Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Holidays with Phil Harris!

Here's a rarity; the first half (presumably) of the May 29th, 1933 episode of Hollywood On the Air, what seems to be a transcribed promotional series for RKO. This episode features a very young Phil Harris, a few years before he began his stint with Jack Benny, more than a decade before his own series with wife Alice Faye, and eons before he performed the voice of Baloo in Disney's Jungle Book. Unfortunately, it's also years before he developed his brilliant radio personality. This is Bandleader/Singer Harris, not lovable egotistic lug Harris, delivering his lines in the overly-mannered style fashionable in early 30s radio. This is a dual promotion for Phil's film debut in the Oscar-winning short So This is Harris! and its progeny, the pre-Code wonder Melody Cruise. Special mention is made of newcomer Chick Chandler, a light comedy song and dance man who, while never quite achieving fame, remained steadily employed in Hollywood for another 37 years (and who is best known to MST3K fans as Wilbur the Angel in Bell Telephone's Once Upon a Honeymoon (1956)). For contrast, here's Phil, Alice and Jack(son) Benny in, appropriately enough, the Christmas 1949 episode of the Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, courtesy OTRCAT. As far as I'm concerned, aside from The Jack Benny Program, I don't think you'll find another 40s/50s radio sitcom that tops PH-AF for timing, writing, and characterization. Not convinced? Well, here are another nine episodes to persuade you, you hard-hearted cad.

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