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Pete Smith Specialties

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Does anyone know if these are available on DVD or if there are plans to produce them?


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The problem is that there are so many of them. Plus a great many not shown on TCM, such as his annual "Football Thrills" sub-series. No clue why, except perhaps TCM thinks they are too "of their time" and nobody viewing would recognize the athletes featured?

All Smithies available now are extras with DVD feature films and I am sure you can count barely 20 as of now.

I also would like to see the Historical Mysteries and Passing Parade shorts that MGM put out in the thirties and forties with Carey Wilson and John Nesbitt narrating. Now that was a smaller series that could be released all at once, but how many other than us shorties geeks ever heard of them aside from their periodical TCM airings?

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Your wish has come true. Took three years, but we are getting there. 😊



Disc 1

Killer-Dog (directed by Jacques Tourneur) / Aug 29, 1936 Doggie drama featuring Ralph Byrd, Sally Martin, Babs Nelson and Betty Ross Clarke

Wanted: A Master (Guther Von Fritsch) / Dec 26, 1936 (Academy Award Nominee) A pooch tries to find one before the dog catcher gets him. Try the bar!

Bar-Rac's Night Out (Earl Frank) Feb 27, 1937 Antics of a raccoon

Penny Wisdom (David Miller) / Apr 10, 1937 (Academy Award Winner, Color) Technicolor cooking reel. Gertrude Short plays Mrs. Smudge who needs Prudence Penny, newspaper columnist decked in her expensive furs, to rescue her and her pet spaniel in the kitchen. Result: a high calorie din-din complete with sausage overkill (eww!) and baked ice-cream (yum!)

The Grand Bounce (Jacques Tourneur) / May 22, 1937 Harry (Del Henderson) writes a check to cover a gambling debt but discovers the banks are closed. J. Carrol Nash has a bit role as a thug. Also included are Barbara Bedford, Margaret Bert and John Kelly.

Equestrian Acrobatics (Equestrian Acrobats) (David Miller) / Aug 14, 1937 Features the Cristiani Family and their horse oriented acrobatics

Decathlon Champion (Felix Feist) / Nov 20, 1937 Features Glenn Morris in training

Candid Cameramaniacs (Hal Yates) / Dec 11, 1937 A short history of photography followed by a spoofy view of modern day camera "bugs".

Three On A Rope (Willard Vander Veer) / Feb 19, 1938 Mountaineers climb Mt. Baldy

Penny's Party (David Miller) / Apr 9, 1938 Prudence Penny and Gwen Lee give more cooking tips in Technicolor

Anesthesia (Will Jason) / Jul 9, 1938 History of anesthesia since ancient Egypt

Fisticuffs (David Miller) / Aug 27, 1938 Initially released in sepiatone (tinted black & white although most present reissued prints are likely black & white), features champion Max Baer in the ring

Football Thrills Of 1937 (Pete Smith) / Sep 10, 1938 Collage of the best moments of the past football season, covering Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Fordham, Cornell and Texas Christian, Northwestern, Purdue, U.S. Navy and University of Southern California

Grid Rules (Edward Cahn) / Oct 15, 1938 (Initially sepiatone) Covers the rules of football

Hot On Ice (Willard VanderVeer) / Oct 22, 1938 (Initially sepiatone) Features ice hockey at Loyola University

Man's Greatest Friend (Joe Newman) / Nov 19, 1938 (Initially sepiatone) Shows dogs in scientific research

Penny's Picnic (Will Jason) / Dec 17, 1938 Prudence Penny offers picnic ideas in glorious Technicolor

Double Diving (Felix Feist) / Jan 14, 1939 (Initially sepiatone) Covers championship diving

Disc 2

Heroes At Leisure (Charles Trego) / Feb 1, 1939 What lifeguards do off-season, hunting lobsters and fleeing sharks.

Marine Circus (James A. FitzPatrick) / Mar 11, 1939 Technicolor tour of Florida's Marine Studios aquarium. This was possibly intended for the Traveltalk series, being filmed in late 1938 concurrent to Quaint St. Augustine and the 1941 released Glimpses Of Florida.

Weather Wizards (Fred Zinnemann) / Apr 8, 1939 A tribute to meteorologists and how they aid a citrus farm

Radio Hams (Felix Feist) / May 20, 1939 Shows how amateur enthusiasts aid aircraft using morse code

Poetry Of Nature (Mervyn Freeman) / Jun 17, 1939 The California's Redwood forests (in sepiatone initially) spotlighting Mr. Crow, with support by gray foxes, black bears, hawks and other critters

Culinary Carving (Felix Feist) / Jul 1, 1939 Sally Payne offers cooking techniques

Take A Cue (Felix Feist) / Aug 12, 1939 (Initially sepiatone) Charles Peterson gives tips on billiards

Football Thrills Of 1938 / Sep 16, 1939 (initially sepiatone) Includes Carnegie Tech defeating Pittsburgh and the U.S. Army vs. Columbia

Set 'Em Up (Felix Feist) / Oct 7, 1939 (Initially sepiatone) Andy Varipapa and Ned Day give bowling lessons

Maintain The Right (Joe Newman) / Jan 13, 1940 Features the Canadian Mounted Police

Stuffie (Fred Zinnemann) / Mar 2, 1940 (initially sepiatone)  A tale of a heroic dog.

The Domineering Male (John Hines) / Mar 30, 1940 The first of several comedies covering gender differences 1940s style. Does the man chase the woman or is it the other way around?

Spots Before You Eyes (John Hines) / May 4, 1940 Features a demonstration by Ernest Jones, who rescues a household with two rambunctious boys spilling ink everywhere

What's Your 'I.Q.'? Number Two (George Sidney) / Jun 8, 1940 (Initially sepiatone) Questions and answers on various subjects from Lady Godiva to the Panama Canal.

Social Sea Lions (John Hines) / Jul 20, 1940 (Initially sepiatone) Three California sea lions are let loose in a beach house, disrupting a party.

Please Answer (What's Your I.Q. - No. 3) (Roy Rowland) / Aug 24, 1940 Much like the previous “What's Your IQ?”, covering topics like Portuguese man-of-war and the Rosetta Stone

Football Thrills Of 1939 / Sep 21, 1940 (initially sepiatone)

Quicker Than A Wink (Quicker 'N A Wink) (George Sidney) / Oct 12, 1940 (Academy Award Winner, One Reel) Features slow motion photography with Harold E. Edgerton, who was still surprising movie goers and TV viewers with his stroboscopic effects decades later (see also National Geographic special of 1979 The Invisible World.)

Disc 3

Penny To The Rescue (Will Jason) / Jan 25, 1941 One more Technicolor cooking reel with Prudence Penny

Aeronutics (Francis Corby & S.B. Harrison) / Apr 26, 1941 (initially sepiatone) Learning to fly with student pilots.

Cuban Rhythm (Will Jason) / Jun 14, 1941 (initially sepiatone) Comic dancing lessons.

Water Bugs (Will Jason) / Aug 16, 1941 This membership practice their water skiing and paddle boating in local California lakes.

Football Thrills Of 1940 / Sep 20, 1941 (initially sepiatone)

Flicker Memories (George Sidney) / Oct 4, 1941 (initially sepiatone) Nickelodeon short compilation.

Army Champions (Paul Vogel) / Oct 11, 1941 (Academy Award Nominee) (initially sepiatone) One of many military preparedness shorts released before Pearl Harbor, showing how sports team work can work equally well with the U.S. Army.

Fancy Answers (What's Your I.Q. - No. 5) (Basil Wrangell) / Nov 1, 1941 (Initially sepiatone) Topics include the US flag and zebras. Ava Gardner has a peekaboo scene in a dramatization scenario as a girl at a recital.

Aqua Antics (Louis Lewyn) / Jan 24, 1942 (initially sepiatone) Features the California Water Bugs Club and their ski demonstrations.

Football Thrills Of 1941 / Sep 26, 1942 (initially sepiatone) Amusingly this was shown at the University of Southern California first, despite footage of them losing last season to Notre Game 20-18.

Marines In The Making (Herbert Polesie) / Dec 26, 1942 (Academy Award nominee) Pete's oh-gosh commentary making all of that hand-to-hand combat Japanese style seem less serious than it is.

First Aid (Will Jason & Dave O'Brien) / Jan 2, 1943 Among O'Brien's early entries (his first being What About Daddy?), this was made in cooperation with the Beverly Hills First Aid Unit of the American Red Cross Disaster Service.

Hollywood Daredevils (Louis Lewyn) / Mar 20, 1943 Covers movie stunts with cars and planes.

Fala, The President's Dog (Gunther V. Fritsch) / Apr 17, 1943 Based on a popular book published the previous year on FDR's White House Scottie (which I have a worn out copy on a book shelf with other vintage children's books through the decades).

