Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Los 4 hermanos Marx

Here's a bit of a mystery.. to me, at least. This is a poster for a South American Marx Brothers film festival, country unknown, dating from the late 60s-early 70s. A terrific line-up of the Marxes' finest work, and it's quite nice to see Zeppo taking his rightful place on the poster. I suppose the prints for this particular festival might have been fresh as Paramount was at that time cashing in on the Nostalgia Boom by re-releasing their Marx films to American theaters, but might these also have been new prints of the original foreign versions? Which begs the question, what was the nature of the foreign versions of the Marx Brothers' Paramount films? Were they subtitled? In the pre-dubbing world of 1929, I can't imagine the Marxes learning their lines phonetically for a foreign version of The Cocoanuts, so how were these produced? Moreover, if foreign versions of Horse Feathers were produced, might those prints provide the footage needed to renovate and complete the sadly mutilated American print we've been stuck with since the 1950s? You tell me.

2/27/07 addendum - Reader East Side writes: Furthering the mystery... I've attached what seems to be a poster for the original Spanish release of Monkey Business (which translates to Gunmen of the Open Seas). The re-release title on your site translates to Passengers without Tickets. Neither title particularly reeks of zany comedy.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

So-o-o-oh Let's Go To The Fire...

.. with Ed. Wynn - The Fire Chief! This 1935 Selchow and Righter board game is one of the prizes of my collection. As far as I know, the only other radio comic from this period to get his own board game was Eddie Cantor, and Parker Brothers kept his Tell It to the Judge game in print through the fifties. I did once come across an early 30s Baron Munchausen dice game from Milton Bradley on Ebay that was clearly intended to cash in on Jack Pearl's popularity but wasn't a legit tie-in. And considering Joe Penner's unprecedented early 30s fame, I find it hard to believe that there isn't a Wanna Buy a Duck? board game out there somewhere.

The Fire Chief game's engagingly nutty artwork is by William Longyear, designer of Mr. Ree, the 1937 board game that Clue ripped off, and eventual professor and chairman at the Pratt Institute. I've included the instructions so, arguably, you could print out the board and play this game yourself. You'll otherwise need a pair of dice and you'll have to improvise the pawns and bells. I suggest paper clips and air horns.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

"Writing" Comedy with Fatty Arbuckle

From Photoplay, April, 1918. Roscoe, Al, and Buster are the focus of this brief examination the improvisational methods employed by most slapstick comics before the arrival of sound. The short in question is, of course, Out West. The anonymous author has an obsession with quotation marks that rivals that of George Herriman!

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tell 'em da Toid Bananer sent youse!

Greg and Heather Hilbrich of the aforementioned Shorts Department are offering you lucky Third Banana readers a special discount! These prices are good until March 1st and shipping is still on the house. Just be sure to mention The Third Banana when you order, capisce?

Special Third Banana reader rates: