Well, this old vaudeville lover is busting at the seams, and you orta be, too. Tomorrow at 10:15am (EST) TCM will be showing the 1930 film Rain or Shine, directed by Frank Capra and starring the great Joe Cook.
Almost unknown today, Cook was one of the top vaudeville and Broadway stars of the teens and twenties, easily a peer of the likes of the Marx Brothers, Ed Wynn and Bert Lahr. There’s not much film of him though, which is one reason why he has been less remembered. In addition to this feature, there are numerous comedy shorts for Education Pictures, and a 1936 western called Arizona Mahoney, which also features Buster Crabbe. The latter picture doesn’t give much sense of Cook’s crazily diverse range of skills. Rain or Shine, which is set in a circus, apparently does. So I can’t wait to see it. For more on vaudeville superman Cook, read my full autobiographical post here.
To find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
For more on early film comedy please check out 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