Back in the Arbuckle briar patch and still awaiting definitive bio's from better authorities than myself. Several are said to be in offing. Roscoe's Pierce-Arrow was auctioned recently, or attempt was made at same, I'm told. Someone had re-painted it astrange color, not unlike spray jobs done on RA's image since besmirch for all time by Frisco law way back in 1921. I'm for tracking Fatty movement from those dark days, his never-give-upping for work behind or in front of cameras. To that last, he'd been forbidden by edict of chief censor Will Hays, but a decade's exile came to clouds parting by 1932 and Warner approach to star in two-reelers shot at Brooklyn facilities. Here was the Roscoe rescue that would have sent him back up pic ladders, if not to height scaled before, at least to comfortable level of regained employment. But for death's intervention, a real comeback seemed likely. Until then was vaudeville, an art RA knew well as patrons thrilled to see such a big, if discredited, name trodding boards before them. Vaude boasted few who'd been so prominent in movies as Roscoe.
In the run-up to his Vitaphone comeback, Arbuckle filled live dates on both coasts, a number of these trade-reviewed with welcome, if spotty, detail of what his performances amounted to. Variety's coverage of a Hollywood Pantages appearance in March 1932 began by saying that Arbuckle was again hesitantly testing the duration of his ostracization, butthat this stand, along with recent work with a Seattle stock company, had caused agitation against him to subside. The act was twenty minutes, Roscoe sparring with a gallery stooge plant, then doing a drum specialty with the house band. The stooge was Jack Shutta, who went back far as Fatty on stages, and worked with him besides on 1931's Windy Riley Goes Hollywood, a short Arbuckle directed. Variety advised the two to lay off on pungent humor, including a Moses and Pharaoh's daughter exchange that was feared to attract censure from forces otherwise disposed to aid Roscoe in his comeback.
The money was modest, certainly in comparison with what Arbuckle earned in halcyon Paramount days before the fall. The comedian got $450 for the week against a split over $15,000 in event that figure was reached, which according to Variety, it wasn't. Two months later, in May 1932, Roscoe was on a loaded bill at New York's Palace Theatre where his was one of ten acts stretching over three hours of show time. It wouldn't set fire to the red plush pastures at Seventh Avenue and Forty-seventh Street, said The New York Times, butwould relieve sodden weight of a previous week's bill. Milton Berle was a so-called "unabashed" master of ceremonies who introduced the "twinkling feet" of Queenie Smith, a headliner who'd later be funny with W.C. Fields in his Paramount comedy, Mississippi. Corpulent clown Arbuckle, of an earlier cinematic day, did well enough with Shutta in repeat of his Pantages act, the stooge situated this time in an upstairs box.
Arbuckle's Series All Depends On 1st Short, said Variety's headline announcement (8/2/32) of a try-out RA comedy for WB-Vitaphone. It was called a "gamble" and product of an understanding reported to have been reached between the Warners and the Hays organization prior to the announcement of Arbuckle's return. Production was to begin August 24, Roscoe to direct himself (though he wouldn't be credited as such in completed Hey, Pop!). Turnover was reasonably quick, Hey, Pop! opening with The Match King on 12/7/32 at Warner's NY flagship, the Strand. Arbuckle was on hand to introduce his first onscreen appearance in a decade. Maybe the audience liked him, but the Times' Mordaunt Hall gave Hey, Pop! a cruel pan: It is a pathetic attempt at sympathetic farce, except possibly for those who like to laugh at Mr. Arbuckle juggling with wheat cakes and eggs or disguising himself in women's clothes, so that he may save a poor little boy from going to an orphanage (count me among "those," Mr. Hall).
The series, thank goodness, went forward, despite the critic's jibe. Roscoe knew best of anyone how tough a comeback could be, but at least he was well-glued to Gotham, where work on sound and live stages could easier be managed. Added to five further two-reelers was continuing vaudeville within a drive's distance.One such noteworthy was Brooklyn trouping at the Metropolitan Theatre, where Arbuckle supported Lee Tracy's latest, The Night Mayor. This was a first week of January in 1933, not a peak period for show houses, being just after holidays when crowds were more inclined to picturegoing, thus a "mild" $20,000 banked for the 3,500 seat house. What close-by did better? Well, there was Russ Columbo and Monte Blue appearing with If I Had A Million at the Brooklyn Paramount, good for $35,000, and The Mummy plus vaudeville got a "satisfactory" $22,000 at the Albee.
