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Monday, July 26, 2021

A Peek Inside Before The Siege


Where Magic Was Made in 1941

One of the short subjects later culled from The Reluctant Dragon

Resolved: The best thing about Greenbriar are the people who comment at Greenbriar. Evidence: My looking back this week to an entry dated December 26, 2006, topic The Reluctant Dragon and varied Disney cartoons from the 40’s. There were fourteen reader contributions, each a help toward better understanding Disney in context of the time, varied animators who worked for the studio, and why shorts/features rose and fell. All this to say Greenbriar is fortunate to have such generous readership, and speaking from fifteen years later, I hope it continues. The Reluctant Dragon returns for my having got out the Blu-Ray to enjoy Disney’s operation from the inside, scrubbed as it was and using actors for most part to play artists and technicians. What a novelty this must have been in 1941, and yet The Reluctant Dragon lost money. Conrad Lane tells me that his Ritz Theatre in Alexandria, Indiana, normally a Disney haven, passed the feature altogether (they also skipped Saludos Amigos). I wonder if The Reluctant Dragon got bad raps for serving spoon bread to a public expecting each Disney feature to surpass a last. Even Pinocchio and Fantasia underperformed, though conceded to be ones-of-a-kind. Dragon anticipated cheaters to come, being paste-together of live action and cartoons far from a Disney best. I read that Walt, fairly desperate to get out an inexpensive feature, figured Mickey and the Beanstalk toward that end, which would have been first try at a cartoon star headlining at full-length, and we wonder what might have come of that, even as Fun and Fancy Free sort of answered the question six years later.

Disney’s studio was a fairyland, him still a Merlin to reckon with, the Burbank address a Disneyland before there was a Disneyland. I doubt anyone ever turned down an invite to visit there. Did celebrities ask to be let in with their kids? Disney toured V.I.P.’s much as Chaplin had. He was Hollywood’s reigning genius, in fact maybe the only one still working full tilt by 1941. Here was no mere factory like others of an industry that pretended to glamour in all aspects (not the case, as insiders well knew). Every inch of Disney’s was a place like in our dreams. I look at small-part players in The Reluctant Dragon (Frances Gifford, Alan Ladd, Frank Faylen, others) and wonder what their reaction was to being there, let alone impersonating those who created Disney magic. How could any job here be classified as work? The halo would slip, the aura askew, once strike talk and hitherto unknown conflicts became news. Walt’s financial struggle was also stuff of fairy-tale-turned-grim interest. Some surely wished a government (ours … anybody’s) could support Disney and enable his enchantments. That very thing did happen by December ’41 when the armed service marched in and took over, this accomplished within hours of a first jeep entering, lights kept lit thanks to taxpayers, not for bunnies and elves to run loose, but for creative hands to fulfill necessity of shorts to instruct a nation’s fighting force. Was it ever recorded how Walt Disney felt privately about all this? And yet we could speculate what might have become of the studio otherwise. The Reluctant Dragon was in many ways a last glance at sunshine all-the-time in Burbank paradise, just before change brought serene curtains down.

Lucky Visitor Jane Withers Joins Robert Benchley to Publicize The Reluctant Dragon

Though not emphasized in ads, Robert Benchley was live action star of The Reluctant Dragon, playing “himself” as in ever-confused Everyman, or “Joe Doakes,” as some identified his screen character. Benchley had by 1941 given up the writing he initially found fame for, this more rarified than worldwide recognition he would come to enjoy as a film notable, “enjoy” the rub for Bob having tired long ago of Hollywood fame he saw as selling out for cash no print medium could have afforded to pay him. Benchley was a soft touch and careless spender, income never enough no matter how much flowed. There was a family to support, his boys mostly grown, Benchley’s overhead high, what with residence kept on both coasts. The humorist’s persona would have been ideal for Disney had latter gone to live action policy years before he did. Imagine Absent-Minded Benchley inventing Flubber. As it is, Bob was an ideally bemused guest to Burbank, in/out of workshops where Disney artists routinely defy nature and do things film never tried, let alone achieved. I wish Benchley had written up his Reluctant Dragon experience, but there’s no evidence he did. The full-time funnyman of movies wished to create things of greater substance, as if he hadn’t already, and in quantity, quality, few if any (I say none) of his contemporaries matched. Read wits of his era and show me one better than Benchley. His humor columns are a gold vein, and then there were Broadway reviews penned in the 20/30’s full of amused acumen. Benchley’s was not a cruel comedy, his empathy a strongest shield against those who might be put off, as some were by friend and colleague Dorothy Parker for instance, whose blade had a sharper edge and thus a narrower following (but hold, her legacy likely leads in our jaundiced age).

