Todd and Pitts and their singing monkey are out-of-work vaudevillians eating an apple for dinner, when they get a call from their agent telling them to be at the train station in an hour - they have a gig. At the station, they get in a tiff with an egocentric woman who turns out to be the show's star, Anita Garvin. Once on board, they're the victims of a practical joke, and again, Miss Garvin is their bête noire. When it's finally time to turn in, our gals (and their monkey) cause havoc in the sleeping car. Written by
The previous reviewer has made some nice points about the conflicts between the Roach style of comedy and the Jules White style of comedy, even though he has overstated the case slightly, I think. What he fails to notice, though, are two things that White did that were directly contrary to the Roach style.
1: Of lesser effect is the more overt use by White of money saving methods, including the use of backscreens once they became available in the early 1930s, and special effects such as wirework to guide thrown bric-a-brac; the straight-line movements are a giveaway visually. Roach's directors preferred to run things live, with extra takes, which cost a lot more, but produced much more realistic and telling effects. Funnier, too. White takes advantage of the live settings here.
2: More important is the effect of White's tone-deafness as a director. In a typical Roach piece, when people get angry, they all get angry in different ways: some fume, like Charlie Hall, some get emphatic like Laurel and Hardy, some gesticulate wildly, but the louder they get, the less they actually do: Billy Gilbert, shouting, is never a physical threat, but Jimmy Finlayson, raising his eyebrows and waggling his mustache, is.
But in this short subject, when people get angry, they all get angry the same way: they are loud and obnoxious. There is no soft, modulated "oh" from Zasu, there are no flared eyebrows from Anita, there is no glaring from Thelma. They just stand there and shout at each other. This lack of subtlety, this tone deafness does more to make this a poor short than all the wirework, loud sound effects and Monte Collins -- who was an effective comic actor for other producers -- than anything else.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?