Seeing Hands (Robert Wilmont) / Jul 3, 1943 (Academy Award nominee) Features Ben Helwig who was blinded in his youth but is still a multi-talented defense plant worker.

Football Thrills Of 1942 / Sep 25, 1943 Interesting look at the sport in the year following Pearl Harbor with the athletes mostly in uniform.

Water Wisdom / Nov 27, 1943 American Red Cross instructional on proper swimming

Sportsman's Memories / Apr 22, 1944 Features footage culled from films made a decade earlier: Flying Hunters & Roping Wild Bears. Not exactly animal friendly like most of the Pete shorts.

Disc 4

Groovie Movie (Will Jason) / Feb 19, 1944 Arthur Walch demonstrates the jitterbug

Football Thrills Of 1943 / Sep 23, 1944 Apparently BoxOffice magazine rated this among the weakest of the football series, probably because the war had depleted much of the stadium excitement.

Hollywood Scout (Philip Anderson & Joe Ansen) / Apr 14, 1945 One of Pete's assistants, Celia Travers, auditions animal acts for the series and we see some footage culled from earlier shorts.

Football Thrills Of 1944 / Sep 8, 1945 The reduced wartime games featured West Point & U.S. Navy. Notre Dame's Frank Leahy coaches for Great Lakes Naval Training.

Fala At Hyde Park (Gunther V. Fritsch) / Dec 26, 1945 This is the second of a pair of shorts profiling the now former White House dog star, shown back in New York following the death of the president. The first Fala film was in black and white, this one in Technicolor.

Gettin' Glamour (Philip Anderson) / Feb 2, 1946 Troubles of the average woman and her makeup. A "case study" with two ladies (one more successful than the other): Sally (Jacquelne White) and Gussie (Gertrude Short).

Studio Visit (Dave O'Brien) / May 11, 1946 Apart from Dave bumbling on an MGM set, most of this is a "stock-short” with recycled acrobatic kiddies (a.k.a. Helen Sue Goldy) and doggies culled from earlier Smithies, along the famous bubble bath extract with Lena Horne in Cabin In The Sky (shot in 1942 and scrapped as too provocative, although '46 audiences were likely less bothered)

Equestrian Quiz (I.Q. No. 11) (Dave O'Brien) / May 18, 1946 All about horses.

Treasures From Trash (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Jun 8, 1946 Features an unusual Patio Shop in Beverly Hills owned by film director veteran Harry Lachman

Football Thrills No. 9 / Aug 29, 1946 The first season after the war.

I Love My Husband But! (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Dec 7, 1946 Funnyman Dave O'Brien becomes the all out slob that harassed woman no longer working at Lockheed and stuck as "house wife” must contend with. Dorothy Short and Veda Ann Borg play two ladies here; Dorothy played Dave's wife in many of these as well as in real life (until the series ended and they divorced for real).

Athetiquiz (I.Q. No. 12) / Jan 11, 1947 Sports test

Diamond Demon (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Feb 1, 1947 Features Johnny Price, both minor league pitcher and trick artist

Early Sports Quiz (I.Q. No. 13) (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Mar 1, 1947 Quiz reel with ten second time for answers

Football Thrills No. 10 / Sep 6, 1947 Focuses on the intercollegiate grid contests of the past year

Surfboard Rhythm (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Oct 18, 1947 In Technicolor. With a bevy of bathing beauties

Have You Ever Wondered? (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Dec 13, 1947 Are women drivers worse than men? How much money does the average gumball machine collect in a month?

Now You See It (Richard Cassell) / Dec 20, 1947 (Academy Award nominee) Technicolor close-up shots of various critters and things: a wristwatch, a cat's tongue and... eew... a mosquito having her fill of human blood.

Let's Cogitate (Dave O'Brien, billed as David Barclay) / Dec 25, 1948 "Have You Ever Wondered?" short covering why a boomerang returns and how many miles an elevator boy travels each day.

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Eventually got this one and, of course, my list above... which was all speculation... was totally wrong. The corrected list of titles... just fixed it  above... span the years 1936 through 1948 (instead of 1941). The format is similar to the Traveltalks discs. Instead of doing every title chronologically in a prescribed time period, there is a cross selection from a longer time period with the expectation that the missed ones will be part of volume 2. I will soon add information to the MGM shorties thread.

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