Thursday, August 22, 2019


It's been nigh on over two decades since my comedy short obsession (which at the time was wiggling well into my classic television and z-grade moom pitcher obsession) pretty much died out after one of those cataclysmic mood alterations hit my usually fragile mind system. But it ain't like I abandoned the classic short subjects idiom considering how I actually went on to purchase such classics as the complete Joe McDoakes collection within the last decade or so. Not only that but at times the usually too staid for my digestive tract TCM cable moom pitcher outlet will air an old Hal Roach short in order to fill up some time before the next overshown Liz Taylor classic pops up and like, frankly I sure could use a whole lot more Charley Chase and a whole lot less Mrs. Richard Burton in my life as I think you can as well.

These early Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts shorts from the Roach studios sure help ease the pain of having to endure whatever it is that is passing for "comedy" on tee-vee these days...y'know, that endless prattle that seems to permeate every second of my waiting in doctor's offices hours as if watching THE VIEW is supposed to make me forget my upcoming anal probe. Of the early-thirties Roach creations this team was perhaps the better of the batch...THE TAXI BOYS was but a big muddle that tried to ooze out the guffaws while falling flat on its face and while THE BOYFRIENDS coulda turned into a bonafeed teenbo LITTLE RASCALS it didn't have time to really develop into one before that series got the big 86. But the team of Todd and Pitts worked better than anyone not familiar with the two's other filmic efforts would have guessed. Not that these ain't gonna make you bust a gusset while laughing your bean off, but in many ways they worked as mini-dramas set in a humorous theme and you could watch 'em like you would any serio-comedy that might have graced your tee-vee screen since even before the days you were merely piddling around in mom's guts waiting to be popped like a brand new blackhead.

I get the idea that Roach was hoping for a femme Laurel and Hardy with these two, and in some ways he did get it. But even if you aren't one of those types who appreciate the long lost art of feminine pulchritude and down-to-earth sitcom situations based on REAL LIFE (even more needed now than they were when these films were made well over eighty years ago) you can ooze yourself into Thelma Todd's blonde sexpot yet comparatively innocent approach as well as Zasu Pitts' coy and cute Olive Oyl-ish spinstertude. The chemistry works even better'n when you blew up the lab in high school, and the working gal situations are honest portrayals of the real feminine mystique which somehow has eluded all of those women's lip pamphlets and screeds directed at us since the early-seventies.

As with the usual Hal Roach productions the best of the B-grade comedy short supporting actors appear with the usual alarming regularity. Billy Gilbert is pretty much a regular doing his German impressions while the likes of James Morton, Bud Jamison (who wasn't really seen in that many a Roach production, he more or less hanging around studios like RKO, Educational and Columbia where the likes of the Three Stooges gave him more'n their fair share of heck) and Charlie Hall pop up with about as much regularity as they did in the RASCALS. And not surprisingly, in the sole Jules White direction for Roach Monty Collins appears as the manager of temperamental starlet Anita Garvin who pretty much was the definition of total gorgeousness set smack dab in the middle of the lower rung of Hollywood stardom.

And yes, that is Spanky McFarland playing Zasu's baby brother in "One Track Minds", a travelling by train and its travails short that doesn't quite equal Spanky's other train epic "Choo Choo" but you'll get a laff outta it when Sterling Holloway pops in as a candy butcher which is really what they used to call them peddlers back in them days!

Of course I like it on a whole load of levels, from the sexual undertone to the interesting plots that at times just seem to hang in the air at the end of the flick, probably due to the film going over budget. And who couldn't lose more'n just lunch while watching the Coney Island epic "On The Loose" which not only features a cameo by Laurel and Hardy (obviously shot at a different time with a double for Todd shot from the back filling in) but the classic scene where a boy with an all day sucker loses it on the slides and finds it affixed to Todd's butt from beneath her skirt! Lucky kid you!

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