9/9/08

A CURLEY HOWARD TIME-OUT

dutifulbutdumb

As some of my readers might remember, this blog began as a survey of whatever old movies and old music clips caught my fancy on the glorious invention known as youtube. As "City Island" will be in post-production all fall, I will of course be keeping you abreast of its progress and posting what clips and pix I can. But I'd like also to begin to dip back into the glory of our cultural past--and what better, more upstanding and more singularly dignified example of that culture is there than the clown named Jerry Howard, known to all as "Curley".

Recently I showed the below clip to my four year old son who became fascinated by it--not just finding it funny but loving all of Curley's facial tics, expressions, dog-barks, face-slaps etc. The short that it's from is "Dutiful But Dumb", directed by Del Lord when Curley was at his peak in the early 1940's, and before his mysterious (and very visible) brain damage began to slow him down. The waiter in the scene is the great Chaplin foil Chester Conklin. Dig Curley making the most of a very simple set-up--eating a bowl of oyster soup.



Tomorrow I'll be back on the City Island express. Today, however, I dedicate this clip to my son Lorenzo, who I've spent a lot of time away from this summer and who has been a very understanding little trouper about why daddy's been away--asking me on the phone every morning about "how the movie with Andy is going".



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5 comments:

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  2. When I was growing up near Pittsburgh in the 60's/early 70's, there used to be a lot of home-grown television product on all the channels, not unlike how Raymond describes "Movies Till Dawn". We had "Chiller Theatre" (hosted by "Chilly" Billy Cardilli), "Bowling For Dollars", and my favorite, "Adventure Time" with Paul Shannon and a bleacher of Cub Scouts and Brownies of the Three Rivers area.

    In addition to cartoons--"Kimba The White Lion" and the original "Speed Racer" among them--"Adventure Time" always played Three Stooges shorts. As it happened, Paul Shannon was good friends with Moe Howard, so whenever the Stooges (at that point without Curly...was it Shemp?) were in town, they would appear LIVE on WTAE Channel 4 to intro those classic comedy shorts and would even perform brief, violent slapstick routines for the Cubs, Brownies, and me.

    If I were ever wealthy enough to own my own television cable network, I would create a a retro channel with all live small-town-scaled shows like Bowling For Dollars, Adventure Time, high school quiz shows, cooking shows utilizing canned soup and Velveeta as staple ingredients, etc. And cartoons--Heckle and Jeckyll, Hercules, Sid and Marty Krofft's bizarro cavalcades, early Anime. And Three Stooges shorts.

    DAN FISHER

    September 9, 2008 7:32 PM

    Posted to A CURLEY HOWARD TIME-OUT

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  3. Kimba the White Lion? Dan, you've brought back a major repressed memory for me! I remember the hosted shows (LA had Tom Hatten) as well--a lovely and forgotten sub-genre in TV-land. Who was the local NYC guy who pretended to be a fireman and hosted Three Stooges movies? Anyone?

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  4. Are you referring to Bob McCallister of Wonderama? I never watched it--there are clips on YouTube, including vintage performances from The Jackson Five, Abba, and of course Bob McCallister--but know of it through my friendship with Bob's daughter Robin. (Robin is a fellow NYC prop person, exceptional at her job and one of the nicest, realest people you'll ever meet.)

    By the way, the host of Pittsburgh's "Bowling For Dollars" was Nick Perry, who was eventually imprisoned in the 70's for rigging the Pennsylvania Lottery. (The winning numbers? 666, naturally.). It is my opinion that Nick Perry was the fall guy for something or somebody much bigger than himself. It is also my opinion that this story would make an excellent movie, a rust-belt 1970's Quiz Show without all of the solemnity and Big Statements About America.

    Anyway, Raymond, thanks for the Curly clip. Some might say that as actors go, Curly was no Olivier, but I don't think Olivier ever could have pulled off such expertly-timed double-takes and grunted reactions to a smoking bottle and a bowl of oyster stew.

    DF

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