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Nobody plays 'Him/Herself" in this fictional murder mystery, even if the two leads, Skitch' Henderson and Frances Lane do play characters named Skitch Henderson and Frances Lane. In this "Fictional-plot" film, band-leader Skitch Henderson plays a fictional newspaper gossip columnist named Skitch Henderson, which isn't Himself, and when a café-society playboy is murdered, the fictional Skitch Henderson joins in while the police investigate. While the police are taking fingerprints at the playboy's apartment, gossip-columnist Henderson sits down at the piano and starts playing, which is no big surprise since the fictional Skitch Henderson is played by the real Skitch Henderson who made a living playing the piano. The police bring in a fictional character named Frances Lane---oddly enough played by a real singer named Frances Lane--- as a prime suspect but she has an airtight alibi, which is a good thing for the career of the real Frances Lane. The police bumble around awhile while the fictional Frances Lane sings and the fictional Skitch Henderson plays the piano. The fictional Henderson hits a flat note and, of course, looks inside the piano, as the real Henderson would have never hit a flat note. There, he finds the murder weapon with plenty of fingerprints belonging to the real killer. The fictional Henderson hands over the gun to the police and departs with the fictional Lane. The fictional Henderson, in the style of the real Henderson, plays "Cling to Me" and "Love Me or Leave Me", and the fictional Lane sings, in the style and voice of the real Frances Lane, "A Little Bit Independent," also played on the piano by the fictional Skitch Henderson.
This 47-minute documentary, financed by HRH's government, won an Oscar
in the special category, and most of it was later edited into a 1953
two-segment documentary called "Savage World" by the same crew of
film-makers listed on this film. The story here is about an African
tribe that is working to build a maternity hospital, with the aid of
government officials, and against the opposition of some tribal
members. I'm not certain how this qualifies as a short, since its
running time was 47-minutes in both the UK and the U.S., and the site
specs for a film to be in the Shorts genre is 45-minutes or less.
As of this date, "Savage World (1954)" is not listed on site, but coming soon to a site near you.
This one makes a corn-cob softer than a powder-puff. Cubby the Bear,
the Crooning Crooner, has his own program on Radio Station R-K-O and
his scheduled guest stars---Kitty Schmidt (Kate Smith), Sol Rightman
(Paul Whiteman) and Sal Jolson (Al Jolson) have opted out, and his
light-slippered announcer advises Cubby he is on his own. No sweat. In
about eight minutes Cubby manages to show visually and story-wise why
the MPPDA told Hollywood they "wanted to see it before you released
it." Using caricature masks and a make-up screen---no audience and it
wasn't televised---Cubby takes on the roles of his missing guest stars.
He sings "Mammy" in black-face, cross-dresses as Kate Smith to take a
turn on "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain" but not before stuffing
his/ her bosom with half the props on the stage. He then does Mae West
and sings "I've Got a Lot of What I've Got" and tells the radio
listeners to come up and see her...and the boys down at the pool
hall---including the "human" Tom-and-Jerry---jump through their radio
by way of coming up. Tom and Jerry (the human ones) doing a cameo in a
Cubby cartoon was what came to be known in the Golden Age of Comic
Books (and the Silver-Age, also) as a cross-over and makes this one a
keeper for collectors. The cross-dressing Cubby has already done gets
topped right quick like when Tubby hooks up with radio stations around
the world and begins in India where Roger Rajah is taking tokes on his
water-pipe while his pantie-and-bra clad harem girls dance for his
amusement and his black servant can't fan enough to keep his Royal
Hotness cool,and has to dump ice on him. Then, a caricature of Mahatma
Gandhi comes dancing along and opens his white robe to reveal he is
also a fan of cross dressing and shows the latest in women's scanty
undies. (Back off, I didn't draw this one, I'm just reporting on it.)
From there Cubby's round-the-world radio program visits the Baltics, Spain, the North Pole, Hawaii, Holland, the American west and every continent but Anartica, and leaves no race, religion, culture, preference or past-times un-stereotyped. For some reason or another the Twinkie-toed announcer is down to his skivvies before this one ends.
This one, as old-timers are inclined to say...is something else.
...and some of the female cats resembled her.
