Sunday 15 April 2007

Gasoloons (1936) Arthur Ripley

TCM shows a lot of one reel shorts under the banner of 1 Reel Wonders, and I tend to miss most of them on the basis that they're what appear between films and I watch films that I've specificall recorded. This one is an Edgar Kennedy vehicle, not that I've ever heard of Edgar Kennedy. He plays himself, it seems, or at least a character carrying his name, in the tradition of the old silent comedians. He's on vacation with his talkative wife and complaining mother and the rest of the family, but he's got the bunch of them completely lost. They stop at a gas station which is for sale and so end up buying it, running it and getting up to the sort of antics you'd expect. This is a comedy short, after all.

The only name I recognise is that of Dickie Jones, a child actor who was omnipresent in films of the late thirties but whose most memorable hour was probably as the voice of Pinocchio for Walt Disney. He's a little brat here, though a likeable one, playing the son of the customer. Other supporting actors here include Florence Lake, the talkative wife who regularly played Mrs Kennedy in shorts, and others that I've never heard of before.

Kennedy himself turns out to be a fine lead for 1936. While he isn't the most obvious comedian, he has a solid sense of timing and I was amused all the way through this one. What surprised me when I looked him up was that I've seen Edgar Kennedy before, many times in all, some of which were even last week! However this is the second half of the thirties, well into the sound era, whereas I've been watching him in the early teens, as a policeman in his Keystone Cops era, in Bangville Police, Fatty Joins the Force and so on. He was also present in many of the early Chaplin movies from 1914, up to and including Tillie's Punctured Romance, the first feature length comedy. Into the sound era, with a couple of hundred movies already behind him, he was in Penguin Pool Murder, as a cop no less and a memorable one too. Now I know his background I can see the resemblance.

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