Monday, April 30, 2012

A GUY NAMED JOE (1943)

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Producer: Everett Riskin

Director: Victor Fleming

Awards: Nominated for Best Writing Oscar in 1945.

Interesting Fact: The original ending to the film was changed by the request of the PCA censorship. Irene Dunne was to crash into a supply depot and end up with Spencer Tracy in heaven. They felt that the scene had too much of an emphasis on suicide and it was changed to what it is today.

My Mother's Favorite Scene: Her favorite scene is when Tracy is speaking with Dunne in the sky as she flies the bombing drop. It has such power and truth to it.



Pete: "That's my girl, and that's my boy."



Pete is a pilot who has the girl of his dreams, Dorinda. When he is killed in a plane crash, he becomes her guardian angel. Soon he notices a new love interest entering her life. With all the power he has he tries to keep them apart. Soon she feels conflicts in her heart for her deceased love. As she battles back and forth she makes a daring move to protect the new guy and fly his bombing raid.


This is her favorite film for two reasons. First, the cast is amazing and the acting is superb. The second reason is it's connection with heaven and the after life. Hollywood always had a consistent illustration of what it was like after death in the early years. Each scene that they depict these moments in always brought a warm feeling of peace. That is why she loves this film so much.


HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

MOTHER'S MONTH

In 1956, Hollywood honored six mothers as "Mothers of the year."
Here is the link for the story: click here

In honor of Mother's Day this month, I have turned to my matriarch and asked her what are her top ten films. With no surprise she listed some of my favorite films that I may have already posted on.

I should mention a little unknown fact about my mother which would explain why I created this blog in the first place. In her youth she had lived in three different parts of the country: Arizona, Utah & California. As with all children, they moved where work could be had by the father.

Her father had worked as a young boy in Hollywood at a department store and would often wait on the Barrymore family. As a teenager he became interested in Radio and a new invention that later became Television.

This love of media grew into a career and he soon found himself picking up Bob Hope and others like Edward Arnold to help them put their show over the air and record it. Now mind you, he was not seen as an errand boy to perform these jobs. As an employee of KSL he was the only one working on this position to make sure it was a success. No secretary, no agent just my grandpa.

Another interesting story about my grandpa was when my mother was in the eighth grade of Crozier Junior High in Inglewood CA. He was noticing that layoffs were coming to his job at Hughes Air Base. Working as an electronic technician he was fearful that he may be next in line. Afraid of being out of work with a family to feed, he got a job at Motorola in Arizona. Howard Hughes, thee Howard Hughes, called him on the phone while he was packing and asked why he was leaving the company. My grandpa told him the situation and Hughes said in response: "Clyde, we would never fire you. You don't take coffee breaks."

These and other experiences, throughout his life, created a great love for the work of Hollywood and the celebrities in it. This love was so great that it spilled over into my mother's life and on into all of my brothers and sisters. This is why I do what I do for this blog each day.

My Mother's Top Ten:
1. A Guy Named Joe (1943)
2. Random Harvest (1942)
3. Blossoms In the Dust (1941)
4. New Moon (1940)
5. Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
6. The Alamo (1960)
7. Girl of the Golden West (1938)
8. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
9. What's Up Doc? (1972)
10. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

You may notice that with the exception of two of the above listed, all of the films hover around the 1940's. My mother is a firm believer that a humbled people make truly remarkable films. Those were dark days where the sunlight that came from the screen gave hope.

With those years long gone and with nothing to keep us humble, we find the people interested in things that are low and degrading in order to find a cheap laugh.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

THE THREE STOOGES

Moe, Curly & Larry
FORMATION: Three of the stooges were brothers: Moses Harry Horwitz "Moe," Samuel Horwitz "Shemp" & Jerome Lester Horwitz "Curly." The original group included Moe, Shemp & Larry during their Vaudeville acts in 1925. Moe was not just the leader on the stage and screen but he helped create the concept of the group with his good friend Ted Healy. With their start at Vaudeville, they became a success and the team soon changed to Moe, Curly & Larry. It was these three that are the most popular known of the trio.

Larry, Shemp & Moe
STUDIOS: Their first short was "Soup to Nuts" (1930) at Fox Film Corporation. Loosing a deal with the studio, due to their co-creator Ted Healy, they went back to the stage for awhile. It was in 1933 that they found themselves with MGM. Here they were in a few short and full-length films both together and apart. In 1934 they left MGM and Healy at the same time. Now they joined Columbia Pictures and became known as "The Three Stooges". Moe, Larry & Curly reached a popularity that continued on into our day during this era. They stayed with Colombia for 24 years making countless shorts for the studio with a few feature films. At the end of 1957 they were let go as the comedy shorts were declining. It was then that they turned to the medium of Television and found new success.

