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Monday, November 30, 2020

Plucked From Tubes, Into Your Theatre

 


Fort Dobbs (1958) Is Clint Walker Standing Tallest


I’m nonplussed by any heavy dumb enough to pick a fight with Clint Walker. He walks into a saloon like Mount Whitney uprooted from the ground, wiser of us ceding space to him, or surrendering where we are quarry he seeks. I never bought “Major Reisman” felling such mighty oak as "Posey" in The Dirty Dozen, even where it’s tougher-than-tough Lee Marvin. Walker was always a gentle giant, soft-spoken because otherwise he’d scare hell out of anyone on sight, Walker a player who had to underplay lest he overpower the lot on sight. His sort is why kindred Godzilla had to enter cities at such plodding pace. We needed time to absorb his gigantic-ness. Big men thrive best where treading gentle. Randolph Scott’s adopted son wrote a book where he shared advise gotten from Dad, to wit, men of size should not dress flashy … opt instead for dark and conservative. Randy was perceptive enough to go for a safe, if neutral, impression upon people who might otherwise be intimidated by him. Was Godzilla a tranquil green for this sensible reason? At least it softened blows of his burning down Tokyo yet again.



Back to Walker then … imagine him fed up and marching to WB executive wing for a contract showdown. I would not have wanted to be the guy saying no to him. Wonder how he stood up to Jack Warner during well-known contretemps over work burden and pay. Jack surely hid behind a human wall of minions, though we may assume Clint was represented by comparative mite-size agency who’d not frighten bosses out of negotiating space. Fact is, Clint Walker had a congenial relationship with Jack L., and sometimes lunched with him. Any man of average or less size likes having a giant for a pal, especially where wading into space where there are other giants potentially less friendly. I saw Clint Walker at a couple of fan meets, had his gracious help for a Yellowstone Kelly post back in 2010. Overlapping shows hosted Virginia Mayo and Richard Eyer, both from Fort Dobbs with Clint, and you wonder what such reunions were like. Just a nod, maybe a hi, or did they pass without recognition of one another? This was in the nineties, going on forty years after Fort Dobbs folded up. How many specifics do any of us recall from so far back? For me, less every day.



WB cowboys less robust recalled Clint fixing up a backlot horse stall for a weight room. He probably could have bench-pressed Plymouths had space been larger. Imagine being Ty Hardin or Will Hutchins, cocks of the Warner walk … then here comes Clint. Latter was obliged to doff his shirt where screen circumstance called for it, or didn’t, Walker seldom a burden upon the wardrobe department. There’s a night scene in Fort Dobbs where Virginia Mayo gazes frankly upon his manly pecs, her naked under a blanket, having woke after he rescued her from river torrent and took off her clothes because, well, she’s soaked and might after all get pneumonia (a handy means in Code movies for heroes to check out goods before committing). Walker was thus there for display purposes, a physical specimen not to be believed, his a male opportunity to realize what distaff staff at Warners (and elsewhere) coped with in order to act in movies, Virginia Mayo's an opposite sex equivalent of career spent painted and poised. She is refreshingly natural and un-made up in Fort Dobbs, and for my money more attractive than where overbaked by costumers and face-alterers. Mayo surely appreciated that for the effective performance she gives here.



Whether Clint could act was less a concern, and who cared, because the man could sure ride, knock heads plumb off shoulders where needed (in fact, fist work was minimal because who had ghost of a chance against him?). Armed with fine Burt Kennedy dialogue, little of that because “Gar Davis” is a man of fewest words, Walker has opposition that is chatty Brian Keith, him a reprise of Lee Marvin as spoken for by Kennedy in Seven Men From Now. When a thing is good enough, you can safely do it again, and again, as Kennedy had, and would, right from ’56 (Seven Men) through ’60 (Comanche Station). Kennedy was asked why his work afterward fell below quality of these from a decade before. He replied that the business had so changed, plus audience feel for how westerners should comport … old standards, codes of honor, swept asunder by attitude alter for keeps. Kennedy, Boetticher, others of the older school, surely felt alone in what was left of a western landscape. Soon enough, the genre itself would winnow out. Fort Dobbs is of pleasing piece with better known Renown projects for Randolph Scott that Kennedy wrote and Budd Boetticher directed, even as the story runs more along Hondo lines. I wondered at first if Fort Dobbs was a remake, or mimicry to go uncredited. Someone’s fresh idea for a western was fated to be grist for others with ideas less fresh, seizing a best of what worked before with hope the homage would not be too apparent.