Trouble humorists had was not being properly appreciated in their time, and maybe not since come to think of it. E. B. White, a froth dispenser himself, spelled out inequity in a preface he wrote in 1941 for A Subtreasury of American Humor, 800 pages into which Benchley, among many others, figured. “It would be … accurate, I think, to say that there is a deep vein of melancholy running through everyone’s life … that a humorist, perhaps more sensible of it than some others, compensates for it actively and positively.” White sensed a “fine line between laughing and crying,” each of us “a manic depressive of sorts,” a humorous piece of writing “like an active child, close to the big hot fire which is Truth. And sometimes, the reader feels the heat.” He saw us as liking humor, even as we treated it “patronizingly.” Society “decorates its serious artists with laurel, and its wags with Brussel sprouts. It feels that if a thing is funny, it can be presumed to be something less than great, because if it were truly great it would be wholly serious.” This was why, in White’s opinion, ambitious writers tended to hold themselves above anything that might be considered “light,” this to protect their reputation as artists in earnest. White claimed there was not a humorist alive who did not on occasion, “have someone he loved and respected (who) took him anxiously into a corner and asked him when is he going to write something serious.” This was cruel reality of many a creative life. Much as we enjoy comedians, do we extend them respect and a proper due? Robert Benchley died (in 1945) thinking he had done nothing of permanence. I’m sure many had tried to assure him otherwise, but a dye once cast … anyway, when life gets fair, do let us know.

Had Rembrandt still run his workshop in 1941, it might have impressed as The Reluctant Dragon did, I say might, because Disney’s address was sights and sounds to beat, whatever your century. There is futuristic Sonovox as demonstrated by Benchley and Frances Gifford, an effects element of Dumbo, plus the room sized Multiplane camera, through which Disney simulated 3-D minus glasses (a sci-fi monolith made more so by sudden shift to Technicolor when Benchley enters its chamber). We are to assume that anything here was not/could not, be duplicated elsewhere. Much is surreal, sometimes to point of discomfit, Donald Duck’s speech the more alarming when issued by human agency as opposed to drawings on a screen. Same for Clara Cluck, only more so. Frankly, I was less stunned by the girl in The Exorcist. For such remarkable devices at hand, we could wonder why animation on view doesn’t please better, each of samplings weak by what was then prevailing Disney standard. A problem for studio output was less its being bad than having become commonplace. Product being so through much of the 40’s made lots assume that Disney had spent his bolt in a first remarkable decade, after which nothing comparable would be forthcoming. Benchley blunders into a screening where Walt and crew will view titular portion of The Reluctant Dragon, this what we have presumably waited for, dragon art having lured us through turnstiles, but what tepid tea this is, and one must conclude Disney knew it. But what to do? Money was short, banks less willing to extend credit. Still, it’s poignant for laid-back Walt, at least appearing so, us knowing the strike, War Department takeover, then depart for Latin America, lay shortly ahead. Had he sensed these looming, would Walt have tossed in towels and gone home, or maybe sold out to RKO as he and Roy came close to doing later in the decade?

You Choose: Rembrandt's Workshop in 1630 or Disney's in 1941?

The Reluctant Dragon
has a curious mix of hired actors playing Disney staff and real Disney staff playing themselves. I don’t know if Walt initially called for volunteers or if certain artists showed aptitude for on-camera work and so were encouraged to appear. Ward Kimball was a free thinker and, others suggested, a born careerist who positioned himself to impress Walt and get plum assignments as result. He also best understood enigma that was his boss and came closest of anyone to having a friendship with Disney. They shared hobbies, most notably model railroads, Ward’s in the yard at home inspiring Walt to construct a more elaborate train on his premises, to which, of course, Kimball was invited. Latter also formed a Dixieland band with other employees that became a mainstream success, “The Firehouse Five Plus Two” performing often at Disneyland and for studio parties. Kimball was a sort of in-house wild man like Bob Clampett was at Warners, doing stuff the other animators did not dare, like in The Three Caballeros, with its anarchic highlights none but Kimball could dream up. He’s in The Reluctant Dragon and has a longish exchange with Robert Benchley, two who could not help drawing attention when they walked in rooms. Interviewers on the topic of Disney got their best psychological profiles on Disney from Kimball. He was the fair-headed boy until suddenly one day he wasn’t, Ward forgetting that to buddy up with the boss spelled beware writ large, especially when that boss was as moody and mercurial as Walt Disney.

