Sunday, March 05, 2006

Too Many Cooks

click on thumbnails for full-sized images

I found these publicity stills for Joe Cook's series at Educational on eBay a couple of weeks ago and feel compelled to share. An expert juggler, acrobat, sharpshooter, dancer, magician, and musician, it was once said that Cook's understudy was the Barnum and Bailey Circus. And unlike a lot of once-famous depression-era comics, Joe Cook is every bit as capable of winning over an audience today as he was in 1931. Cook's special charm shines through even in silents, as evidenced by this 1925 newsreel appearance in which Cook displays his juggling skills and even a bit of mime. Of all the Broadway comedians who spent time at Educational, Joe Cook appears to have been most successful at bringing his brand of humor to the screen. The two shorts I've thus far seen are hysterically funny and again beg the question of why Joe Cook's film career never took wing. By all rights, as one of the 30s most endearing and versatile "nut" comics, Joe Cook should have been a major film comedy star, and yet he spent his film career producing sporadic shorts and features for the minor leagues. It's more of a legacy than has been left by many another stage talent, but it hardly seems fitting for the comic once described by one Broadway critic as "the greatest man in America".

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Blogger East Side said...

I saw "Rain or Shine" at a revival house about 20 years ago. All I remember of it was thinking afterwards, "That Joe Cook's a damn funny guy! Why haven't I heard of him before?"

4:52 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

I'll never understand his obscurity. What I've seen of his work for Educational is every bit as good as Rain Or Shine, and you would even think that THAT film would be better known, at least because of Capra. Cook should have been a major star at a studio like Paramount, but I think he was simply too attached to Broadway to make the move.. Our loss.

7:59 AM  

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