"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!"