Sunday, December 26, 2021
Kicking off Boxing Day, which doesn't actually refer to post-Christmas bargain-hunting shopping or fisticuffs but to Premier League soccer, the United Kingdom's national pastime will be the always iconoclastic and un-cuddly comedy team of Bobby Clark & Paul McCullough.
While this 1929 opus actually features very little slapstick, Clark & McCullough being fast-talking verbal comics, the boxing sequence in Waltzing Around is hilarious.
The ill-fated Paul McCullough gets a lot more to do here than he does in the team's subsequent RKO Radio Pictures series, and he is quite funny.
This indicates that their 1928-1929 Fox comedies may be superior to the later RKO series. Enjoy this super rare Fox 3-reeler!
One of the great vaudeville, stage and radio comedians was Joe Cook (1890-1959), whose blend of acrobatics and tongue-twisting verbal humor remains unequalled. While Joe Cook appeared in Frank Capra's entertaining 1930 feature Rain Or Shine, a tale of life in the big top, the comic's cinematic legacy remains defined by a series of short subjects he starred in for Fox and Educational.
In the following, THE WHITE HOPE (1936), Joe co-stars with dialect comic and cartoon voice artist George "How Do You Like That???" Givot, who plays the most unlikely and unenthusiastic of pugilists.
Cook's 2-reelers for Educational, produced by Al Christie, are consistently very funny and original. Too bad Joe didn't make more movies!
Boxing Day wouldn't feel right without Harold Lloyd's pugilistic prowess in THE MILKY WAY, directed by Leo McCarey.
Greatest boxing film ever? Hands and gloves down, and taking nothing away from the incomparable Robert Wise film The Set-Up and the last Humphrey Bogart flick, The Harder They Fall, it's the outstanding Warner Bros. cartoon Rabbit Punch, directed by Chuck Jones!
Bugs Bunny, as usual, rules, as do Chuck, writer Mike Maltese, voice artist Mel Blanc, music man Carl Stalling, animators Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Lloyd Vaughan and Abe Levitow (who is also known as the guy who directed this writer's all-time favorite holiday season TV show, Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol).
We close today's Boxing Day post and this blog's contributions for the year 2021 with a thanks a million to historian, classic movie expert and collector Ralph Celentano, for making several of the excellent comedy rarities seen here available on YouTube.
Friday, December 24, 2021
Here we are, downright amazed to be here with the second-to-last post for 2021 - and delighted to wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thrilled to be cheerful and drawing breath on Christmas Eve - and quite busy redefining what can be considered Christmas music.
Sincerely hope that nobody brings fruitcake to your Christmas Eve or Christmas party.
The temptation is to simply recycle our 2016 Christmas Eve post every year, but instead Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog shall go through a few holiday favorites, after swilling Borden's Egg Nog spiked generously with two double shots of Myers Rum and brandy!
Of course, the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog have already listened to Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song, one of our favorites, penned by none other than the ridiculously talented vocalist-actor-drummer-songwriter Mel Tormé.
Now MUST listen to Nat's entire Christmas album and Sinatra's The Christmas Waltz twice!
Dearly love The Chairman of the Board's 1957 album A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra - and especially "The Christmas Waltz".
This great tune, our all-time favorite, was first released on Capitol Records epic Merry Christmas To You! compilation LP (Capitol T-9030).
The great jazz saxophonist Booker Ervin (1931-1970) waxed this blogger's favorite rendition of Irving Berlin's White Christmas in 1966, on his outstanding Structurally Sound album.
Booker's fellow tenor saxophonist and occassional collaborator Dexter Gordon waxed this jazz fan's all-time favorite cover of The Christmas Song.
We now turn to some Christmas-themed animation, starting with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Across the pond, former Disney director David Hand made cartoons for Gaumont British Animation. Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus is his studio's contribution to the 2021 Yule log.
The late, great Gene Deitch made many fantastic cartoons, first at UPA's East Coast branch, then at Terrytoons and afterwards from his studio in Prague. Gene directed and/or produced a slew of original and strikingly designed animation gems. One of the best is THE JUGGLER OF OUR LADY.
Based on "Le Jongleur de Notre Dame," THE JUGGLER OF OUR LADY is narrated by none other than Boris Karloff and adapted from the Anatole France's book by R.O. Blechman.
Next up: the National Film Board of Canada. We tip our Santa hat respectfully to friend of this blog, archivist supreme and showman Sci Fi Bob Ekman, who is responsible for this blogger seeing this terrific NFB cartoon, Christmas Cracker.
That said, it's comedy for the writer of this blog throughout the holiday season - and it just wouldn't be Christmas without favorite comedy sketches. Leading off, invariably, from SCTV, is Ed Grimley in The Fella Who Couldn't Wait For Christmas. . . I must say.
We'll raise that SCTV sketch with Liberace's Christmas Special!
Arguably, the single greatest pure physical comic ever to be a Saturday Night Live cast member was the late great Chris Farley.
In the SNL Christmas sketch pantheon, love seeing Chris' motivational speaker character, Matt Foley, as a department store Santa!
And then there's A Debbie Downer Christmas Eve, co-starring one of our all-time favorites at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, the one, the only Jack Black. Quality time spent with Tenacious D is guaranteed to cheer this blogger up!
That sketch invariably brings the Debbie Downer out of this blogger.
Have mixed emotions about the Christmas holidays and especially the supercharged commercialization, stressing buying stuff you don’t need in the first place. Stan Freberg’s Green Christmas still resonates in a big way.
On the one hand, love the holiday season and especially love hanging out with friends and family. On the other hand, for those whose family members have either all passed away or are gravely ill, the unrelenting ultra-sentiment regarding family gatherings seems quite cruel.
Noting that for those who lost their jobs and/or are stone broke, the mass onslaught of advertising represents a big upraised middle finger, the Debbie Downer "bwaa bwaa" sound effect is definitely in order. Now, after asserting that feline AIDS is the number one killer of domestic cats, it's time for more Stan Freberg records.
We wish all a safe and Merry Christmas, with a touch of mambo!
The Christmas Eve closer: a Season's Greetings calypso from Robert Mitchum.