Okay, this is an entry in the "Aesop's Sound Fables" and is a version of the little-black-duck and the wolf-in-sheep's clothing fables about the sibling duck who was shunned because of his color, and not because of race---Aesop was not into revisionist racial-sightings. Perhaps those who see Race in this one overlooked the fact that the hero (who is a Mickey Mouse swipe) is 'black' and all of the cats are black (especially the one who is a dead-ringer swipe of 'Felix the Cat.) It is a tad-bit on the adult side, which was not unusual for cartoons made in the pre-code days of 1934. There is a duck-herder (a black mouse ) leading his flock, with a sheepherder's staff, to water. All the ducklings are white except the one who is black, and it is not unusual in the animal-and-barnyard kingdom to find various colors in the litters, broods and egg-hatching departments. The black-hero mouse finally gets all the ducks afloat in the lake and he takes a break. Up on the hill is a cat, wearing an eyepatch and named Butch, and he is pulling a little cage with a real-little black-mouse in it, for Butch, it turns out, is in the duck-napping racket. Cut to a saloon/jazz joint/cat-house (a couple of the ladies appear to have been around the friendly-for-pay course a few times) called the "Day & Night Club." That is because this gin-joint is open 24-7 and has nothing to do with light and dark. There is a whole lot of hot-piano playing (and one of the cats is playing a hot harp), dancing, beer-and-whiskey quaffing going on, and this is just in the front room. The waiter is also drunk, just from drinking what has spilled on his tray. Felix...uh...Butch the Ducknapper enters and asks the biggest and blackest, cigar-smoking cat---this is a black-and-white-cartoon---if he wants to buy a duck and Mutt the Cat allows as how he is indeed in the market for a duck-dinner...if someone could bring a duck. Butch hotfoots it back to the lake, gives Mickey the Duck Herder a Bathing Beauties magazine to distract him and this magazine does just that as some of the depicted bathing beauties---all white---resemble Gloria Swanson in her Mack Sennett days. Then Butch has the little-black mouse get into a drake-duck suit and lure all the female-or-gay-or-switch-hitting ducks away. I'm sure that there are those who can find some kind of racial symbolism in the fact that a black-cat has a little black-mouse as a lackey henchman. Butch gets all the hot-to-trot ducks inside a Duck Corral, Mutt shows up and pays him, pulls out a knife and has intentions of having some cut-up duck for dinner...but the little black duck alerts the black duck-herder (who still looks like Mickey Mouse) and the black mouse ends the career of the culinary black cat. Okay, one of the fable sources is the old...mouse-in-a-duck's-clothing bit...and not a wolf(probably black)-in- (probably white)sheep's-clothing bit. That ol' Aesop was one racist dude. One of the great anti-prohibition films.
This 25-minute short (original running time at the 1939 World's Fair and in its theatrical bookings) was made by the Petroleum Industry to be shown primarily at the NYC 1939 World's Fair, but was also available to theatres. Basically, a commercial but many theatres booked it since it was free, in Technicolor, and was better than the majority of the 1939 shorts. The reason some people think there are gaps in the narration is because the original had two different interlocking sound tracks, one on the screen, representing the voices of the screen characters, and another in the rear of the auditorium, with the taunts and wise-cracks of an off-screen heckler. The DVD that exists is not only missing nine minutes of footage, it is also missing the second sound track. The story is a fantasy of the oil industry, employing 40 different characters. The story utilizes animated puppets in a, at the time, new way. The puppets were four inches high, had faces and bodies shaped like oil drops. They had flexible armatures and rubber skin faces that could assume any expression desired. It was photographed by a stop-action camera and the average production rate was fifteen feet of film a day. There is one central character, Pete-Roleum (as seen on the original title with a hyphen in the name), and he engages in a discussion with the heckling voice from the audience. Pete and his petroleum cousins quit the earth, which starts to drop back into ruin without the aid of oil in the human activities. The heckler sees his mistake and pleads for them to come back. This short was shown in many USA schools well into the 1940s and beyond. Howard Bay, of the Federal Theatre's Living Newspaper series (also Joseph Losey's origins), designed the sets and the puppets.
Sherrill Corwin Productions has absolutely nothing to do with the production of this film; it was an entirely independent-production by Aubrey Wisberg and Jack Pollexfen's Mid-Century Pictures. Corwin was a theatrical exhibitor who thought the film had potential, for a distributor, of high bookings and high grosses from theatres that ordinarily didn't book B-features from the indies. He booked it into San Francisco's Paramount Theatre on March 9, 1951, and screened it for the trade-paper reviewers and critics in Hollywood on March 8, and then closed a distribution-deal. As usual, a "Presents" credit above the title does not a production company make...and that includes this film. And, the later New York City trade-paper review-date has nothing to do with a release date.
