|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Because of television, most people in the baby boomer generation and
since think of comedy shorts as restricted to Laurel & Hardy, the Three
Stooges, the Little Rascals ("Our Gang"), Charlie Chaplin, Buster
Keaton, Harold Lloyd and that's about it. Actually there were plenty of
short subject comedians about (Burns and Allen, W.C. Fields, Clark &
McCullough, Thelma Todd with either Zazu Pitts or Patsy Kelly, Edgar
Kennedy, Leon Errol, Grady Sutton, and Robert Benchley to name some of
the better known ones). In the 1940s two other series were created. One
was Pete Smith's series of shorts (wherein Mr. Smith was the wise guy
narrator), and the "Behind the Eight Ball" or "So You Want To Be..."
series by Richard Bare - starring George O'Hannion as "Joe McDoakes"
(Bare's comic turn on "Everyman").
In Bare's series, O'Hannion/McDoakes gets involved in some situation or is attracted to some job or hobby, that turns the short into a comic form of "How to" or better "How not to" do something. The entire idea is that no matter what you ("Everyman") would like to accomplish, most of the time the average fellow (or woman - sometimes a woman is involved) can't really do it. This seems shortsighted, but unless we accept the inevitable failure of poor McDoakes attempts...well we won't have an amusing short before the feature then, will we? Other episodes of the series included, "So You Want to Be a Detective", and "So You Want to Be a Dancer". No matter how much poor Joe tries to do things by the book he always comes a cropper. He either is not smart enough, or lacks the imagination to see what is around the possible corners of his actions.
Here we start off with Joe in the shower. The narrator (the always dependable Art Gilmore) catches his attention, but Joe does not want to be seen by an audience while bathing. Gilmore reassures Joe that only men are in the audience, so Joe allows Gilmore and the camera to see him getting washed (of course from the middle of the back up) - but Gilmore (sotto voce) tells the ladies to just restrain from laughing for a moment or two). As I said, Joe lacks imagination - like some stranger might lie about who sees you naked.
It turns out that Joe is using a bad choice for a shampoo, and as a result he is losing hair (actually most people lose dead hair when they are washing in a shower or bath). Although Joe has a good head of hair he becomes concerned about massive hair loss. So he asks his barber about this. His barber (Paul Panzer) insists that he shouldn't massage his scalp. But a second barber (Leo White) insists he should massage his scalp! So it goes, with it soon apparent that on the subject of hair and baldness nobody really has an answer.
The series shows Joe trying everything "the experts" suggest, and even seeking the help of books on baldness. But nothing seems to work. He even goes to a specialty hair institute where he is given the works (quite literally) with electricity. In the end...well you can watch it and see the result.
It is fairly amusing (the one possible catch is a running gag with "Iron Eyes" Cody as an Indian (get it...nudge, nudge..."scalp treatment")) several times in the episode. That seems rather dated. But if one keeps in mind it is set in 1946 the general amusement of the short is still effective. Oddly enough, although now sixty years old, the central issue of the short is still true: there is still no real cure for baldness. Of course, they did not mention that heredity really plays a major role in people having hair into old age - there is nothing really funny about heredity. The only addition to the short, if done nowadays, would have been to have Joe experiment with getting hair plugs, as the late Senator William Proxmire did. But one wonders if there is much humor in that either.
GEORGE O'HANLON plays "everyman" Joe McDoakes, alarmed by the fact that
when he showers he notices he's losing his hair. Right then and there,
he decides he has to do something about his predicament and he seeks
the help of professionals to correct what he thinks is a fate worse
Naturally, nothing really works. And, of course, no mention is made of the fact that genetics has a lot to do with this particular defect. But the comedy goes from one funny incident to another without taking a breath, so it's breezy fun all the way and you have to wonder how it's all going to turn out.
Just one of many episodes in the series directed by Richard L. Bare about Joe McDoakes coping with everyday problems (and usually losing in comic fashion), an amusing series that accompanied the double bills of the '40s and generally provoked a few chuckles or downright laughter with varying degrees of success.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
IT HAS NEVER ceased to amaze us as to how fresh and relevant to today's
'modern' 21st Century world that these JOE McDOAKES Comedies have
remained! It is so often as if they were filmed yesterday; with only
the vintage of the automobiles, the clothes styles and the presence of
dial telephones being the factors that show the movies' age.
AS WITH ALL of the entries into the series, subject matter is first and foremost. Once that has been established, Co-writers Richard Bare (Director) and George O'Hanlon (Star, as Joe McDoakes)would go to work on fracturing all of the dignity involved with such situations in real life. We could bank on knowing that all possible problems and remedies to the problem at hand would be examined and dissected all in order and in 11 minutes.
THE SELECTION OF a malady that is wide spread, super dreaded and mainly male specific, that of baldness, as less an exercise in originality than it is an obvious and deserving of a subject matter. Universally, the loss of his hair is a symbol of so much that the average male fears. It is the silent, gradual-yet thorough and final state that his regal mane enters; all due to a conspiracy between his Mother and his father. In this case it's Mother Nature and Father Time.
OUR STALWART HERO, Mr, McDoakes, proceeds to run the whole menu of possibilities; going from cure to hopeless cure, from one 'expert' to another. Nothing works for Joe and he winds up taking any easy way out of his problem at the fade out and theme music.
INCLUDED IN THE fun-filled festivities is the presence of veteran Hollywood character actor and premier Movie "Indian", iron Eyes Cody. It was he who continued to appear in otherwise unrelated scenes in the story; always becoming the brunt of jokes that involved his ethnicity, his hair and his braids in particular.*
ONCE AGAIN, ANOTHER step was taken in molding Joe's personality and George O'Hanlon's on screen persona. Each succeeding release of a JOE McDOAKES, with one being released about every 2 months, served to strongly differentiate these comedies from MGM's PETE SMITH SPECIALTIES; to which many continue to compare.
NOTE: ^ This business with Iron Eyes Cody (1907-1999), although clean and perfectly harmless, would probably not considered to be 'Politically Corrsct' today. Incidentally, Mr. Cody's real, name was Espera Oscar DeCorti. He was born in Gueygan, Louisiana and was of Italian descent!
So You Want to Keep Your Hair (1946)
*** (out of 4)
The one and only Joe McDoakes (George O'Hanlon) finds himself losing his hair so he goes to every barber and expert he knows to try and find out how to keep it. Of course everyone gives him a different answer so he heads to the Mo-Hair Institute to try and learn more about why men lose their hair. This here is another winning entry in the series as we get some very big laughs as well as a pretty funny look back at the history of "cures" for hair loss. One of the funniest sequences in the film is when we see the various ways to make your hair grow back. We see men breaking eggs on their head, using dry shampoo, using various food products and of course none of them are working. As usual, O'Hanlon is perfect as McDoakes as he has that every man quality that made this series so much fun to watch. He does his usual slapstick but it's those priceless facial gestures that he's so perfect at. Art Gilmore stepped in to do the narration on this entry and he manages to be quite funny as well.
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