Benchley, a newspaper columnist who writes on issues of etiquette, receives a telephone call from two men working deep in a manhole, they who are arguing about what to do if a woman fell ... See full summary »
James P. Burtis,
Humorist Robert Benchley discusses the issue of food and how different situations can affect one's ability to consume and digest food, using his stock everyman and slightly bumbling ... See full summary »
A lecturer seated at a desk promises an informative film about how to sleep; it's a sequel to and inspired by "How to stay awake," which put his audience to sleep. He plans to examine the causes of sleep, the causes of insomnia, and recent research on sleep, including a time-lapse film of a man changing positions 55 times during an 8-hour rest: why exercise, he asks, when you can sleep like a top? The film instructs one on how to get a drink of water during the night without waking completely, and other useful skills for the insomniac. Written by
This is a delightful short that packs more laughs into ten minutes than you'll get from some feature-length comedies. Although it's been shown occasionally on the Turner Channel, How to Sleep was hard to find in a home-viewable format until recently, when it was included as a special feature in the new DVD release of the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera. Robert Benchley's low-key, whimsical humor serves as a nice lead-in to the Marxes' more aggressive style of comedy.
Mr. Benchley acts as our affable host/narrator, covering such topics as 1) the causes of sleep, 2) methods of inducing sleep, 3) methods of avoiding sleep, and 4) how to wake up, which, we're told, "is very important." But this is no dry academic lecture. Our host, who happens to sport the most outlandish pajamas ever designed, helpfully serves as actor as well, demonstrating various positions such as the Supine Curl, the Ventrolateral Sprawl, and the Sleeping-Sitting Standing Crouch. He is aided in his analysis of sleep by some highly amusing animated segments.
This is a film better seen than described. I only wish I could enjoy it with a large audience in a theater, as it must be a real crowd-pleaser. How to Sleep won the Oscar for Best Short Subject of 1935, and led to Benchley's series of how-to short comedies for MGM and Paramount (including How to Read, How to Eat, etc.), but this one may well be the very best of his output. Heartily recommended.
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