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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Here's Harry!


The Joy Of Metro Movietone Revues

This was a first of four one-reel subjects included as bonus on The Broadway Melody DVD, Revues being MGM answer to Vitaphone shorts done by Warner Bros. Each was like a vaudeville turn, twelve-thirteen minutes, but with three or more numbers by assorted artists. Emcee is Harry Rose --- outlandishly prissy by modern measure --- watchers need reminding that many an effective stage man went all out w/fey gesturing ... just recall Eddie Cantor or Jack Benny in performance --- yet here was basis for much of humor they made. Would we prefer he-man monologists/vaude M.C.'s? For all their gifts, I doubt Richard Dix or Jack Holt could have played the Palace. Harry Rose worked a long, and at times successful, career, known as "Broadway's Jester," and immortalized here for sterling render of "Frankfurter Sandwiches," a number which must be seen/heard to be believed. As an excerpt and sampling of way-out vaudeville, it is second only to Gus Vinner and His Singing Duck. Rose would enter with "Here's Harry!," as if we already knew, and his telling would be superfluous. Acts he brackets, other than headlining Van and Schenck, could use footnotes --- who, for instance, was child singer Grace Rogers, and what became of her? Then there are The Capitolians, who did house music for Loews' Broadway site. Metro Movietone Revue I, and others of the group, are highly recommended, but you can see Harry exult over Frankfurters anytime at You Tube.

6 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

I daresay Van and Schenck could also use explanatory notes for 99.99 percent of the public. They're pretty great in this short too.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Grace Rogers became '40s singing star Gracie Barrie. (She changed her name at the suggestion of an agent, to avoid confusion with Ginger Rogers.) Gracie is awfully poised in that Movietone short and, when I first saw it years ago, I couldn't understand why the world hadn't heard from her later. Then I did some digging and found out who she became!

She starred on Broadway alongside veterans Willie Howard and Luella Gear in "Crazy with the Heat," and married bandleader Dick Stabile (fronting the band after Stabile went to war). She also sang four naughty songs for the Soundies movie jukeboxes, and her Soundies became best-sellers when they hit the 16mm market.

3:23 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Great info, Scott. Thanks. Had no idea about Grace Rogers becoming Gracie Barrie.

Dave, I guess I'm thinking Van and Schenck are familiar to folks like US, while the general public ... well, 99.99% might be on the high side ...

3:35 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

Someday you'll have to do more of the "miniature musical comedies."

The last two discs of the Vitaphone Cavalcade of Musical Comedy offer a dozen in Technicolor, ranging from dull but pretty ("Carnival Day") to jawdropping ("What? No Men?" and "Good Morning Eve"). Classic Shorts from the Dream Factory Volume 2 is almost wall to wall with them, mostly in B&W but with an impressive array of oddball plots ("Once Over Lightly", which sets college cliches at a barbering school, is unironically a hoot). Volume 1 has "The Spectacle Maker", a strange elaborate fable that acts like it's making a point but isn't.

Warner and MGM did dozens of them, and while they're not feature quality they certainly look more lavish than filmed musical acts or even big name comedy shorts. Was there exhibitor & audience demand for these?

PS -- Vitaphone Varieties Volume 2 includes Harry Wayman & His Debutantes. Does laughing at this group make one a bad person?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Ron Hutchinson said...

Hi John! To add to Gracie Rogers/Barrie. It's her with Dick Powell at the beginning of FOOTLIGHT PARADE singing "AH! THE MOON IS HERE". She also apreared in some early thirties Vitaphone shorts, including SPEAKING OF OPERATIONS ('33).

10:50 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks for the background on Gracie Rogers, Ron, and for your continued and sterling work at The Vitaphone Project:

http://www.vitaphoneproject.com/

1:15 PM  

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