Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bert, Bob, etc..

Hal Horn of The Horn Section has posted a review of Wheeler and Woolsey's 1933 anything-goes anti-war epic Diplomaniacs as a part of his series on films that should be on DVD but aren't. At the moment, Bert and Bob are "officially" represented on DVD by public domain prints of Dixiana, Half Shot at Sunrise, and Hook Line and Sinker (all 1930). I have to agree with Hal that Diplomaniacs deserves a DVD release (while disagreeing with him re: Bert's singing abilities) and, as it was one of a handful of W&W pictures released on VHS by Turner Home Entertainment in the early 90s, I have to imagine that it's on some executive's short list should some minor W&W DVD box set ever come about. Unfortunately, the W&W features previously chosen for VHS release give me no faith whatsoever in the Turner corporation's ability to select a decent line-up of Bert and Bob's comedies. Woe for the uninitiated classic comedy fan who is led to believe that the flavorless kiddie flick Kentucky Kernels is in any way representative of Wheeler and Woolsey's best work. Even Diplomaniacs, as fun as it is, is less a showcase for Bert and Bob's talents than a large scale exercise in the kind of outlandish "nut" humor that also gave the world Million Dollar Legs and International Hotel. Perhaps one of these days The Powers That Be will realize what they're sitting on and release a box set including, at least, Cockeyed Cavaliers, Hips Hips Hooray!, The Cuckoos, and So This Is Africa. A man can dream, can't he?

And, while we're on the subject, here's an interesting article by David Boxwell on the gender/sex subtext of Wheeler and Woolsey's pre-Code output. There's enough debate fuel in this article for a series of good-natured fistfights, although some of the conclusions remind me a little too much of the ultimately misguided Another Fine Dress: Role Play in the Films of Laurel and Hardy.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Ivan G. said...

I still have my VHS copy of Diplomaniacs and if anyone ever tried to take it from me by force I think I would shed my normal pacifist persona and go medieval on their ass.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I read that Boxwell piece some time ago, and while I don't really accept it, I have to admire the depths to which the guy dug into the movies to get to his point.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Greg G said...

Speaking of Another Fine Dress, even though the book is a bit over the top at times, I love it. Among other reasons, it's the only book that dares mention Stan's debt to the great Harry Langdon.

11:17 AM  
Blogger East Side said...

It just hit me that, between this photo of Bert & Bob and Harry Langdon's appearance in "Double Trouble," you could start a whole new thread on third bananas giving the finger.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

Bob knows what he's doing. The question in my mind is at what point did flipping the bird become universally recognized as flipping the bird?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a still of Curly doing it too, but I think in the film he's twirling his fingers and the still is kind of "out of context"---or is it?

11:39 AM  
Blogger garv said...

I'd add PEACH O'RENO to a dream W&W box set.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Definitely. If there was a W & W box set it should start with 6 movies over 3 discs:

Disc 1: Peach-O-Reno/Diplomaniacs
Disc 2: Cockeyed Cavaliers/Hips, Hips, Hooray
Disc 3: Kentucky Kernels/Nitwits

Yeah I know Kernels is the weakest of those, but Nitwits almost has to be on it and once that is there then the other George Stevens outing should be there too.

8:31 PM  

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