Archive for the Red Skelton Category

Tomorrow on TCM: A Welter of Skelton

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Hollywood (History), Movies, Red Skelton with tags , , , on January 8, 2017 by travsd

Tomorrow, starting early in the day, TCM will feature a day long marathon of Red Skelton movies. Now, I know Red’s not every guzzler’s glass of gin, but he’s grown on me a lot with repeated exposure. He was a bigger talent than his films generally allowed for. His physical genius tells me he was a great stage comedian; that’s no secret, and there was no shortage of laughter from the studio audience on his tv show. But film acting is all about the eyes; they reveal a state of mind. Red’s peepers always tell us he’s thinking the part of his character — even when the character is vacant. Most of his scripts are dull, plodding things, but they usually have their moments, and those moments tend to be a result of Skelton’s performance.

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6:00am (EST) Maisie Gets Her Man (1942)

The best of Ann Sothern’s Maisie series – – at least I may have enjoyed this one the most.  It contains the most entertaining elements. We get to see Maisie at work in a vaudeville type theatre. When it starts out she is a knife thrower’s target girl, in full showgirl get-up.  Fritz Feld (the character actor best known for his mouth popping routine) plays the knife thrower. Red Skelton is Maisie’s love interest, a comedian with stage fright, and the cast also includes Leo Gorcey, Donald Meek, Walter Catlett, Rags Ragland and Willie Best (a.k.a. Sleep ‘n’ Eat). Directed by Roy Del Ruth.

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7:30 am (EST) Dubarry Was a Lady  (1943)

A Cole Porter musical, originally a stage vehicle for Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman, here replaced by Skelton and Lucille Ball. The cast also includes a very young Zero Mostel as well as Gene Kelly. It’s the old Connecticut Yankee formula–about a men’s room attendant who first wins a sweepstakes and gets a lot of money and then gets a Mickey Finn and dreams that he is Louis XV and the girl he loves is Madam Dubarry. Its fabulous opening number reminds me of the one that opens The Kid from Spain. The book and lyrics are witty but it suffers from what I consider a flaw.  How the hell does a guy this dumb and this uneducated know who Louie XV and Madame DuBarry are?

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9:15am (EST) I Dood It (1943)

Essentially a remake of Buster Keaton’s Spite Marriage (with Buster on board as gag man, as he would throughout many of these MGM features). Red doesn’t play the Mean Wittle Kid in this but he and the producers do make hay of the popular catch phrase.  The film co-stars Eleanor Powell, who makes a pretty unappealing star at this stage – she is sort of drawn and severe looking. The movie is certainly complicated by the fact that Powell’s rival for Red’s affections is vastly more beautiful and sexier than she is. Powell plays a difficult tempestuous star who accidentally marries her stage door Johnny (Skelton) because she thinks he has a fortune (and she wants to make her philandering fiancé jealous). But Skelton’s actually just a pants presser who likes to dress in his customer’s evening clothes and be seen around town (business copped from Lloyd and Chaplin). She tries to drug him on their wedding night and the drinks get switched—here Red reenacts Keaton’s famous Spite Marriage bit. Butterfly McQueen is in it, this being MGM and all. And Powell gets to tap dance in a Hawaiian fantasy number. Of course by the end, Powell falls for him in spite of all.

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11am (EST) Bathing Beauty (1944)

A contrived vehicle jerry-rigged to incorporate the special talents of Esther Williams. She plays a college swimming instructor. Red plays her songwriting fiance. When he hears Red plans to retire from show business, a producer played by Basil Rathbone conspires to break them up. I refer to this movie in Chain of Fools as an example of how physical comedy backslid in movie after the advent of talkies. “Bathing Beauty presents the odd spectacle of Skelton ignoring his gifts as a mime throughout the entire movie in order to speak the lines in a none too witty script. Then he is given a three-minute mime routine as a show-within-the-show—as though mime were some alien art form somehow novel to feature in a film (notwithstanding the cinema’s first thirty years). Skelton’s picture (see? We call it a picture) is instead stolen by Harry James and his Orchestra, which one could appreciate just as easily on a radio or a phonograph.”