What went wrong came by increments, as Kimball told in a talk with Michael Barrier that was published in Walt’s People: Volume Two, part of that splendid book series edited by Didier Ghez. Disney folk were like any other barrel of corporate snakes, maybe more so, alert always to the other fellow getting a leg up and maybe pushing theirs down. A typical workplace, may each bedevil always. A lot of cartoonist interviews ended up being, like those from Warner, late-in-life opportunity to settle scores. Disney might give what looked like project autonomy to Ward Kimball, then withdraw it sudden when he sensed the underling got “too big for his britches.” Also he played head games with staff by sticking two guys together who did not particularly like each other. Good for energy, Walt said. “Riding high in April, shot down in May,” as Frank used to sing. Crisis came when Disney was out of the country as work went forward on Babes in Toyland (1961), which Kimball hoped to direct, a spot Walt naturally had to OK. Somehow a trade ad got published before the boss got back, congratulating Ward for being chosen to helm Babes in Toyland. I gather rivals had hatchets out for Kimball and aimed low blows to wreck his relationship with Disney. The scheme worked, because things were never the same between the two again. Remarkable how blithely Walt could bench a talent like Kimball’s, all to satisfy pique and demonstrate who was in charge, though Ward did admit in hindsight that perhaps he should have handled the situation different. No Disney employee was less than servile to the throne, but how he could punish when one of them took too independent a course. Was this a fundamental problem with Disney from a start, personnel not permitted to deal even a low pair without Walt always playing his flush?

There were conflicting accounts from others who worked for Disney. Live-action director Byron Haskin barely saw Walt during Brit-based production of Treasure Island, latter to inaugurate feature policy sans animation, a field less familiar to Disney, but duck soup for Haskin, who was hired for “chintzy” $25K. Frozen funds in England were thawed to produce Treasure Island, “the whole deal was a steal,” said the director. Some credit Cinderella for turning the tide for Disney, but I think what saved them for a long run was Treasure Island and a fresh-instituted policy of mixing a mild feature (more of them UK-made) with True-Life featurettes, these well-regarded critically, and tolerated at least by small fry if enjoyed more by their parents. Such elements plus a fresh cartoon short made for an all-Disney program minus taint of second features off RKO refuse piles. With a Beaver Valley and newest Goofy playing behind Treasure Island, no one need worry that Armored Car Robbery or something like it would pollute young minds. To review Disney’s progress through the 50’s is to observe a lot of bad luck from a previous decade turning good. The television venture put high-test synergy to work on studio behalf. There suddenly were limitless ways to capture a public’s attention, and disposable dollars. Disneyland was a gamble that could have gone disastrously wrong but didn’t. Walt’s timing with this turned out to be ideal, a fantasy park that was real and could be got to. Millions who went would shop Disney from there on. What with Code-challenging films out of Hollywood, it was understood that Disneys were most fit entertainment for your children to see. That attitude went years before fading. By then, Disney was a different sort of place entirely and had found new means by which to dominate the amusement industry.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Closest Opera Got to Winning Us?

 The Rogue Song Sings It Loud and Proud

Not having got last week’s column off my mind, so am dogged especially by the term “operetta,” and what it signifies. Google says, “a short opera, usually on a light or humorous theme and typically having spoken dialogue.” I think what they are thinking, what they mean, is that operetta is diminished opera for those too dense to proper-absorb the real thing. Having lately “seen,” at least heard and sort-of seen, The Rogue Song, an arrival to You Tube that is close as is presently possible to get at 1930’s long missing MGM pageant in two-color Technicolor, I feel a fifty-year goal has been met, if not ideally realized. The Rogue Song starred Lawrence Tibbett, Catharine Dale Owen, plus reasons for anxiety to locate it in full, Laurel and Hardy. Whoever is behind this miraculous assembly should get some sort of film historian award (who gives those out, or has received one? Still waiting for mine but am not optimistic). Dreamt of seeing The Rogue Song from when William K. Everson wrote on the topic. Since then, clips and fragments have turned up. No idea how much had been found until watching YT's reconstruction. Seems a hodgepodge reel surfaced in a Czech archive, which is welcome further glimpse. More thrilling in a way to experience “lost” films dragged from deepest wells by tortured increment than to get them sudden-shiny and new, like earning your hot fudge cake instead of wait staff just plopping it down in front of you. Still however, there is the issue of operettas to settle, first off, is The Rogue Song an operetta, or a first and maybe only instance where real opera got made as a movie? Or maybe not ... but let us pretend that's the case so we can celebrate accordingly.

