IMDb > Keeping in Shape (1942)

Keeping in Shape (1942) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
12 June 1942 (USA) See more »
Joe Doakes humorously demonstrates the cornerstone components of staying in shape: adhering to a healthy diet, an exercise regimen, and conscientious dental hygiene. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Exercise, watch what you eat, see your doctor regularly . . . or perhaps not See more (2 total) »


  (in credits order)

Robert Benchley ... Lecturer / Joe Doakes
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ruth Lee ... Mrs. Doakes (uncredited)

Directed by
Leslie M. Roush  (as Leslie Roush)
Writing credits
Robert Benchley  uncredited

Cinematography by
William O. Steiner  (as William Steiner)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

USA:10 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Did You Know?

Doakes' friend:[at lunch after a dieting Doakes gets a beer he didn't order] Well, you can substitute the beer for the half grapefruit, can't you?
Joe Doakes:[musing] 'Bout the size of half a grapefruit.
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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Exercise, watch what you eat, see your doctor regularly . . . or perhaps not, 24 October 2006
Author: wmorrow59 from Westchester County, NY

Fans of Robert Benchley's comedies such as the 1928 classic The Sex Life of the Polyp know that in his early movie appearances Mr. Benchley himself was slender, bright-eyed and energetic, very much the image of a young fellow who took good care of himself. Later on, well . . . not so much. By the time he hit 50 Benchley was distinctly pear-shaped and known to be a heavy drinker. He sometimes looks genuinely wiped-out in his films, though he would occasionally use his bleariness to good comic effect. In this wartime entry Keeping in Shape our host really went the extra mile to exploit his out-of-shape appearance for laughs, and it looks like he might've even worked up an unusually severe hang-over for the occasion. It comes down to personal taste whether you find this Aging Guy shtick funny or not, and if you're somewhere near Benchley's own age when he made this film the humor might cut a little too close to the bone.

Benchley kicks things off by announcing that it's time to "get the ol' body into shape, toughen up, and get into tip-top physical condition for the hard days ahead." So we can safely assume that he's going to show up at the gym looking like hell, and we're not disappointed. A jolly English trainer nicknamed Shorty tries to cajole the gent into doing some brisk sit-ups, but soon his stamina wilts and he fades away. In the next episode Mr. Benchley examines proper diet, and certainly looks quite miserable sitting in a restaurant picking at lettuce and dry toast while his non-dieting friends dig into pork chops, buttered corn-on-the-cob, etc. Soon enough, however, he's washing down his Spartan meal with a stein of beer as one of his friends helpfully assures him that beer is good for you: "it counteracts the acid in fats, or something." In the third and final episode, Benchley rather oddly switches to the topic of tooth care and dental appointments, as if he just couldn't bear to continue joking about exercise and food one more minute. The last episode is weak, but the film concludes with a cute closing gag.

This isn't one of Benchley's more inspired comedies, but he's an engaging personality even when his material isn't the greatest. I guess it's always a little melancholy to satirize the pitfalls of being middle-aged, and perhaps that's why this short left me more sobered than amused. The joke here is that our host really doesn't give a damn about getting in shape, eating right or going to the dentist, and we might chuckle at his "bad boy" attitude for a moment or two, but ultimately our awareness that Robert Benchley wore himself out at the age of 56, just three years after this short was released, gives the laughter a rather hollow ring.

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