Classic Movies · Stuff You Should Know

DVR-TiVo-Or whatever recording device strikes your fancy-alert!

neighborhoodhouse

Before I get on my knees and grovel for forgiveness for having neglected the blog for so long, I thought I’d post this little heads-up concerning some comedy one- and two-reelers which you might want to jot down for viewing and/or taping. (I realize it’s cutting it close, but I didn’t stumble onto this info until early this morning.)

This afternoon, TCM will run the 1948 Joe McDoakes short So You Want to Build a House—scheduled fortuitously before the charming Cary Grant-Myrna Loy farce Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). A second comedy short treat follows in Neighborhood House (1936), a Charley Chase romp that according to legend was originally five reels in length but was edited down to two. It has long been accepted as conventional wisdom that House’s re-editing was due to a poor reception from an audience, negating Chase’s foray into features—but Yair Solan, proprietor of The World of Charley Chase, argues that the cutting of the two-reeler was due to a legal battle looming over the horizon over the Roach Studios’ “borrowing” of the “Bank Night” concept in the film. (The original title of the feature was Bank Night, and Mr. R was anxious to avoid a lawsuit, in layman’s terms. The messy fallout of “Chase can’t ‘carry’ a feature” followed.) I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing the short but I’ve heard several of my fellow Chase acolytes offer nothing but praise—including Yair, whom I’d also like to give a hearty handclasp for purchasing some of the items in my recent eBay auction as well.

stooge
Thelma and Patsy

But I digress. Tomorrow morning (Saturday), it’s Roach’s “female Laurel & Hardy” team’s turn to grab the spotlight at 11:40am EDT (following Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda in You Belong to Me [1941]) as Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly star in the two-reeler The Misses Stooge (1935). In this one, Thelma & Patsy are canned from their job as dancers and are forced to take up another occupation—Thelma secures work as “stooge” to a magician (Herman Bing) and Patsy becomes Bing’s assistant. I’ve not seen this short either…but if this is the start of a Hal Roach revival trend (TCM ran L&H’s County Hospital [1932] Wednesday night before the 1934 Wheeler & Woolsey musical comedy Hips, Hips, Hooray!) I endorse the idea with endless reservoirs of enthusiasm.

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