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LUCY AND RICKY: THE NEW YORK YEARS

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Above is one of the strangest show-biz artifacts I've ever come across. Apparently there is a Lucy/Desi museum in Jamestown New York (birthplace of both Lucille Ball and Lucy Ricardo). Among the large collection of memorabilia is a full reconstruction of the set of the Ricardo's apartment. Above you'll see a short, shaky but quite delightful look at it. It's in color too, thus giving the much-viewed set a strikingly strange reality. The spinet piano is there, residing in the center of the room under the bay window, as is the fireplace, the couch, the kitchen--the whole sheer. I always loved the way the address of the building changed from episode to episode (though it was always on East 68th Street). I also dug how loopy the floorplan was. The Mertz's building was a brownstone which would have been no more than 20 feet wide, but somehow the three rooms are stretched out over a space that would have to be at least 40 feet wide, with the kitchen incongruously on a

PARIS '28

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Ninety years and two and a half weeks ago, on November 25 1928, a party was given in Paris. It was a strange and lovely event, with tango dancing, a fashion show, a period costume competition, a lovely female vocalist and a movie camera. The last was there to document this bit of long-forgotten Parisian partying via the Fox Movietone Sound-On-Film system, a then-new way of, er, documenting things.  This amazing five minute reel was posted by one of my favorite Youtube artists, the indispensible 'Guy Jones' (his real name? A nom de plume, he said Frenchly?) who somehow has access to these wonderful Fox reels and who cleans up the picture and the sound. I've posted quite a few of them (mostly of New York City in the late 20s/early 30s) and they're marvelous time capsules, haunting in their implacable observation of now dead worlds. In the weirdly chilling words of one of the commenters on Youtube: 'Its like watching ghosts.'   Subscribe in a reader

'BE BIG'--A LAUREL AND HARDY MISSING SCENE

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Having very much enjoyed 'Stan and Ollie', the Laurel and Hardy biopic, I've been immersed for the past few days in gathering up the shards of unseen L&H material that for some reason I've missed over the years. Mostly this consists of their silent films, which I never had any real interest in--what are L&H without their voices? Well, I was wrong. The silents are delightful and I'm plowing through them at a rapid rate. Then there are the lousy Fox films of the early-mid forties of which I've only seen two--'Jitterbugs' and 'The Bullfighters' and which, honestly, I feel it might be better off to avoid. L&H without Hal Roach simply were not themselves--I have a feeling that Stan would have resented hearing that, but Roach provided them with the freedom to work at their best and most comfortable level (and beside, he had that Marvin Hatley music). Then there are the multi language shorts which are interesting to behold, in a limited

MILK

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In the interests of keeping this blog (such an early 21st century term) from becoming a Laurel and Hardy tribute site, I've posted the above 1979 commercial for Milk. Don't ask why. There doesn't have to be a reason for everything. But I've always admired the drum fill toward the end that takes us into the little coda...   Subscribe in a reader

L&H GO BOOM!

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"They Go Boom" was one of almost a dozen Laurel & Hardy shorts released in the banner year of 1929. This was the year they transitioned to sound (several of the shorts released that year were silent--'Bacon Grabbers', they're greatest silent-in my opinion-was also their last) and the period of adjustment is interesting to watch. For one thing the Marvin Hatley music is missing which lends the film an eerie sort of voyeurism--because the dialogue consists mostly of grunts, threats and moans it's a bit like living next door to a dysfunctional couple whose argument you can't here but whose terrible vibe permeates the building. (Yes, that happened to me once...) The music-free ambience also makes the one-set film feel a little more like a live vaudeville sketch. The film could essentially have been silent--none of the talk is of any importance and in some ways it might have better--the music track would have covered some of the less inventive gags, the cu

VETERANS DAY SPECIAL PT. 2: VISIT A PARK IN 1930

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Above is another one of those priceless documentary looks at New York life in the late 20s/early 30s courtesy of the Fox Movietone News camera, an early sound-on-film system that enabled recordings of everyday life and events without having to set up cumbersome equipment which in turn would usually freeze the on-camera participants--these glimpses feature entirely natural behavior of people who are only dimly aware at best that they're being filmed. Here we see a group of children, ages 5-7 roughly, playing in a park on West End Avenue and 106th Street in January of 1930. A teacher leads them in a couple of songs while their mothers sit by on the benches, wearing those funny 1920s Cloche women's hats that so symbolize 20s fashion that to wear one now would be a clear indication that you were on your way to a 1920s themed party. What has this to do with Veterans Day you may ask? As I estimated the children's ages as I did, that would mean they were born somewhere between

WATCHING TV ON 4/1/74

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If you were sitting around your house in Los Angeles on the night of April 1st 1974 and had the TV tuned (as it once was said) to KTLA Channel 5, you would have seen the above two minutes of ads. It's the night before the 46th Academy Awards which is pro-moed (I believe the first 20 or so seconds provide a glimpse of it--an accidental tape-over I assume) which is how we know the date. Channel 5 had recently acquired the syndicated rights to Groucho Marx's 'You Bet Your Life' and was to begin airing them that summer. (I remember this because, as a 9 year old Marx Brothers fanatic, I made it a point to pretend to go to sleep at my usual bedtime only to sneak out to the den to watch the show on our black and white Zenith). A promo for this upcoming programming event is part of the clip, along with a a very sexy dance buy a woman advertising skin cream. There's also a promo for the Oscars (did they air on 5? Strange--thought it would be an exclusive network event...)