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TomJH

The Complete Thelma Todd & Patsy Kelly Shorts Now Available On DVD

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Good news for fans of the Hal Roach comedy series that co-starrred Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly. All 21 of their shorts will be released on DVD on June 26th as the inauguration of the Silver Series, with, hopefully, more rare film stuff to be released from the vaults in the future under this series name.

 

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https://bottomshelfmovies.com/the-complete-thelma-todd-patsy-kelly-shorts-coming-to-dvd/

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     That's great news however I wonder why they didn't include the Thelma Todd/Zasu Pitts shorts as well? This would have been the complete collection.

 

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21 hours ago, midnight08 said:

     That's great news however I wonder why they didn't include the Thelma Todd/Zasu Pitts shorts as well? This would have been the complete collection.

 

Who knows, but, hopefully, with good sales with this series, the Todd-Pitts shorts will follow.

By the way, Patsy Kelly was so discouraged with her initial filmland experience (she was shocked, for example, that she had to do much of her own stunt work at the Roach studio) that, after informing Thelma Todd she was quitting Hollywood, she got on a train to head back east. She left it to Todd to inform Hal Roach she was gone.

Todd, instead, jumped in her car and, after seeing that Kelly had already departed from her apartment and was on the train, drove to Pasadena, the train's next stop. Todd leaped on the train, found Kelly surrounded by her luggage and said, "Get off, Kelly. Come on." Patsy, in shock, complied and followed her.

Todd drove her back to Hollywood and the two talked all night about Kelly's problems, one of the major ones being her finances. Todd advised her to not declare bankruptcy over her debts as it would severely hurt her credit rating. Thelma told Patsy that, no matter what, she should never pull out and run out on anything again. (Todd nearly had herself after finding initial frustration in Hollywood). Todd promised Kelly to help her out with her fiances, along with the help of her agent and for the next six months would be in charge of Patsy's money.

Of course their comedy series would then take off and Kelly and Todd would become the best of friends.

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I recorded these several years ago when they aired on TCM in a block in August. VERY entertaining-love them!

Someone had crafted a poster for the last Cinefest from that image with the caption, "Get off your cel phone or I'll pop ya!"

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I took it home, laminated it & have it at the box office for our Monday night movies. Everyone chuckles over it, but sadly phones still go off during the movie.

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50 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

I recorded these several years ago when they aired on TCM in a block in August. VERY entertaining-love them!

Someone had crafted a poster for the last Cinefest from that image with the caption, "Get off your cel phone or I'll pop ya!"

8707C679-4A3F-4ED2-9690-1B51E298FE32.jpeg

I took it home, laminated it & have it at the box office for our Monday night movies. Everyone chuckles over it, but sadly phones still go off during the movie.

I have a great affection for the Hal Roach comedy shorts of the early to mid 30s. Yes, the shorts can be (and are) hit and miss but, at their best, there's a good natured quality about them, a certain camaraderie you see in the casts, with some of the same familiar character faces appearing in various series, such as a Charlie Hall, for example. And I love the musical accompaniment many of these shorts have. Can the word "jolly" be applied to the up beat spirits that that music brings to them?

Fortunately a lot of the Roach comedy shorts have appeared on TCM, usually as filler between films. Unfortunately they rarely, if ever, make it into Canada, so I didn't see any of those day long tributes the channel had.

But I even enjoy some of the lesser Roach series, such as The Taxi Boys and The Boy Friends. But there were also the two Thelma Todd series, one with ZaSu Pitts, the other with Patsy Kelly, along with some really great work, at times, from Charlie Chase (with whom Todd was memorably paired on a number of occasions), and, of course, the legendary kings of the Roach Studios, Laurel and Hardy.

The 40 L & H shorts were included in a marvelous 10 disc release, Laurel and Hardy The Essential Collection, a few years ago, an absolute must (if you can afford it) for Stan and Ollie fans.

