Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Murder in Greenwich Village (1937)

Richard Arlen is a struggling photographer. Faye Wray is a society daughter (Thurston Howell is the father) who gets involved with him and his model partners in the business, one of whom is Raymond Walburn, the Senator, a pompous but lovable blowhard. In order to avoid a scandal, Wray tells Howell that she is engaged to Arlen, and the fun begins. Naturally, they do end up sweethearts, but there are all sorts of action and complications in the meantime. Arlen and Wray team up very well, and their fusses are convincing and funny.

The photography studio has an old car horn doorbell that goes off every time it opens, and gets pretty old by the time the movie is over.

Raymond Walburn


The Adventures of Sally, by P. G. Wodehouse

In my humble opinion, this is one of the best of the Wodehousean novels. While it is humorous, it is not so in the usual, patented overt manner of most of his other works. It is an honest-to-goodness love story, and supremely well done. Furthermore, the principals of the story are not of the British nobility, but Americans of less-than-opulent means. And what is most pleasing, it has the clumsy-but-goodhearted suitor who logically has no chance to win the girl - but does. It is an enjoyable story in every respect.

When cows laugh

does milk come out their noses, too?

Bert "The Mad Russian" Gordon

Gordon was a regular cast member on the Duffy's Tavern radio show. He portrayed the Mad Russian, who was famous for his greeting, "How do you doooooo?"

Here is a LINK to a nice spot about Gordon.

LINK to the trailer to the Mad Russian movie


What if we went back to Henry Ford's approach to cars?

He reportedly said that people could have any color of car they wanted, as long as it was black. What if a company came out with a car - one car - every model that rolls off the assembly line is exactly the same. Inexpensive. Budget. How much less expensively could they make cars if they made only one? Would it work? They could not sell everyone, but if they were able to cut production costs enough, they might sell a lot.

What is milk?

“The nutritious lactic extract of Guernsey.” (Fred Allen, from the Texaco Star Theater 19 Feb 41)

Recipe for mock hot dogs

When meat is high-priced and scarce (as it was during World War II), citizens came up with creative ways to get around the problem, such as “mock” meats. On the Texas Star Theater with Fred Allen, one woman on the street (later Mrs. Nussbaum on Allen’s Alley) had a recipe for mock hot dogs.

Take one old rubber glove. Butter well inside. Stuff fingers with chopped eggplant, wild rice and bread crumbs. Add pinch of flower and yeast. Put glove in slow oven and bake for two hours. Cut the fingers off the rubber gloves and you have four mock hot dogs.

Fred asked her what she did with the thumbs. “Don’t ask me. I’ve got two closets full of them.”

I do not pick my teeth

I use the ones I was given.

Her husband was quite fat

It is a day's journey to dodge poor dear Fillmore now. I blushed for him, Ginger! Right there in the Strand I blushed for him. In my worst dreams I had never pictured him so enormous. Upon what meat doth this our Fillmore feed that he is grown so great? Poor Gladys! When she looks at him she must feel like a bigamist!

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jack Benny kept Maxwell in mind, if not in business

Comedian Jack Benny (shown here shaking hands with Harry S. Truman from the seat of a c. 1908 Maxwell Roadster) kept the Maxwell familiar in U.S. popular culture for half a century after the brand went out of business.

The tragedy of Walter Tetley

You know Walter Tetley as Leroy on The Great Gildersleeve radio show and as Julius on the Phil Harris and Alice Faye program. The tragedy is that Tetley was born in 1914, but the Gildersleeve program ran from 1941 to 1957, and the Harris/Faye program started in 1948. You can do the math, but Tetley was a grown man throughout all that period. His voice never changed. The official reason for this is that he suffered from a medical condition that prevented it. However, Bill Scott, one of Tetley's employers, said that his mother had been reluctant to give up the revenue from her child star, so she had had him castrated. Whichever is the real reason, he remained a child physically all his life. In 1971, he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and was in a wheelchair until his death in 1975.

How will you ever excel?

if you play to "just barely get by?" This is a question that a lot of companies cannot answer (or hope never gets asked them).

The Golden Arrow Discussion Club

This was the social group whose stated aim was to bring "a higher type of ignorance" to Pine Ridge by discussing a wide range of "high class culture subjects." The members were Lum, Abner, Grandpappy Spears, Cedric Wehunt, Grandpa Masters (who slept through the meetings) and Ulysses S. Quincy, who was much prized for his "brainy comments," which were usually confined to "OK," and trying to find someone to paint his barn.

How slow was Cedric Wehunt?

He said he learned to talk at the age of seven, and could wave "bye-bye" by the time he was four.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The place of drug stores in radio comedy history

Drug store owner Mr. Peavy was, of course, a hilarious fixture on The Great Gildersleeve, and almost every episode would have a scene in that famous establishment. Fibber McGee would occasionally frequent Kramer's drug store, and once in a while the character of Kramer would have a brief spot. In one episode from 1936 (before Kramer became the proprietor), Fibber was left in charge for the store for a while, with predictable results. In A Day in the Life of Dennis Day, "our hero" worked in a drug store (not very successfully, it appears). In one excellent episode of Meet Mr. McNutley, he treats his wife and Dean  Bradley to ice cream at the store, but forgets his money and has to leave his jewelry for collateral.

When did the Teeny character start on Fibber McGee and Molly?

I don't know for sure, but she was on the episode from 25 November 1935, entitled "Buying Vegetables at a Roadside Stand."

