Ventriloquists, much like clowns, feature in horror as well as comedy, for they are not just funny, but more than a little uncanny and strange. Accordingly TCM has programmed an interesting mix tonight of both kinds of ventriloquism movies: the comic and the horrific. Are they doing this to honor David Strassman’s birthday? Unlikely, but it’s a nice coincidence.
The fun starts at 8pm EST with two Vitaphone shorts starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Two Boobs in a Balloon (1935) and Nut Guilty (1936). The program abruptly shifts in a a spooky direction with Dead of Night (1945), Magic (1978), William Castle’s Shanks (1974), and the 1930 remake of Tod Browning’s The Unholy Three, all of which we wrote about in this post about scary ventriloquism movies. This of course takes us well into tomorrow, at which point, at 3:45am, they screen the 1942 comedy Here We Go Again, which brings together Edgar Bergen and Mortimer Snerd with fellow radio stars Fibber McGee and Molly, Harold Peary, Gale Gordon, and Bill Thompson (a.k.a. “Droopy”). Then two more Bergen shorts from 1937, Bring on the Girls and A Neckin’ Party.
And if that’s not enough vent action for ye, by all means, please peruse the ventriloquism section of Travalanche which has nearly 100 posts related to the topic and its best known practitioners. And to learn more about vaudeville, where stars like Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy throve, please read my book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous