Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle


March 24, 1887  ~ June 29, 1933

He Did and He Didn’t, The Waiters Ball, Love

Over one hundred years ago before Classic Hollywood films there were The Silent films, Roscoe Arbuckle was one of the top Box Office Comedy draws of the Silent era. Cousin Al St. John’s mother was Roscoe’s sister. Silent Film Actors were the pioneers, the experimenters, the innovators, the wanting to do it all to learn the business entertainers.  Acting, writing, directing, do your own pratfalls kind of pioneers. One hundred years later there are dedicated film historians scavenging the world for bits and pieces of film to piece together into a final product to remember the talent and creativity of these pioneers. Paul Gierucki’s The Forgotten Films of Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle help to keep these films alive for the new century of silent movie lovers and historians.

Three of my favorites; He Did and He Didn’t, The Waiters Ball, and Love offer a plethora of slapstick. Broom schtick, hanging from chandeliers, flipping flapjacks, falling out of 2nd story windows, falling down wells, wearing a dress to fool unsuspecting fathers, or to be admitted to a dance after your tux has been stolen by Al are just a few of the antics displayed in these Arbuckle comedies.  So since it is always Silent Sunday at TCM enjoy a little Love later on today.

Happy Birthday Uncle Roscoe!

The Nutty Professor

March 16, 1926 Jerry Lewis The Nutty Professor

Dare I say that The Nutty Professor is Jerry Lewis’ smartest role? I do. Combining the hilarity of the dorky college professor, and the suave debonair man’s man, Jerry Lewis masters the duality perfectly. Keen on Stella Steven’s Stella, the Professor goes about trying an experimental potion on himself only to uncover the man, with a voice, he never knew he could be. The ladies man singing That Old Black Magic, Jerry Lewis is quick to take his college student Stella up to make-out point, when he realizes the potion doesn’t have lasting power. Thus begins the on again off again personality of Buddy Love- when bottled correctly. Stretching the comedic muscle of Jerry Lewis in the hangover scene is nothing compared to pulling the heartthrob out of the clown. Loving him also as the many men in Family Jewels and as half of the Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis duo, for everything you are. Happy Birthday Jerry Lewis.

George Brent

March 15, 1899 ~ May 26, 1979 George Brent  Female, Baby Face
I never liked George Brent more than I did in the pre-code film Female. Playing opposite Ruth Chatterton, who I had only known prior in the Simone Simon vehicle, Girls Dormitory, Brent plays the Alpha Male. Brent’s status as a man matters of course, because until now, Ruth Chatteron’s Miss Drake had only succeeded in drawing weak and vain men into her lair; men she could quickly discard before work the next morning when she chose to be bored and send them far away to places like Montreal. And while it had to be rough being a woman in the 30’s in charge of an automobile factory, it had to be worse not being seen as a woman at all- enter George Brent. Brent comes on the scene, dashing, take charge, and not one bit interested that Miss Drake owns the factory he now works in. Nope, see he saw Miss Drake, before he realized she would be his boss… and when lured to her lair, he quickly comes back with “…I like to do my own hunting,” leaving her high and dry. He is in fact the Alpha Male, and in order to win him, she’s gotta tone it down. Brent does his best in this romantic comedy of role reversal, playing dashing, fun, and when pulling out that marriage license “wanting to be respectable after last night.” So sweet. Of course he still has some hoops to jump through before things work out, but gosh, its sure fun watching. In Baby Face he plays the last guy on Barbara Stanwyck’s ladder to “success”. After a bit of struggle she finally gives in and marries our dashing hero, but not without doing some major soul searching first…soul searching that in the end puts their whole romance in jeopardy. But don’t worry, Barbara and George have done this dance before. They get together in The Purchase Price as well, another wonderful Pre-Code gem found in the Forbidden Hollywood series. And if you’re looking for one of those respectable films, don’t worry, George made those too. Playing Mr. Ransome in the The Rains Came, he’s the reformed playboy/alcoholic who goes about saving a whole piece of India, and an 18 year old debutante too. Its for all these reasons and more that we simply can’t get enough of George. Happy Birthday!!!

Helen Parrish

Helen Parrish 2 March Bdays
March 12, 1923 ~ February 22, 1959 Helen Parrish First Love, Three Smart Girls Grow Up

In First Love, playing the holier than thou upper class socialite cousin of Deanna Durbin, Helen Parrish marvels as the bratty spoiled brat characteristic of an ugly stepsister. In this modern retelling of Cinderella it is Durbin who gets to play the rags to riches princess, and Helen Parrish who gets to lose her man. Poor thing, true, but she does one heck of job. Playing with Durbin again in Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Parrish, as the often forgotten Middle Sister, retreats out of the spoiled brat mouthy role and right into the mousey apologetic, don’t-mind-me role of the girl whose accepted she’ll never get her guy. While she did do some substantial work as a child actress, and was in film until the late 1950’s, here’s to wishing she had gotten maybe a little more fame. Happy Birthday Helen!