Herbert Marshall's accent

Marshall was an English actor, but his accent almost sounds more like blue-blood American than English. It is really hard to place.

"Ya'll do the best you can."

It is really distressing how accurately this sums up the management philosophy of many companies.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chumps as husbands

Chumps always make the best husbands. When you marry, Sally, grab a chump. Tap his forehead first, and if it rings solid, don't hesitate. All the unhappy marriages come from the husband having brains. What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Verbs used with collective nouns

"The Family have washed their hands of him." This is a sentence from a P. G. Wodehouse novel, and it demonstrates the formal British usage of plural verbs with collective nouns, something that is hardly ever done in American English today. We view the collective nouns as singular entities, and thus would say, "The Family has,", not, "The Family have."

Just marry a smart girl

           "However did you have the sense to fall in love with her, Fill?"
         "Do you like her?" asked Fillmore, brightening.
         "I love her."
         "I knew your would. She's just the right girl for me, isn't she?"
         "She certainly is."
         "So sympathetic."
         "So kind."
         "Yes. And she's got brains enough for two, which is the exact quantity the girl who marries you will need."

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

When the advertising man hits a home run

I was just listening to an episode of Father Knows Best in which they mentioned the sponsor, Maxwell House Coffee, which, of course, is "good to the last drop." Who knows how long that slogan has been applied to that product, but the advertising executive (or whoever) who first dreamed it up had the satisfaction of knowing that a classic had been created.

Resigned to things that will not happen

Do you have a "Someday I want to" list? Most folks do. As we get older, that list gets shorter. One by one, we resign ourselves to the fact that we will never be able to do those things, and move on - hopefully without resentment or frustration. For years I have wanted to go to Wales, since my lineage is mainly Welsh. But I am now 60 years old and retirement is nowhere in sight, and air travel is difficult for me to the point that I probably should not try it, so I suppose that will never happen. But that is all right. There will be a long of things I will not have done. What I need to be more concerned about is the fact that there are many things I ought to have done that I have not done.

Welsh countryside

A serious thought from Wodehouse?!

Nothing grows more quickly than a mood of rebellion. Rebellion is a forest fire that flames across the soul.

(from The Adventures of Sally)

A dreary dinner

          "He wants you do dine with him tonight at Bleke's."
          Ginger's depression deepened. A dinner with Uncle Donald would hardly have been a cheerful function, even in the surroundings of a banquet in the Arabian Nights. There was that about Uncle Donald's personality which would have cast a sobering influence over the orgies of the Emperor Tiberius at Capri. To dine with him at a morgue like that relic of Old London, Bleke's Coffee House, which confined its custom principally to regular patrons who had not missed an evening there for half a century, was to touch something very hear bed-rock. Ginger was extremely doubtful whether flesh and blood were equal to it.

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thunder Birds (1942)

This is about the training of a multi-national group of pilots during World War II. Preston Foster is a crack pilot who is getting too old for active service, but wants to train pilots at a site in Arizona. He is sweet on Gene Tierney, but she does not seen to return the affection at first. John Sutton is one of Foster's British student pilots. His father had been a pilot in World War I, and Foster had known him well. Sutton had been a medical student, but when his brother is killed, he resolves to go into the flying service against the objections of his grandmother (Dame May Whitty), who knows about his fear of heights. He gets interested in Tierney, which she encourages. She finally falls for him, and Foster is left out in the cold, but he accepts it and goes on training pilots.

Walter Tetley (Leroy on The Great Gildersleeve radio show) has a brief part as a messenger boy.

Scrymgeour - an odd, but old and honoured name

We meet the name Scrymgeour in the Wodehouse novel, The Adventures of Sally. At first glance, we are tempted to think that it is merely a name that the author invented for his humorous purposes. However, on further investigation, we find Alexander Henry Scrymgeour of Dundee, 12th Earl of Dundee. He is the current head of Clan Scrymgeour. His line goes back at least to Sir Alexander Scrymgeour of Dudhope, who died in 1306. (He was hung, drawn and quartered by the English for fighting on the side of Robert the Bruce.)

Lord Dundee

She picked right up on the fact

          "I asked you why Mr. Scrymgeour dismissed you."
          "I'm telling you."
          "I'm glad of that. I didn't know."
          "The old brute," said Ginger, frowning again, "has a dog. A very jolly little spaniel. Great pal of mine. And Scrymgeour is the sort of fool who oughtn't be allowed to own a dog. He's one of those asses who isn't fit to own a dog. As a matter of fact, of all the blighted, pompous, bullying shrivelled-souled old devils . . ."
          "One moment," said Sally. "I'm getting an impression that you don't like Mr. Scrymeour. Am I right?"
          "I thought so. Womanly intuition! Go on."

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Dogs are the same - even in France

One of the dogs, a poodle of military aspect, wandered up to Sally: and discovering that she was in possession of a box of sweets, decided to remain and await developments.

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The weight of death

There is something about dead fat people that makes them look deader than any other variety.

(from The Voyage of the Scarlet Queen radio show)

Each of us has his small talents

"Who asked you?" It was the smaller of the Marvellous Murphys who spoke. He was an unpleasant youth, snub-nosed and spotty. Still, he could balance himself with one hand on an inverted ginger-ale bottle while revolving a barrel on the soles of his feet. There is good in all of us.

(from The Adventures of Sally, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)