Obviously, it wasn't the film listed on this site page which is a Paul
Terry Terrytoon cartoon (production number 5109) in which Gandy Goose
gets spring fever (the only mention of the word "spring" in this
seven-minute cartoon) and runs away from home, and promptly runs into a
fox, proprietor of a roadside diner, who wishes to offer
goose-fricassee on his menu. Gandy's goose is about to be cooked, until
he develops a sneezing-fit (probably caused by "spring"-fever) and
sneezes his way back home.
Evidently, viewing too much MSTK3 is dangerous to your mental health, and leads to delusion, and thinking you saw something you didn't, and couldn't wait to tell the IMDb-world about it...duh.
In the early days of television (circa late-40s to early 50s)the makers
of many of the cheapjack, poverty-row syndicated series---Guy Madison's
Wild Bill Hickock, Reed Hadley's Racket Squad, others) would take two
or three of the 30-minute television episodes, stitch them together and
peddle them to the small-town and/or b-feature theatre-exhibitors as a
"NEW" feature-length film. The film-exhibitors knew better, but most of
these films were booked into towns and areas of the country where
television coverage was, at best, spotty and often non-existent.
Basically, a large percentage of the audience that saw these "films" in
a theatre didn't own a television set or live in an area that had a
television station. Plus, there was the large-and-profitable overseas
market to be tapped.
Exhibitor-producer-distributor-showman Robert L. Lippert took this concept in another direction; his plan was to make three feature films, each of which had two separate 30-minute plots with continuing characters, book them into theatres and, after, they had exhausted the B-feature theatrical-circuit, cut them in half and sell the six 30-minute segments to television. Either as a series or a stand-alone 30-minute gap-filler.
Thusly was born "Pier 23", "Roaring City" and "Danger Zone." Three films in six segments featuring a San Francisco, hard-boiled private-eye named Dennis O'Brien. Made for theatres with intent-to-sell-to television. William Berke---has anyone actually ever seen a billing credit for him as William A. Berke...don't bother, the answer is no---directed and produced all three films with screen plays credited to Julian Harmon and Victor West on all. And each carried a "based on a story by Herbert H. Margolis and Louis Morheim" credit. And where did these "based-ons" come from? Well, each and everyone of them had been "heard" before when they were used on a syndicated radio-series called "Pat Novak, For Hire." Mr. Novak was a hard-case, San Francisco private-eye who averaged getting knocked-out twice in every 30-minute radio episode. Dennis O'Brien maintains that average when he gets his about four times in each of these three films.
Thie feature film consists of three episodes of the
syndicated-television series "Racket Squad" stitched together and sold
to theatre-exhibitors as a real movie. It opens at the Los Angeles
Police Academy with a lecturer telling the class of LAPD-rookies three
stories of confidence rackets.
Story 1: A taxi-dancer meets a small-time racketeer and becomes partners with him in some small-time scams. Another racketeer, playing for bigger stakes, gets her to join up with him. They gain access to a wealthy man's home by pretending to be a photographer-writer team sent by a magazine to photograph his palatial home. The police arrive in time to stop the burglary. They arrive in time only because the small-time,sore-loser, ex-boyfriend had gone to the police department and snitched on them.
Story 2: A crooked stock-syndicate swindles a wealthy newspaper publisher out of $40,000 with the aid of a glamorous sophisticated woman as a decoy. A snitch many have been involved here, also.
Story 3: A crippled young man shows up in Smallville and buys a dilapidated, abandoned farm for $1750, spot-cash American. The townspeople, always ready to add a new citizen to the tax-roll, help him fix it up and he becomes a sympathetic and popular citizen in the community, especially with the pretty female real-estate broker. He claims the spring on his property has a therapeutic healing effect on his crippling arthritis and, considering he showed up in a wheelchair and is now running and jumping all over the place, the town-council is now ready to buy back the formerly-worthless property for $50,000, and let the budding-decathlon star walk away with a net profit of $48,250 on his two-bit investment. And he would have, too, if the L.A.P.D. hadn't shown up with proof he was never crippled and didn't have arthritis. Yes, that's correct, the pretty female real-estate broker had overheard him discussing his plans with a confederate...and snitched on him. But young Clark Kent was having some doubts about this character, also.