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1pm (EST) The Show Off (1946)

Skelton makes a bang-up Aubrey Piper in this fairly excellent remake of the old George Kelly vehicle. It’s been tweaked and updated somewhat from earlier versions, but the casting is excellent, with Skelton’s brash cluelessness butting up against mother in law Marjorie Main’s icy stare. Marilyn Maxwell plays his wide-eyed wife, whom he nicknames “Turner” after Lana Turner, a sort of in-joke.

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2:30pm (EST) Merton of the Movies (1947)

The umpteenth version of this old warhorse (although many of the versions simply steal the plot and call it something else). First a short story by Harry Leon Wilson, than a 1922 Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman, then a 1924 silent comedy. And see Mabel Normand’s The Extra Girl and Lloyd’s Movie Crazy for uncredited piracies! Red plays a bumpkin from Kansas who’s just dying to get into movies. By accident he becomes a big comedy star — only he doesn’t know that people are laughing at him. Virginia O’Brien plays his guardian angel and love interest.

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4pm (EST) The Yellow Cab Man (1950)

Many of Skelton’s plots were borrowed from old Keaton and Lloyd comedies; the premise of this one bears more than passing resemblance to the W.C. Fields features So’s Your Old Man (1926) and You’re Telling Me (1934). In those movies Fields invents an unpoppable tire and tries to sell it to companies. Here, Red is a cabbie who has invented an unbreakable windshield. Lots of stars in this one: Gloria DeHaven (we’ve blogged about her father), Edward Arnold, James Gleason, Walter Slezak, Jay C. Flippen and Polly Moran. 

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5:30pm (EST) Watch the Birdie (1950)

Essentially a remake of Keaton’s The Cameraman, with Red as a professional photographer who tries to dig himself out of debt by becoming one of the paparazzi, and ends up getting involved with a glamorous heiress (Arlene Dahl) and a vivacious starlet (Ann Miller).

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6:45pm (EST) Half a Hero (1953)

One of Red’s last starring vehicles and you can see the old comedy machine grinding to a halt. It’s an attempt at a more mature comedy, and they were doing a lot of these kinds of movies in the 50s and 60s (Bob Hope is in about ten of them): middle aged writer moves to suburbia and is vaguely dissatisfied with his life, vaguely almost decides to make a change, and then decides not to. C’mon! That’s a movie?

Tomorrow on TCM: Comedies of Red Skelton

Posted in Comedians, Comedy, Hollywood (History), Movies, Red Skelton with tags , , , , on July 17, 2016 by travsd

Tomorrow is comedian Red Skelton’s birthday. Turner Movie Classics will mark the occasion by screening his films throughout the day. I am grateful for this particular line-up, as it contains four films I haven’t yet seen, bringing me close to having seen the entire Red canon. Times below are all eastern Standard. On the menu are:

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6:00am: The Show-Off (1946)

Skelton makes a bang-up Aubrey Piper in this fairly excellent remake of the old George Kelly vehicle. It’s been tweaked and updated somewhat from earlier versions, but the casting is excellent, with Skelton’s brash cluelessness butting up against mother in law Marjorie Main’s icy stare. Marilyn Maxwell plays his wide-eyed wife, whom he nicknames “Turner” after Lana Turner, a sort of in-joke.

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7:30am: Merton of the Movies (1947)

The umpteenth version of this old warhorse (although many of the versions simply steal the plot and call it something else). First a short story by Harry Leon Wilson, than a 1922 Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman, then a 1924 silent comedy. And see Mabel Normand’s The Extra Girl and Lloyd’s Movie Crazy for uncredited piracies! Red plays a bumpkin from Kansas who’s just dying to get into movies. By accident he becomes a big comedy star — only he doesn’t know that people are laughing at him. Virginia O’Brien plays his guardian angel and love interest.

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9:00am: A Southern Yankee (1948)

This might be my favorite Red Skelton movie. The hand of Buster Keaton (a gag man on many Skelton features) is all over it, and it is just FULL of good stuff, almost every second. Red is a bellboy in a Missouri hotel who wants to get in on the Civil War. By a series of accidents he identifies and captures a notorious Rebel spy. Now he is given a truly dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Along the way of course he falls for a Rebel girl, the daughter of a Confederate general. Even that impossible predicament works itself out. Brian Donlevy is one of the villains.