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Earlier this year a marvelous DVD release came out for Charlie Chase fans, with 18 of his comedy shorts from 1930 and 1931. Hopefully there will be more Chase collections in the future.

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Now, with this upcoming June release of the Todd and Kelly 21 shorts, fans of the Roach Studios comedy shorts will have the opportunity to celebrate once again.

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I would like to see these. The sophisticated Thelma Todd paired with the street wise Patsy Kelly made for a great team. I own a VHS copy of the Laurel and Hardy's "Sons Of The Desert" and they have the Todd/Kelly short "Top Flat" tacked on to it. It's a hilarious comedy with Todd working as a maid in penthouse apartment and pretending it is hers, Kelly shows up at the place with a pair of boorish boyfriends and cause havoc. I hope the other shorts are as good as this one. 

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23 hours ago, midnight08 said:

     That's great news however I wonder why they didn't include the Thelma Todd/Zasu Pitts shorts as well? This would have been the complete collection.

 

Yeah, I love Thelma but sometimes Patsy can drive me crazy. If I'd been Rosemary when Patsy kept trying to rock my devil baby way too fast at Ruth's apartment in the Dakota, I would have swatted Patsy with anything I could get my hands on. But I love Zasu so much so will wait for her shorts to be released too. Thanks for the info!

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1 hour ago, CaveGirl said:

Yeah, I love Thelma but sometimes Patsy can drive me crazy. If I'd been Rosemary when Patsy kept trying to rock my devil baby way too fast at Ruth's apartment in the Dakota, I would have swatted Patsy with anything I could get my hands on. But I love Zasu so much so will wait for her shorts to be released too. Thanks for the info!

I have to agree. Although I like Patsy Kelly sometimes she can get on my nerves. I prefer the Thelma Todd/Zasu Pitts shorts.

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1 hour ago, midnight08 said:

I have to agree. Although I like Patsy Kelly sometimes she can get on my nerves. I prefer the Thelma Todd/Zasu Pitts shorts.

Apparently Thelma Todd was a doll to know. She had a great reputation as someone easy to work with on the Roach sets (the only problem being that there had to be some re-takes because Thelma would start to break up with laughter). But she was plucky and, unlike some other actresses, ready to get involved in physical pratfall comedy. Todd made a point of not "going Hollywood" with her friends, and, after becoming a star, would occasionally visit her hometown (Lawrence, Massachusetts) and be accessible for many. There were no airs with Todd.

Todd was so generous as a person, constantly giving an expensive coat or dress of her's to someone who might express an admiration for them, that people on the Roach film set stopped telling her they liked her outfits.

Her favourite time of year was Christmas (her tragic and mysterious death occurring ten days prior to it in 1935). Some friends were still receiving gifts and cards in the mail days after the headlines had exploded about her death. Charlie Chase, who had hoped to be re-teamed on the screen with her one day, broke down in tears when he received his final Christmas card from her.

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21 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

I would like to see these. The sophisticated Thelma Todd paired with the street wise Patsy Kelly made for a great team. I own a VHS copy of the Laurel and Hardy's "Sons Of The Desert" and they have the Todd/Kelly short "Top Flat" tacked on to it. It's a hilarious comedy with Todd working as a maid in penthouse apartment and pretending it is hers, Kelly shows up at the place with a pair of boorish boyfriends and cause havoc. I hope the other shorts are as good as this one. 

I believe that Top Flat is regarded as one of the best of the Todd-Kelly shorts. It certainly is a funny one.

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Thank you TomJH for that story. I love Thelma Todd and this year I finally get to reflect/respect by visiting her final resting place in MA. I'll also be taking a trip to Elmira to revisit Mark Twain and respect to Hal Roach.

Zazu Pitts was my childhood nickname. I never knew there was a real person by that name until my 30's! Too quickly the talent contained in these past films are forgotten. So glad though that much is being preserved....in case there's ever interest.

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Thelma was wonderful in two MARX BROTHERS FILMS 'MONKEY BUSINESS and HORSE FEATHERS.  She held her own to Groucho Marx.  if anybody needs a link to see the films on line, i will secure it.