Joe, Larry & Moe
ENDING: Of the original trio, only Moe & Larry were left in 1969. Shemp had died of heart attack in 1955 and Curly had retired from the team in 1946, due to a stroke and then later passing away in 1952. These two were the anchors of the team and both of them passed away in 1975, leaving behind a legacy that spanned five decades.

Larry, Moe & Curly Joe

They were like three big kids, unable to comprehend an idea and then whacking each other when they didn't get their way. They brought back the slapstick of the silent era, adding to an almost violent form of it with an emphasis on sound effects. There act started before the world was torn apart from a second war and continued on into an era where mankind reached into outer space. Their shows were loved by kids and parents alike even though they received much rejection for their aggressive comedy.

This is a compilation of slap from Moe that was made by a fan.

Here is a scene that shows off the talent of Curly.

Friday, April 27, 2012

THE MARX BROTHERS


FORMATION: The Marx Brothers came from a talented family of performing artists. With five brothers in all, not including Manfred who died shortly after birth, each of them trained on their own individual talent. Though most of the family, including their Mother and Aunt, became the "The Six Mascots," It was the three older brothers that are remembered most to this day. Chico, Harpo & Groucho all had a musical talent, Harp having up to six musical instruments he could play. Soon they discovered they could change their act from music with comedy to comical music.


STUDIOS: In 1929 they were introduced to Hollywood, following a successful run on Broadway. They began at Paramount and made one of their most popular films "Duck Soup" (1933). This film was to be their last at this studio and they were soon inclined to join with MGM. There they found the story line to be more structured as they made two other of their most popular films: "A Night at the Opera" (1935) & "A Day at the Races" (1937). After this they moved to RKO for a moment and then back to MGM. Their last two films together were made at United Artists.

ENDING: This is the longest partnership in the history of comedy. They were born as a team and they died a team. In a total of twenty years at Hollywood they left a legacy of laughter with five of their films have been included on American Film Institute's top 100 comedy's films. Their last film together was "Love Happy" in 1949. All three were in a film called "The Story of Mankind" (1957), but they only appeared separate and never as a team. Groucho went on to become a Television celebrity with his show "You Bet Your Life" (1947-1961).

Harpo, Zeepo, Chico, Groucho, Gummo
In one of the most talented families in America we find these crazy brothers. I find it amazing that though they came from the same background, they all found out their special something and never strayed from it. Originally from Germany, they were one of the many entertaining us as we fought a World War with their mother country. To this day they have a following that rivals many of the other comedic acts of their time, and many of their films are treasured as classics.

This is one of their classic scenes. It was in the film "A Night at the Opera" (1935).

Here is the ever famous "Mirror Sequence" from "Duck Soup" (1933).
The other two brothers are dressed up as Groucho.
This sequence was replayed on the "I Love Lucy Show"
with Lucy dressed up as Harpo.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

MARTIN & LEWIS


FORMATION: Their first debut was at the Atlantic City's 500 club in 1946. They had run into each other a few times before and had even done a small act in New York for a night, but it was in Atlantic City that they officially became partners. Dean was the straight man crooner and Jerry was the crazy nut comedian. There act was simple: Dean sings a few songs and Jerry dose everything in his power to interrupt him. Soon they both go after each other and Jerry ends with a puzzled look. Okay, maybe it wasn't that simple.

STUDIOS: In 1949, they signed on at Paramount Pictures. The intention of the studio was to combat the popular duo at Universal, Abbott & Costello. Here they made sixteen films during their partnership and a cameo in Bob Hope & Bing Crosby's "Road to Bali" (1952). Jerry Lewis later became one of Paramount's biggest stars in his independent comedies.

ENDING: There has been a lot written about the split of Martin & Lewis. It is the biggest split in Hollywood history and has a following of books and websites explaining the cause of it. What I find to be the most accurate is an interview available on YouTube.com. In it, Jerry is asked what or who caused the split. I think it is the most genuine and thoughtful explanation on the subject. Their last film together was "Hollywood or Bust" in 1956. They had ten amazing years together as partners.


What makes their breakup so interesting is that later they would tell jokes about it. They were very good friends and it showed on the screen. It was their film "Scared Stiff" (1953) that got my wife a little bit more interested in the movies of the past. She found it funny and original, even though it was in "black and white." They were one of he funniest duo's of the big screen and their films and performances are still popular today.

