Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Friday, April 29, 2005

An article by the guy who took the photo of people lining up to evacuate Saigon via helicoptor reveals that the caption that usually accompanies the photo are LIES!!! LIES, I tell ya! (via Hit and Run)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Boston Globe tells the story of how John Bolton got the "Zionism is racism" UN resolution repealed.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

I Don't Get It Department: In Cracked Nuts, Robert Woolsey's character is trying to get the approval of his fiancee's aunt/guardian. At the end, the aunt lectures the two from their balcony and both reply "I do", the joke being that they're getting married by a minister who's under the balcony. The aunt realizes what's happened and says "Well, I'll take vanilla." Movie ends. Buh?

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Part 5 of my series on TCM's Comedy Month: This post covers April 25th, 27th and 29th.

Monday has a mess of movies I'm unfamiliar with. Adam's Rib is one of the better of the Hepburn/Tracy pairings.

Wednesday is "Classic Family Comedies". In Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, Cary Grant moves to bucolic Connecticut from New York and wackiness, as it often does, ensues. You Can't Take It with You is a charming Capra comedy (based on a Kaufmann and Hart play) where a family of eccentrics who refuse to sell their house to a tycoon are marrying into the tycoon's family. Of course, nowadays the city government would have just declared eminent domain over the house in the name of economic development.

Also Wednesday is Billy Wilder's remake of The Front Page which is apparently closer to the original play than any other version.

Friday is team day. Burns and Allen are always delightful but these movies feature them, rather than star them. There's a couple of Bergen and McCarthy pictures which also feature radio stars Fibber McGee and Molly and the Great Gildersleeves. And a few Martin and Lewis pictures.

Not publicized is All at Sea, an entertaining Ealing film starring Alec Guiness as the last of a family of sailors. After suffering from seasickness, he takes charge of a rotting pier/amusement park.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Via Evanier, a man's piece of original art from a 1957 Peanuts strip is destroyed by a crazed neighbor and the local paper writes the story using the style-handbook-required patronizing tone used for any comics-related story.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

To tie a discussion below of dirty stuff in early movies with this site's title, Animal Crackers contains a fairly crude cut during the "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" song; the cut was made during a post-Hayes Code rerelease (and unfortunately the negative was tossed, possibly making the cut unrestoreable).

Margaret Dumont sings "He is the only white man/Who covered every acre" then you have the cut and the crowd sings "Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!" The cut punchline was Groucho singing "I think I'll try and make her."

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Arsenic and Old Lace features a character who, through botched plastic surgery, looks like Boris Karloff. In the original Broadway play, this character was played by Boris Karloff. When making the deal for the movie rights, the producers of the play didn't want to lose their cast while the play was still successfully running. So they gave the movie producers the choice of using Karloff or of using Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, the two old ladies. The old ladies were chosen and movie audiences were deprived of Boris Karloff playing a Boris Karloff lookalike.

The irony is that the film was shelved for a couple of years because the same contract required the movie to wait for the closing of the show. So presumably they could have waited to film it and got all three. Second irony is that while Aresenic was shelved, Karloff appeared in The Boogie Man Will Get You, an Arsenic and Old Lace knockoff film (with Karloff in a role similar to the old ladies).

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Part 4 of my series on TCM's Comedy Month: This post covers April 18th, 20th and 22th.

The 18th has a variety of folk.

All I know from Eddie Cantor is that his deli makes a fine roast beef dip sandwich and a decent pastrami one as well.

The Jack Benny movies are missable other than to see why he was never a movie star and to see that The Horn Blows at Midnight isn't quite as bad as the running jokes on the show make it seem. It's odd how a popular and well-defined persona like Jack Benny never made a movie using that persona; I don't know if that was Benny's decision to try to expand his repertoire or Hollywood's decision that people wouldn't pay for what they could get for free on the radio.

Red Skeleton's stuff you can skip other than the historical curiosity that Buster Keaton wrote for him; of course, you can see those gags done better in Keaton movies.

Danny Kaye is a delight and both movies being shown are some of his best work. Same with W.C. Fields.

If you've ever wondered what the fuss was about Bob Hope, My Favorite Blonde will give you a good inkling (or you can wait until Friday and catch a Road movie or two).