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10:45am: The Yellow Cab Man (1950)

Many of Skelton’s plots were borrowed from old Keaton and Lloyd comedies; the premise of this one bears more than passing resemblance to the W.C. Fields features So’s Your Old Man (1926) and You’re Telling Me (1934). In those movies Fields invents an unpoppable tire and tries to sell it to companies. Here, Red is a cabbie who has invented an unbreakable windshield. Lots of stars in this one: Gloria DeHaven (we’ve blogged about her father), Edward Arnold, James Gleason, Walter Slezak, Jay C. Flippen and Polly Moran. 

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12;15pm: Excuse My Dust (1951)

Red plays a misfit inventor in the gay 90s. It has a Meet Me in St Louis vibe, and the color in the movie is just gorgeous. It’s all about his drive to invent an automobile. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and silly (there’s even a musical number called “Get a Horse”.) His prinicipal opposition includes the father of his girlfriend (William Demarest) who owns a livery stable, and the rival for the girl, college boy MacDonald Carey. It’s a pleasant enough movie…but it would be so much funnier in the hands of someone like Keaton. The plot is so much the emphasis that it plays like a drama for the most part. And it stops dead constantly for songs. Several jokes about the near-sightedness of people at the time and resistence to change, and several fantasy sequences about the future. The whole movie is just about completely by the numbers.

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1;45pm: Texas Carnival (1951)

Red and frequent co-star Esther Williams run at a dunk tank at the carnival, until a series of mix-ups have them masquerading as a couple of Texas millionaires and occupying some dude’s ranch. This one seems to cobble together elements of Maisie was a Lady and City Lights. The cast also eatures Ann Miller, Howard Keel, Hans Conried and Keenan Wynn (as the drunken Texas millionaire).

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3:15pm: Lovely to Look At (1952)

A remake of the musical Roberta, with Red playing the Bob Hope role.

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5:00pm: The Clown (1953)

The Clown is a remake of The Champ essentially, more of a drama than a comedy. In scale it seems sort of a comedown for Red after all his lavish MGM vehicles of the 40s and early 50s. But it also feels like a much more personal work…his clown character is the one we know well from television. He works at Steeplechase Park! He gets fired for harassing customers (and for  drinking).  Has a kid (Tim Considine). He is a former Ziegfeld star, now he’s a bottom feeding clown scrapping for gigs (and losing them). After bottoming out, his old agent gets him a shot on TV and he collapses and dies. The kid goes back with his mother. It’s a heartbreaker! Red was a real artist — he ought to be better remembered.

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6:45pm: The Great Diamond Robbery (1953)

Red is a ne’er-do-well assistant diamond cutter; James Whitmore is a crooked lawyer who recruits con artists to play his long lost family so they can get their hands on a big hunk of ice.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

Tomorrow on TCM: Classic Comedies About Cameras!

Posted in Bob Hope, Buster Keaton, Comedians, Comedy, Hollywood (History), Movies, Red Skelton, Silent Film with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2016 by travsd

Tomorrow on Turner Classic Movies, they are showing comedy related pictures all the live long day. We wanted to point out three comedies we thought would be of especial interest to our readers:

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6:00am (EST):  Buster Keaton in The Cameraman (1928)

The Cameraman was Keaton’s first film as an MGM contract player. The change would rapidly prove to have been a bad career decision, but nevertheless The Camerman is one of Keaton’s best films. Like Sherlock Jr, it is a film about film. Keaton plays a still photographer who wants to be a movie cameraman for newsreels. He’s terrible to begin with – his first attempts are a chopped-salad of double exposures, backwards footage and erratic film speeds, a kind of marriage of One Week’s cockamamie house and the cinematic tricks in Sherlock Jr. By the movie’s end he will not only perform a daring rescue, but get footage of it, securing the girl and the coveted job all in one fell swoop. This is awfully close to Lloyd territory, but Keaton manages to own it with many deft touches. Some of his most famous moments are in the film. Eager to get footage of a disaster in progress, he leaps onto a passing fire truck…only to have it pull immediately into the fire station. And there is another scene where he goes to Yankee Stadium to cover a game…but it turns out to be an “away” day. Undaunted, he mimes an entire baseball game by himself, an homage to the famous circus clown Slivers Oakley.

