Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tidbits for April 2018

Leon Errol in We're Not Dressing (1934)
I wrote before about the history of television producers killing off series regulars.  I neglected to include an early and highly dramatic example in my discussion.  John McIntire wanted off the series Naked City.  He didn't like the frigid location shooting in New York and he missed his family in California.  Here is the way that his character left the show.

One of my favorite Max Linder comedies is Max, professeur de tango (1912).  The main scene involves Max's awkward efforts to give a dance lesson while inebriated.

This routine is marvelously expanded by Leon Errol in The Jitters (1938).

The longest-running thread on the Nitrateville classic film forum addresses the topic of the Murphy bed in films.  The thread has garnered 109,953 views and 271 comments in the last ten years. 

Here are a few Murphy bed scenes that I learned about from this thread.

A piano converts into a Murphy bed in Saturday Night (1922).

Patsy Kelly gets trapped beneath a Murphy bed in Sing, Sister, Sing (1935).

Danny Kaye gets closed inside a Murphy bed in Money on Your Life (1938).

Joan Blondell has difficulty pulling down a Murphy bed in The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939).

Nicholas Smith and Frank Thornton get shut up in a Murphy bed in 1973 episode of Are You Being Served? called "Camping In."

Fred Evans was famous in England for his work on stage and screen.  Here his talents are showcased in a 1915 film, Pimple Has One

The film includes a popular English music hall routine in which a drunk man gets his coat entangled around a lamppost.


From the drunk man's perspective, the sidewalk appears to be tilting one way and the other like a ship deck listing from bow to stern during a storm.  This routine, which has been discussed in a previous post, was used in many early films.

The film's most interesting gag involves Evans fretting over a brazen woman showing off her ankle.  He suddenly comes up with the idea of painting over the lens to obscure our view.


The same basic gag was later used by other comedians, including Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton.

Lupino Lane performs a variation of the classic Commedia dell'arte routine "Lazzi of Fear" in The Dummy (1916).  I have written about this routine in "The Funny Parts" and past blog posts (Check out one blog post here). 

The I Love Lucy writers had a knack for coming up with a funny scene to highlight an episode.  In the 1951 episode "Drafted," Lucy and Ethel invite guests to the Ricardos' apartment for a surprise party for Ricky and Fred, who they mistakenly believe have been drafted into the Army.  Ricky and Fred see their teary-eyed wives knitting blankets (which they intend to give to their husbands as a going-away present) and assume that the wives must be crying and knitting blankets because they are pregnant.  Ricky and Fred invite guests to a surprise baby shower on the same night as their wives' surprise going-away party.  Lucy and Ethel's strategy for hiding their guests is to hurriedly shove them, one by one, into a hallway closet.  Ricky and Fred have the same idea, shoving their guests into the same closet.  In the end, the party guests get tangled up together within this terribly cramped space.

A similar scene turned up more than twenty years later in a Here's Lucy episode.     

Here's Lucy ("Lucy Plays Cops and Robbers," 1973)

 Various party guests get stuck together in a closet in a 2014 episode of Inside No. 9 called "Sardines."

Danny Kaye, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier dressed up as children for a benefit.

Here is a full-page trade magazine ad for Universal's popular comedy team Lyons and Moran.

The Orgamatron in Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973) was based on real-life device, Wilhelm Reich's Orgone Accumulator.

I thank Jorge Finkielman for these images from Skirts (1921).

Footage deleted from Skirts ended up in a two-reel comedy called The Singer Midget's Scandal (1921).


A screen capture of Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe in Under Pressure (1935).

Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, a comedy duo brought together by Alfred Hitchcock for The Lady Vanishes (1938), were still a feature attraction more than a decade later in It's Not Cricket (1949).  The blonde bombshell applying for a job with the men is Diana Dors.

Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca perform a unique version of "Slowly I Turned" for Your Show of Shows.

Patsy Kelly tries on hats in Sing, Sister, Sing (1935). 

The following clip features André Deed as a reporter trying to sneak into a news-worthy wedding.

Inflatables humor is back in Johnny English Strikes Again (2018).

Veronica, a 2017 horror film that has been gaining many fans on Netflix, features a Ouija scene.

"The Old Bazaar in Cairo" was a popular song in England.  Here are four renditions of the song.

Charlie Chester

Joan Savage and Ken Morris

Johnny Farnham

Cilla Black and Roy Hudd

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