This is the trailer of my favorite film of theirs.

Here is a beautiful tribute video to Martin & Lewis.

This was their last reunion on Television.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

HOPE & CROSBY



FORMATION: Bob & Bing were never really a team, hearsay. Both of them were big stars and putting them together in a film was dynamite. Also contrary to other partners, neither one of them was the straight man. Both of them could make you laugh, have their own musical number, and steal the girl in the end.

The truth is that their duo was more of a trio with Dorothy Lamour playing the love interest. She was the straight man in a sense and had her moments in the sun on screen. With the making of their last film with all three together, "Road to Bali" (1952), she found her success waining as her two other stars kept rising to the top.


STUDIOS: All seven of the "Road" films, with the exception of their last picture, were made at Paramount Pictures. In the "Road to Utopia" (1946) they look off to a mountain that is suddenly surrounded by stars to indicate the Paramount trademark. "The Road to Hong Kong" (1962) film is owned by United Artists.

ENDING: Since they never began as a partnership, they technically never ended as a partnership. Their last film together was "The Road to Hong Kong" in 1962. Another picture was written for them called the "Road to the Fountain of Youth" in 1977 with the original three. Sadly, Bing Crosby died on October 14th of that year and it was abandoned.


Who could of ever thought that guys who seemed to hate each other were the best of friends. There comedy technique was unique. While other duo's ran slapstick routines and play on word monologues, they were playing around with the fourth wall. The fourth wall is what separates a story from the audience and more importantly reality. They were notorious for making wise cracks on the studio, the script and each other on the screen. There jokes get even funnier when you know a little bit more about their personal lives. Even apart, their funniest jokes included some snide remark about the other.

This is a classic scene from the most famous film they made together, "Road to Morocco" (1942).

Here are some of their cameos in each others pictures.

This was on a PBS special titled "The Legendary Bing Crosby."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ABBOTT & COSTELLO


FORMATION: In 1936, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello met in a burlesque house in New York at the Minsky Theatre on 2nd Avenue. Lou was 29 and Bud was 41. They would split their money 60/40, 60 going to straight man Bud and 40 going to comedy clown Lou. Bud received more because he was the finest straight man in the business. With his talent and Lou's childish adulthood, they became the most successful partnership in vaudeville.

STUDIOS: It was in 1940 that Lou encouraged Bud to expand from Radio and bring their act to Hollywood. They signed on at Universal Studios, later saving it from going bankrupt with their successful films. In a 2 1/2 year span they made 10 full-length feature films. This was quite an impressive number in itself, but even more impressive was that it was done during World War II. Universal later faced a law suit for selling films of the duo to private parties for extra gain. They had done this without giving gratuities to Bud & Lou. They soon moved to Television and had achieved their own show in 1952, "The Abbott & Costello Show."

ENDING: In December of 1956, they performed for the last time at a night club in Las Vegas. Bud's timing was off, who was now 61, and Lou called it quits. They had performed for nearly 22 years.


With the previous routines of the silent era emphasizing on physical comedy, they brought these acts into the sound age adding to it play on word confrintations. Both sides of the argument make complete sense, but frustration ensues as Lou childish mind can't comprehend it.

This is my favorite comedic duo, and it's no wonder that my favorite comedy and Halloween movie is "Bud Abbott & Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948). Though they had a few struggles they had an amazing friendship.

Here is the trailer of my favorite film of theirs.

The "Loafer" bit.

The skit that made them famous, "Who's On First."

Monday, April 23, 2012

LAUREL & HARDY


FORMATION: For years it was believed that the one responsible for teaming up these two was Hal Roach. In fact, it was Leo McCary who noticed the reaction of the audience when they performed together, and recommended they be teamed up later on. Even though Leo discovered them, the story of what caused them to be in the same picture is even more interesting.

Hardy was cooking a leg of lamb and got his arm burned so badly that they cut down his part in another picture. This forced the studio to put him with a skinny comedian in a new picture, "The Lucky Dog" (1921), and the rest is history.

STUDIOS: Teamed up at Hal Roach Studios, they made a majority of their films there. After a disagreement with Hal Roach they moved over to 20th Century Fox & MGM in 1940.

ENDING: Though their last film was "Utopia" (1951) aka "Atoll K," they never stopped being Laurel & Hardy. It was a friendship that lasted even when the money wasn't rolling in. Hardy died of a stroke on August 7th, 1957 and Laurel followed on February 23rd, 1965. Since Laurel had lived a little longer, he was able to see the new popularity of their partnership flourish into the inspiration of new comedians. These new comics had watched them as kids and created a legacy in honor of these two great men.


