Jack Benny Introduces two up and coming magicians - 1929

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Postby Guest » 06/09/07 03:55 PM

:D

Thank you David.
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Postby Guest » 06/09/07 06:08 PM

Surprising that this clip still exists.
Glad you enjoyed it.
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Postby Guest » 06/09/07 09:27 PM

Call me crazy, but I've never found anything remotely funny about those two.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/09/07 10:18 PM

You're crazy.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/10/07 12:01 AM

Travis, I promise you that you are not alone. However, I do find them remotely funny. They have their moments, they just arent my favorites (theres just one time in this bit where I laughed out loud). Give me the Marx Brothers any day of the week!

That being said, Hello, I must be going.

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Postby Guest » 06/10/07 01:32 AM

Indeed, I can't say I found the clip funny, so much as "charming".
Of course, I have a well-documented fetish fueled by nostalgia for that era--the idea about what L.A./Hollywoodland must have been like from say, 1910 through say, 1950...

So even if I don't "love" the piece enough to marry it, I still do like it. What an innocent, low-expectation time it was back then. (har har)

Certainly, they don't strike we moderns the way John Stewart/S. Colbert/Chris Rock/George Carlin do...but watching them, does warm certain of my cockles.

I never dug the 3 stooges, for example but all those dudes are iconic for some reason or another...

---------------------------------------
By the way, of course Dustin, I would like to agree: the Marx Brothers were unique and unequalled.

I've heard old stories that slay me, about how nobody would invite them to parties because they inevitably took-over the place (a la Vince Vaughan & Owen Wilson in "Wedding Crashers" I imagine) but eventually they'd sniff-out the location of the party, arrive and enter, each brother through a different window, only to perpetrate hijinx and shenanegans.
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Postby Guest » 06/10/07 08:21 AM

Laurel and Hardy were part of the Hollywood "factory system" where filmed "product" was produced every week. Good or bad or so-so, out it went, feeding the entertainment/diversion appetite of the Amercian public.

The Marx Brothers were products of vaudeville and Broadway. They had, in general, better writers and were able to hone much of their material in front of live audiences. A lot of it was tranferred to film later.

And I agree about the Three Stooges. I've never found them particularly funny. When I was a kid I found Laurel and Hardy frustrating. I learned to appreciate them later in life. The Stooges are an aquired taste.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/10/07 09:11 AM

The Marx Brothers have long been my favorites, ever since a friend lent me a copy of Duck Soup back when we were in high school. I don't know how many times I've watched their movies, but they never fail to get a laugh out of me. Harpo's book, "Harpo Speaks!", is perhaps the best (auto)biography I have ever read.

And to sort of bring this back to the original topic, there's a great bit where Groucho appeared on Jack Benny's show and they did a spoof of "You Bet Your Life" with Benny as a contestant. Check it out: Jack Benny vs. Groucho 1955 .

-Jim
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/10/07 11:20 AM

I have to say Mr. Alexander is completly wrong about Laurel and Hardy being "part of the Hollywood "factory system" where filmed "product" was produced every week. Good or bad or so-so, out it went, feeding the entertainment/diversion appetite of the Amercian public."

All movies/shorts during this period were part of the system. You make it sound like L&H were an exception. However, being produced by an INDEPENDANT studio (Roach), Laurel and Hardy were much less of this nature than ANY of the other comics you cited, especially the Three Stooges.

Stan Laurel not only wrote and edited the shorts but had a say in what the team did and when the team worked. Some have compared his performance, writing, editing, and direction to that of Chaplin, though Laurel was working with a much smaller budget, less time and far less artistic goals. He just wanted a laugh.

The Roach studio has a well documented history of being a very creative, encourging place for comics to work and had a unique family atmosphere. Not a factory spitting out 'product' like, say, Abbott and Costello films.

L&H were made much more of a product after the move from Roach to MGM and Fox.

As for the Marx brothers having better writers, some of these same better writers worked for L&H as well and then went on to work for the three stooges! Marx brothers even had a director in common with L&H. The Marx brothers did a lot of old stage routines they had perfected for years and improv hung onto a loose script, usually.

Stan Laurel was also an experienced performer in vaudeville for 25 years before making Laurel and Hardy films.

I like all the comics mentioned but Laurel and Hardy are my particular favorites. Please get the facts straight.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/10/07 12:08 PM

My vote goes to Laurel and Hardy, and also Buster Keaton.

I thought the stooges were funny until I was about 12. My parents stopped me from watching when I started whacking the kid next to me in school. :)

I still find some of Abbott and Costello's work to be inspired, particularly "Meet Frankenstein," "Mexican Hayride," and "Times of Their Lives." And their TV series, where they frequently reprise their burlesque routines without all the baloney forced on them in the films, is also very funny.

