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The Nut House!! (1964)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy  -  1 September 1964 (USA)
6.1
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Title: The Nut House!! (TV Movie 1964)

The Nut House!! (TV Movie 1964) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ceil Cabot
Jane Connell
Andrew Duncan
Anthony Holland
Adam Keefe
Kathy Kersh
Muriel Landers
Marilyn Lovell
Mara Lynn
Len Maxwell
Jack Sheldon
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Comedy

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Release Date:

1 September 1964 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Trivia

"The Nut House!!" (a September-October 1953 television comedy production) was initially a CBS television comedy show pilot video taped on Stage 31, with a "live" audience, at the CBS Hollywood Television City Studio, located at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Boulevard. The CBS Studio is adjacent the famous "Farmer's Market" in Los Angeles. The black and white taped pilot's format was comedy joke-sketches, delivered one after another, in a machine gun rat-a-tat sequence, performed by the young and strong up-and-coming group of New York City and Hollywood comedians, musicians and performers. The unsold comedy series pilot eventually was "canned"; eventually broadcast as a one-time CBS comedy special recouping production development expenses producing the pilot. The premise for "The Nut House!!" comedy television pilot's material and joke-sketch format became the foundation for NBC's successful 1967-1973 "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" comedy television series, video-taped with a "live" audience. CBS's New York network program division-production scheduling and advertising marketing, in 1963-1964, was not ready for this type of television weekly delivered night-time comedy show format. See more »

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Piano Bench Courtesy of Ponsonby Britt See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jay Ward, I forgive you ... barely.
17 February 2010 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

I saw one episode of "The Nut House!!" (why did it need TWO exclamation marks?) at the Museum of TV & Radio in NYC. The curator told me it was the only episode: I'm not sure if she meant the only episode in the museum's video archive, or the only episode ever made, full stop. I think it's both.

Producer Jay Ward and his partner Bill Scott, successful with cartoons and low-budget programming based on silent-film clips, were trying to succeed in live-action programming. "The Nut House!!" was intended as a Saturday daytime series, suitable for children and older audiences. If I'm not mistaken, only a pilot episode was made, and the pilot was never picked up for a series.

What struck me about "The Nut House!!" (besides its very low quality) is its similarity, before the fact, to "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" ... and I think I would have spotted this even if Alan Sues weren't present in both programmes. "The Nut House!!" consists of short skits and blackout gags, similar to "Laugh-In" but without the snappy pacing, flashy graphics and ensemble work (and good scripts) of that later, better-known show. "Laugh-In" was noted for political satire, and for topical jokes about recent events. "The Nut House!!" -- possibly because it was a pilot effort, with no specific air date -- trudges along with generic comedy about nothing in particular. Sort of like "Hee Haw" without the sophisticated urbanity.

I'm an undyingly loyal fan of Jay Ward's cartoons ... even his less funny ones, like "Tom Slick". But Ward's outrageous humour is totally absent here: an odd lapse, since Ward's cartoons -- unlike most other American cartoons -- relied very little on surrealistic impossible sight gags (that can't be done inexpensively in live action) and relied heavily on witty dialogue and characterisation that can be done easily in live action.

What I most recall about this unfunny black-and-white effort was the incredibly low budget. The camera is static: there are no sound cues and no lighting effects. At the end, the ensemble cast take a limp curtain call while each performer holds up a piece of paper with his or her name scrawled on it: a clear admission that the budget couldn't afford title supers.

Bob Arbogast, the credited co-scripter here, later wrote some hilarious song parodies with Stanley Ralph Ross. Too bad none of that hilarity made it into "The Nut House!!".

Jay Ward's name deserves to live in the annals of comedy forever ... but what I saw of "The Nut House!!" was awful. Even that double exclamation mark bothers me ... as if it were saying "We can't afford a good script or graphics, but we've got extra punctuation!!" There's a good premise lurking in this effort, but it didn't achieve its potential until the brilliant "Laugh-In" a few years later. Skip this low point in Jay Ward's career and enjoy some classic Bullwinkle toons instead.


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