Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Friday, July 26, 2013

The Star Company Jack Benny Kept


Gary Cooper Visits Jack's 1958 Program

The first "Lost Episode" of Jack Benny I went for in the new DVD set was one from 1958 with guest Gary Cooper. I'd seen the barest clip before of Coop singing Bird Dog, but craved the whole recital, plus whatever else he'd do by way of byplay with Jack. It's emphasized that the two are friends among the Beverly Hills set, dinner at each other's home and that sort of thing. Judging by what a nice guy Benny was said to be in real life, I don't doubt he had friends who made an exception to policy against TV appearing to do just that on JB's program. These had included Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe for starters (did Jack have them over for meals?). The Benny format had ways of making guests look good, his writers a best in the trade for playing biggest names against Jack's wide-known and loved persona. Was it Benny's social standing that made them say yes? Cooper is here partly to plug Man Of The West, a grimmer western than spoofing would indicate; he tells Jack, "we think it's a good one," and so indeed do modern auteurists who follow director Anthony Mann's every 50's move, but Man Of The West wouldn't perform so well for United Artists that year, and Cooper had to wonder in hindsight if maybe his cow-poking days were spent.

In banter with Jack, ol' Coop looks well on in years thanks to unforgiving Kinescope, his a run-through of expected howdys and nopes relied upon any time Gary Cooper appeared as Gary Cooper. The highlight, of course, is GC rocking out with Benny's quartet, The Sportsmen, in rendition of the Everly Brothers hit of late, Bird Dog, amusing '58 watchers all the more because it was so unexpected. Who'd figure Cooper to do television at all, let alone performing a number like this? Unlike guests who limit participation to five-six minutes and the curtain, GC trails along for a whole show, the lengthiest skit a proposed "sequel" to Man Of The West with Jack auditioning as Coop's twin brother. This might have worked still better had they shot on film rather than live-captured by kinescope. We get the act unpolished, some funny stuff  happening places other than where cameras aim, a hazard of live television. Another nicety is Mrs. Cooper and daughter Maria taking bows from the audience per Jack request. It's here we're satisfied the group really were pals off-camera and that Gary Cooper didn't have to be asked twice to come on Benny's show.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dr. OTR said...

I'm about halfway through this set, and loving every episode. One thing I really enjoy is that Jack corpses -- convulses in laughter -- at one point in every single show. With anybody else, it would look unprofessional, perhaps unrehearsed. With Jack it just shows what fun they're all having.

I hope it sells well enough that they come out with volume two! (Or better yet: boxed sets of complete series, or at least as complete as possible.)

10:46 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

It used to make me sad that a brilliant comedian like Jack Benny would be ignore by latter-day generations. But I doubt they would understand the jokes, the persona, etc., without having grown up during a particular time of the 20th-century anyway.

Somewhere on YouTube is a Friars Roast of Jack. Phil Harris and Dennis Day absolutely kill. But nobody under the age of 40, 50 tops, would understand the jokes now. It's spooky knowing we're dinosaurs of sorts, and that one day, greats like Jack Benny will be as unknown as most of those Vitaphone vaudeville acts are to us now.

3:04 PM  
Blogger bgrauman said...

Jack did a filmed version of this episode, with Clint Walker in Cooper's spotlight- which was telecast on October 15, 1963. If Jack found a live sketch extremely funny, AND his audience enthusiastic about it- he would eventually do it again on film, several few years later. However, in some cases, the filmed episodes were NOT staged before a live audience- and sometimes it wasn't the same.

9:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016