Laurel and Keaton's greatest works were those over which they exercised almost complete control, and it all went to [censored] when the studios took over control of their product (this is the opposite of what happened with A&C--they had to force Costello to do "Meet Frankenstein" and it turned out to be one of their biggest hits). Witness the Laurel and Hardy Films at 20th Century Fox (now at long last available in two DVD sets) to see how the studio neutered Stan Laurel. Ditto for Keaton at MGM. Very sad, however the brilliance of their great works will always stand.
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Postby Charles McCall » 06/10/07 03:19 PM

The great S, J. Perelman wrote for the Marx Brothers. Did Laurel and Hardy have such help? And I notice no mention of the Ritz Brothers who could manage some insane slapstick now and then.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/10/07 03:44 PM

I'm pleased that I can finally say I agree with every single thing Richard Kaufman just said. :D

L&H and Keaton are my two favorites as well and, I believe he named probably the best Abbott and Costello movies and the tv show.

Right on Richard.
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Postby Guest » 06/10/07 05:01 PM

Ryan,
You did not read my post correctly. I was not arguing that Laurel and Hardy did not have performing experience - especially Stan who was born into a performing family - what I was trying to get across was that there was a huge difference between a lot of what the Marx brothers filmed and what Laurel and Hardy filmed.

The first two Marx brothers' films were adaptions of their stage work and written by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The material had been honed and refined in front of live audiences so they had their timing down perfectly.

L&H had to rely on their own experience and sense of timing in doing their two-reelers with material that was written but not performed in front of live audiences so it could be refined. That they were as successful as they were is testiment to their skills and talent.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/10/07 05:58 PM

It's also worth mentioning that the Marx Brothers, at Irving Thalberg's suggestion, took some of the material for their later films with MGM (starting with A Night at the Opera), on the road. Most notable of these was the stateroom scene from the aforementioned film.

Interesing -- according to Wikipedia, Buster Keaton played a part in some of the Marx Brothers' later movies, including helping to design the stateroom scene.

-Jim
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/10/07 06:53 PM

Ryan, I believe we have an accord!
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/10/07 08:52 PM

I'm very glad to know we do, Richard. We both like card magic a hell of a lot too.

Did you spring for that expensive L&H set that was released in the UK only?
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/10/07 08:57 PM

David,

I take your point and I understand. I don't personally think that a comic HAS to work out a routine on stage to be great. In fact, Abbott and Costello did this as much as the Marx Brothers probably and I think you would agree with me that did not make them better than the Marx Brothers.

The only thing I took objection to was your saying L&H were "product" that was pumped out, good, bad and indifferent. I don't believe they were. While Stan Laurel may not have reached the artistic achievments of Chaplin and Keaton, I think he is underappreciated as an artist.
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Postby Guest » 06/10/07 09:31 PM

Ryan,

I completely agree with you that Stan Laurel was underappreciated as a talent although in his later life, living in Santa Monica, there was a stream of comics and actors who made the pilgrimage to his place to pay homage, with Dick Van Dyke leading the way. However, his family was a bit different.

My wife is a portrait artist. We were contracted to create a Laurel and Hardy collector plate. The rights to L&H are held by Larry Harmon, former Bozo the Clown. When we went to Larry's huge condo on Wilshire Blvd in LA he told us that when Stan died, his daughter cleaned out his apartment and threw away a lot of his memorabilia....including his derby.

Very, very sad.
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Postby Guest » 06/10/07 10:07 PM

Somewhere I heard Groucho tell the story of when the Marx Brothers came West to meet Thalberg & make movies.
The "Boy Genius" was always exceedingly busy, intensely-driven, involved in EVERYTHING at the studio and reportedly highly distractable.
Often, when the Brothers showed up for meetings, Thalberg was either very late (as in HOURS late) or didn't show.
Now Groucho said, "We weren't nobodies--we were pretty big stars at that time, so we weren't used to this..."

Thus when Thalberg was late again, they barracaded him out of his own office.
When he finally got in, he found the Brothers nude, sitting in Thalberg's giant (Wm. Randolph Hearst-sized) fireplace, roasting potatoes and playing cards.

Being the big boss and reknowned as a wunderkind, nobody ever zinged or joked-with Thalberg, being so intimidated.
Evidently he was won-over by them treating him like one of the boys...and the rest is history.
----------------------------------

When I was growing up, a local t.v. station played Abbott and Costello movies every single Saturday morning for years. (The scene in the oasis, when they're in the Foreign Legion and a fish keeps squirting water in Lou's face...heh heh. Classic.)