Company Roscoe kept on stages fascinates as well. He'd help a youngster in career need, to wit a beginning Bob Hope, who, according to the New York Times in a 10/9/32 profile, was spotted by Arbuckle during a night club dance actand invited to join the latter's tour, where several subsequent months were spent in a succession of vaudeville acts and the "tab" shows peculiar to the outlands, said the Times. I've heard that Hope credited Arbuckle for an early boost, but don't recall specific interviews to that effect. Does anyone know where Roscoe got a latter-day mention from Bob? Reportage after Arbuckle's death indicated three of the six Vitaphone comedies yet to be released, these being Close Relations, In The Dough, and Tomalio, a last completed only a few hours before his death (the Times also set Roscoe's estate at not more than $2,000). The Vitaphone Comedy Collection: Volume One from Warner Archive is culmination of long-held hope for the half-dozen Arbuckle shorts on DVD, and contrary to Mordaunt Hall's contrariness, they do not disappoint.
Here's where I (again) sing George Arlisspraises. I don't know another before-camera artist so meticulous, so knowing of just what registered best to moviegoers he never saw. Ringing applause over years on stage taught Arliss what effects worked best, so imagining on-set how a thousand-strong would later react came easy to him. A laugh line had no greater master. Who knewVoltaire was funnier than most that worked at comedy? I recently watched on TCM for a third or so time, and still had forgot how effective this played. Arliss for me occupies a small clutch of players whose stuff is evergreen-watchable, his well of tricks' bottom so far (by me) unreached.
What producer would today back a theatrical release about Voltaire? Past no one knowing who he was, there's anchorage of powdered wigs, poufy sleeves, etc. Arliss makes grand sport with these. Few wore costumes with such aplomb. Bits he does with props is joy unbound for watching. Quill pens, coffee service, a snuff box --- all put before GA to grand comic effect. Arliss was live action's Popeye for a throwaway line, an under-spoke aside (maybe the animated sailor, arriving in 1933, learned from George). Those unacquainted with Arliss err in assuming he was a serious ac-tor, with pitfalls that entailed. Not so. He was light and deft and readier with a quip than most clowns who tried harder. Seeing Voltaire in a crowded house would be some kind of blast. Talk about laughter as contagion --- I didn't measure Arliss pauses for crowd reaction, but I'll bet he factored them in more precisely than even Hope and Crosby later would.
Negative cost of Voltaire was $310K. That was top-end expense for Warners in 1933. Only Busby Berkeley musicals and one or two others cost more. But George Arliss was a money star. I found none of his entered in red ink save Alexander Hamilton (and thatbarely below break even). Voltaire returned $765K in world rentals. Euro revenue was always stout for Arliss. In fact, he was Warner's #1 man for overseas income. So how is it Arliss clicked as well with gum-poppers over here? Maybe it was common touch he applied despite uber-Brit-ness and high flown diction. They knew GA wasn't taking any of it too seriously and was there after all to show humblest of us a good time, which he surely did, in spades.
Voltaire sets were designed by Anton Grot. He should be credited as much as any director for the look of Warner output. Grot made program pictures look like specials. Voltaire used furniture and period knick-knack from 1927's When A Man Loves, according to Robert Fell's fine book, George Arliss: The Man Who Played God. Did Warner brothers collect antiquities during Euro trips like MGM execs? The latter was said to have gathered much across ponds for use in studio historicals. WB wouldn't attach undue importance to Voltaire and kin --- it runs only 72 minutes --- other Arlisses came in even under that (The King's Vacation an hour long). Notable too is how briefly Voltaire and kin stayed in Depression theatres, two days an average with bills shared by news of the day, a cartoon, whatever extras could make a dime seem money's worth.
There was confidence enough not to mislead patrons beyond adding The Affairs Of ... before the title. His public surely knew that whatever affairs an Arliss as Voltaire engaged would be political ones, romance confined as often was case to his being Dan Cupid for younger players. A WB pressbook made suggestions for selling, these not necessarily heeded, though I'd like to think at least a few showmen tied-inwith book merchants to promote The Best Known Works Of Voltaire in its bargain-priced eight volume edition. Arliss was a modern Voltaire after all, his dialogue mightier than swords wielded by other leading men. You'd not accuse 30's patronage of narrow tastes so long as Arliss clicked. I'm only surprised Voltaire was his last at Warners. Did GA, like George Bancroft at Paramount, price himself out of contract renewal? WB would blanch at terrific receipts rival Twentieth-Century Pictures took with The House Of Rothschild and two further Arliss hits the newly-formed and Zanuck-run company produced (according to Fells' book, Warners lodged complaint before the Academy Board for 20th having conducted a "talent raid").
