Character actor Michael Shannon has been nominated for his second Oscar for his role in the 2016 thriller Nocturnal Animals. "No Small Parts" takes a look at some of the other characters he's played in the past.
Against his better judgment, Schmaltz lets Billy help him prepare for the opening of Schmaltz's Delicatessen. Mama is the cook, Tillie is the cashier, and Billy is the clerk. First there are problems stocking the shelves, then there's a discordant rehearsal of the musicians who will play at the opening, then there's Billy's inept hanging of the Grand Opening sign outside the shop. Why has such a crowd gathered? What has Billy done? Written by
Although this was released under the "Taxi Boys" banner, this Ben Blue and Billy Gilbert short has nothing to do with taxis. Gus Meins' production deals with the opening of a deli owned by Billy, who is "helped" by Ben. Billy plays his "Schmaltz" character, a middle European stereotype, which he played in Roach comedies through 1934. I guess Roach knew that the Taxi series wasn't working and tried a couple of films to keep the Blue and Gilbert teaming going. (The other film is "The Rummy", which is not as good.) Besides the typical Roach slapstick, Ben and Billy engage in some verbal acrobatics similar to Abbott and Costello. However, the timing is slower, and it doesn't really work. After "The Rummy", Ben Blue returned to New York where he appeared in some Vitaphone shorts. Roach still tried to promote Billy as a leading comic doing his Schmaltz character or a variation of it. "Apples to You" and "Music in Your Hair" are particularly good short comedies from this period. Gilbert freelanced at most of the studios, even though he was a Roach regular. He even has a showy role in the later Roach comedy "Blockheads".
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