Buster Keaton's story is one of the saddest of all those old Hollywood tales: one of those poor dudes that got the short end of the stick, like Fatty Arbuckle.

But as Richard said, their genius DOES still live...YES!

--Can I get an AMEN for those old legends?! :whack: ;)
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/10/07 10:49 PM

David, that's shocking to me. Are you talking about Lois Laurel? I have a signed picture of her with her father. She has always seemed to participate in tributes and books about L&H.

By the way, what exactly does Larry Harmon own? I knew about this but I'm unclear on what he actually owns. I believe he produced that weird Laurel and Hardy movie a few years ago where Bronson Pinchot played Stan Laurel in a 'new adventure'
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Postby Guest » 06/11/07 11:31 AM

Well, that's what Harmon told me.

Harmon owns the rights to the "characters" and whatever exploitation he can develop. The idea of a movie with their "characters" was absurd, but someone came up with enough money to film it.

All that kitsch you see in the form and shape of the characters, if "authorized," has a piece going to Larry and, presumably, the families.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 06/11/07 12:41 PM

I believed you David, it's just surprising.

I don't understand copyright law very much but the idea that someone's performance character and likeness can be owned by someone else is odd to me.

But then, someone is raking in money from Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and now Kurt Cobain's likeness.
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Postby Guest » 06/11/07 02:12 PM

I fought against the bill that was essentially written in the offices of John Wayne's lawyers to go after the nostalgia market.

The bill was supported by the owners of Marilyn Monroe's likeness, at that time on its second generation of owners, if I recall correctly.

Up until that time the "right of publicity" had died with the individual. The law turned it into something tangible that could be inherited.

My wife is a top quality portrait artist. We had a number of projects in the works. The passage of the bill into law happened because the supporters of the bill brought Elizabeth Taylor to Sacramento. There was no real discussion, just a lot of lawmakers who when ga-ga over an old movie star. One legislative analyist told me it was the most disgusting spectacle she'd ever seen in all her time in Sacramento.

That, and the MPAA got what they wanted removed from the bill, so that was that.

What it did was allow the families of deceased celebrities to sell them as sales people...Monroe for Chanel No 5, Fred Astaire for a vacuum cleaner, etc.

Passage of the bill cost us at least $250,000 back then. Not a good year.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/12/07 08:30 AM

Yes, Ryan, I did buy the enormous Laurel and Hardy box from the UK--it's a treasure.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/12/07 08:39 AM

You might want to check all the DVDs - Roy told me he had some duplicates in his set.

I stumbled upon the L&H museum when on a weekend in the Lake District. I only got 30 minutes in it, but it was amazing :)

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Postby George Olson » 06/12/07 11:56 AM

Did anybody notice that David Regal had a Face Mask of Buster Keaton on e-Bay?

GO
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/12/07 06:22 PM

Keaton? I thought that was a mask Regal made of himself.
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Postby Guest » 06/16/07 12:56 AM

As an animator I have learned sooooo much from wathing Laurel and Hardy - their physical expressions (both with body and face) and comic timing are masterful! Curly of the 3 stooges has given me so much as well (love the clam in soup sequence e.g.). Chaplin is a treasure trove as well! Oh, and I was amazed at the comic timing of Bob Hope in one old movie set in a western town (a sequence in the saloon comes to mind). On a more modern note (60's) I have been watching the dvd's of Hogans Heroes and find Col. Klink a delight to watch!
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Postby Guest » 06/16/07 12:39 PM

On the strength of Mr. Maloney's recommendation above, I purchased a copy of "Harpo Speaks", and would like to add my 2 cents: what a great book. :D

Thanks for the mention, Jim.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 06/16/07 01:06 PM

Glad to hear you enjoyed the book, castawydave. By the way, I understand Harpo's son Bill recently published his own memoirs entitled, naturally, "Son of Harpo Speaks!" I may be checking that out.

-Jim
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Postby Brandon Hall » 06/20/07 01:17 PM

I third that. I read Harpo speaks almost twenty years ago and love it. A much happier man than his brothers. And the stories about the old Round Table makes me wish I were there...
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Postby Bill Mullins » 12/09/10 04:13 PM

I just learned that Stan Laurel performed in a magic act called "Martini & Maxmillian" before he joined Hardy. The act goes back to 1903 or so, but Laurel was only in it for a short while -- probably ca. 1917 1918 or so. He was Maxmillian.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 01/01/11 01:37 AM

They were masters of setting up punch lines. Watch "Wrong Again" and see how they set up "just the reverse."
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