I love these two men for what they taught the world about comedy and about friendship. As a boy, my mother showed me a few of their short films and I was hooked. When I grew older, I could see the effect they had on the comedians of the sixties like: Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis and others. They made their films through two world wars, yet they are more popular than any tyrant or any world leader. They were the world's best friends.

Here is a clip from "Flying Deuces" (1939) that presents
Hardy's singing and Laurel's dancing.

This is a scene that you can't watch without laughing.

Dick used to sneak away from home to watch Laurel & Hardy films
as a kid. When he got home he would show off something new
he had seen Laurel do. Not only could he move like him, his face
also held a close resemblance. In this clip, on the Dick Van Dyke show,
he plays the part of his idol. After the show, he called up Laurel
out of the phone book and asked for his thoughts on it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DUOS & TRIOS

In honor of the comedic teams of vintage Hollywood, I will be dedicating a portion of this week to them. There are duos and there are trios and without them we would of missed out on a lot of laughter.

Some of them had a successful partnership, while others had it's struggles. Each of them have a story, and I hope to capture it as best as I can. I've already posted on Burnes & Allen and Ma & Pa Kettle. For this reason, I'll be leaving them out for this round.

I hope you enjoy and comment on your favorite one!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

HUMOROUS TITLES

As I did these last few posts, I realized that each comedian has his own space in the universe of comedy. So I have given a title to a few of them. Here they are:

Raised by a clown himself, his father worked in a circus when Red Skelton was young. With his authentic training, he successfully brought this type of comedy into Radio, Television and Motion Pictures more than any other comedian.


Keeping true to the title of his most popular film, "The Court Jester" (1956),
Danny Kaye proved himself as the "King of Jesters and Jesters of Kings."


As a tribute to his film and character, "The Nutty Professor" (1963),
Jerry Lewis is as crazy as they come.


Who needs scripts when you're with Bob Hope. Dorothy Lamour found herself lost many times through some of their films, but carried on as best she could. From hosting the Oscars to entertaining troops, he never packed a cue card.


As the King of Clumsy, Stan Laurel has kept audiences rolling for generations. He continues to be an example to comedians of our day. His facial expressions, walk, smile and even the movement of his elbows speak louder than any of his dialogue.


DYNAMIC DUO'S

Many comedians have found success performing alone, while others found it best to team up. For this next week, I will be posting on my favorite Duos and Trios.

Before I move on from the solo performers, I wanted to list a few comparisons I found interesting. I posted on six comedians and here are their similarities.


When it came to having boys:
Stan Laurel
Red Skelton
Lou Costello
(These three all had their only son die in their youth).

Danny Kaye
(Only had one child, a daughter).

Bob Hope
(Adopted four kids).

Jerry Lewis
(He is the odd one out with six boys from his first wife).


Speaking of wives:
Danny Kaye
Bob Hope
Lou Costello
(All of these never divorced with the exception of a rumor about Hope having a previous marriage).

Jerry Lewis
(He had two marriages).

Red Skelton
(Had three marriages).

Stan Laurel
(Interesting enough, he had five marriages. Two of them were with his second wife who later became his fourth).


On Academy Awards:
None of the comedians I posted on received an Oscar for a performance. They all, except Lou Costello, received Honorary Awards from the Academy.
Stan Laurel
Red Skelton
Jerry Lewis
(They all received one Honorary Academy Award).

Danny Kaye
(He was awarded two Oscars)

Bob Hope
(He beat them all. Not only was he the host for the Oscars countless times, he walked home five of his own).

There are a few other comparisons that I don't have time to list now.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

STAN LAUREL (1890-1965)

ARTHUR STANLEY JEFFERSON

Born: June 16th, 1890 (England)

Died: February 23rd, 1965 (heart attack)

Marriages: Lois Neilson (1926-1934), Virginia Ruth Rogers (1934-1937), Vera Ivanova Shuvalova (1938-1940), Virginia Ruth Rogers (1941-1946) & Ida Kitaeva (1946-1965).

Children: He had two children: a girl named Lois, after his wife at the time, and a son named Stanley Robert Laurel who died after nine days.

Awards: In 1961, Stan received his first and only Academy Award for his pioneering work in the cinema of comedy. Though he was unable to attend, it was received in his honor by Danny Kaye. He also won a Life Achievement Award in 1964, and has a star on the Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures.

Interesting Fact: In an epitaph that he wrote for his own funeral he stated: "If anyone cries at my funeral, I will never speak to him again."