Wednesday is a series of "Crime Comedies". The Little Giant is the best of the Edward G. Robinson "make fun of his image" comedies. Cary Grant does some fantastic double-takes in Arsenic and Old Lace. The Thin Man is the progenitor of the couple-who-solve-mysteries-and-trade-quips genre.

Bringing Up Baby is one of the best screwball comedies of all time.*

Friday is team day again. Check Bill Sherman's review to see if Wheeler and Woolsey intrigue you. The Ritz Brothers, you can skip. All the Road movies being shown are good. Road to Morocco is considered the best but Road to Utopia is great also and features both Robert Benchley narration and a surprisingly dirtyish joke at the end.

*CORRECTION: I originally wrote Monkey Business rather than Bringing Up Baby. Monkey Business is good but Bringing Up Baby is better.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

So the ex-wrassler Ultimate Warrior is now a conservative pundit. His site was named Awful Link of the Day by Something Awful. Something Awful's webmaster gets a note from UW's "Director of Communications" threatening legal action. As it often does in these cases, high-larity ensued. (Via Overlawyered.)

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A page of who is and who ain't real in Deadwood, what did and didn't really happen, and what might be coming next.

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The LA Times (and their %&^$#&* registration wall) reports that The Wedding Singer will be adapted for Broadway and quotes a co-producer as saying the musical will have "more emphasis on the make-it-big, make-a-buck world of the '80s." More emphasis? The only way The Wedding Singer could have had more emphasis on the '80s would have been if every line of dialogue in the movie had been either preceded by "It's 1985 and..." or followed by "...here in 1985 which is now" or if Rob Schneider had been cast as a guy who walks around holding a sign saying "The year is 1985 which was during the 80's."

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Friday, April 08, 2005

You read the first sentence of this story:
The television comedian Byron Allen said yesterday that his company, Entertainment Studios, was "aggressively pursuing" a $2.2 billion takeover of the Paxson Communications Corporation, owner of the family-oriented PAX television network.
And the obvious question is "How the hell does Byron Allen have access to 2.2 billion dollars?" The second question is "If he can put together a deal for 2.2 billion, then could I have gotten a hold of 1.9 billion?"

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Part 3 of my series on TCM's Comedy Month: This post covers April 11th, 13th and 15th.

April 11th is Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. My brother wondered which Chaplin films were funny and which were sentimental drek. I honestly don't know since I've never been a huge Chaplin fan (perhaps too much exposure to the sentimental drek); this is a view I'll at some point re-examine after seeing Chaplin be hilarious as a fall-down drunk with Fatty Arbuckle in Rounders.

All the Buster Keaton ones are good except for Free and Easy, his first talkie, which is missable. An interesting sight in watching Coney Island yesterday was a pre-Stoneface Keaton laughing at Fatty's predicaments.

April 13th features films adapted from the stage. The Man Who Comes to Dinner is Kaufmann and Hart's tribute to Algonquin Round Tabler Alexander Wolcott and features Jimmy Durante as a character inspired by Harpo (albeit more talkative onscreen). There's also the 1931 edition of The Front Page (you can catch all three versions this month). Dinner at Eight looks interesting and is, for what it's worth, in the Classic Comedy Collection released last month.

Also on April 13th is Philadelphia Story, one of the best movie comedies ever. Since I've seen it, I'm going to check out Holiday, featuring Cary Grant playing against type (although frequently, that trick never works). I also might check out Once Upon a Honeymoon, just out of curiosity to see how a 1942 romantic comedy portrays a concentration camp.

On April 15th, the team of Lum & Abner look interesting. Then you have Abbott & Costello. Africa Screams is my personal favorite of the batch (co-starring Shemp Howard and Joe Besser) and you can't go wrong with any where they "Meet" somebody (although the Captain Kidd one is a horrible print (and since it's in the public domain, no one has an incentive to create a good one).

Also on the 15th (or technically, the morning of the 16th, depending on your time zone) is the original Lady Killers with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers and Always Leave Them Laughing with Milton Berle as a Berle-esque comedian in a mawkish "tears-of-a-clown" tale of a TV comedian's rise to the top. Mark Evanier wrote a couple of years why the latter movie might be of interest.

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