|Index||4 reviews in total|
Richard L. Bare directed over fifty of the popular "So You Want To
Be...." one-reeler short subjects (just over ten minutes long) in the
40's and 50's, each one starring the hair-brained dope,Joe McDoakes
(George O'Hanlon, later the voice of George Jetson). Joe's dutiful
wife, Alice, was always played by Jane Harker. The narrator for the
series, Art Gilmore, has one of the most recognizable voices in show
business. He later did the narration for the popular TV series,
"Highway Patrol." Slapstick was emphasized in a scattergun approach.
Some of it worked; some of it was downright stupid. No one could be as
dumb as Joe McDoakes and that's the main problem watching the series
today. A master comic such as Stan Laurel could be a half-wit and make
it believable. George O'Hanlon was not that talented or versatile. So
many times O'Hanlon's humor fell flat. Since O'Hanlon with director
Bare wrote the scripts, they must share the blame.
"So You Want To Be A Salesman" is a typical entry in the series that would usually be shown just before the feature attraction, along with the newsreel, a cartoon, coming attractions trailers, and advertisements, both local and nation-wide. The opening always showed Joe behind a giant eight ball. This one was released in 1947 when many GI's were attempting to fit back into civilian life, yet finding it difficult to get a suitable job. Joe is such a person. He wants to be a salesman for the money, but also to impress his wife. He gets a job selling Atom Smasher vacuum cleaners door to door. His boss is one of his old commanders who already knows Joe's limitations, but is willing to give Joe a try. One can well imagine the messes Joe gets himself into applying his interpretation of the Atom Smasher Guide Book.
For those wishing to see a Joe Doakes short, "So You Want To Be A Salesman" is a good one to watch. It is typical of the series and one that actually delivers the laughs in a few places.
PERHAPS IT WAS the experiences of the Depression followed by the
struggles of winning World War II that energized our taste In that
which we consider to be funny, but it would appear that we treated to
having our hero taking turns with a parade of various jobs. Was this an
unconscious and therefore unintentional celebration of better times?
COULD THIS BE a reaction to the New Deal years and the reliance on
abbreviations such as: NRA, CCC, WPA and, PWA? Or could we be reading
too much into this? What do you think, Schultz? BUT WE DIGRESS, let's
IN THIS INSTALLMENT, we zero in on Joe Mc Doakes, already employed as a door-to-door salesman, who is having serious problems living up to expectations of his heavily militarized company. The boss is a real martinet, who doubtless was shaped by his own wartime experiences, which narrator Art Gilmore eve mentions.
WE ARE TREATED to a series of doorway encounters between Joe and various household people (Mostly women, of course) who all seem to have no interest in buying a vacuum cleaner. As we progress from one household to the next, we see his sales handbook with a different rule of thumb highlighted each time.
IN THIS COMEDY, Mr. George O'Hanlon's aptitude for mugging to the camera as he looks to us, the audience members, for sympathy is exploited to the maximum. Added to that element are some great, cartoon-like gags that greatly aid in not only producing the laughs; but also in moving the story along to a successful, pleasing and very funny conclusion.
WE'RE THINKING THAT this sort of free wheeling sales was popular during the late '40s; though we cannot say so from experience. Having been born in 1946, we were around then, but were a trifle truly "wet behind the ears!" Our conclusion about this sort of direct sales activity is fueled by having seen it at the center of so many movies and old TV episodes of the period.
AS EXEMPLIFYING THIS assertion, we cite the Red Skelton starring comedy vehicle, THE FULLER BRUSH MAN (Edward Small Prod./Columbia Pictures, 1948); which of course this short predated by a year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd not seen a Joe McDoakes short in 50 years, and when I came across
this online recently, I wondered how well it would hold up. Not
surprisingly, I was soon laughing out loud, just as I used to as a
young boy, sitting in the Wynyard Newsreel theatre on George Street,
Sydney, in the late 1950s.
George O'Hanlon as Joe bears some resemblance to Jimmy Stewart, both in looks and manner. He's someone moviegoers of the time, and indeed now, can relate to, an ordinary guy trying to make his way in the world. He'll give anything a try and whether he's successful, or not, he'll come up smiling. Maybe it's his lovely wife, played so nicely by Jane Harker. I'd certainly be happy to go home to her at the end of a typical day!
Production quality is certainly up to scratch, as befitted anything which came from Warner Bros.
Great entertainment and bring on the next "So You Want to be" short!
So You Want to be a Salesman (1947)
*** (out of 4)
Nice entry in the series has Joe McDoakes (George O'Hanlon) returns from the war needing a job so he decides to become a door-to-door salesman. His latest mission is to sell a vacuum cleaner but of course nothing is going to go right as our hero gets into one mess after another. This here is a pretty good entry in the series as it contains some very funny moments and a nice little twist at the end. We get a lot of the jokes that we'd expect with a few customers taking advantage of Joe with one kid pretty much stealing a vacuum from him. There's also a handbook that Joe tries to follow to get people to buy the product and again this doesn't go as planned. Another nice joke has him finally confronting his boss and yet another where he tries to sell one to his wife. As usual, O'Hanlon is wonderful in the role of McDoakes as there's certainly no one else that could have played this character.
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