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7:30am: Bob Hope in My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Hope’s parody of Sam Spade pictures, following up on the success of My Favorite Blonde. Hope is a baby photographer with an office right across from private eye Alan Ladd. This allows him to get mistaken for a shamus himself by Dorothy Lamour. From here, the story gets played too straight for my tastes. Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney Jr play bad guys.

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10:30am: Red Skelton in Watch the Birdie (1950)

Essentially a remake of Keaton’s The Cameraman, with Red as a professional photographer who tries to dig himself out of debt by becoming one of the paparazzi, and ends up getting involved with a glamorous heiress (Arlene Dahl) and a vivacious starlet (Ann Miller).

For more on silent and slapstick comedy please see my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

 

Film Comedies of Red Skelton

Posted in Clown, Comedians, Comedy, CRITICISM/ REVIEWS, Hollywood (History), Movies, Red Skelton with tags , , , on July 18, 2015 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Red Skelton (for my full bio on the 20th century comedian go here). I thought I would take the occasion to enhance the Skelton presence on Travalanche by talking about most (though not all) off his Hollywood movies.

Skelton’s screen persona was interesting…essentially he took over where Joe E. Brown left off. Like Brown he usually plays a goofy bumpkin or naif who has to transcend his limitations in order to save the day (the plots are generally variations on those of Harold Lloyd or Buster Keaton features). Red ruled the cinema for pretty much the entirety of the 1940s. As the 50s wore on, he was such an unrelenting presence on television that he moved away from films (at the very same time he was aging out of his screen character anyway).

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Whistling in the Dark  (1941) 

Since Red’s first fame came from radio it makes sense that in one of his first big vehicles he would play a radio personality. Here, he plays a radio detective named “The Fox” who is kidnapped and forced to devise the perfect murder, and then has to escape and solve it. The climax ends up happening over the radio (the only way for him to get the word out from the killer’s lair where he is imprisoned) so the film has a clever sort of media/meta aspect that is mildly thought provoking. Some cool references to  Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds incident which had happened only a couple of years earlier. Rags Ragland plays a thug. Skelton reprised this role in two sequels: Whistling in Dixie (1942) and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).  

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Maisie Gets her Man (1942) 

The sixth and perhaps the best in Ann Sothern’s “Maisie” series about the heavily traveled Brooklyn chorus girl. When we first meet Maisie she is working in a vaudeville type theatre as a target girl for a professional knife thrower played by familiar bit player Fitz Feld. Red plays her love interest, a comedian with stage fright. With Leo Gorcey, Donald Meek, Walter Catlett, Rags Ragland and Willie Best (Sleep ‘n’ Eat). Directed by Roy Del Ruth.

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Panama Hattie (1942)

A screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical with songs by Cole Porter, book by Herbert Fields and Buddy de Sylva, although the film only keeps four of Porter’s songs and replaces the remaining ones with others because the original ones were considered too risqué. It’s about three sailors in the Panama Canal Zone, and Hattie, a singer/might club owner who loves a fellah who has a daughter. There’s something magical about the all-star cast: Skelton, Ben Blue, Rags Ragsland, Ann Sothern, Virginia O’Brien, Alan Mowbray etc. with turns by Lena Horne and the Berry Brothers.  Directed by Norman McLeod (with some retakes by Roy Del Ruth) and musical numbers staged by Vincent Minelli.)

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Dubarry Was a Lady  (1943)

Another Cole Porter musical, originally a stage vehicle for Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman, here replaced by Skelton and Lucille Ball. The cast also includes a very young Zero Mostel as well as Gene Kelly. It’s the old Connecticut Yankee formula–about a men’s room attendant who first wins a sweepstakes and gets a lot of money and then gets a Mickey Finn and dreams that he is Louis XV and the girl he loves is Madam Dubarry. Its fabulous opening number reminds me of the one that opens The Kid from Spain. The book and lyrics are witty but it suffers from what I consider a flaw.  How the hell does a guy this dumb and this uneducated know who Louie XV and Madame DuBarry are?

