofy mustache) but never watched one of their films that I can recall. They're okay, zany and goofy, and of course playing them off Fin is great. Lots of silly patter and a sissy man who orders a chocolate malted gets a thimble full of it with a big straw. The print on this film is particularly good, I'm not adverse to watching the other films in this set (Alpha has at least a Vol. 2, as well).

Time Out for Trouble (1938) Dir. Del Lord, 2 reels
A Columbia Picture
DVD: Columbia/Sony Choice Collection: Charley Chase Shorts, Vol. 2

When Charley's fiancee breaks off the engagement, Charley asks his neighbor, notorious gangster Dick Curtis, to murder him, but when the wedding's back on, Charley tries to call the murder off.

Never heard much good about this short, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit... It's so darn silly that I found myself laughing at the wonder of it all, and it's always nice that the Columbia comedy shorts of this era still had frequent forays outside and weren't yet completely stage-bound. The Chase Columbias pale behind his Roach work, of course, but he could still turn out an acceptable two-reeler.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Gangster's gunman: "I'll fill him so full of holes, every time the wind blow's he'll WHISTLE like a PEANUT wagon!"

Weird trivia: Charley's name is misspelled "Charlie" on his own wedding cake!

Jungle Jitters (1934) Dir. Ub Iwerks
Released by MGM
Blu-ray: Thunderbean's Ub Iwerks' Willie Whopper

Not to be confused with the notorious Warner Bros. "Censored 11" short of the same name.

Willie Whopper tells his pal about the time he was stranded on a South Seas isle with a topless native girl(!) and chased by hungry cannibals, only to be saved by, er, an elephant.

There were 14 Willie Whopper cartoons, and this, my friends, is certainly one of them. Great print from Thunderbean, at least.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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