Came across Fort Dobbs on the hard drive, a TCM broadcast wide and HD, which I recalled little enough so it would seem new, credits settling my right choice via scribe Kennedy, Max Steiner for music, Gordon Douglas the director. Economical yes (negative cost: $886K), but there is sweep to locations, action manifest, plus Warners hand-shaking again with TV, now a partner toward grosses a Fort Dobbs could never get were it not for tube-to-turnstiles kids (and grown-ups) who wanted more of Clint Walker and were willing to pay for him. I’d be remiss not to mention these ads and posters. They are, as always, whipped cream on pudding that is Warner work of the late 50’s, whether it’s Walker being sold (here or for Yellowstone Kelly), Jim Garner (Darby’s Rangers), Kook Byrnes (again Yellowstone Kelly … and Darby’s Rangers), or Tab/Nat (sounds like a candy, and is, based on The Burning Hills and The Girl He Left Behind), not ignoring Cash McCall with Jim/Nat. Warners would in fact tickle teen pulse right into the 60’s with Susan Slade and further Troy/Connies. I lived through all this, regrettably in rompers, for what joy it would have been to pant for each jump from couch to concessions (King of the TV-bred lot? I say Rio Bravo, notwithstanding Duke and Dean). Fort Dobbs can be had from Warner Archive.





Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Ambersons Thanksgiving

 


The Spell Welles Still Casts


Watching The Magnificent Ambersons led me again to ponder what-ifs as to fate of Orson Welles' second feature for RKO, and how fate dealt us, and him, something very different from what was intended. I looked back to see when The Magnificent Ambersons came first into collecting life. Record shows it was June 1978, an “original” 16mm print gotten from Canada for $200. Such a thing was rare as a hen’s tooth in those days. I “taught” the Ambersons for a Community College course a few years later, ran the print on their old “Jan” military surplus projector, then described for the class all of lost scenes as enumerated in Charles Higham’s book, The Films of Orson Welles. My course was called “The Great Romantic Films,” into which I shoehorned the Ambersons, for even then, I was hung up on what was had, then lost, from Welles’ work, upshot being I can never come to this film without getting all intense over what happened to it, a situation persistent since that Canadian print limped through the door in 1978. 



Among questions that arise during an umpteenth view of The Magnificent Ambersons: Why didn’t Aunt Fanny invest her inheritance with Eugene Morgan instead of the headlight company? Eugene’s had to have been the safer bet, based on the factory visit he hosted where Fanny was present. He also would move heaven and earth to protect her investment, out of affection for the family if nothing else. He might even have married Fanny someday, once the estate and George’s future was sorted out. The film’s ending, what I refer to as Freddie Fleck’s The Magnificent Ambersons, suggests that Eugene will take charge of the family’s welfare, what is left of it. 



Toward scratch of itch that is the Ambersons came 2/2018 dredge of '42 ads where I could find them, wanting to know who/when played it … search continuing for mythical occasion where Welles ran as a second feature to Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost. Historians assure us it did --- but I say, show me. Also there was Pomona dive to better comprehend The Fleet’s In that pleased more those wretched gum-poppers who would not embrace the Ambersons as we so wisely do.



Every existing foot of Ambersons rouses a same question, might the whole thing still exist?, a topic well-flogged at Greenbriar and elsewhere (see reader comments from a 2010 post). Assuming Ambersons was not shipped back to RKO along with elements for It’s All True (and destroyed upon receipt in California), might it have been rescued by a South American collector, or archive? There was testimony from those who claimed to have seen Ambersons during the 50’s or 60’s, in stored cans if not on Brazilian screens. As to evidence that RKO sent instruction for the film to be disposed of on site, that order carried out … or not, I would cite TV stations duly signing a “Certificate of Destruction” for 16mm feature packages, at times containing hundreds of titles, then back-dooring the lot to collectors. Believe me, this happened lots. To have burned all that asset would be a same as century notes put to a dried leaf bonfire. How many low paid station employees turned down cash (always cash) for stuff nobody cared about? 16mm was all a more useless once video transmission got hold, stations the happier to free up shelf space, so no questions asked when pallets of film went missing (other than perhaps, where’s my rake-off?). Bet south-of-border RKO staffers in 1942 were as pliable. Here’s luck to the young man who plans yet to fly down and investigate possibilities, these to include interviewing families of one-time collectors (good idea). That Ambersons could still exist in this circumstance is no mere flight of fancy.



Favorites work all a better where seen through hopefully matured eyes. Where it’s The Magnificent Ambersons, potential for fresh insight is immense. My sympathy was always with the family, even George, especially George. Seems to me Eugene made a wrong move from the moment he was introduced, Remember you very well indeed an admitted rote politeness from George, to which Eugene, putting on a little much to impress lost love Isabel, replies George, you never saw me before in your life, but from now on, you’re going to see a lot of me, George annoyed by a stranger behaving so familiar toward his mother, Joseph Cotten the more intimidating as he is taller than either. For Eugene to enter this house, after so many years, as though it were to an extent his because of a prior, and long past, relationship with the Ambersons … well, I don’t blame George for being immediately put off by him (George: He certainly seems to feel awfully at home here, the way he was dancing with Mother and Aunt Fanny). Worse is Eugene letting it be clear that Isobel would have been his wife but for a mishap with the viola for his botched serenade.  Older Ambersons tease him over this, but realize that indeed, but for his trip-and-fall, Eugene might have become putative head of the family. And what would he have done given that license? I suspect the Ambersons would have held on to their fortune, built now upon automobiles rather than downtown properties, but would Eugene have replaced their lovely hardwood flooring with tile?



There is an amazing site dedicated to The Magnificent Ambersons, overseen by writer and historian Joseph Egan. Among other things, he has reconstructed the film as it would have played at 131 minutes, using a cutting continuity found in RKO archives, plus existing images from footage otherwise removed prior to Ambersons’ spring 1942 release at 88 minutes. I find myself almost pathetically eager to embrace The Magnificent Ambersons as it is presently constituted, a way to cope, I suppose, with sad fact we will not likely see the whole of it again. What invariably happens is, I watch the movie, then exhaust myself for two-three days reading yet again what became of it --- the Pomona preview, desperate communiques back-forth with Welles in Brazil, RKO staff trying to adjust the Ambersons to conventional fit. Robert Wise, a more than capable editor, was obliged to speed the pace, “lighten” mood if possible (Ambersons having been declared a hopeless downer by panicked execs), to trim fat from bone that was narrative. This of course was not the movie Orson Welles set forth to make, but was Wise, and concerned others, altogether misguided? Those who subscribe to Welles Against The World say yes, but I’m not as sure.



Consider The Magnificent Ambersons running 131 minutes. That’s a mighty lot of aristocracy crumbling. There are some scenes editor Wise wisely took out. Welles from long distance agreed on a number of trims, and I don’t think that was altogether because he felt pressured to do so. He knew Ambersons needed tightening. Had Welles come home in time to save it, would he and Wise have left The Magnificent Ambersons at 131 minutes, Welles insisting it stay at that length? I think the only point he might have been intractable on was the ending at the boarding house, which to Welles was the entire point of Ambersons, or so he said over years to come. Everyone else seems to have viewed that finish as finish for the movie, poisonous to public acceptance. Were they right? It reads heavy at Joseph Egan’s site. He even found the old vaudeville song that backgrounds dialogue between Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead, and gives us a recording to listen to as we peruse their dialogue. Welles was too far away to realize how serious his Ambersons problem was. Had he gotten back, I’d like to think The Magnificent Ambersons would have resolved at 105 or so minutes. Notwithstanding changes RKO made to the third act, I say Robert Wise did a fine job of editing given incredibly stressed circumstances (eighteen-hour days, every day, to meet scheduled release). Welles said later that Ambersons  was “his” movie up to Major Amberson dying. There have been more hope-than-reality moments where I’ve thought Wise’s version was as good, maybe better, than a “complete” Ambersons would have been. Again, that’s  avoidance of truth that even Wise acknowledged, in fact emphasized. He knew this was a great picture he was obliged, for the sake of his livelihood, to deface. Still, I believe there would be risk in finding The Magnificent Ambersons at 131 minutes. Would we like it more, even as much, as what we have now?