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I Dood It (1943)

Essentially a remake of Buster Keaton’s Spite Marriage (with Buster on board as gag man, as he would throughout many of these MGM features). Red doesn’t play the Mean Wittle Kid in this but he and the producers do make hay of the popular catch phrase.  The film co-stars Eleanor Powell, who makes a pretty unappealing star at this stage – she is sort of drawn and severe looking. The movie is certainly complicated by the fact that Powell’s rival for Red’s affections is vastly more beautiful and sexier than she is. Powell plays a difficult tempestuous star who accidentally marries her stage door Johnny (Skelton) because she thinks he has a fortune (and she wants to make her philandering fiancé jealous). But Skelton’s actually just a pants presser who likes to dress in his customer’s evening clothes and be seen around town (business copped from Lloyd and Chaplin). She tries to drug him on their wedding night and the drinks get switched—here Red reenacts Keaton’s famous Spite Marriage bit. Butterfly McQueen is in it, this being MGM and all. And Powell gets to tap dance in a Hawaiian fantasy number. Of course by the end, Powell falls for him in spite of all.

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Bathing Beauty (1944)

A contrived vehicle jerry-rigged to incorporate the special talents of Esther Williams. She plays a college swimming instructor. Red plays her songwriting fiance. When he hears Red plans to retire from show business, a producer played by Basil Rathbone conspires to break them up. I refer to this movie in Chain of Fools as an example of how physical comedy backslid in movie after the advent of talkies. “Bathing Beauty presents the odd spectacle of Skelton ignoring his gifts as a mime throughout the entire movie in order to speak the lines in a none too witty script. Then he is given a three-minute mime routine as a show-within-the-show—as though mime were some alien art form somehow novel to feature in a film (notwithstanding the cinema’s first thirty years). Skelton’s picture (see? We call it a picture) is instead stolen by Harry James and his Orchestra, which one could appreciate just as easily on a radio or a phonograph.”

20070223-SkeltonRochester1

The Show Off (1946)

Skelton makes a bang-up Aubrey Piper in this fairly excellent remake of the old George Kelly vehicle. It’s been tweaked and updated somewhat from earlier versions, but the casting is excellent, with Skelton’s brash cluelessness butting up against mother in law Marjorie Main’s icy stare. Marilyn Maxwell plays his wide-eyed wife, whom he nicknames “Turner” after Lana Turner, a sort of in-joke.

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Merton of the Movies (1947)

The umpteenth version of this old warhorse (although many of the versions simply steal the plot and call it something else). First a short story by Harry Leon Wilson, than a 1922 Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman, then a 1924 silent comedy. And see Mabel Normand’s The Extra Girl and Lloyd’s Movie Crazy for uncredited piracies! Red plays a bumpkin from Kansas who’s just dying to get into movies. By accident he becomes a big comedy star — only he doesn’t know that people are laughing at him. Virginia O’Brien plays his guardian angel and love interest.

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The Fuller Brush Man (1948)

A classic! In which ne’er-do-well Red needs to make something of himself in order to proved himself to his sweetheart (Janet Blair) and thus becomes a Fuller Brush salesman (a scenario not unlike Joe E. Brown’s Earthworm Tractors). This teensy step up draws him into an elaborate web culminating in a murder mystery with him as chief suspect. The murder weapon? A Fuller Brush!

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A Southern Yankee (1948)

This might be my favorite Red Skelton movie. The hand of Keaton is all over it, and it is just FULL of good stuff, almost every second. Red is a bellboy in a Missouri hotel who wants to get in on the Civil War. By a series of accidents he identifies and captures a notorious Rebel spy. Now he is given a truly dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Along the way of course he falls for a Rebel girl, the daughter of a Confederate general. Even that impossible predicament works itself out. Brian Donlevy is one of the villains.

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Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

Red teams up again with Esther Williams — a lot of mishigas about a swimsuit company and cavorting around in South America with Ricardo Montalban and — yes — Mel Blanc as “Pancho”.

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Three Little Words (1950)

How’s this for three little words?: Deadly, Dull, Movie. I take the sins of this film personally because its subjects Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby are two of my favorite songwriters and screenwriters. They were screamingly hilarious and  clever writers, so I’m assuming they must have come off that way in real life. But you’d never know it from this film, which casts Skelton and Fred Astaire (two normally entertaining men to put it mildly) as the team and then proceeds to present the writers as a couple of yawn-inducing drips. The film was and is much praised as one of the better examples of the genre but I simply don’t see it. I find it a big drag. It’s often praised for its realism, but, um, something tells me Bert Kalmar didn’t dance anything like Fred Astaire does in this movie. And the relationship between the two guys is depressing, with the power dynamic tilted toward Kalmar and Skelton’s Ruby as an insecure sad sack. (Ruby was an advisor on the picture. What’d he do, yell, “More pathos!”?) And what’s with these two conspicuous goys playing the team? They don’t have any Jews in Hollywood? On the plus side, the real life Helen Kane dubs her vocals for “I Wanna Be Loved By You”, lip-synced by an early career Debbie Reynolds. 

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Watch the Birdie (1950)

Essentially a remake of Keaton’s The Cameraman, with Red as a professional photographer who tries to dig himself out of debt by becoming one of the paparazzi, and ends up getting involved with a glamorous heiress (Arlene Dahl) and a vivacious starlet (Ann Miller).

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Excuse My Dust  (1951)

Red plays a misfit inventor in the gay 90s. It has a Meet Me in St Louis vibe, and the color in the movie is just gorgeous. It’s all about his drive to invent an automobile. Everyone thinks he’s crazy and silly (there’s even a musical number called “Get a Horse”.) His prinicipal opposition includes the father of his girlfriend (William Demarest) who owns a livery stable, and the rival for the girl, college boy MacDonald Carey. It’s a pleasant enough movie…but it would be so much funnier in the hands of someone like Keaton. The plot is so much the emphasis that it plays like a drama for the most part. And it stops dead constantly for songs. Several jokes about the near-sightedness of people at the time and resistence to change, and several fantasy sequences about the future. The whole movie is just about completely by the numbers

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The Clown (1953)

The Clown is a remake of The Champ essentially, more of a drama. In scale it seems sort of a comedown for Red after all his lavish MGM vehicles of the 40s and early 50s. But it also feels like a much more personal work…his clown character is the one we know well from television. He works at Steeplechase Park! He gets fired for harassing customers (and for  drinking).  Has a kid (Tim Considine). He is a former Ziegfeld star, now he’s a bottom feeding clown scrapping for gigs (and losing them). After bottoming out, his old agent gets him a shot on TV and he collapses and dies. The kid goes back with his mother. It’s a heartbreaker! Red was a real artist — he ought to be better remembered.

For more on classic comedy don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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Tonight: Neptune’s Daughter and The Ziegfeld Follies

Posted in Broadway, Hollywood (History), Movies, PLUGS, Red Skelton with tags , , , on September 21, 2014 by travsd

Tonight, TCM will be showing a pair of films calculated to appeal to show biz buffs:

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8pm (EST): Neptune’s Daughter (1949)

Unfortunately has nothing to do with the silent Annette Kellerman vehicle of the same name. This is one of Esther Williams’ all-swimming vehicles, co-starring Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban, Betty Garrett, Keenan Wynn, Xavier Cugat and Mel Blanc as “Pancho”.

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10pm (EST): Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

Flo Ziegfeld had been dead a decade by the time this MGM musical came out, but William Powell had been successful playing him since, so this vehicle was devised purporting to be a grand new Ziegfeld revue curated and produced from heaven. Fanny Brice is the only actual Ziegfeld star to return for the film, but there’s a constellation of other big time vaudeville and movie talent: Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Victor Moore, Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Lucille Ball et al.

To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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To learn about the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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A Thanksgiving Message from Red Skelton

Posted in Comedy, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Red Skelton, Television, Thanksgiving, TV variety with tags , , on November 25, 2013 by travsd

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Another in our ongoing series of Thanksgiving posts.

Like many an old vaudevillian Red Skelton had a couple of modes. For Red, one was “nut comic”. The other was “humble, heartfelt and sincere”. This holiday message from 1952 partakes of the latter. He seems nervous at first, but upon further reflection, he’s probably just out of breath. This message came at the tail end of one his high energy comedy shows! Learn more Skelton here.

For more on the history of show business consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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A Red Skelton Thanksgiving (Radio)

Posted in Comedy, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Radio (Old Time Radio), Red Skelton, Thanksgiving with tags , , , on November 25, 2013 by travsd

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Another in our ongoing series of Thanksgiving posts.

This Thanksgiving themed show called “Things To Be Thankful For” was broadcast by Red Skelton on November 21, 1951, during the period when he was doing both tv and radio versions of his weekly show at the same time (a common practice at the time). Learn more Skelton here.

For more on the history of show business consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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