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By coincidence, TCM has scheduled several feature films with Patsy Kelly for this coming Tuesday afternoon, May 22.  The list includes (Eastern times):

    12:15p    musical    Going Hollywood (1933)
    1:45p    comedy    Kelly the Second (1936)
    3:15p    comedy    Nobody's Baby (1937)
    4:30p    comedy    Merrily We Live (1938)
    6:15p    comedy    There Goes My Heart (1938)

(Sylvia Sidney films are featured in the morning time slots.)

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

Thank you TomJH for that story. I love Thelma Todd and this year I finally get to reflect/respect by visiting her final resting place in MA. I'll also be taking a trip to Elmira to revisit Mark Twain and respect to Hal Roach.

Zazu Pitts was my childhood nickname. I never knew there was a real person by that name until my 30's! Too quickly the talent contained in these past films are forgotten. So glad though that much is being preserved....in case there's ever interest.

Ah, Tiki-Soo, it's great of you to pay homage to some of these people who have meant so much to us over the years, even these long decades or more (Mark Twain) since their passing.

Thelma was cremated and her mother kept her ashes with her until her death, December 18, 1969, 34 years almost to the day since her daughter's passing. I see in find-a-grave that Thelma resides in a cemetery in her hometown of Lawrence, Mass, which is where her mother returned following Thelma's death. Even when she was in Hollywood at the peak of her career (living with her mother in an apartment for part of that time), Todd always had desires to revisit family and friends in Lawrence, which she did do, on at least one occasion or more. She never forgot old relations.

 

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Maid in Hollywood (1933)

A lot of the time, it seems, the pre-code comedy of the shorts involved having an excuse for the audience to see lovely Thelma in her under garments.

Still works for me!

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Scheduled for release October 9th:

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I just finished viewing the 21 shorts of this DVD collection, and it was a pleasure to see the pre code antics of Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly together. Not every short is a gem (sometimes the girls really had to battle valiantly to make something work with the weak material they were given) but, for my money, about 13 or 14 of the shorts make the collection worthwhile.

Todd was a vivacious beauty who could really play comedy and Patsy, while a tad abrasive for my own liking at times, was still a comedy trouper with whom Todd had great chemistry. (They became good friends off screen).

They were usually cast as working class girls, sometimes looking for a job and on the verge of suffering eviction from their apartment. The story lines often found humour in their occupations, be it as nurses, airline stewardesses, waitresses or a couple of girls trying to break into show biz. Todd brought charm to the series while it was Kelly who frequently caused much of the mayhem for them. ("Wanna make something out of it?").

The series frequently had first class character support, too, with the likes of Arthur Housman (usually inebriated), Billy Gilbert, Don Barclay, Herman Bing and Fuzzy Knight, among others.

Among the highlights of the collection for me:

 

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Thelma and Patsy play a couple of department store workers who get locked out in the display window area overnight, trying to find a way to get some sleep. Arthur Housman adds to the fun as a drunk who stations himself outside the window and wants to see them put on a show.

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Thelma getting her first break as she tests for a role on a Hollywood film set, with Patsy causing the usual chaos. Billy Gilbert gets to a chance to demonstrate his sneezing shtick as he is asked by the director to show Thelma the correct way to do it.

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A particularly funny short, I thought. After Thelma and Patsy suffer a fender bender on the street they are swooped upon by an ambulance chasing lawyer who wants Patsy to fake a broken leg so they can fleece an insurance company. When a telephone repairman arrives, whom the girls mistake for the insurance company doctor, and he starts talking about drilling holes, Patsy's reaction isn't one of happiness.

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The penultimate short in the series and arguably the funniest. Thelma is working as a French maid in a ritzy apartment and puts on the dog for Patsy, convincing her she owns the place. When Patsy suddenly shows up with a couple of loud singing party boys (who, among other things, play practical jokes like dropping water filled bags on the heads of pedestrians on the streets below) chaos reigns. That chaos gets even worse when Thelma's bosses, the owners of the apartment, come home.