My Favorite Movie: "The Music Box" (1932) is my favorite of theirs. I do not know what makes a piano going up and down the stairs so funny, but it cracks me up every time. There is also a collection of scary shorts that I love called the "Laurel & Hardy Spooktacular," which is still only on VHS.

Stan was the inspiration for so many comedians who followed him. Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers and others looked to him as an example and even met with him a few times to ask for advice. Though he was the understudy of Charlie Chaplin, the first most successful comedian, he set his own standard in the world as the character of a childish adult. He was also one of the most gracious of comedians by adding his number in the phone book and personally responding to fan mail.

Though it may not seem this way, he was the brains of the team. He was the director & writer of many of his films with Oliver Hardy. That was what made their partnership successful. This duo withstood the test of time better than any other partnership in Hollywood history. They were close friends and received awards and achievements as a team most of the time. They were in more than 300 movies together and are commonly mimicked to this day.

From his ear to ear smile to his puffed out bottom lip he became the Laurel that America would never forget. We have never seen anything like him since and were sure we never will. He gave us so much laughter and tears that there is hardly room for anyone other comedian to do the same. What a beautiful "mess we've gotten into!"

Here are some scenes from my favorite film of theirs "The Music Box."

This is a touching interview with Laurel about his fan mail.

Comments from Jerry Lewis on his idol Stan Laurel.

This is a fan made compilation of his funeral.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

RED SKELTON (1913-1997)

RICHARD BERNARD SKELTON

Born: July 18th, 1913 (Indiana)

Died: September 17th, 1997 (pneumonia)

Marriages: Edna Marie Stilwell (1932-1943), Georgia Davis (1945-1973) & Lothian Toland (1973-His death).

Children: He had two children: a boy named Richard Jr., who died of leukemia at the age of nine and a daughter named Valentina.

Awards: In 1989 he was given an Oscar as a Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy. He has also been awarded two Golden Globes, three Emmy's, a Screen Actors Guild Award and two stars on the Walk of Fame for Radio & Television. He was nominated for three other Emmy's.

Interesting Fact: Though many of his skits included characters that were humorously drunk, Skelton himself never drank a drop of alcohol. He was ironically allergic to it.

My Favorite Movie: "Neptune's Daughter" (1949). The film includes the first appearance of the classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and has a fantastic cast. It's one of his comical best.


Red is the cleanest comedian I've ever seen. Not only was his humor original and incomparable, he also became the true definition of a "CLOWN." Having grown up in the Circus and watching his father perform as a clown, he learned what he saw and made it entertaining to watch on the screen. But, instead of just one character to play, he had a full arsenal to choose from. These characters gave him one of the most successful runs on Television. He also insisted on fewer takes and would often adlib during a goof in order to keep the originality of it. What I love most about Mr. Skelton was his feelings on "Blue Humor." He considered it as a cheap escape from inventing true entertainment. What I also love about him was his patriotism and support to keep "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Here is one of my favorite scenes from "Neptune's Daughter."

Here is his infamous gin routine.

Here is his feelings on the Pledge of Allegiance.

I had to include this last video he does with Jerry Lewis.
They were two of the best clowns in the world,
but in the end it is Jerry who submits to Red.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

JERRY LEWIS (1926-LIVING)

JOSEPH LEVITCH

Born: March 16th, 1926 (New Jersey)

Died: LIVING

Marriage: Patti Lewis (1944-1982), SanDee Pitnick (1983-Present).

Children: He had six children with his first wife Patti: Gary, Ronald, Scott, Christopher, Anthony & Joseph. With his SanDee they had a daughter named Danielle.

Awards: He was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Awards in 2009 to add to his seventeen other entertaining achievements. He has also been nominated for an additional eleven other awards.

Interesting Fact: He was a professor at the University of Southern California where he taught a film directing class. Among his students were Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.

My Favorite Movie: Without reservation I place "Scared Stiff" (1953) as my favorite Jerry Lewis film. Comedians seem to be funnier when they play a character scared out of their pants, and this movie proves it beautifully. It was a remake of Bob Hopes "Ghost Breakers" (1940) and includes a cameo of him with Bing Crosby at the end of the movie. Both of them were directed by George Marshal and have very few deviations from each other. The real debate is which one is better.


Jerry is a man of a thousand faces. His expressions teamed with his high-pitch voice set him apart from all other comics. Whether he was in a film with Dean, or not, he always gave his all, plus a little extra. He could pull off the incompetent fool and then the untouchable VIP without compromising either one. As a comedian he crossed over into the world of writing, directing & singing. Not unlike other of his trade he has taken his effect on the hearts of the world to the next level through charity, and has become an example for mankind of selfless giving. On a personal note, one of my many middle names is Jerry, and I claim that is in honor of this amazing actor/comedian.