Publicity positioned Arliss as a stickler for dignity and decency, and indeed, his vehicles could as easily have fallen to either side of Code enforcement without notice. Said Voltaire's press release: He allows nothing suggestive or vulgar to appear in any production with which his name is to be associated. He never swears on the screen. Acknowledging GA as being human however, he has been known to do so in real life. Interesting here was WB having forgotten Arliss' "She would probably have been a damn nuisance" curtain line from 1930's The Green Goddess, a finish that surely would have been modified had Code edicts been observed that year as resolutely as they would be after mid-1934.
THE BLACK BIRD (1926)--- My standing rule re
Chaney reads thus: All footage with him is of interest, even scraps off the floor.
Does any personality other than senior Lon command rapt attention for mere
fragments when they're rediscovered? I'm reminded of bits thatKevin Brownlow
put into his LC documentary to which there was keen reaction --- a reel from
otherwise missing Thunder, a snippet of Chaney on a dance floor --- whatever exists of
him is precious. Talk all we please about weakness of his MGM features, not
exempting ones directed by legend Tod Browning, it's still Chaney, and he
compels whatever aridness of surroundings. The Black Bird is actually one of
the better ones. Lon performs again in dual capacity, so there's two flavors of
bizarre, one face a familiar crook guise, the other a twisted twin with
deformity to take breath away from even Chaney-goers who'd seen his 999 other
Turns out both are the same Chaney of course, his
transforms back and forth a chance to observe Jekyll-Hyding on LC's part that
make us regret he never played that role. Merciful heavens --- did Lon throw an
arm and leg out of joint to enact his cripple here? Audiences might have
thought so for body gymnastic done head-to-toe before us --- show me animal or
vegetable that could enact this so chillingly. The story is pulpy and flat
ludicrous at times, but who complains when it's genuine oddity of Browning in
author plus director mode? He must have lived at least partial of this stuff in
medicine show days when god knows what routinely went on. We imagine guys like
Tod and Lon knew life at least somewhat as folks now, though I'd say from
reading bios --- not. It's peculiarity of backstage beginnings that make what
they do on and behind cameras so utterly compelling. Chaney and Browning represent a
silent other-world not to be approached by movies, or moviegoers, again.
36 HOURS TO KILL (1936)--- G-Man Brian Donlevy
poses as newshound to get goods on public enemy Douglas Fowley. Gloria Stuart's
along for the train ride, on which Stepin' Fetchit is aslow-wit porter. All
aboard, then, for a competent hour long (give or take) Fox B, recently out from
their On-Demand program (quality excellent). 36 Hours is half set on rails,
this occurring to me as perfect alibi for cramped sets and budget reigned
tight. Donlevy in (comparative) youth was a livelier wire than later heavies
and Professor Quatermass he did, being an FBI man here, though not designated
as such. Did the Bureau nix Fox's use of their ID? A kind of story writers must
have dreamed up Thursday afternoon in order to collect paychecks on Friday, but
tol'able because of good people that play it. Having such back in circulation
is a kick, for when was the last time TV outlets showed 36 Hours To Kill?
BULLDOZING THE BULL (1938)--- What a high wire
Popeye walked, and for such a run of first-quality cartoons from his intro in
1933 till Paramount 86'ed the Fleischers nine
years later. It's subjective, I know, but my separation of duds from the lot
came to less than a handful, this out of a prolific total of over 100. An
"average" Popeye tends to be any other cartoon series'
"outstanding." Heaven-sent was TV packaging of the lot to syndicated
television in 1956. Stations that played them handily won time slots, whatever
the competition. Black-and-white Popeyes were among last to fall before TV's
scorched earth transition to all-color, littlest kids knowing that early ones
were the best. I remember at five years recognizing the open-close
ship doors as prelude to favorites. Bulldozing The Bull has Popeye verbal
asides in abundance, a bombard of wit that I understand was oft ad-libbed. What
genius it took to elevate, again and again, a formula that would calcify
in hands less capable than the Fleischers (and indeed did once Para took over to make them in-house). Warners' three DVD
volumes are one-and-all treasures.
