A Greenbriar Sport Saturday
Festival Films Celebrates Golf Mania
Have not attempted golf since running a cart into a stream at age twelve, a longer story than needs recounting here. It's with mixed emotion, then, that I approach duffing content in past pics, though rehab may be at hand thanks to Festival Films' DVD compile, Golf Mania, wherein sport shorts, newsreels, and link-based comedies are woven to enjoyable effect. The Festival team, including Bob Campbell, Ron Hall, Derek Myers, and Peter Bedell, have found much footage new to me, along with subjects familiar from elsewhere, but not in such quality as presented here. There are nine segments in Golf Mania, most star-laden, and all entertaining. It's known that movie folk enjoyed golf, many captured in candid footage from a silent era onward. Entertainers never stopped entertaining whatever their activity, and oft-times, it's on the course where we see marquee names working hardest to please onlookers, this again demonstrating fact that all the world was/is a stage, especially where that stage has eighteen fairways and greens.
Audiences seem to enjoy golf, even if they don't themselves play. Bobby Jones' series did well enough to sustain numerous "How to ..." shorts for WB, and miniature golf became a national craze at 30's dawn, becoming serious, if not lethal, competition for picture houses. Champs with clubs found themselves often before cameras or matched with celebrities at charity events. Ben Hogan buddied up with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, or likelier they with him, stars always awed by sport figures who displayed real skills and commanded following equal to or surpassing that of picture folk. Hogan was a golfer legend in his own time who came back from adversity of a car crash figured to scuttle his career, Ben making triumphant recovery to a public's amazement and acclaim. This is recognized by Bob, Bing, and Father James Keller, in Faith, Hope, and Hogan, a 50's episode of The Christophers, Keller's all-star inspirational series that I'd call one of the great untapped wells of vid curiosity. Most of conversation here is ad-libbed, Bing performing a number composed for the occasion. Father Keller is a figure that merits further study. Like Billy Graham around a same time, when he issued the call,
Bing/Bob antics are elsewhere in Golf Mania, including much from news/entertainment coverage of the day, and a two-reeler, Don't Hook Now, released by United Artists in 1943, that was account of Crosby's charity match from that year, and featured numerous celebs communing with the sticks. Don't Hook Now was gold for UA bookers, what with Hope/Crosby at a wartime peak of popularity. Seeing a rapt crowd follow these two around the course is testament to standing they'd achieved, Bob/Bing making comic routine of every drive and putt. Toward outright comedy, Golf Mania also has Larry Semon, with Babe Hardy, in a short called simply Golf, mastered from a Kodascope original, and of fine quality. There is also W.C. Fields in The Golf Specialist, another nice print, and accurate record of a routine Bill honed over years onstage. Golf Mania fills out with sport reels, one of which, Golf Magic, was released to home use by Castle Films. These are heavy on tough shots made from sand traps and shallow water, with slow-mo to demonstrate miracle working among playing pros. Golf Mania is a fun throughout sit, and is available from Festival Films along with other DVD rarities in their inventory.