Friday, May 27, 2005

Wheeler addenda Woolsey

In honor of Bill Sherman's latest Wheeler and Woolsey-related blog entry, I'm posting this rare 1938 W&W comic strip from the pages of Film Fun, a UK comic weekly that also featured strips starring Laurel and Hardy, George Formby, Harold Lloyd, Abbott and Costello, and, eventually, Martin and Lewis. Interestingly, Bert and Bob are depicted as rivals here, something they never were in their pictures (especially over a woman. Bert had Dotty Lee while Bob usually had his own love interest in the form of women as diverse as Thelma Todd and Jobyna Howland). One quibble with Bill's assessment of Girl Crazy (1932); the W&W version is actually much closer to the original Gershwin musical than the 1943 Garland/Rooney version. Bert was given original Broadway star Willie Howard's Jewish cabby role, revised here for ethnicity as Jimmy Deegan. Bill's keen eye spotted Margaret Dumont in a small role (she was later to appear with the boys in Kentucky Kernels (1934) and their woeful last picture, High Flyers (1938)), and here are a few other notables to be found populating the periphery of Girl Crazy:

  • Lon Cheney, Jr. as a dancer!
  • Nat Pendleton as a cop (of course)
  • Monty Collins as a bartender (familiar face in RKO's Clark and McCullough shorts and later to be teamed with comic heavy Tom Kennedy in his own series at Columbia)

click on de pic for to make it beeg!


Blogger NYCOPYGUY said...

Aaron, this is splendid. Were these strips ever collected in book form? Who would one go to to seek out the rights to reprint these strips? They really are marvelous-- thanks for sharing!

6:51 PM  
Blogger Aaron Neathery said...

There is a (far from exhaustive) Film Fun collection in the UK. I've been trying to track it down for a couple of years. Film Fun was founded in 1920 and folded in 1962 (2,225 issues!). There's something to be said about a comic book that started life with Harold Lloyd on the cover and ended with Terry-Thomas (Laurel and Hardy held pride of place from 1934 to 1957). In the 20s, there was another film-oriented comic weekly, Kinema Komic, which featured strips about second-string comedians Film Fun couldn't be bothered with, like Ford Sterling and Louise Fazenda.

Strangely, Film Fun would continue featuring comedians for years after they had dropped from view. The 1938 issue that W&W strip is from also contains a story about Charlie Murray and Chester Conklin! I wonder if either of them even knew.

I doubt these strips are held under any kind of copyright, but I know little about British copyright law. The big issue would be finding the source material. A lot of these comics are museum pieces.

10:01 PM  

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