Friday, November 27, 2020
Our idea of Black Friday at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog is not to go out to department stores and hunt for bargains but to watch the Karloff & Lugosi classic Black Friday (1940) twice.
Universal Pictures horror stalwarts Boris and Bela are always just right for that pesky tryptophan hangover!
Thankfully, Black Friday is on the "Boris n' Bela" Blu-ray.
While we love the contribution of Donavan's Brain screenwriter Curt Siodmak to the excellent Black Friday, alas, there just isn't enough Bela Lugosi in this intriguing blend of horror movie and gangster flick for our taste. As Joe Dante notes in his review in Trailers From Hell, Boris is the star of this picture and Bela a supporting player.
Still not quite sure what the lyrics to Black Friday by Steely Dan mean - it can't be about the 1929 stock market crash, as the penultimate days were Black Monday and Black Tuesday - but find the song's goofy narrative interesting.
As much as the albums by Steely Dan, the group most adept at blending pop songcraft with sophisticated arrangements drawing upon elements of rock, electric blues and big band jazz, sold in the 1970's and early 1980's, in this music fan's opinion the best thing they ever did was their appearance with the late, great Marian McPartland on Piano Jazz. Can music reach across the generations and genres? Yes!
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monsieur and Madame Blogmeister wish all readers, wherever they are, a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you smoke Old Golds, Lucky Strikes or Bob Marley's favorite brand!
Alas, will not be seeing the family and friends who live across this coronavirus-riddled country in person. Won't be wearing cheesy pilgrim outfits or brandishing muskets.
Also won't just say to heck with it and go to Canada for the Thanksgiving weekend, especially as Canadians would prefer we sub-literate dimwit Americans, busy spreading COVID-19, stay here.
Won't see any ventriloquists or dummies on Thanksgiving, unfortunately.
It will be a Zoom Thanksgiving for many of us in 2020.
So, before hanging out with family members via Zoom, we will observe the Thanksgiving tradition of watching that Tex Avery MGM cartoon starring the Jimmy Durante turkey and the Bill Thompson pilgrim yet again.
And, as the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog does every year, will watch the following video starring an ornery, persistent and obstinate gobbler who frightens the easily scared individual handling the camera.
So what the hey. . . let's adapt and raise a toast - white bread, Dave's 21 seed whole wheat or the first holiday quaff (Anchor Brewing's festive Christmas Ale? Dan Akyroyd's Crystal Head Vodka? Kick-Ass Bourbons? Aaas Jule Ol?) - to our loved ones, before watching The Courtship Of Miles Sandwich, a Hal Roach Studios 1923 Thanksgiving comedy starring Snub Pollard and Dinah Shore's 1957 Thanksgiving show.
Inevitably as death and taxes, The DInah Shore Show is followed by a 1938 Merrie Melodie cartoon starring "Egghead," in which Tex Avery happily skewers American history and mythology, complete with jokes about "scalpers" selling Rose Bowl tickets on the 50-yard line!
Take-out Thanksgiving dinner? Go with the flow! After all, options are limited!
This Blogmeister personally wants a Tex Avery "Masks Of Tomorrow" setup. Push a button and a mechanical hand (A.K.A. the Mechanical Arm Of Tomorrow) promptly stuffs hot turkey, "smashed" potatoes and generous servings of stuffing and cranberry relish in your kisser, then promptly slaps a genuine N95 mask featuring Bugs Bunny on your fat face!
Now it's time for some Thanksgiving-themed Three Stooges, directed by Jack "Preston Black" White (seen in this photo with unlikely pilgrim and excellent movie comedian Lloyd "Ham" Hamilton).
To make the holiday just right, here are some clips from The Three Stooges in Back To The Woods!
Friday, November 13, 2020
Sunday, November 08, 2020
Elated to have survived the last two weeks (and year), this blogger realizes that three of the most memorable and talented women to ever work in movies - Marie Dressler, Edna May Oliver and Hedy Lamarr - share November 9 birthdays.
The "password" for Marie remains her part in MGM's 1933 black comedy Dinner At Eight, directed by George Cukor.
Here, Marie delivers the greatest "take" in the history of motion pictures. No doubt Oliver Hardy and Charley Chase watched this moment of sheer comic genius in admiration.
Marie Dressler had an illustrious career that began back in the 1890's.
Matthew Kennedy's Marie Dressler biography elaborates further on her long career, which began in the 1890's.
Marie would be the top character actress in motion pictures in the first 5 years of talkies, hold her own with none other than the legendary Garbo in Anna Christie, win the Best Actress Oscar for Min & Bill, and be nominated for Emma.