THE WAGONS ROLL AT NIGHT (1941)--- Humphrey
Bogart was by now a star, just not a romantic star, so still did loser leads
where someone else got the girl and he'd die for a finish. Next-up The Maltese
Falcon would begin rescue from all that, and no more would Bogartbe shoehorned
into pics his kind of persona had little/no business in, like westerns,
cornpone musicals, even horror. Here he is at circus management, wrangling
lions and tamers of same, Wagons a remake of Kid Galahad wherein E.G. Robinson
was more believably the guy multiple women spurn. When a story was good,
Warners kept it coming, with sometimes mere seasons between update.
Sweet-sixteen Joan Leslie does intense emoting with Bogie, gets slapped by him
... I'll have to dig up interviews where she tells what that was like. Jungle
cats take the place of Galahad's gangland menace, Eddie Albert assuming the naïf
part done first by Wayne Morris. Mauling scenes we demand of such pics are
lovingly rendered, Bogie's double getting a face-full of claw. Wagons was
of a sort that made the star grouse loudest, but it's efficient by marginal-A
ways and does neither he nor good support players discredit. Warner Archives'
remastered DVD is fine.
UPDATE: BIRTH BACK TO NORTH CAROLINA--- Thanks to
generous offices of Mike Cline, proprietor of the outstandingThen Playingsite, we have another sampling of Birth Of A Nation as an ongoing theatre
attraction. In this instance, it's Salisbury,
N.C.'s State Theatre, where BOAN
began a two day encore bow on 5/19/40. Had 100 million people actually seen it by
1940? Not sure how the calculation was arrived at, but it makes good ad copy,
and it's sure that Griffith's
epic had by then achieved legend status among several generations. It seemed
everyone would catch the wonder show eventually, one way or the other. Then
Playing's Cline has researched the Birth rate in Salisbury and found it
getting repeated runs there, all the way up to the 1960's and remarkable
place among dusk to dawn drive-inning Ma and Pa Kettle At Waikiki, The
Road To Denver, Son Of Sinbad, and Escape To Burma. Now there's an ozoner
night for the books ...
SOCKING OVER SLEAZE--- You'd think these were
50's paperback covers at first glance, but it's actually a Warner combo circa
'54 for brass knucklers representing last gasp of a B unit the studio was
fazing out. Output from WB slowed drastic from 28 features in 1953 to only 20
in 1954 (not including reissues), part of an overall cutback as the industry
assumed a long-run, if not blockbuster, mentality. Cinemascope was part
responsible for changed attitudes; in any case, small pics like Crime Wave and
Duffy Of San Quentin got the hook. You could sell these as"shockers" for violent
content, if not sex lure indicated in this ad that wouldn't (couldn't under a
still-enforced Code) show up on screen. I just looked at Crime Wave and don't
recall Scream Baby, I Don't Mind anywhere in dialogue. There are
"Gutter-Guns" on view, I suppose, but no "Gang-Girls."
Still, Crime Wave is a honey (haven't yet seen Duffy). Shot in latter months of
1952 (November/December), but held for January '54 release, Crime Wave was
among few (any?) full-frame Warner pics playing off in an otherwise 1.85
season. Titled Don't Cry, Baby, then The City Is Dark before and during
production, the project was initially set for Humphrey Bogart, as would be
months-later The System, but HB was turning away everything Warners tendered,
so sour was he after years of servitude.
Eventually labeled Crime Wave thus
went on B schedule to be produced by Bryan Foy, who was seasoned at these.
Directing Andre De Toth had two weeks and a low budget (neg cost a piddling
$377K, by far a WB lowest for its release year). Worldwide rentals of $880K
meant profit; audiences could still trust Warner for bristling gang subjects.
Gene Nelson was given the ex-con lead, a depart from dance work previously
engaged. Like Gene Kelly at MGM, there was desire on both actor and studio
parts to widen range, thus the two detoured on occasion to rugged subjects.
Pace is quick: there wasn't time to dawdle, givenabbreviated schedule. Crime Wave has much location
and night shooting, a bighelp. Not much regarded then, but
Warner values CW now, as witness HD streaming on their Archive Instant arm.
THE HEART OF SHOW BUSINESS KEPT BEATING--- It's
May 9, 1957 in Cincinnati.
The RKO Albee has a bonus with Untamed Youth that I'd very much like to see
today, but where is The Heart Of Show Business, presented by Variety Clubs? A
forty-minute subject with such star power would make fascinating history today,
and I'm guessing names perform in addition to pitching for thecharity. IMDB
says Ralph Staub was the writer/director. Cecil B. DeMille shows up in it too.
