Saturday, November 08, 2008

Vitaphone Technicolor Musical Shorts

I'm pleased, the election having at long last passed, to return to more benign posts about arcane pop culture minutia.

Movies in gorgeous 3-strip Technicolor started to make the rounds in 1932-1935. Walt Disney, ever on the cutting edge, got there first with his Silly Symphonies, the series that sparked tremendous growth in the sophistication, technique and artistry of animated cartoons while bringing the wondrous "anything goes" surrealism in Pre-Code animation to a screeching halt. A couple of years later, Vitaphone started a series of 2-reel musical comedy shorts. Three (that I know of) are Service With A Smile and Good Morning Eve starring Leon Errol, and one that sounds fascinating, What No Men, co-starring songstress Wini Shaw with the delightfully bizarre Swedish dialect comic El Brendel.

Enjoy these two excerpts, courtesy of the indispensible Turner Classic Movies, from Service With A Smile. And yes indeed, this features the same Leon Errol from the Ziegfeld Follies, the RKO "Mexican Spitfire" features and literally dozens of two-reelers, including the legendary 1938 short, The Jitters.

While these production numbers aren't on the scale, level or inspiration of Busby Berkeley's grand hallucinations, they're great fun just the same.

My next post will include a Vitaphone 2-reel Technicolor musical comedy in its entirety.

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