Monday, November 23, 2020

Booking 1933 Comedy Reservation

 


International House Is Precode's Address


The sort of loose-limbed comedy Paramount did well when it seemed every squirrel had nested on their lot. The Marx Bros. would have made congenial tenants at this International House, called the "Grand Hotel of Comedy" by Para merchants. In fact, MGM's all-star assemblage was spoofed to powder by (envious?) others who lacked Leo's marquee firepower. Paramount could boast of "stars" housed here, the term elastic for where celebrity among these was forged, to wit radio and what was left of vaudeville. At least their trailer was frank about it: "Stars Of The Stage, Radio, and Boudoir," which was tip-off too of racy content advertising made no secret of. Paramount, in fact, generously gave of much suggestive dialogue from International House to its trailer, with graphic-spelled promise of "Bridal Suites and Bridal Sweeties." Stricter Code enforcement may have been just around a following year's corner, but Paramount would make bawdy hay while it could.



Had vaudeville become racy as this by the early 30's? Maybe so as it struggled vainly to survive. Radio we know to have been sanitary, but mainly after skittish sponsors took over programming, and that had not happened so soon as when International House on-air talent made their mark. So what was a less monitored depression-era radio like? Little of recordings survive to tell us one way or another. If we are to rank "blue" content among mass entertaining of the time, would movies sit atop a heap over radio and vaud? International House has W.C. Fields engaged in still-shocking wordplay, terms of endearment he would give up soon and forever thereafter. To Peggy Hopkins Joyce, Paramount-hired for notorious real-life sexploits, Fields blows verbal kisses, or gropes, as follows: My little tit-mouse, My little Scanty-Panty, and these on heels of excited discovery that she's sitting on a "pussy" (naturally ... a cat). I don't know of another occasion, before or after, other than parts of short subject The Dentist, when Fields embraced humor as censor-baiting.



International House
is much taken with mediums other than movies, one that competed with Hollywood then (radio), another that would, devastatingly so, later (television). For now (1933), TV was a crackpot invention that looked like Frankenstein's lab reject put through a sifter by Fu Manchu (and called for purpose here a "radioscope"). In fact, it's a benign Chinaman who offers the balky device to bidders at International House, sensible ones backing out of the room where demonstrations play. Television was a concept in the early 30's forged on failed experiment since the mid-20's when a first demo made clear how far the dream was from commercial usefulness. In short, this was science-fiction, and that's how International House treated it (Fields refers to the device as a "magic lantern"). Would-be visionaries said widespread TV was "around the corner," optimism based on how fast radio penetrated a market once kinks were ironed out. Trouble was television being more kink than functional, with less promise for near-future progress. In a meantime, the medium would be basis for far-out comedy and product of screwball science.



Radio was something else, to which Paramount was invested by way of half-interest in CBS since mid-1929. The company hugged radio because they could use it to promote Paramount stars and films. By 1933, a public was listening as much at home as watching in theatres, so mindful Paramount plucked flowers from broadcasting to satisfy curiosity for faces that went with much-heard voices. A lot of these had been familiar to vaudeville-goers, but most of that was past now, and lucky performers had made new home on airwaves. A much wider audience had never seen Baby Rose Marie or Cab Calloway, and wanted to. Maybe you couldn't star these and others in a feature, but as highlight for shorts or specialty in features, they were ideal. Paramount had applied this concept to The Big Broadcast in 1932, and success of that spawned a decade's worth of follow-upping. International House plopping its radio acts into sputtering device that was television proved prophetic for fact that TV would years later come to rescue of these and countless other entertainers fallen on hard times of vanished vaud and by-then declining radio.



What are we to make of International House today? What, in fact, did watchers make of it when the thing by late-50’s landed on the very tube it lambasted? Many of the acts seem strange in the extreme. Had watchers once laughed at Colonel Stoopnagle and Bud, and if so, why? Well, yes, they certainly had, for perhaps good reason obscured by time and limited access to work the team did. Stoop and Bud did nonsense singing, verbal ying-yang, and gags spun off foolishness of their day, like Technocracy and ... television. To us and for a last ninety years, they seem impossibly quaint and dated, but in career clover, these boys were up-to-minute. Some International House acts would catch unexpected fire and speak direct to a changed culture. Cab Calloway's madhouse still seems fresh as a daisy, or cannabis leaf. His pell-mell rendition of "Reefer Man" is bald celebration of marijuana as creative stimulant, and you have to wonder from such spirited perf if he's right. International House would have been worth booking to a 70's college campus just for student howl when Cab and Company traverse decades to speak direct at a counterculture.