This is my favorite sequence from the film "Scared Stiff."
"Myron, MYRON!"

Here is another favorite of mine, the Pantomime typewriter.

Here are Jerry's words on the split up of him and Dean.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FILM?

Monday, April 16, 2012

UPDATE ON POSTS

I have missed a few posts and will be catching up within the next few days. I have been on Vacation and took a little Blog break. I wanted to stray a little from the norm and post on some of my favorite comedians, rather than just the ones in my favorite films. BACK TO WORK!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

LOU COSTELLO (1906-1959)

LOUIS FRANCIS CRISTILLO

Born: March 6th, 1906 (New Jersey).

Died: March 13th, 1959 (heart attack).

Marriage: Anne Battler (1934-His death).

Children: They had three daughters and a son that died a few days before he reached one: Patricia "Paddy" Costello,  Carole, Lou Jr. & Christie.

Awards: He has three stars on the Walk of Fame: Radio, Television & Motion Pictures.

Interesting Fact: He used to be an amateur boxer, which explains his funny boxing moves he reenacts in his bits.

My Favorite Movie: "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) is my all time favorite of his. It has all of the best monsters with a convincing story of using his brain to keep Frankenstein from thinking for himself. "Hold That Ghost" (1941) comes in at a closed second with it's other hilarious skits.

When I was younger I never understood the importance of a straight man, and used to think Lou was stealing the show. It was Lou himself who said that: "Comics are a dime a dozen - good straight men are hard to find!" He was always generous with his co-comedian and they enjoyed a friendship that rivaled Laurel & Hardy.

Lou was one of the kindness men on earth. He used his talents to bless the lives of others with laughter and even a good youth through his Lou Costello Jr. Recreation Center . As a Comedian he was one of the best fallers. He had a way of taking every punch or slap like it didn't even cause pain and then fling himself across the set into a wall ending up on his back. He would then get right back up and do it all over again about fifteen times. Charlie Chaplin had his "Tramp" character, Lou's was that of a little kid. I can only imagine how lucky his son would have been to grown up with such a funny father. He loved his family, he loved his fans and he loved those who needed direction and help.

Here is Lou on "This is Your Life."
This is a treasure to watch.

This is one of their hilarious math equations.

How can you miss their most popular skit "Who's On Your First."

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

BOB HOPE (1903-2003)

SIR LESLIE TOWNES HOPE

Born: May 29th, 1903 ( London).

Died: July 27th, 2003 (pneumonia).

Marriage: Dolores Hope (1934-His death).

Children: He & Dolores adopted four children: Eleanora Hope, William Kelly Francis Hope, Anthony J. Hope & Linda Hope.

Interesting Fact: He is the only civilian to be classified as a US Veteran by Congress. This was done in 1996 for his almost 200 USO shows that he hosted or performed in during war time.

Awards: With Bob Hope, I will need to add a little disclaimer. This section of the post, which lists their awards, was intended to present the celebrities achievements in relation to their contributions to Motion Pictures themselves. At times, I have taken certain liberties by listing achievements such as knighthood and political honors on other individuals to spruce up this area. For Bob, this would be impossible to list without a thorough study that could take a few weeks. For interest of time, I will avoid those awards in order to not belittle one over another in importance. If you would like to see a complete list of his accomplishments, I would refer you to the sometimes inaccurate Wikipedia.

Though he had never received an Academy Award for his acting alone, he had been awarded five honorary Oscars throughout his life. He has received twenty-nine other awards for his performances with an additional eight nominations.

My Favorite Film: Any film that starts with the words "My Favorite" or "Road to" have a special place on my favorite list. Each one of them just keep on bringing more and more laughs. The one film that I really love is "The Ghost Breakers" (1940). It presents his cowardice character perfectly. It also gives lenience to an almost macho Hope you don't see much of in other pictures. This film was remade by Martin & Lewis in 1953, under the title "Scared Stiff." Bob has a cameo at the end, in honor of the remake, with Bing by his side. Though Crosby was not in the original film, they were shown together, since they just completed "Road to Bali" (1952) the year before.

As frugal as Bob was, no other star gave as much time & money as he did. From performing for our troops to golf, he kept himself pretty busy, making an occasional film now and then. He is the ultimate ad-libber & the most well known comedian to ever grace the silver-screen. He walked among some of the greatest of this country, whether it was in an Oval Office or a Barracks. He spread his medicine of laughter through Radio, Television, Motion Pictures and even the Stage. For the 100 years of his life, he gave America just what it needed, HOPE!

