Monday, August 12, 2019

Tidbits of August, 2019


Clifton Webb spoofs Gary Cooper in For Heaven's Sake (1951).

Robert Taylor cobbles together a dress suit for a date at a fancy nightclub in Three Comrades (1938).  We have seen this situation enough times to know that the suit will not hold together for long. 

 Van Doude's dress suit similarly splits in Love in the Afternoon (1957).

Bob Hope is a dubious cowboy hero in a western spoof for a 1970s Texaco commercial.

Arthur Worsley was a master ventriloquist for forty years.  His wooden dummy was a high-strung character named Charlie Brown.  Ben Yagoda of the New York Times wrote:
For most of Worsley's act, Charlie would abuse him – "Turn me 'round, son.  And look at me when I'm talking at you'' - growing ever more exasperated by the ventriloquist's silent stupidity.  Worsley would accept Charlie's tirades with a Buster Keaton-like implacability, on rare occasions a barely detectable rise of the eyebrow, on still rarer ones a slight smirk.  In due time, Charlie would work himself up into a conniption and start shrieking at Worsley.

Not only was this funny, it also allowed Worsley to show off his chops. ''Ventriloquism is much, much easier to do if you speak softly,'' [son] Michael Worsley says.  ''Charlie yelled - very loud.  To stand for 30 minutes and scream, that's incredibly hard to do.''

Alberto Sorrentino runs into trouble on the beach in Bellezze a Capri (1952).

British comedian Freddie Frinton has trouble with a Murphy bed.

Max Linder has to improvise while a horse nips at him in Max Is Convalescent (1911).

There is no other Max.


Anna Mae Wong starts a pie fight in Elstree Calling (1930).

A massive pie fight was staged for Carry on Loving (1970).


Kenneth Williams is poorly matched by a dating agency in Carry on Loving.


Louise Fazenda gets confused during a theatrical audition in Ready, Willing and Able (1937).

Director King Vidor finds time for the classic "load/unload" routine in his tender romantic drama The Wedding Night (1935).

Sergio Leone included a similar scene in For a Few Dollars More (1965).


Edwin S. Porter depicts unintentional interracial smooching in What Happened in the Tunnel (1903).

Inspector Clouseau (1968) features variations of comic business that I have discussed before.  First, the film includes an inflatable suit routine.


Later, Clouseau (Alan Arkin) becomes hysterical at his constant failure and his impending execution by criminals.  His partner, Interpol's Lisa Morell (Delia Boccardo), slaps him across the face to return him to his senses.  It works.  A calmer Clouseau replies, "Thanks I needed that."

Fred Kelsey demonstrates Alice White's naughty dance number for a judge in The Naughty Flirt (1930).

Joe E. Brown and Marilyn Miller share a dance number in Sally (1929).

Neal Burns stars in That Son of a Sheik (1922).

We're still waiting for Harry Cane, whose series of one-reel comedy thrillers never arrived at theatres.  Cane was a British comedian.  He worked in pantomime shows with his wife, Emma Rivers.  Frank S. Mattison, the general manager of Fay Films, later produced comedies with Marcel Perez for Sanford Productions.

Filmmaker Alice Guy portrays a mother defending her son from a firing squad in On the Barricade (1907).


Steve Martin befriends a puppy in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982).

The "stuck in a freezer" gag was included in a first season episode of Get Smart ("Satan Place," 1965).

Ernest Truex takes a wild spin in a revolving door in It's a Wonderful World (1939).

Arthur Lake finds a revolving door useful in a fight in The Big Show Off (1945).

Jack Haley and Ann Sothern enjoy a romantic moment in a revolving door in Danger Love at Work (1937).

Paul Leni's classic horror film The Cat and the Canary (1927) provided audiences with many chills and thrills.

James Gleason and Zasu Pitts are not about to sleep when ghosts may be around in The Crooked Circle (1932).

This musical number featuring the Ritz Brothers was deleted from Sonja Henie's Hollywood debut, One In a Million (1936).

This comic business was deleted from On the Avenue (1937).


The Ritz Brothers were in full force, not expunged, excised, eradicated or cancelled, in Pack Up Your Troubles (1939).


The brothers were prominently featured in the musical You Can't Have Everything (1937). 


No one could roll their eyes like Harry Ritz.


The brothers take to the gridiron in Life Begins in College (1937).

The Ritz Brothers share top billing with the Andrew Sisters in Argentine Nights (1940).

The brothers are featured in a lobby card for Hi-Ya, Chum! (1943).

Here are a couple of promotional portraits of the brothers.

Here are lobby cards for Larry Semon comedies.  The first lobby card is for The Dome Doctor (1925).  The others are for The Rent Collector (1921).


A generous amount of cobwebs adorn the sets of Paul Leni's murder mystery The Last Warning (1929).

A dummy was always good for a laugh in a Sennett comedy, but Sennett veteran Slim Summerville found that a dummy could also be good for a fright in The Last Warning.

Vernon Dent appears as a waiter in The Glass Key (1942).


Lloyd Hamilton and Lige Conley perform the mirror routine in Hello Hollywood (1925).

Here are lobby cards for Lloyd Hamilton's The Optimist (1923).


The trying on hats routine is performed by Charles Servaes  in Polycarpe commis d'architecte (1913).

Snub Pollard appears as comic relief in Stingaree (1934).

Lupino Lane and Lillian Roth perform an energetic musical number in The Love Parade (1929).  Lane incorporates his stock acrobatic tricks into his dance moves.

Here are more  scenes from The Love Parade.


Here is a portrait of Lane and Roth used to promote the film.

 Lane and Harry Welchman in the 1919 stage production "Afgar."


This is Lane in a 1927 Educational comedy, Some Scout 

Some Scout is, unfortunately, a lost film.

Lane gags it up in a hospital in Good Night Nurse (1929).

Lane gets help from band leader Paul Whitman in carrying a car.

Lane smiles for a portrait circa 1920s.

Betty Boyd threatens to slit Lane's throat in Pirates Beware (1928).

Lane carried much silent comedy business into the sound era with the 1931 British feature No Lady.  The film involves a henpecked husband who gets tangled up with international spies during a family vacation.


Lane's career is examined in my book "Eighteen Comedians of Silent Film," which is now available in a revised Kindle edition.

Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd formed a Laurel and Hardy type of relationship in the 1960s British sitcom Hugh and I (1962-1968).

 Billy Dooley


Sir George Robey


Charles Dorety starred in the Century Comedy A Dark Horse (1922).

Joe Rock starred in Too Much Dutch (1923)

This photo promoted the "Blondie" radio series.

Reference source

Ben Yagoda, "The Lives They Lived: Arthur Worsley; Suffering Silently," The New York Times (December 30, 2001).

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