Baby Rose Marie --- now there's some strange. Age nine when she performed here, Rose had been on radio since three years old and had a growler voice and torchy manner in keeping with kids warped by vaud into queasy parody of been-around songstresses, only she was better at it even if lyrics got way more worldly than Baby Rose could grasp. International House has continuing value for odd assemblage of these and other acts planted firmly at its time of release, hard-core buffs and completists the admitted (and maybe sole) viewership left for same. If there's reason for International House being other than lost, it's W.C. Fields. He kept this and every Para feature in which he worked commercially viable even unto DVD. When MCA packaged his and Mae West/Marx Bros. property into a twenty-six pack for early-70's syndication, buyer stations must have wondered how the deuce to proper-exploit likes of International House, If I Had A Million, Alice In Wonderland, and others of limited Fields participation (I'd ask myself then why it was necessary to again sit through Mrs. Wiggs Of The Cabbage Patch just to see Bill arrive almost at an end).





Thursday, November 19, 2020

Precode Lawyer On The Loose

 

Director Irving Cummings with Evelyn Brent

Attorney For The Defense Is 1932's Full Court Press


High-powered mouthpiece Edmund Lowe discards mistress Evelyn Brent and she spends the rest of 70 minutes trying to make him sorry for it. As with programmers done at fleet pace, there is love rivalry, a murder frame, then miraculous exposure for the guilty party, all done on Columbia discount terms. Moments linger: Dwight Frye being dragged off to the chair for a sock opener, smooth operating Lowe catching sleaze Bradley Page in Brent's love nest he's underwriting. Precode is accommodated, Attorney For The Defense a good one fewer have seen for having been out of circulation a long time. TCM has leased it, and Sony's Movie channel even ran the thing HD. 30's screen lawyering was status barely above rackets, and always there was hand-holding between "shysters" and the underworld. Practitioners were shown to have cash, full-service digs as in cook/servants, and revolving women in wait. Young men by the score must have gone home from pix like Attorney For The Defense to fill out law school applications. Lowe was known by 1932 as an angle player, having made a chump of military protocol in Flagg/Quirt comedies, plus wising off in civilian dress elsewhere. As expressed during blow-off of Brent, he'd rather have a cleansing Turkish bath than be kissed further by her lying lips. The courtroom dénouement is outlandish even by lax movie standards, but that's fun of this rough gem of a precode.






Monday, November 16, 2020

Hard Sold, Soon Forgot

 



Cain and Mabel (1936) My Notion of a Howl and a Wow


I now call upon all to pit speech skills against formidable opponent that is Clark Gable in Cain and Mabel, specifically a staccato blast he issues part way in. Trick is to peel off the salvo as quick as Gable in his fit of fury against offscreen Marion Davies, so here goes, and feel free to read/rehearse before trying the rapid recite: I’m supposed to be a fighter, and what am I doin,’ playing post office all over the front page with a dame. (his manager timidly replies that all the world loves a lover) Oh, so I’ve switched titles, have I. I’m America’s sweetheart now, am I. Well, get this. That cheap little publicity hound has got to apologize for this, or I’ll wring her neck until the newspapers won’t be able to get a word out of her without a corkscrew. Remember, speed is the goal, a faster you go, the higher you score. Few weeks ago I was telling a friend from college about a recent happening. At one point, he stopped me to say, Wait a minute, John, you’re talking too fast. Alarmed and abashed, I slowed way down. What has 30’s distraction done to me?

Hardest-Earned Depression Dollars for Lad Going Down Streets Skipping Rope --- Did Local Carnivals Not Have Any Geek Positions Open?

Funny Folk in Support Enhance Cain and Mabel: Roscoe Karns, Ruth Donnelly, and Walter Catlett


 

Watch enough of Cain and kin and you may find yourself infected by a Walter Winchell bug. Suppose I quick-time the Gable speech (not there yet, still trying), where does that get me? We’re not living in Cain and Mabel’s world anymore. I doubt we were in 1936. There is a deluxe trailer for Cain and Mabel, over four minutes, from which above dialogue came, the 16mm reel mine in 1972 for $17.50 from Glenn Photo Supply (also on You Tube). I used to drop it into campus movie shows to baffle crowds. Suffice to say, no one asked when we would see Cain and Mabel. Such tempo, plus stops-off wiseacreage, won’t again be our dish, more's the regret. Cain and Mabel represents an aggressive line in romantic comedy made necessary by teeth Code-pulled, where couples fight rather than love, beginning in fact as enemies (as here) or victims of prolonged misunderstanding. Was there ever such sustained sublimation of the sex urge? I don’t recall any Cary Grant character sleeping with a woman after Hot Saturday and Blonde Venus. He was too busy arguing with them. Cain and Mabel might be dogmatic at that pitch were lines and situations not so clever, and dialogue so tart. Maybe it’s me too easily impressed, but this one strikes me as funnier than a stack of others celebrated for being so. Is Cain and Mabel screwball, a category I’m less enamored of than most? Thing about 30’s repartee is our wanting to remember snappy lines we can later spring on friends, but how many friends would we have, once bombarded by someone else’s wordage of eighty-five year ago?




