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About Larynxa

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    Toronto, Canada
  1. Here's something else that wouldn't work in colour. The 1960s TV show "The Addams Family". Here's how the set looked on black & white TV, and in real-life. Terrifying!
  2. Costello's panicked howl of "Hey, A-bbo-ott!" inspired Rita Moreno's "Hey, you gu-uys!" catchphrase on the original 1970s version of "The Electric Company". She ad-libbed it during a sketch in which her "Millie the Helper" character (named after "Millie Helper", the nosy neighbour on "Bewitched") was learning to be a milkman. The catchphrase instantly caught on, and was soon used to open every episode. Even today. people who grew up watching the show will greet Rita by bellowimg her catchphrase. Something else about Lou Costello: In Laurel & Hardy's "Battle of the Century", a very young Lou Costello is an uncredited extra, in the front row of the crowd, in the boxing match scene. He's quite noticeable, if you look for him.
  3. While watching "Nosferatu" on TCM, I've just stumbled on a 1923 German surrealist/Dada slapstick short, written by Berthold Brecht, and with Max Schreck ("Nosferatu") in the cast! The film was just a fun way for Brecht and his friends to kill some time before starting work on their next feature, and was never released. It was soon lost and forgotten...until it was discoveted in an archive in Moscow, in the 1970s. It's now considered a very important film in the development of German cinema. According to one of the cast, Brecht didn't write a complete script, just "notes" and "parts of a manuscript" and intended the actors to improvise the action. This is the standard scripting method for silent slapstick. Here's "Mysterien eines Frisiersalons" ("Mysteries of a Barbershop") https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XxLd3MR7-WQ
  4. I must say it was quite a thrill to be able to use my illegitimate knowledge of slapstick history in legitimate ways---not least, as part of the one and only Fan Panel. We really must do more of them, because knowledge (if you'll pardon the expression) is like manure. It's useless unless you spread it around. I found it very intellectually stimulating to learn from Dr. Edwards and from my fellow students, who find discovering new information as exciting as I do. I'd love to see an online course focussed entirely on slapstick shorts, one on silent slapstick shorts, and another on just the Hal Roach Studios and/or Laurel & Hardy. Due to international rights issues preventing films from being aired on TCM outside the USA, it would be very helpful to have a private YouTube playlist of the films to be studied, accessible only by registered students. If we did a course on Laurel & Hardy, I could upload some of the super-rare international versions of their films. That would be really exciting!
  5. Chuck McCann recently published his memoirs of working in kids' TV in the days when it was all done live, on a shoestring budget so tight that it forced people to be not only creative but downright ingenious. The book is "Chuck McCann's Let's Have Fun! Scrapbook". It's a wonderful record of his shows, and it comes with a bonus DVD of remastered footage that survives only because Chuck had the foresight to take the master tapes of his best bits to Reeves Teletape (where "Sesame Street" and the original "The Electric Company" were made) to have them copied onto film. Unfortunately, all of the original tapes of the thousands of hours of Chuck's shows were wiped and re-used. This was a common practice at TV stations around the world, because, at that time, videotape was extremely expensive, and nobody imagined anyone would be interested in these one-offs and "mundane" day-to-day shows, let alone have the interest (or the apparatus) to buy them to watch at home. Standard broadcast contracts either didn't even consider rebroadcasts, or were only good for rebroadcasts for 5 years after the original airing. This is why the voice artists of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" haven't gotten a penny since 1969, and nothing at all for any of the merchandise and home videos. Hermey (Paul Soles) lives across the street from me, and Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards) used to, and it's a sore point with them. __________ Billy Barty was a little person, who had a long career in Hollywood, dating all the way back to his childhood, when he often played babies and children. He was the mischievous little toddler who spies on the showering beauties in the "Pettin' in the Park" number in "Gold Diggers of 1933". He later performed with musical comedy band Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and stole the show with his imitation of Liberace (with Sir Fredric Gas as Liberace's brother, George) performing "I'm In the Mood For Love", with a candelabrum with a mind of its own. https://vimeo.com/68487415
  6. Vincent Price was not only a master of horror, but a very funny man. Have you seen him in this cult-classic TV series from 1971? They shot all of his segments in three very long days, and he contributed hugely to getting the show's mix of slapstick and creepiness just right. And he was not only a legend but a real mensch. When he first arrived on-set, he personally introduced himself to each cast and crew member, and said what a pleasure it was to be working with them. They were still very much in awe of this great man. After one very long intense day of shooting, he suddenly left the set, and drove away. Everyone thought, "Uh-oh. We've offended him somehow." Twenty minutes later, he returned with beer for everyone, and they all sat around, sharing stories. Then, he posed for a photo with each person. He quickly had the photos developed and enlarged into 8×10s, which he then personally inscribed and autographed for each person.
