Thelma leaves her friend Patsy's flat, after Patsy has criticised her modern poetry. Thelma promises, that she'll become famous in New York. A while later, Patsy sees her coming out of an apartment on Park Avenue, Patsy invites herself with some boyfriends to that flat, not knowing, that Thelma is there only as the maid... Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
The last Todd-Kelly comedy short released in Todd's lifetime--great fun!
TOP FLAT was the second-to-last comedy short in the successful series pairing Patsy Kelly and Thelma Todd. Todd had previously been paired with Zasu Pitts in a successful series of shorts, but Pitts demanded a raise in pay from Hal Roach, and since Roach had Pitts and Todd on staggered contracts (as he did with Laurel and Hardy), Pitts had little leverage since Todd was still under contract, so Roach simply replaced her with the much different Patsy Kelly. While the Pitts-Todd shorts are wonderful, I've always preferred the series with Patsy Kelly because their characters are so much different and because Kelly is such a comic dynamo. In this one, Kelly is a lady who is starving because no one wants to publish her Gertrude Stein-style avant-garde poetry (this is the second comedy short I've seen in the last few months to contain an explicit parody of Gertrude Stein's writings, the other was HAIL BROTHER). Patsy Kelly, also broke and unable to pay their rent, tells Todd to give up the writing and get a job, they argue, and Todd and Kelly separate, with Todd swearing she will be rich and life in an elegant penthouse. When the pair meet again, Todd's wish seems to have come true, but it didn't really, and the majority of the short takes that premise and runs with it. Todd's persona in these shorts is a lovely, somewhat idealistic yet scrappy young lady, while Patsy Kelly is an aggressive tomboy who is wild and manic. The chemistry works beautifully. This short has a lot of physical slapstick, involving virtually everyone in the cast, and also some musical sequences, featuring two of Kelly's friends who tag along when Kelly visits Todd's penthouse. One is Fuzzy Knight, whom I had never seen doing music before. Evidently he got his start in show business as a musician, and he plays a mean jazzy piano and delivers a novelty song very well. The entire short is well-paced and full of laughs. It's strange that these shorts are not really in circulation. They would play very well today and haven't dated much. It's a shame that Ms. Todd is better known for her tragic death than for her excellent body of work. While much of her work was in comedies for Hal Roach, she also did well in a number of b-movies in dramatic and serio-comic roles. Let's hope some legit company restores and releases both the Pitts-Todd and the Kelly-Todd shorts on DVD. I'm sure Leonard Maltin would be happy to provide some kind of introduction or commentary if asked. To me, this short is perfectly done and I give it a full 10 stars.
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