Friday, April 08, 2005

"I'd like you to meet Blodgett, my mental hazard..."

Bill Sherman has posted a very insightful analysis of Clark and McCullough and a pair of their shorts (titter, giggle, tee-hee) on his blog. I certainly agree with him that it would have been interesting to see how the most unjustly unsung comedy team in film history would have fared in a feature. The closest Clark and McCullough ever came was a 1929 Fox five-reeler, Clark and McCullough In Holland. As you can see in the publicity still above, Bobby indeed wore a real pair of lensless wireframe specs for this film instead of the greasepaint variety he developed during his circus days. Presumably, he gave them up temporarily at Fox's request. Groucho Marx was likewise ordered to drop the greasepaint mustache by Paramount management for The Cocoanuts so as not to disrupt the sense of "reality " audiences in 1929 supposedly demanded from their madcap comedies. Groucho happily told management to perform impossible sexual acts on themselves and the phony mustache stayed put until the late 40s. Clark's greasepaint glasses remained his trademark until the 1950s (he finally dropped them for his role as the Devil in the original Broadway run of Damn Yankees). No one seems to know how many of Clark and McCullough's groundbreaking talkies for Fox Movietone still exist. Film historians refuse to refer to them as truly "lost", but no one has had much luck tracking them down, either (all of their RKO shorts are held by the Library Of Congress. None of their Fox material is). Happily, at least one of their Fox shorts does still exist. A safety print of the two-reeler Belle Of Samoa (1929) did turn up on eBay a couple of years ago (I had the pants bid off me) and another print had previously turned up at a film convention I was unable to attend (bangs head against wall).


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