  7. The Goodies did a much better parody of a "revolution" film (and a kung fu film, and a "northern England" film) in this episode of their eponymous 1970s BBC series. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HSwNHJHftAA
  8. Ben Model is another top film accompanist & historian. http://www.silentfilmmusic.com/ He's the one who taught me about the selective use of under- and over-cranking to enhance onscreen movement.
  9. For most of my life, laughter has been both a shield and a sword. A few days ago, I went into the hospial for some rather extensive oral surgery that I didn't want to be awake for. Before they knocked me out, and after they woke me up, I was cracking jokes. And when I got home, I immersed myself in episodes of a slapstick horror-spoof kids' show I've loved since I was a kid: "Hilarious House of Frightenstein". I appreciated it more now than when I was a kid, partly because of this course, and partly because, a week earlier, I met the show's only surviving cast member, and was interviewed for a documentary he's making about the show. Working title: "And Vincent Price Said Yes"!
  10. I was an "SCTV" trekkie, so I saw "Strange Brew" about 20 times when it first came out. even have the beer-bottle-shaped tie-in book. Fun Fact 1: In Ontario, Canada, where the movie was made, we can only buy beer from government-run beer stores. When the movie was made, these stores were called "Brewers' Retail" outlets. Fearing a rash of copycats, Brewers' Retail refused permission to film the "mouse in a bottle" scene in any of its stores. This forced the production to build a replica Brewers' Retail in an empty storefront, and call it "The Beer Store". A few years after the movie, Brewers' Retail renamed itself "The Beer Store". Fun Fact 2: Elsinore Castle was actually Casa Loma, in Toronto, Canada. Casa Loma has been used in many TV shows and movies, including "SCTV" (as Guy Caballero's mansion) and "Chicago" (The Study was used as Billy Flynn's office.) Fun Fact 3: Paul Dooley (Claude Elsinore) was the original head writer on the original 1970s version of "The Electric Company", which used plenty of slapstick to teach kids to read. The show's gorilla character was named "Paul", after Dooley. Fun Fact 4: I met Lynne Griffin (Pam Elsinore), last year, when she was in a play at the theatre where I work. She's a delightful lady and a wonderful character actress---so different from the fragile ingenue who was Pam Elsinore.
  11. In real life, Leslie Nielsen was an extremely funny person. He and Robert Goulet were both Canadian actors, who got typecast as dashing dramatic heroes, because of their good looks and gorgeous baritone voices. But the two of them were mischeivous best buddies, who loved playing pranks using little hand-operated flatulence-noisemakers. After Nielsen became a comedy star, he often said that, in the past, he'd been a comedian pretending to be a dramatic actor, but now he could finally be himself.
  12. Fun Facts: In the running gag in "Young Frankenstein", Mel Brooks claimed that the horses are terrified of Frau Blucher because "blucher" is German for "glue". But Brooks was wrong. "Blucher" is just a German surname. Still, Frau Blucher is pretty terrifying on her own. When the bookcase spins around, the first couple of times, the film was undercranked to make the movement appear much faster. A deleted scene reveals how Inspector Kemp lost his arm. It was ripped out of its socket by the fiendish monster that Frederick's grandfather created. Teri Garr's mother was one of the film's Wardrobe Mistresses. Danny Goldman (the annoying know-it-all student) later used a more exaggerated version of this character, as the voice of Brainy Smurf in the Hanna-Barbera series. The smiling portrait of Viktor von Frankenstein made a cameo appearance on the episode of "Garry Shandling's Show" on which Gilda Radner (Gene Wilder's then-wife) guest-starred. On the Hallowe'en episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" in which Ray's dad (Peter Boyle) mistakenly gives out flavoured prophylactics instead of Hallowe'en candy, Boyle's character is dressed up as Frankenstein's Monster, in a nod to Boyle's role in "Young Frankenstein".
  13. Would it have been as effective in colour? No way! Black and white adds an other-worldly, nostalgic feel. And the various levels of contrast are far more dramatic---and eerier---than colour would have been. See for yourself. There are plenty of stills that were shot in colour. BTW, I found 3 deleted scenes: https://archive.org/details/YoungFrankensteinCutScenes
  14. The first time I saw this movie was on a late-night show on WGRZ (Buffalo). Even though it was after midnight, they ran the PG version, with the dirty words censored out and replaced by words frankensteined together from other scenes in the movie. Not only was it blindingly obvious from the fact that each word had a different intonation, but the end result was ludicrous in the extreme. Especially when Mr. Hilltop gets kneed, and Frederick says, "Why you filthy rotten / crude / yellow / cuckoo." But the censored version of "Blazing Saddles" was even funnier. The famous "campfire" scene was rendered even funnier---and filthier---by the removal of the sound effects!
  15. I love how the desk exercise bike that Fielding Mellish demonstrates was 45 years ahead of its time. Today, a simplified version (minus the track and weights) is in use in offices and schools, to help people concentrate.
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