I looked up the screenplay credit … Laird Doyle. Had not heard the name before, then found he died within a month and a half of Cain and Mabel release, age twenty-nine, taking lessons in an airplane that stalled. He had been at Warners after graduating from Stamford. There was big audience appetite for zingy word-sling during the thirties. A lot of it dates now, like comedy from any era (save possibly the silent). Humor driven by dialogue was made for the moment. Newspapers did a Cain and Mabel contest where readers submitted “Snappy Comebacks” to a chosen moment from the film, free ducats for the snappiest. Hear enough wit in movies, let alone radio listened to night after night, and who of us would not regard him/herself an Algonquin tabler in the making? Imagine chief jesters from student newspapers aiming their verbal act at Hollywood, or again, radio, where yearn for humor was unquenchable. Laird Doyle might have been such a prodigy, him a Stamford daily panic too good to stay campus-confined. I remember when New Yorker magazine ran caption contests for their cartoon drawings. Create the funniest and be envied by all of elites. Who of us hasn’t looked at a print photo or drawing and figured we could come up with a funnier squib?

Once There Really Were Community Sings --- Could There Ever Be Again?



I don’t wonder that movies were thought of as ephemeral. So what if Warners ordered its warehouse to throw out Convention City after some nitrate damage was found? If not for television, little of this old stuff would exist anymore. Look what they let happen to our silent film heritage. That came of guessing it had no value for TV. Movies brand new were the stuff of headlines, at least in Amusement Sections, daily bulletins, backstage happenings of crucial interest to fans panting for a Cain and Mabel to be upon them. Winds might blow from a week to months, depending on push applied to publicity. Important projects got more grease, naturally. Looking at Cain and Mabel’s pressbook, or pages devoted to it in trades, fan mags, even mainstream periodicals, you would think this was the Treaty from Versailles, or cure for Hookworm. An always clogged pipe of distribution meant no subject could stay atop awareness. Soon as we were told to mark down and remember a Cain and Mabel, there would come another to take its front of a line place. This was the engine that drove Americans into theatres a minimum of once per week, preferably twice, or however many as purses would permit.





Back-of-camera action outlandish enough got play. If anything could happen in Hollywood, why not Clark Gable knocking cold his sparring partner, latter a “former intercollegiate champion.” Here is Gable, unversed at boxing, but being Gable, could do anything champs could in any field, just because he’s Gable. Set upon wing of publicity, the incident, bogus or not, is further embellished when Gable is supposedly offered $50,000 to enter the ring with Max Baer, a chance he demurred, because after all he's not properly trained. Was such absurdity to be believed, by anybody? I suspect if one asked Gable about all this after the “fact,” he would have no idea what they were talking about. Very real, however, was Marion Davies being billed over Clark Gable in titles and all ads for Cain and Mabel. W.R. Hearst’s money was in the "Cosmopolitan" production, also his control to large extent. Hearst policy as to Davies billing was ironclad --- she never did a talkie other than top-placed. Didn’t matter who the co-star, Gary Cooper behind her for 1934’s Operator 13, now Gable for Cain and Mabel, and he had just come off Mutiny On The Bounty, Wife vs. Secretary, and San Francisco. Certain fixes once in were not to be questioned, at least by those wanting to keep their job.

UPDATE: Scott MacGillivray sent along some caption contest samples from his Laurel-Hardy collection:

Hi, John — Your “caption contest” post sent me running to find the attached examples from 1972. The Junior Mints and Pom Poms candy brands, then based in Massachusetts, offered a Laurel & Hardy caption contest, where consumers were invited to send in their own gag lines for a $5.00 prize. 

Nice to see that Laurel & Hardy are TCM’s Stars of the Month in December. They’re drawing from most of the Laurel & Hardy library every Monday.

Best wishes — Scott





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