Here is the song that summed up the friendship of Bob & Bing in "Road to Utopia" (1946). Bob said of the friendship himself: "There's nothing I wouldn't do for Bing, and there's nothing he wouldn't do for me. And that's the way we go through life - doing nothing for each other!"


This is one of my favorite dance routines. Cagney relives his timeless portrail of the original "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942) with Bob in his film of the real-life depiction on "The Seven Little Foy's" (1955). My Mom always had me watch how often the the camera position would change, in order to see how much a routine they had to dance for. I invite you to see how long they last in this seguence. Quite impressive!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DANNY KAYE (1913-1987)

DAVID DANIEL KAMINSKI

Born: January 18th, 1913 (Brooklyn)

Died: March 3rd, 1987 (heart failure)

Marriage: Sylvia Fine (1940-His death)

Children: Dena Kaye

Interesting Fact: In his youth he wanted to become a Doctor. This is interesting since laughter is the best medicine.

Awards: Though he was never nominated for an Oscar in acting he did receive two honoree awards: one in 1955 and another in 1982 as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. In his first season of his show he received an Emmy and was nominated three other times for different shows. He was awarded two Golden Globes: "Me and the Colonel" (1958) & "On the Riviera" (1951). He also has a Star on the Walk of Fame in Motion Picture, Radio & Recoding. He also received a Laurel Award, a life achievement award from the Screen Writers Guild and hand prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

My Favorite Film: "The Court Jester" (1956) is his most popular film. Usually I'd rather pick my favorite as an unknown film I've discovered. With Danny Kaye, however, I am going to have to agree with the crowd that this is also my favorite.

Chef, Pilot, Conductor, Actor, Singer, Comedian, Dancer, TV host, UNICEF ambassador, husband & father - Danny sure kept himself busy. History shows that movie stars had a hard time balancing all of these talents and duties with family like, but Danny didn't just balance them, he juggled them.

For many reason's Danny is my favorite comedian of Hollywood. He could stand on his own as the funny & straight man, while being the orchestra at the same time. He was clean in his act and had his own unique form of tongue twisters that he and his wife, as his writer, developed. Most of all, he is my favorite for his love of children that far surpassed many of his day. Being an ambassador of UNICEF and with the film of "Hans Christian Andersen" (1952), you can see his kindness and care for them. What a legacy to leave behind!

His famous tongue twisting scene.
Here is a clip from Five Pennies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

VACATION

I have been on vacation this week and have fallen behind in some posts. I hope to have a few of them done by the end of today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

WE'RE NO ANGELS (1955)

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Producer: Pat Duggan

Director: Michael Curtiz

Awards: NONE

Interesting Fact: The authors of the book that originated this film were Samuel and Bella Spewack. In contrast they also wrote the musical "Kiss Me Kate" (1953).

My Favorite Scene: There is a scene in the film, that I have viewable below, where they contemplate on warning their victim. The writing, timing and also the acting of all three are fantastic in this moment.

Joseph: We came here to rob them and that's what we're gonna do - beat their heads in, gouge their eyes out, slash their throats. Soon as we wash the dishes.


This film may be unknown to you. Even though it is a Christmas classic, it is not seen much these days. It is a story of three convicts who escape prison and are mistaken as workers by a household. They soon feel a need to solve some of the problems of the home by using their own eccentric tactics. The reason why I love this movie so much is because of its dry humor. The three angels are polar opposites to the three stooges, but yet, they are just as funny. It is a beautiful story with tongue in cheek humor!


 WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE?

Friday, April 6, 2012

HOLD THAT GHOST (1941)

Studio: Universal Pictures

Producer: Burt Kelly & Glenn Tryon

Director: Arthur Lubin

Awards: NONE

Interesting Fact: This films was intended to be their third film together, following "Buck Privates" (1941). Afraid that audiences may not take to the transition to a horror movie, they shelved the project and made "In the Navy" (1941) instead. After that film was completed, they picked this film back up and renamed it from it's original title "Oh Charlie!" to "Hold that Ghost."

My Favorite Scene: Picking my favorite scene is too difficult for this movie. I can, however, tell you my least favorite scene. When Lou runs back and forth as his room changes into a gambling hall. It is so frustrating to watch it. No one else ever sees it but him, and it happens over and over and over. I have to fast forward it every time.



Ferdie: Look, from now on, keep one eye on that candle, another eye on that one, and with the other eye WATCH ME!