A key collaborator of Marie’s was ace screenwriter Frances Marion, who had the magic touch over a four decade career. Frances Marion’s screenplays did wonders for Mary Pickford and other stars of silent pictures.
Having begun her movie career in the feature length Sennett knockabout-fest Tillie's Punctured Romance, she proved she could successfully transition from dramatic roles to broad physical comedy. Here she is, tearing it up with the very funny comedienne and mimic Marion Davies in The Patsy.
Marie tackled slapstick with panache, often with the star of pratfall-packed Mack Sennett and Fox Sunshine Comedies Polly Moran.
We were glued to TCM a few years back, when Marie Dressler was the Star of the Month.
One of the most prolific character actresses of the 1930's was Edna May Oliver, who began her career onstage and would become most ubiquitous in 1930's movies.
Performing everything from Dickens to Kalmar & Ruby, often brilliantly, Edna brought spunk and good humor to her roles, and, as was the case with Marie Dressler, could absolutely ace both comedic and dramatic parts. Love her in the the Wheeler & Woolsey comedies Half Shot At Sunrise, Cracked Nuts and Hold 'Em Jail.
With Bert & Bob, Edna appears to have relished doing comedy.
Edna received the ultimate tribute, to be caricatured in classic cartoons. Mickey's Polo Team, The Coo-coo Nut Grove, Porky's Road Race, Mother Goose Goes Hollywood and The Hardship Of Miles Standish are standouts.
Here's one of the Hollywood caricature cartoons seen the least, from the B-studio of B-studios, Screen Gems. Edna May Oliver is Mother Goose and enters at 1:29. Spoofing actors and actresses who were not caricatured in any another cartoons, Mother Goose In Swingtime rivals the Disney opus Mickey's Gala Premier and Tex Avery's WB masterpiece Hollywood Steps Out for sheer quantity (if not quality) of movie star caricatures.
One imagines that the Charles Mintz/Screen Gems studio did NOT have the desire or requisite dough-re-me to hire caricaturist extraordinaire and future UPA director T. Hee, responsible for outstanding character design work at Disney and Warner Brothers in those aforementioned Hollywood star-filled cartoons, to work on Mother Goose In Swingtime. Nonetheless, it's a very entertaining cartoon and the only one that features a caricature of Kay Francis!
The great Hedy Lamarr, a.k.a. Heddy Lamarr, while largely known for her beauty and amazing silver screen presence, could be described as a scientist who did modeling and movie acting on the side.
Unfortunately, Ms. Lamarr did not receive her due an inventor and innovator during her lifetime - although that recognition has come since her passing in 2000.
Partly because Hedy was nothing less than stunningly, breathtakingly gorgeous, her screen acting, IMHO, could be a tad underrated. While, given, she does not approach the character acting and comedy genius demonstrated by Marie Dressler and Edna May Oliver, let alone the rarified air and gravitas of a Bette Davis, Ms. Lamarr pulls off the following scene and others throughout the Bob Hope vehicle My Favorite Spy admirably and adeptly.
Richard Rhodes has penned a book about the life and accomplishments of Hedy Lamarr. Looks interesting!
Although the front covers of this still stresses Hedy Lamarr, babe, first, then Hedy the scientist, this looks like a good read.
For more info on the one, the only Hedy Lamarr, check out Anna Diamond's November 2017 Smithsonian Magazine article, Why Hedy Lamarr Was Hollywood’s Secret Weapon, as well as a superb post Trav S.D. penned for his Travalanche blog, Heddy Lamarr: The Scientific Circe. There's also Alexandra Dean's documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story.
We finish by noting that prolific silent film comedian and "king of the extras" in talkies Snub Pollard was also born on this day - and that tomorrow, November 10, is the birthday of Mabel Normand, the top comedienne in silent pictures.
Mabel, dubbed "the female Chaplin," worked in short subjects and features, and was a director of her own starring vehicles at Mack Sennett's Fun Factory.
The first headliner of Sennett's Keystone Comedies, along with Ford Sterling and Fred Mace, "Madcap Mabel" preceded Charlie Chaplin as a movie star and appeared in 220 films.
More on the movie careers of Marie and Mabel can be found in Steve Massa's comprehensive and superb book on the numerous women of silent film comedy, Slapstick Divas, which devotes chapters to both silver screen icons.
Tuesday, November 03, 2020
The 2020 election demands a strong ale or two, followed by loud belly laughs courtesy of Moe, Larry and Shemp!
No matter how many times I see this 1952 Three Stooges opus in which our slap happy heroes unwittingly work for super-corrupt politicos, the result, invariably, is me ROFL.
And then we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog will require a bare minimum of (at least) 21.5 hours of sleep, followed by a screening of Moe, Larry and Shemp in Cuckoo on a Choo Choo.