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The Sex Life of the Polyp (1928)

 -  Comedy | Short  -  25 July 1928 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 189 users  
Reviews: 6 user

Dr. Benchley lectures the women's club on the unusual but important title-topic.


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Benchley ...


Dr. Benchley is addressing the Ladies Club on the subject of the reproductive habits of the polyp, a small aquatic organism. Although he is not able to display his live specimens, he has prepared a series of pictures of his subjects. He explains that the subject is made more complicated by the fact that polyps are able to change their sex from time to time. Then he presents some of the pictures of his specimens and the experiments that he has done with them. Written by Snow Leopard

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Comedy | Short





Release Date:

25 July 1928 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


Benchley first performed this routine in 1922. See more »


Lecturer: Now the only way in which a polyp resembles other animals at all is that at certain periods of its growth, it does take a sentimental interest in polyps of the... oppositie sex. Now, this presents a very complicated situation as the polyp has no definite sex itself. That is... it's neither one thing or the other. By that I mean the same polyp may be either a boy or a girl according to what or how it happened to feel like being.
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Edited into Robert Benchley and the Knights of the Algonquin (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Entertainingly Offbeat, & Quite Good For Its Time
19 December 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This is an entertainingly offbeat little comedy that took some chances both with the material and with the then-new capacity of sound in the movies. Robert Benchley's imaginative writing is complemented by his equally imaginative ideas for using visuals and sound, and the result is a short feature that is quite good for the early sound era.

Benchley plays a lecturer visiting a Ladies Club, the kind of role that usually brought out the best in him, since it allows him to use a dryly amusing style that fits well with his writing. Here, the weird topic is a particularly suitable choice for Benchley's writing and speaking. The 'lecturer' also moves back-and-forth between his lectern and a display screen that shows moving pictures of his lab specimens. It's interesting both in creatively using the format and in recreating (and satirizing) the way that a thorough lecturer might well approach the subject.

Benchley's jokes and gag ideas rarely if ever try for the big laugh. Instead, he tries to build up a comic effect through the accumulation of dry and ironic comments or visuals. This is a case where it works very well, and especially so given the limited resources and experience of film-makers in the early sound era.

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