Sunday, August 31, 2014

One Dubious Print Ad By RKO Radio Pictures, 1931

Frankly, we're just a tad skeptical about the RKO Short Subjects Department's claims here. While comedy geeks love Benny Rubin, for cryin' out loud, he's the top of the bill and W.C. Fields is the bottom! Well, both were headlining RKO Radio Pictures 2-reelers at the time.

Even more amazing is the bit about kids "clamoring for" Larry Darmour Productions' cheesy, low-budget Mickey McGuire comedies - yes, even in a hurting, battered, Great Depression and entertainment-starved America. We do, however, at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, admit to liking Billy Barty's performance in the following film as the conductor TONS.

By all accounts Billy Barty was a very good musician (started his career touring vaudeville in his family's band) who offscreen would rock the drum kit like his heroes from the Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman big bands. Billy soon left these comedies to contribute some amazing bits to Busby Berkeley's already hallucinogenic production numbers in WB musicals.

Meanwhile, the Mickey McGuire series moved from RKO to Columbia distribution for its last season in 1933-1934. Comedy shorts starring Clark & McCullough, Edgar Kennedy, Harry Sweet and Grady Sutton continued being produced by RKO.

Notably, at the bottom of this ad, most certainly bringing up the rear, is a reference to RKO's Toby The Pup cartoons, produced by Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus and Art Davis at the Charles Mintz Studio.

That means we simply must close this post with two, not three, no make that FOUR animated adventures starring the (not exactly) beloved Toby. The cartoons never got distributed to U.S. television and were largely unseen for several decades.

For the longest time, only one entry from the Toby The Pup series, The Museum, was available for viewing.

Since then, animation historians (Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films and prolific chronicler of comic art David Gerstein in particular) have found several more Toby cartoons. In this writer's cartoon-crazed opinion, they equal or surpass the wacky Fleischer Studio hijinx from the same period and also rival the contemporaneous Disney cartoons for animation technique, early 1930's "rubber hose" style.

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