I think The Rogue Song may have been a closest audiences got to Grand Opera on film simply because Lawrence Tibbett was in it. His was the Certificate of Authenticity for having been lead baritone at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Tibbett’s mere presence assured us we were seeing something like the real, Grand, thing, even if The Rogue Song fell otherwise within junior category called “Operetta.” These needed no apology, had been popular not only on stages, but in talking films of a year before The Rogue Song. Broadway vogue for operetta lasted a lucrative four years between 1924 and 1928. Many ran over five hundred performances. European-styled as each were, they spoke resolute English, so drew a wide and appreciative audience. Properties would be made, and remade, by Hollywood (The Desert Song, The Student Prince, The Vagabond King, others). Again, as Deems Taylor said, the thing that blocked mainstream acceptance for Grand Opera was the fact it was not performed in English, whereas operettas were. Taylor pointed out the paradox of great European playwrights whose dramas had long since been translated into English and presented in the US. Suppose we had been limited from a start to native-generated theatre? Marquees would have gone blank quick. Deems Taylor asked why not adapt European opera to our language? If it worked with Ibsen and like drama, which it did, no reason why opera can't make the transition, fact this did not get done a career-long canker for the composer/critic. What we lacked in the United States, he said, was homegrown opera companies using modern theatre facilities that could be overseen by personnel expert in the ways of translation, with a sophisticated grasp of all languages engaged. Only then would Americans truly embrace Grand Opera (“Think of being able to follow the action of an opera as if it were a play, with the added emotional excitement of the music!”). But imagine effort and expense required to reach that summit. Small wonder Taylor could not see his dream realized. A pipedream perhaps --- we all have them. Now, let’s get back to planning that palace for silent cinema with its full time seventy-piece orchestra.

Operettas were our opportunity to Americanize opera, as close as we got to Deems Taylor’s hope. Operetta pointed a way to a tradition we could call our own, that tradition to be fully formed by the movies once they began to talk and sing. Musicals on film must be acknowledged as America’s contribution to culture, a popular if not a “fine” one. No question we led in that field. Opera aspects were borrowed, adapted, to what US patronage would tolerate, and the best of it was genuinely enjoyed, or else the lot would be rejected at ticket windows. No one showed up at movies because they should. They came because our musicals gave pleasure enough to pay willingly for. One might feel elevated for having gone to see Naughty Marietta, for what was this but opera folks could comprehend, and have fun with. The Deanna Durbin series arrived on soaring vocals and classical airs besides. Leopold Stokowski saw fame expand as never before by appearing in One Hundred Men and a Girl. Fans figured a Dick Powell could cinch opera should he cast his lot with it, but who would want that? MGM collected sopranos against a day audiences would not want them anymore. That day never came, at least through a Studio Era. The Marx Brothers only half-kidded Opera when they spent a Night there, as straight performance by singing support bears out. Comedians were congenial to operetta, Laurel and Hardy building upon promise of The Rogue Song with a longish run at similar set-ups, Fra Diavolo almost a remake for core situation it set up. And so would follow Babes in Toyland, The Bohemian GirlSwiss Miss more of an approximate same. If these had not done well, Roach would not have gone on making them. In the end, maybe we didn’t need Grand Opera on an American plan, most of undoubted opinion that we had improved upon it.

