Sunday, April 04, 2021

What We're Watching On Easter

Last year, posted a Happy Easter entry that spotlighted a few all-time favorites of Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog. Why not? Nobody was going anywhere!

If one is going traditional on Easter, and pondering the multiple Biblical epics of Cecil B. DeMille, the 1927 silent King Of Kings would get the nod.

It's an epic, as many silent features produced in 1923-1928 are, so you might need a gargantuan television - or a 35mm projector and a genuine film print - to view the big big big (and, no kidding, we do mean BIG) production.

If the Easter viewing is definitely NOT going traditional, there's always DeMille's early talkie Madam Satan, the director's headlong plunge into pre-Code delirium.

Indeed, DeMille's epic spectacle of dirigibles, dancers, showgirls, wild parties, massive masquerade parties, all in fever dream hallucinogenic-ness anticipating Busby Berkeley, serves as an excellent palate cleanser.

Arguably, Cecil B. DeMille is most frequently associated with the 1956 epic production of The Ten Commandments, which TCM will be screening in various venues today.

All the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog can think of seeing The Ten Commandments is not Yul Brynner's hairdo, but Edward G. Robinson. As described by Billy Crystal: "where's your Moses NOWWWWW?"


We're big fans of Eddie Robinson AND Billy and would love to see Mr. Crystal perform his excellent stand-up comedy live sometime.

Here are a few more snippets of Easter entertainment options, beginning with a Name That Film proposition. Don't know the name of this cartoon or where MyFootage001 found it. Looks Eastern European and gets me thinking of the Tom & Jerry cartoons the great Gene Deitch produced in Prague. Whatever the country of the cartoon's origin may be, that is one badass rabbit!

Along similar lines to the MyFootage001 clip. . . Australia's Eric Porter made violent albeit cheerful short subjects, resembling classic American toons filtered through a broken funhouse mirror. While the budget is low and the animation is anything but Disney-esque, the two Color Classics by Porter strike this animation buff as oddly original and rather entertaining, with some very funny and enjoyably extreme sight gags throughout.

Had Eric Porter produced cartoons 40 years later, the voice of this series' ersatz star, rabbit trap purveyor and unsympathetic lout Bimbo the Wombat, would have no doubt been provided by Chris Farley (or at least the SNL and comedy feature film star's Down Under equivalent).

Wrote a post about Eric Porter's studio in 2013 and was unquestionably unduly harsh in calling its cartoons "The Blunder From Down Under." Never mind this blogger's natural inclination towards sarcasm - we're actually very fond of these cartoons and would especially love to see more of the Porter studio's animated commercials, WW2 era training and advertising films.

After producing Rabbit Stew in 1952 and Bimbo's Auto in 1954, Porter pitched the Color Classics as a series to Columbia Pictures. At that time, Columbia was distributing UPA's popular Mister Magoo cartoons and critically acclaimed Jolly Frolics.

Jolly Frolics won Oscars and Mister Magoo got laughs, so Cohn and Co. at Columbia did not regard Eric Porter's pitch as an offer they could not refuse.

This is quite ironic, considering that the pre-UPA producers of animation for Columbia Pictures, the much-maligned and misbegotten Screen Gems Studio, produced actual American toons filtered through two SHATTERED funhouse mirrors.

Of course, we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, along with three or four other individuals upon this earth, LOVE both Screen Gems and Eric Porter Studio cartoons!

As all of us here miss the annual Easter shindigs of yore and especially the family and friends who have passed, is there anything else we will watch today? This, episode 52 of The Silent Comedy Watch Party, featuring Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon. The Silent Comedy Watch Party is on YouTube every Sunday, at 3:00 p.m. EST /high noon PST!

Silent Comedy Watch Party logo by Marlene Weisman

The 50th episode of The Silent Comedy Watch Party was two weeks ago on March 21.

This Sunday series has been helpful in weathering many rough spots in the past year.

Cool vintage silent comedies fill the bill, Easter Sunday and every day.

Movies starring the likes of Chaplin, Langdon, Keaton and Chase, preceded by some documentaries about music, followed by Bugs Bunny in Easter Yeggs and a Billy Crystal stand-up comedy set or two, that will do just fine as Easter entertainment.

Getting back to Mr. Crystal, the eloquent eulogy Billy gave at Muhammad Ali's memorial is something that will lift one's spirits on Easter and the other 364 days of the year. Underlying Billy's reminiscences of his friendship with the heavyweight champion is a message about the brotherhood of man.

Happy Easter!

No comments: