Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Part 2 of my series on TCM's Comedy Month: This post covers April 4th, 6th and 8th.

April 4th allows me to answer a couple of my brother's questions from his original comment.
And how is that I'm 36, but have never heard of Charley Chase? Please do educate us.
Charley Chase was a director and employee of the Hal Roach studio who was tapped to star in two-reelers when Harold Lloyd left the studio. His stuff is as good as any of the other silent stars; I suspect that his obscurity is due to his stuff being unavailable for whatever reason. I hadn't heard of him either until Mark Evanier plugged a great DVD of Chase films. Of the Chase films being shown, I can vouch for Mighty Like a Moose (that film that had the obscure Mussolini joke that I asked about) and Long Fliv the King (a princess who must marry to become queen marries a condemned man who is later pardoned; features a Jewish peddler as his sidekick).

The few Fatty Arbuckle films I've seen have been entertaining; it's not like the reasons for his career ending were related to film quality. Arbuckle gave Buster Keaton his start and Keaton shined so seeing the one with Keaton isn't a bad choice if you can only watch one.

Harold Lloyd's good in anything. Safety Last! is the one with the clock. Harold Lloyd's World of Comedy is obviously a clip film but I don't how good of one; I'm not a fan of those myself.

April 6th has four great Preston Sturges movies. Any one of them is good but my favorite is Miracle of Morgan Creek. TCM has it filed not under Preston Sturges but under Screwball Comedy Classics; this is appropriate since it's one of the best screwball comedies. The two Capra pictures are good also but missable. Same with a couple of Cary Grant movies mixed in that day.

April 8th is the Marx Brothers Day. You can safely ignore the morning's and early-afternoon flicks. Those consists of three pictures at the ebbing of their career, a shoehorning of the Brothers into an adaptation of a play, and Coconuts, their first movie which is decent but suffers from the fact that a satire of the 1920's Florida land boom not having the same zing today as it did in 1929 plus trouble due to working out the kinks of those new-fangled talkies.

Anything else being run that day is a gem. A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera are a little more plot-heavy than the other pictures because apparently chicks like that sort of thing (and indeed they made more than the other pictures). Animal Crackers is obviously my favorite, more for sentimental reasons albeit.

Since I have all the Brothers Marx movies on DVD, I may check out the Olsen & Johnson flicks running that day, intrigued as I am by this article and this one. Although probably the movies being played aren't their best efforts.

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Regarding my recommendation of TCM's comedy month, my brother asks in comments for more specific recommendations under the assumption that most folk can't Tivo 72-hours per week o' TV.
But what Laurel & Hardy movies should I be aiming for? Which is the funny Chaplin, and which is the sentimental drek? I'm guessing that I want to see "Coney Island" as the pinnacle of Fatty Arbuckle, or am I just being impressed by Keaton's presence in the movie? Which Ealing Studios movies are the least dated?

And how is that I'm 36, but have never heard of Charley Chase? Please do educate us.

To make this stuff more readable, I'm going to do a post for every week in April.

First week is April 1st and the Laurel & Hardy day.

I'm not a huge expert on Laurel & Hardy since when I got interested in them is around when their stuff stopped showing up on TV. Sons of the Desert and Way Out West (which features James Finlayson doing a pre-Homer Simpson "D'oh!") are good and considered their best features and The Music Box is a classic. Mark Evanier liked Beau Hunks, Pack Up Your Troubles, The Devil's Brother, and Blotto; you can check out his views on all films L&H here.

Kind Hearts & Coronets, the only Ealing film they're running this month, is a funny film featuring Alec Guiness in seven roles. It appears to be the 2 AM film of the first three Fridays of the month so you can even figure out which week is best for you.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Julian Sanchez Hit-and-Run entry on if pharmacists "have a right" of to refuse to sell birth control pills notes that most articles on the matter don't distinguish between a)the question of whether the state can force a pharmacy to sell medicine it doesn't want to and b) the question of whether a pharmacy is allowed to fire an employee who refuses to sell particular medicine. Of course, the laws being proposed on this issue get one of those questions wrong by either a) forcing businesses to sell stuff they don't want to or b) forcing businesses to keep an employee who refuses to do his job.

I link to this article due to this comment:
If the "conscience law" passes, I plan to convert to Christian Science, get a pharmacology degree, land a job, and then insist that my conscience forbids me to give out ANY medication at all.

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The interesting thing about this year's Hugo nominations is that there's something called All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories which I had hoped was a monthly magazine but was rather an anthology. The Hugo-nominated story from said anthology can be found at the book's site.

UPDATE:And appropriately for this blog, one of the stories in the anthology is "Why a Duck?"

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As I mentioned a couple of months ago, April on TCM is a fantastic month for comedy lovers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check out TCM's official page. You've got Laurel & Hardy for the first time on TV in years. You've got the complete Marx Brothers oeuvre. You've got Charley Chase, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. A mess o' Road movies. Some Abbott & Costello. And if Bill Sherman's Wheeler & Woosley review intrigued you, they've got a few of their pictures. Plus lotsa other great movies. If you can't find something in the schedule to enjoy, you just don't like laughing.

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My friend Robin Jones is doing one of those blogs that the kids enjoy these days; so why not check it out? I'm not sure if the "Your Fiend, Mr. Jones" is a typo or a Vincent Price-esque affectation.

In a recent post, he discusses a new network which runs reruns of I, Spy and the two U.N.C.L.E. (Man From and Girl From) shows and makes fun of Culp's reference to the I, Spy team as "Culp and Cosby".

An actor being assured that he's the star of a TV show and being outshined by a lesser-known actor in popularity is a common occurrence. And there's a spectrum of how well the lead handles this with Shatner-Nimoy at one end and Howard-Winkler at the other*. In Culp's defense, the straight man usually gets top billing in comedy team names. In a just universe, the popularity of Culp and Cosby would have been rivaled only by that of Arkin and Falk. Maybe if they had kept Hickey and Boggs, the team would have had a long career.

Or Robert Culp is just delusional.

*I am assuming Ron Howard handled the Fonz becoming the star of Happy Days with class; I could just be ignorant of back-stage shenanigans at that show.

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Via Reason and my brother's site, Radley Balko writes that the stricter drunk driving laws (lowering of blood-alcohol limit to .08 and roadblocks) has actually increased fatalaties as law enforcement resources are spent on social drinkers.

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You see, the humor here is that "boner" used to mean mistake but now means erection. (via my brother who got it from here)

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Mickey Kaus makes a good point when he asks (scroll down) where one goes to get a living will to leave the tube in. For the record: I want tubes; I want machines; I want "Definitely Resuscitate" orders; I want heroic efforts; I want Superman to make the world spin backwards on its axis and save me in time.

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A reader who's been keeping up with Matthew Lesko's blog more than I have informs me that Lesko's holding a contest where he'll be giving away FREE MONEY!!!!1! While there I noted that Lesko is also selling his car and will throw in a suit. A reader noted in comments that he didn't have the scratch to buy the car. I, of course, replied:
Well, buy one of Mr. Lesko's books and he'll tell you how to get FREE MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT to buy the car.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

According to Defamer, Jude Law is switching agents. I'd argue that Law's current agent is the greatest agent ever; he's convinced Hollywood that Law is a movie star despite Law never actually drawing people to a movie.

In other Defamer news, my brother gets a Defamer link before I do. Well, I know what I need to do: get linked by Judge Posner's blog before my brother does.

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