Wonder what John Wayne does, or Jerry Lewis, or Roy Rogers. Oh, and there's
Technicolor as well. Variety Club was a long-time institution by 1957
(Greenbriar visited the topic hereand here). Everyone in show biz answered yes
when they called. My question: are there prints of The Heart Of Show Business
still around? Does Variety Club have a vault containing this and other
featurettes? It certainly wasn't the only one they made. Assuming the Club is still in the
business of raising donations, would a DVD release of The Heart Of Show
Business and similar subjects help toward that? I'd like to hear from anyone
who's just seen one of these.
A FORTY YEAR DELAYED BIRTH--- This is an 8/1/56 Cleveland, Ohio
ad for Birth Of A Nation's revival. At least I thought it was a revival
before discovering that D.W. Griffith's film had been shut out of Ohio since its initial
release back in 1915. Seems there was movement to ban Birth that wound ways to Ohio's
Supreme Court, their uphold of the state censorship edict coming in October of
'15, and remaining in effect all the way till '56. So lo and behold, the HeightsArtTheatre was an apparent first-run for Cleveland. The 40-year exile
had just been declared unconstitutional in another court decision that paved
ways for the Independent Theatre Owners Of Ohio to book Birth throughout member
venues in a special arrangement with the pic's distributor(they'd get
"booking priority"). A first "arter" playdate in Columbus, at the recently
opened Indianola Theatre, had a best boxoffice since the house opened doors,
according to Variety. The distributor added a forward to prints that would
hopefully cool controversy. So, query: How long did Birth Of A Nation continue
to receive mainstream bookings? My first ever exposure was at a Winston-Salem hardtop in
1969, a theatre that normally took first choice of biggest new product, so this
was some kind of anomaly, a real see it to believe it moviegoing experience.
Don't recall the crowd, if any, but the WinstonTheatre
(where I had lately caught 2001: A Space Odyssey) ran Birth's 1930 sound
reissue version, the print of which was in like-new shape.
THE JAZZ SINGER'S STANDOUT--- Again, it's Cleveland. The Stillman,
built in 1916, had become a Loew's house by 1927, seated 1,800, and was
considered the city's "first true movie palace." Any ad for The Jazz
Singer is noteworthy, each theatre wherever located selling it, for good
reason, as a show-world revolution. What strikes me here is management singling
out "the one scene in which Jolson "kids" his "mammy."
This was quoted from a review in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the critic and
Stillman staff noting audience response to the brief dialogue exchange that
history says gave viewers an even bigger thrill than songs Al sang. Such
natural exchange of talk waswhat patrons all went home raving about. Note too
the Stillman's boast of "improved" Vitaphone. Loew had wired the
house early in 1927,Don Juanhaving played there during February-March. Ads throughout
early intro of sound, for many theatres besides the Stillman, refer to upgrades
in voice reproduction. Quality had to have been an issuenearly everywhere,
this being such new and untried technology. Were these promises of a better
aural experience in response to complaints from customers who'd taken a chance
on talkies and been burned?
WHAT'S NEW AT THE SILENT COMEDY MAFIA--- This I
want to mention ahead ofCineventin Columbus.
Noted writer/historian Richard M. Roberts informs me that his new book, SMILEAGE GUARANTEED, PAST HUMOR, PRESENT LAUGHTER, THE
COMEDY FILM INDUSTRY 1910-1945, VOLUME ONE: HAL ROACH, will be available at the
show, where the author will also be on hand to sign copies. Roberts also
informs thatThe Silent Comedy Mafia, an online mainstay for vintage pic
discussion and scholarship, has widened its format to include non-comedy topics
such as sci-fi, horror, noir, and more. What's emphasized is that The Silent Comedy
Mafia will no longer limit content to just silents, or comedy. There is, for
instance, a vintage television category where I've this week seen some
fascinating, and till now elusive, stuff, including a 1961 TV pilot called Just
For Laffs, a comic assemblage that included Moe Howard and Mel Blanc trading
jokes. There's also a video segment from a 1963 series starring Fess Parker,
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,
in which Buster Keaton guests. Who knew Buster and Fess ever worked together?,
yethere it is. The SC Mafia has always been a regular stop for me; now there's
all the more reason to get there regularly.
THUNDERBALL (1965)--- The Bond that arrived at
a highest pitch of excitement for the spy series. I was Liberty-there on
2-26-66, the first through doors at 9:40 AM on a Saturday. How many movie mornings
can be recalled so vividly? 007 was worth waiting a year for. Substitutes,
other than reissued Bond pairs, wouldn't do. NBC broadcast clip-laden 007
specials to precede each new one, and large format mags put the agent on
covers. Advance publicity didn't suffocate as it now would thanks to fewer
outlets spreading word, 1965-66 still an ad world limited to print,
radio, and TV. I should add toys that inundated Christmas '65, Bond being much
aimed at kids from early on. What they offered wasn't mere gimcracks --- Santa
could bring little else down chimneys when youth asked for a 007 road race set
or attaché case, these representing expense beyond ordinary gifts.