The end of the film leaves the viewer with one question and two-lessons learned:
Question 1: What in heck was the Los Angeles Police Department doing busting citizens outside of the Los Angeles city limits in Smallville?
Lesson 1: Never under-estimate the value of a Snitch.
Lesson 2: Never under-estimate the ability of American film-goers to line up and pay money to see a film in a theatre that they could have stayed home and seen for free on television.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And with a title of "Marie Galante" one might suppose that this was
another film about the doings at the castle under one of those Looie
(Roman Number) kings, and Marie was one of the ladies-in-waiting
working to spring the Scarlet Pimpernel or the man in the iron mask out
of the dungeon. One would be wrong. This one is 1934 at the Panama
Canal and the American Commissioner at Cristoforo, General Phillips, is
getting briefed by Ratcliff of Scotland Yard about a mystery man who
may be plotting to blow up the power house and put the whole Pacific
Fleet in dry-dock. His m.o. is that he always works through a woman,
who appears...and disappears...and sometimes her body is found. The
nationality of the man is unknown to Scotland Yard but they have
pictures of him when, in 1914, he was member of the House of Commons
and had a key position at the War Department and important secret files
disappeared; in 1916, under another name, he was the master mind in the
Central European Spy Organization in Paris and two of his
confederates---both women---were caught and shot; next, he was a Llama
in Tibet who put himself as head of affairs in China and things went
badly for all Western Powers; He turned up later as chief engineer of
the Potosi Munition Works and they were blown up; and, when last seen
and heard of, he was the man behind the scenes of a big Communist
uprising in Germany. Ratcliff of Scotland Yard had six photos of the
man but no name. About this time, Dr. Crawbett, from the University of
Wisconsin, pops in to give a report on how well his study of tropical
insects, mosquitoes and diseases is going. (This alone makes this a
watershed moment in movies, as the only other mention of the University
of Wisconsin in film-history came in 1953 when Republic made "Crazy
Legs" starring Elroy "Crazy-Legs" Hirsch...himself.) Ratcliff and
Crawbett go out for a night on the town at the Pacific Gardens where
Helen Morgan (as Miss Tapia or something) sings a torch song. They also
meet a Japanese poet/curio shop owner named Gennosaki Tenoki, but he
has only been a poet since 1933, and, prior to that, he was a
Lieutenant Commander in the Japanese Imperial Navy and, in fact, had
just returned to Panana yesterday from a visit to Japan. They converse
a bit and then the master-of-ceremonies announces that he he now happy
to introduce "a singer that can sing without leaning all over the
piano" and Miss Helen Morgan seems to take offense at his rude
inclusion of her in the introduction of...Marie Galante. She sings a
song half in French and half in her own brand of English, and then Miss
Tapia sends her over to pump information out of Ratcliff (of Scotland
Yard) and Crawbett (U. of W.), while working as a B-girl sipping small
glasses of diluted orange juice. Marie mostly tells them about how put
out she is by being in Panama where nobody speaks French. Crawbett
suggests that Brogard, sitting across the room eyeballing them, perhaps
does since he owns the Paris Bazaar and Botique. But Brogard, with a
furtive nod to Miss Tapia, departs the premises. So she then tells them
of how to come it is she is in Panama against her wishes---something to
do with delivering a Postes Telegraphies at San Briac to a ship and the
ship sailed with her still aboard. Crawbett then makes the mistake of
asking her about her home in San Braic and she says...." Oh, m'sieure,
it is so beautiful" There is the old church where I am confirmed---the
homes of my friends---the flowers---the fields beyond town! Everybody
tell me---Bon jour, Marie! 'Ello, Marie! The gooses go quack, quack,
quack-'ello, Marie! The sheep and the cowses-they call Baa-Baa, Marie -
moo-moo Marie." Marie is indeed enchanting and even inspires Tenoki,
the retired Japanese Naval Commander turned poet, to send her an
example of his work dedicated to her: "Blonde girl resting is like
flower in sunshine. But when she moves in affairs of men she may be
like cat in mischief. Why not be happy to remain a flower." It doesn't
quite scan and sounds like a threat, but Marie liked it. Later,
Teniko's clerk who delivered the poem turns up quite dead what with
having been shot with a two-eight-three automatic and stabbed with a
long, thin knife with a Japanese mark on the handle. Tenoki smilingly
says of the clerk..."he has contrived to get himself murdered in the
I forget what else happens but I'm sure I can watch a Charlie Chan or Mr. Moto panama-canal film and find out from the stock-footage.
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