To tell the truth, "Bud Abbott & Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) is my all-time favorite of the duo's. Since it is more of a Halloween film, though, I am saving it for October. Meanwhile, I wanted to post on another favorite of mine,  "Hold that Ghost." This, along with "What's Up, Doc?" (1972), is a film my family quotes all the time. Whenever one of my nephews & nieces gain a new friend, their initiation is watching this film.

Who could have ever thought that comedy could be so scary. Very few duo's have pulled off the straight man & funny man as well as these two. They were a smash hit in their day and their films continue to send waves of laughter into ours.  It was their talent that has inspired many comedians today to perfect their art. This was the first of the films that Lou was able to show his scardy pants attitude. What a classic!




One of my many favorite scenes.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948)

Studio: RKO Radio Pictures

Producer: Dore Schary, Melvin Frank & Norman Panama

Director: H.C. Potter

Awards: It was nominated for an award from the Writers Guild of America.

Interesting Fact: This film is based on a true story that happened to the writer, Eric Hodgins, the author of the book.

My Favorite Scene: My favorite scene has always been the pump scene. It wasn't until my parents began to build a house of their own, that the floor plan scene replaced it, as my favorite. My parents had some of the exact things happen to them: exaggerated closet space, multiple bathrooms and even a larger second floor on top of a smaller first floor.






Mr. Zucca: That's no rock. That's a ledge.
Bill Cole: What Mr. Blandings means is, what precisely is a ledge?
Mr. Zucca: A ledge is like a big stone. Only it's bigger.
Jim Blandings: Like a boulder!
Mr. Zucca: No, like a ledge.

They say that true humor is pulled from life itself. If this statement is accurate, then this is the most honest humor I've ever seen. I had seen this movie as a boy and we all laughed. It wasn't until my parents built a custom home that we pulled it out again and cried with so much laughter. From the color for the walls to the number of closets and bathrooms, it displayed our story.

This film was in between Grant's humor years and romance years. In fact, Myrna Loy & him were considered too old to play the young couple being swindled into by a country home. The year before, they had been cast together in "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" (1947). It wasn't until there pairing as an experienced married couple, in this movie, that I found their chemistry hilarious. This is my favorite comedy that Cary Grant had done, with the exception of "Arsenic & Old Lace" (1944).

If you have ever done anything to a house, you need to see this movie.

Trailer

Another favorite scene of mine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963)

Studio: United Artists

Producer: Stanley Kramer

Director: Stanley Kramer

Awards: It received the Oscar for Best Effects and was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Music Score & Original Song, Best Film Editing & Best Sound. On top of those it won two Laurel Awards and was nominated for four additional achievements.

Interesting Fact: This film was a favorite of Harry Snyder, the original founder of In-and-out burger. In honor of this film, palm trees are placed crossing each other at each location to replicate the "Big W" in the film.

My Favorite Scene: The flying sequence with Rooney & Hackett is among my top favorite scenes of all time. There were so many cameos in those scenes, including the three stooges.
"It's buried under a big W, I tell ya. A big W."
This film has the biggest casting of comedians ever made and included countless cameos. Switching back and forth from multiple stories at a time, it keeps the audience entertained and on the edge of their seat. Your never sure if you are rooting for the bad guy or good guy. In the end you laughed at them all. Whoever was in comedy wanted to be in this picture with very few exceptions. The writing is excellent, the acting superb and the comedy is out of this mad, mad world.


Here is the first part of seven segments in a documentary for the film.
If you want to watch the rest of them, you can find them on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

ROAD TO UTOPIA (1946)

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Producer: Paul Jones

Director: Hal Walker

Awards: It was nominated for Best Writing at the Oscars.

Interesting Fact: Originally the scene with the bear was used with a tame one. When they first shot the scene the bear did not sleep next to Bob like it had been trained. Instead it began to sniff at him and growl. Bob & Bing refused to do the scene with the bear and the next day it tore off the arm of its trainer.

My Favorite Scene: I love the part when they come in and act tough in the middle of the posse. What gets me most of all is when Bob asks for lemonade... IN A DIRTY GLASS.

Chester Hooton: Everything is cold! My nose is an iceberg.
Duke: Iceberg? That's a glacier.

I know that Road to Morocco is the popular one, but I love Utopia more than any of them. Though many of their films contained an element of breaking through the fourth wall, this one tops them all by adding a narrator and random comments concerning the filming industry. My favorite scene of this type of writing is when Bob tries to cuss on the screen and all you see is animated lip movement. Bing then says in return: "I told you they wouldn't let you say that." Below I have included a clip of Bob Hope commenting on the film in 1983.