Thunderball broke beyond success of so-far
Bonds. They spent more, and it showed to a point of making Goldfinger and
before look like programmers by comparison, but what choice was there? The
series was now a recurring event, and nothing less than spectacular would do.
Critics took harsh note, saying Connery's Bond was swamped by size and decor.
Partly that was true, as sets do dwarf he and co-stars much
of the time, but my recent view found 007's wit and personality much intact,
even as ceiling levels above him increased by a seeming thirty feet. What
series chroniclers forget is that we wanted Thunderball to be a most
extravagant of Bonds. Summer '65's run-up encore of Dr. Noand From Russia With Lovefound both wanting so far as fans (many) whose first exposure had been
slicker-than-either Goldfinger. How could movies but a couple years old
suddenly have seemed old-fashioned? Maybe Thunderball falls appropriately into
you-had-to-be-there category, and for having indeed been there, I treasure it
all the more.
THE VIRGINIAN (1946)--- Some have knocked this
remake of admittedly more memorable 1929 adapt of Owen Wister's story, but it's
such a natural for picture-telling that it's hard blaming Paramount for another go. Characters so vivid
would even tube-endure from 60's into early 70's weekly riding at NBC,
Universal being heir to the property thanks to MCA purchase of pre-48 Paras in
a meantime. Retroplex ran this '46 rendition in startling HD, a kickstart
toward enjoyment that made me happy to have waited lo these years to watch.
Joel McCrea takes Coop's part, Sonny Tufts isill-fated Steve (what's all this
bad actor stuff? --- he's fine here), and Brian Donlevy, kitted out all-black,
does Trampas for he and Joel's reprise of deathless When you call me that, smile.
Top-lined by Paramount in that biggest of all movie attending years,
gad-zillions saw this Virginian and likely recalled it better than an early
talkie original that had been out of wide-view since a '34 reissue. Big
westerns needn't be great westerns to be a joy, as proved by this and super-A's
Paramount did to showcase 40's stars (I'll wait now for Retroplex to H-Do
Whispering Smith with Alan Ladd, and maybe Streets Of Laredo).
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1967)--- This mummy has
been pilloried for loping about in a union suit (some have even detected
zippers). Hammer's Egypt
forays kept better faith with fans than did Universal with earlier, and
diminishing, Kharis chapters. Bray restaging of ancient environs came across
like English drawing rooms, a tomb just entered well lit and near-spotless
despite three thousand years' passage of time. Hammer hadn't run out of style
by 1967 --- far from it --- they could still do lush from a lemon budget, and
actors never played down to content, however ludicrous such often was (stalwart
Michael Ripper gives probably his best-ever performance here). You'd nearly buy
into this Mummy but for grievous shortcutthey took with his costuming, a fatal
decision to dress rather than wrap him. Would a Rugby uniform have been any less inapt? I skipped The
Mummy's Shroud in 1967 ... something about the trailer put me off. Others may
have done the same, as it earned but $256K in domestic rentals. Now I've
watched a gorgeous Region 2Blu-Ray, and thanks in part to that, The Mummy's
Shroud fills modest expectation nicely after a forty-six year wait.
SALT WATER DAFFY (1933)--- It's a "Big
V" comedy from Warners, now packaged by courtesy of their DVD Archive.
What a treasure find these are. Salt Water Daffy turns out to have been largely
remade as Buck Privates eight years later. Same set-up, a near identical first
half. Comic writers had long memories ... of other writer's stuff. Some of salt
water seems to have lodged in these clown's throats, as Daffy evolves into a
contest of harsh voicing by Jack Haley vis a vis tough drill master Lionel
Stander. Haley sure tamped down by the time he became the Tin Man. Here he
sounds more like Bud Abbott to come, another linkwith Buck Privates, to which
parallel add an awkward squad routine with Stander anticipating Nat Pendleton's
frustration. Funny after a curious fashion as oddball two-reelers invariably
are. We're disc-supplied with this because Shemp Howard's a clown in support of
Haley, which goes to further flavor an already must-see short. Is it a wonder
comedians worried of Shemp stealing their spotlight? He does so handily here, being among most naturally funny faces to ever go before a