The Babbling Book (1932)

 |  Comedy, Short  |  11 March 1932 (USA)
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Burns and Allen have a dizzy conversation in a bookstore.



(story) (as George N. Burns)
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Cast overview:
George (as Burns)
Gracie (as Allen)


After a domestic scene with her parents, Gracie goes to work at the bookstore next door, just in time for a dizzy conversation with customer George. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short





Release Date:

11 March 1932 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The joke about the bird that flies upside-down was derived from a routine originated by Fred Allen called "the bird that flies backwards." George Burns had been using Allen's version of the joke in his stand-up act, and Allen was not happy when he caught wind of it, so Burns consulted writer John P. Medbury who came up with a slightly different variation of the gag on the spot. See more »

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User Reviews

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8 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As far as I can discern, the George Burns and Gracie Allen film shorts had a very simple formula" get George and Gracie to meet in some situation or other, and let them exchange jokes for ten minutes. With their good material, likable characters, and great timing, the was a formula that, simplistic as it might have been, delivered laughs.

Here this is adjusted ever so slightly as we get the chance to demystify Gracie's parents, who don't leave it entirely baffling how such a dizzy child could have been born. I get the feeling that a lot of their early film material was taken from their vaudeville act, and this short does feel very stagy, though not by any means in a very bad way. In fact, the joke of Gracie's getting all bundled up to go to work just next store is accomplished by panning the camera across the border of what could easily have been a theatre set. Interestingly, a similar concept became the trademark of the team's classic TV series two decades later.

Once we get to the conversation between George and Gracie in the bookstore where she works, the jokes don't all seem to be their best material (for instance, the sand being in the book about the desert doesn't really seem to be based on anything and so isn't very funny. Nonetheless, there are some very funny lines and bits of Gracie's trademarked illogic-logic to make this a very entertaining ten minutes.

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