Top Flat, in particular, I found to be a real delight among the shorts in this collection.

The DVD has three bonus shorts I've yet to view. These are the ones Hal Roach made in an attempt to extend the series after Todd's tragic death, by pairing Patsy Kelly with two other film comediennes, Pert Kelton and Lyda Roberti. The public did not respond to these ventures, however, and the series died.

At least the 21 shorts that teamed Thelma and Patsy, though, have been preserved on DVD for all to see, all of the shorts, with the possible exception of one (One Horse Farmers, and even it's not too bad) with fine looking prints.

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Personally, I prefer Patsy Kelly's abrasiveness over Zazu Pitts' whimperyness. In that clip the guy says "Wait! You're hurt!" ....Patsy retorts "No HE'S gonna be hurt!"
I love the contrast with Thelma's sweetness.

I recorded Thelma Todd's entire SUTS day a few years ago. They only showed TOP FLAT. No BABES IN THE GOODS, no MAID IN HOLLYWOOD and no ILL BE SUING YOU. Guess I'll have to buy the set.

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

Personally, I prefer Patsy Kelly's abrasiveness over Zazu Pitts' whimperyness. In that clip the guy says "Wait! You're hurt!" ....Patsy retorts "No HE'S gonna be hurt!"
I love the contrast with Thelma's sweetness.

I recorded Thelma Todd's entire SUTS day a few years ago. If there's even ONE of those you mentioned missing from my recording, I'll just have to buy the set.

Even though, as I stated, Kelly's abrasiveness slightly rubs me the wrong way at times, I have to agree with you, Tiki, that her shorts with Thelma probably have a little more bite to them than those with ZaSu. Patsy's always ready to get into a fight at even the tiniest slight (except from Thelma).

I look forward to the release of the Todd-Pitts shorts (from Sprocket Vault, I believe) in October.

I have yet to hear if Sprocket Vault's wonderful Charlie Chase DVD release at the beginning of the year was commercially successful enough that they will put out more Chase shorts. Thelma, of course, appeared in some of the best Chase shorts in this year's DVD release, such as The Pip from Pittsburgh (was Thelma ever more charming or beautiful?) and Looser Than Loose.

Chase, by the way, even after Thelma's own two series with ZaSu and Patsy had begun, secretly had hopes that he would be reunited with Thelma on screen again. They had remarkable chemistry, I think, possibly even greater than that Thelma enjoyed with her two female co-stars.

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Their shorts are available?

How about a few of their SKIRTS?  ;)

 

Yeah, I'll have to consider getting ahold of some of them.

Sepiatone

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One of the 21 shorts in the series, Maid in Hollywood, has an unexpectedly oddly touching moment at the beginning.

The first scene has a melancholy Thelma staring out the window after she has failed to make it as an actress in Hollywood and is about to leave the town. Patsy is yammering away  in the background, as Todd says nothing, the hint of tears in her eyes. It's the only moment in the series which has a moment like this, with Thelma's character feeling blue. But my point is, brief as the sequence is, Todd is quite touching. Call it a brief dramatic moment, if you will, before the comedy starts, but Todd shows off, for the only time that Roach allowed her to do so in the series, some decent dramatic chops here.

Perhaps the real Todd could identity only too well with this moment. Thelma was dissatisfied with her own career, desiring to get away from the comedy shorts and have some success in feature films, even of a dramatic nature, if possible. It hadn't happened. She had also seen the heartless manner in which the film industry had chewed up and spat out others. That's why she agreed to team up with director (and former lover) Roland West in a restaurant to get some money coming in that had nothing to do with show biz in case her film career dried up.

This would become known as Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe, and, ironically, would be the scene of her death in a garage from carbon monoxide poisoning. The theories about her cause of death continue to this day, with many speculating she was murdered after refusing to allow gamblers to set up an illegal gambling den in the top floor of her cafe.

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