The Rogue Song
was treated like Opener Night at the Met. Never had such respect been accorded an upstart shadow play. Lawrence Tibbett’s was the face and voice from which electric bolts sprang, as in ad at left, and by 1930 consensus a most exciting arrival to screens since … who? There was no one to make comparison with, Caruso not having done talkies, nor likely to (d. 1921). There was a formal premiere at Broadway’s Astor Theatre, which meant you dressed up or they would know why you didn't. Seats were fifty cents to two dollars. Think of that on January 1930 terms. Legit was one thing in terms of lording it over movies (except in terms of dollars, which, of course, counted most), but opera was exalted above any/all that pretended to culture. The Rogue Song may have been a first occasion where attending a film amounted to social necessity, a Broadway opening fully equal to anything to debut live on the Stem. It played many Astor months, not so long out west, too much cactus between coasts,  for how could opera catch on in California? Still, there were H’wood celebs said to have seen it over and over, to wit Norma Shearer, who came eight times to the Grauman run, Colleen Moore five, C.B. DeMille the same, Garbo and Jack Gilbert, impliedly together on three occasions. Skittish stars new to talk showed up so they could learn from Tibbett, his baritone booming off walls, and in a few instances blowing tubes to shock and awe of booth staff. This guy made sound and song a force of nature almost unnatural. Got to admit he startles me where unwrapping those pipes for another go at baritoning. Was there such thing as being too exciting a find?

Tibbett breaking the sound barrier got trade attention. Too loud, said Exhibitors Herald-World (2/8/30). We don’t need “back-walls of the theatre … assaulted,” plus ground noise magnified as though Sensurround arrived early by decades. Observed the World’s Peter Vischer : “Magnifying Tibbett’s voice is like doing “The Ten Commandments” with 24 apostles.” All this was good for post-premiere laughs, but MGM had a heavy hand for their sound reproduction being ridiculed. Exhibitors Herald-World circulated wide around the country, so if Metro got known for punk application of talk, let alone singing … well, someone had to walk that back, toot sweet. Fresh-spanked Vischer gave proper penance: “I’m afraid I have done the projectionist an injustice,” he began, having been “advised” by P.A. McGuire of the International Projector Corporation “that the projectionists upon whom I foolishly placed the blame for this minor tragedy had nothing whatsoever to do with it.” An “expert” assigned by MGM was on hand to supervise presentation of The Rogue Song. Whatever went wrong would not have been the expert’s fault either. After all, he was the expert, not some ten dollar a column hack who might not even be at his desk this time next week. By way of keeping that chair, Vischer spent remaining space extolling splendid men in the booth. “There are many … reasons why the projectionist is such an important figure in the theatres today. Space here is quite inadequate to give this subject the discussion it deserves.” Poor Vischer all but polished shoes for bulk of union membership to get out from under this internecine mess he had unwittingly made.

Picture yourself in tuxedo, possibly tails, an opera hat in any event, this being crisp January at the Astor. Definitions of “formal” could vary, as revealed by Pare Lorentz, his an acerbic eye for “proper adulation that should attend a virgin offering of the great art” (sarcasm on … and on). Lorentz saw opening night movie audiences as made up of three disparate groups: the Trade, the Friends, and the Press, each a scruffy lot as he described them. “Friends” were mostly family, many harked recent from the old country, “Papa may wear a Prince Albert, black trousers, and a colored shirt, neatly topped with an August half-price sale straw hat, and Mama may stick a tiara on top of the permanent that looks like Woolworth’s Yuletide set of Christmas decorations.” Were there any so cruel as immigrant offspring eager to separate themselves from a first generation who made the trip across? But these were families of folk who made the movies, created the stars, enabled such shows that were premiering under brightest neon. Such were not to be denied, however they chose to adorn themselves, and were in any event the most enthusiastic members of a first night audience. Legit differed for society swells, more entrenched, as front-row sitters, as in the same seats, “the same tired faces,” as many an actor noted from stages. Alexander Woollcott said, “critics are the only representatives of civilized, decent American life in the first night audiences that we have today,” Woollcott being himself a critic in ripe position to know. Newspapers and magazines leeched many a ducat they would not pay for. Theatres often claimed all admissions sold even where this was not the case. George Kaufman asked, “Where can you find a gathering as dreary, as ruthless, and as moronic as you do at a Broadway first night?” There had to be, above all priorities, the appearance of a hit, whether on stage or screen, long runs necessarily launched off pads that were initial performances.

