Monday, May 07, 2007

"Never a help! Always a hinderance!"

In answer to Kevin's C&McC post, for the next few weeks I'm going to post examples of the good, bad, transcendent, and just plain bizarre from Bobby and Paul's series for Radio Pictures. I'm starting things off with The Iceman's Ball, which definitely, for me, falls into the "transcendent" category. The Iceman's Ball was released by RKO on August 12th, 1932, and is the earliest Clark and McCullough short I've seen so far. Like most of the C&McC's that Mark Sandrich directed, it stands in contrast to the later Ben Holmes-helmed shorts in that its story is decidedly straightforward and Bobby and Paul are pretty much allowed to shoulder the short's weirdness on their own. No bagpipe-playing pigs here! Instead, we're presented with a Clark and McCullough who carve their own bizarre path through a fairly recognizable Jazz Age world. And they didn't get better support later on than they do here; we have Jimmy Finlayson doing his takes to the camera, Fred Kelsey as a cop (what else?), and Vernon Dent as a heavy (what else?). Goldwyn Girl Shirley Chambers plays Dorothy Lee to C&McC's W&W, and a very young Walter Brennan rounds out the cast in a thankless minor role. Anarchist, licentious, and thoroughly anti-authoritarian, The Iceman's Ball is an exhilarating example of pre-Code comedy and "Exhibit A" for the argument that Clark and McCullough could have handled features with flair. Bobby: "It's women like you who make men like me make women like you make men like me!"

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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Blogger paul etcheverry said...

Aaron -
Thanks for posting this and In A Pig's Eye. Imagine how funny these guys were like onstage, with a capacity crowd going nuts.

I have sought 16mm prints of the RKOS for years. Wonder if the Museum Of Broadcasting has any of Clark's Colgate Comedy Hours.

Thanks again. These are hilarious.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous east side said...

Oh man... I'm trying to like 'em, I really am... but this one didn't help the cause. However, I like that particular opening theme music, despite -- or because of -- the orchestra sounding like it was recorded under a blanket.

By the way, I think this was the first C&McC short I've seen where Paul's character wasn't named Blodgett. Was that some kind of a dirty in-joke or something?

4:23 AM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

Paul- You're welcome! I'm posting another one next week. I've seen publicity stills from a couple of Bobby's Colgate shows and they look good. This is a guess, but from the stills, it looks as if he rehashed some of his old burlesque skits and vaudeville routines (presumably with Paul's roles written out). Any idea why THOSE Colagates are missing while A&C and M&L Colgates are a dime a dozen? Aside from market forces? (I know the Cantor shows are at least out there)

Kevin- You grinch! The theme music here you may recognize from Caught Plastered w/ W&W. It shows up as dance music in the drug store. I'll be posting a C&McC short that has "Sing To Me" from The Diplomaniacs running under the action near the end.

5:37 AM  

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