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The Red Skelton TCM Tribute


lknowlen
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Skelton was the most godawful excuse for an actor, comedian or movie star who ever managed to finagle his way into employment in the entertainment industry. Terminally unfunny to the point of being offensive.

 

All in all, the most talentless individual in the history of Hollywood, and that even includes Chevy Chase.

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> {quote:title=Hudson_Hawk wrote:}{quote}

> Skelton was the most godawful excuse for an actor, comedian or movie star who ever managed to finagle his way into employment in the entertainment industry. Terminally unfunny to the point of being offensive.

 

Wow, pretty strong wording there, Bub.

I don't care for Skelton either and could barely watch even 20 minutes of him during my lunch break yesterday. Not everyone feels the same as we do, though.

 

Red seems to appeal to kids and I like the fact there are major studio films that feature adult actors that kids enjoy. The other prime examples are Danny Kaye and Abbot & Costello. Those are truly "essentials" for juniors; grown up films for kids.

 

There seem to be very few of these "kid appeal" films that I still enjoy as an adult. Bob Hope (the Road & Paleface pix) and Jack Benny (Horn Blows@Midnight) films are definitely exceptions.

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I don't particularly care for Skelton or Hope, either. But to be fully honest, I find them much less grating than some of the "method" actors, like Marlon Brando.

 

*Sayonara*, for example, is a beautiful, tragic love story between Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki, which is nearly ruined because they put Brando in the lead and gave him the main plot.

 

Now, I'm sure there are some people out there who are horrified by my saying such negative things about Brando. But, it's a case of different strokes for different folks. I'm sure there are other fans who think I'm weird for enjoying the zippy comedies of Glenda Farrell, or looking out for Grant Mitchell in every movie made in the 1930s.

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My ability to appreciate Red Skelton was ruined early. My mother watched his CBS show and I would cringe during his monologues. He kept interrupting his jokes with "You're gonna love this" or else he would wreck the punchline by laughing through it and after it.

 

I'd sooner floss with barbed wire than watch his "solo" films. I can take him in THREE LITTLE WORDS or as a sidekick, but otherwise I find him torturous.

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Sayonara, for example, is a beautiful, tragic love story between Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki, which is nearly ruined because they put Brando in the lead and gave him the main plot.

 

Careful Fedya. You don't want to get your Buttons mixed up with your Skeltons. "And may Gawd bless!"

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> {quote:title=MGMMayer wrote:}{quote}

> I beg to differ, Hudson....Can Chevy Chase stick his thumbs in his armpits, cross his eyes and imitate seagulls?

 

Tarzan's Cheetah could do that too, more winningly, and for a lot less money.

 

 

> {quote:title=Fedya wrote:}{quote}

> I don't particularly care for Skelton or Hope, either. But to be fully honest, I find them much less grating than some of the "method" actors, like Marlon Brando.

 

Hope was brilliant in many of his early films, and the "Road" pictures with Bing Crosby. It's much later, when he became a revered American Insitution and relied on bad writers and material that was simultaneously (and somewhat paradoxically) too topical, and too safe, that he became embarassing.

 

Brando was never a Method Actor; that's a common misconception. He never internalized roles the way Method-trained actors are taught. Brando was a disciple -- the most famous disciple -- of Stella Adler, who loathed the Method and its chief proponent in America, Lee Strasberg. What Adler taught, and Brando did, is inject a level detail into an actor's observations of human behavior, and a degree of texture into performance that had not hitherto been seen on screen, though other actors during the 1940s, such as John Garfield, Kirk Douglas and Montgomery Clift "bridged" the divide (and evolution) between the old, excessively emotive, "actorly" Hollywood style and the Adler-Brando approach.

 

 

> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> I don't think anyone ever claimed that Skelton's audience was composed of cineastes (spelling?) and film scholars.

 

You spelled "cineaste" exactly right.

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Clore brought up an interesting point about Skelton. For most of his MGM career, his film appearances alternated between being the star of his own comedies (usually in black-and-white) and being the supporting comedy relief or sidekick in the studio's larger-budgeted Technicolor musicals (starring people like Esther Williams, Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, etc.)....and many times I find him easier to take in those supporting roles than the starring ones.

 

No matter how grating Skelton may be, I still find him easier to take than Danny Kaye!

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I didn't like the entire day, but the 3 "Whistling in..." films were great, as was THE FULLER BRUSH MAN, THE YELLOW CAB MAN (with the great James Gleason and Edward Arnold in support), and A SOUTHERN YANKEE. I didn't get to watch most of the others, but these were all worth watching and mostly pretty darn funny.

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I can understand how some might want Red Skelton only in small doses. After all, no one is going to please everyone. And I guess his brand of humor could best be appreciated in bits and pieces. Two of his MGM movies that offered a different side of Skelton would be 'Three Little Words" and "The Clown." In the first movie, he gets to play a songwriter and even gets involved in a couple of the musical numbers. He plays a real character and does not have to rely on his clowning around to get attention. In the second, which is a remake of "The Champ", he offers a very serious side. It's the same story as the original, except that they are using a show business background instead of boxing. He's really very good in this movie.

 

Terrence.

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"A Southern Yankee" brings up a point that should be mentioned.....

 

Buster Keaton worked as a behind-the-scenes gag man on that film (giving Red some choice Civil War gags from his own "The General"), as well as on some other Skelton features. Keaton usually supplied these gags and suggestions with no on-screen credit (Keaton's choice).

 

Keaton was a big admirer of Skelton....particularly because like Keaton, Skelton was a comedian who wasn't afraid to bang himself up and get hurt in order to get a laugh.

 

Keaton was never one to mince words and sugar-coat things (especially in his later years), and in later-day interviews he would often criticize other comedians (including The Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello, who Keaton also supplied gags for). Keaton would say that these comedians were talented, but "undisciplined" and next-to-impossible to work with....but he always had high praise for Red.

 

In the 1950's Keaton was the surprised guest of honor on Ralph Edwards' "This Is Your Life" TV show, and Skelton was one of the people who came out to surprise Keaton. I've seen a kinescope of this telecast, and when the two men were onstage together, Buster's fondness and respect for Red was very evident.

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> {quote:title=musicalnovelty wrote:}{quote}

> Well put, Mr. Mayer.

> Let's have a little more respect for Red around here.

 

Agree 100%.

MGM thanks for the backstory there.

I quite enjoyed most of the day. The sappy musicals not so much (not a fan of musicals generally after 1935 or so), but the pure comedies were mostly very good.

I remember growing up to Red's show on TV, loved those old variety shows.

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