The Rogue Song
was tendered as more than mere movie. It was an event. Here would be opera accessible to all. Lawrence Tibbett sang in English. He toured also on behalf of The Rogue Song, mid-landers getting sole opportunity to look upon a face and voice that graced elite attendance at the Metropolitan in New York. You felt cosmopolitan for catching Tibbett wherever he detrained to perform for single nights across the United States. This artist was wise enough to cater for a vast public most opera performers never came into contact with. He had been exposed to varying audiences thanks to training in stock, Tibbett and handlers knowing value of becoming a competent actor in addition to honing a natural gift for song. “People literally stormed the auditorium” when he gave a Los Angeles recital, Tibbett's star quality now a recognized commodity. MGM let it be known that they had another Valentino, but unlike a voiceless Rudy, this one “might be heard throughout the length and breadth of Times Square” (said critic Mordaunt Hall, who covered the Astor opening where Tibbett’s voice threatened to overpower the theatre’s all too fragile sound system). Idea of Tibbett splitting speakers had, despite Metro efforts to quell it, become something of a show-world joke, as if conventional playback could not contain a force so powerful. Color was regarded a plus, for perhaps final occasion, for it was not long before palette limit made rejecting the format an easier option (red-green only, and whatever could be bled between them). I doubt Metro kidded itself that success would be had outside sophisticated environs. Using Laurel and Hardy for support was a firewall against failure. Tibbett noted them billed above him for midwestern engagements but did not mind. He had sense to know L&H were good for the picture, and for his prospects as a picture personality.

“A Riot in Cleveland,” it reads, but could this, or any trade ad, be trusted? Showmen outside Gotham bubbles saw artifice as applied to new releases, tricks of which they were assumed to be unwary. “The favorite one is the forced run on Broadway, an effort to delude the exhibitor in the outlying districts --- and to what avail?” said William A. Johnston at Motion Picture News. “This is such arrant bunk. Putting up a false front and yelling about it is an Indian medicine show trick. The sales tricks in this business are no more intelligent, ethical, or dignified.” Salesmen for the film companies were deliberately misleading theatre brethren, latter increasingly wise to ruses that included misrepresentation of first-run receipts and attendance for New York first runs. Everything had to be perceived as a hit, even if it wasn’t … especially when it wasn’t. No venue down the line wanted to book a known flop. Pete Harrison of Harrison’s Reports was suspicious of glow off The Rogue Song as touted by Metro, and conducted his own inquiry. The Rogue Song, said Harrison, “made a failure in the small towns, where operatic singing does not go over very much. (It has) made a failure also in some big cities” (one was Chicago, where The Rogue Song did a quick fade). Pete as trade watchdog was fed up with “fictitious figures” said to represent theatre income, “padded numbers” giving the impression of a hit. Broadway houses were known to spread free tickets in order to create lines and fill seats that would otherwise remain empty. What all this amounted to was a breakdown in trust between vital agencies of distribution and exhibition. Yes, The Rogue Song was a two-dollar attraction on the Main Stem, but elsewhere? Showmen in a final analysis had to trust their own better judgment, not that of a sales force whose job it was to book MGM product, fit or not for individual situations. Harrison’s advice re operettas was terse: Just don’t play them, unless they prove themselves a success in markets similar to yours.

Many of 1929-30 releases were truly movies for the moment, communities wiring for sound not able to fit half the deluge onto lately retrofitted facilities. I found no record of my hometown playing The Rogue Song. Not that it held much promise for patronage like ours (“formal” for us was a button-down shirt rather than overalls). What was streamlined by early 1930 measure was antique in extremis by a same time the following year. Early talkers were not just movies on the march, they were movies at a dead run, each season an upgrade to alarming degree upon the last. The Rogue Song had no residual value. It was not even released to television in black-and-white, elements likely gone by the fifties when syndication packages were made up. Most of what had been shot by two-color process vanished by the time buffs started caring. Think of the hair’s breadth by which Mystery of the Wax Museum and Doctor X survive, both a single battered print short of oblivion. The Rogue Song was famously lost, and longed for, only because Laurel and Hardy were in it. I made a Google pass for fan pages dedicated to Lawrence Tibbett but could not find any. Sic transit gloria mundi, as they said upon riddance of Caesar and Spartacus. Pieces of The Rogue Song do keep turning up however, a jigsaw puzzle that --- who knows? --- might someday be fully assembled. Dedicated enough fans would rather see such than enter Valhalla. In a meantime, there are souvenirs we can gather, like scraps illustrated here. Of note is a pressbook back cover at right showing poster and lobby card art, Laurel-Hardy featured on but one 11X14, and nothing else. What a neat collectible that would be, assuming we’d have a house or car to mortgage for it.
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