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Red Skelton


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200px-red_skelton_1960-1.jpg

 

Tonight, it's a mini-marathon of Red Skelton movies on TCM. Don't you love it!

 

*WHISTLING IN THE DARK (1941)*

The first of three comedy films starring Red as a writer/actor of radio murder mysteries. Ann Rutherford plays his girlfriend in all three motion pictures.

 

*THE SHOW-OFF (1946)*

A remake of an earlier MGM film with the same name starring Spencer Tracy. Red plays a loudmouth and braggart who pretends to be more than the lowly clerk he is. His wife is portrayed by Marilyn Maxwell and his disapproving mother-in-law is Marjorie Main.

 

*A SOUTHERN YANKEE (1948)*

A slight remake of Buster Keaton's silent classic THE GENERAL. In fact, Keaton served as a technical advisor on this picture, which sometimes goes by the title THE SPY. Red is cast as a Union soldier who spies for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

 

*EXCUSE MY DUST (1951)*

This is a period piece set in 1895 with Sally Forrest and Macdonald Carey. Red is an amateur inventor who turns his Indiana town upside down with his new horseless carriage.

 

*THE CLOWN (1953)*

A reworking of THE CHAMP which had earned Wallace Beery an Oscar in 1931. MGM had already remade it as THE MIGHTY MCGURK in 1947, again with Beery but with the young son played by Dean Stockwell. This time, it's Tim Considine's turn.

 

*MERTON OF THE MOVIES (1947)*

Red plays an aspiring movie actor. When movie execs see how funny his overacting is, they tell him he's acting in a drama, but cast him in a comedy. The story had already been made twice by Paramount before MGM bought it-- as a silent picture in 1924 with Glenn Hunter, then again in 1932 with Stuart Erwin. The Hunter film is lost but the Erwin film, which is called MAKE ME A STAR and costars Joan Blondell, will be broadcast on TCM immediately after Red's version.

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In a fit of insomnia, I wound up watching "The Clown" this morning. I hadn't seen it in years. I joked to my wife about wondering if the director told TIM CONSIDINE that HIS dog died, too.

 

Earlier, I caught the last half hour of WHISTLING IN THE DARK, and wondered how many kids back then got into trouble for tearing apart their home radios trying to turn it into a phone like Red did!

 

I'm surprised that, so far, I haven't read any of the dismissive and derogatory remarks about Skelton that were prevalent in an earlier post about him...

 

Sepiatone

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>I'm surprised that, so far, I haven't read any of the dismissive and derogatory remarks about Skelton that were prevalent in an earlier post about him...

 

Wow! I didn't know Red ever had botched plastic surgery TOO, Sepia!!! ;)

 

LOL

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Sepiatone, it seems like people have a wide range of opinion of guys like Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, and Jerry Lewis. I personally can't understand why some have such a negative attitude, if you don't particularly like the guy, fine, just leave it at that. They were products of their time and there's no denying that they were very popular. For me some of the things that I found very funny as a kid haven't carried over so well as an adult but that's normal for many of us. Still I like to just sit back at times and be a kid again and enjoy a guy like Red. I'm sure may others do too. And young people of today can maybe appreciate how talented these guys were and how some of that (not enough I'm afraid) has influenced the comics of today.

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Well I prefer that when someone has a negative attitude towards an actor, actress, director, etc... they don't "just leave it at that", but instead take the time to explain why. (even in a thread devoted to said person).

 

This forum will get very boring if people feel that only cheerleading is cool.

 

To me being harsh and negative is just as "cool" when one can back up their POV.

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Well I prefer that when someone has a negative attitude towards an actor, actress, director, etc... they don't "just leave it at that", but instead take the time to explain why. (even in a thread devoted to said person).

 

This forum will get very boring if people feel that only cheerleading is cool.

 

To me being harsh and negative is just as "cool" when one can back up their POV.

 

I've only seen a few of Skelton's movies, but a few was more than enough. The last one, only two weeks ago, was "Whistling In Brooklyn", which seems fairly representative of his style of comedy.

 

And while I'm sure he was popular and all that, IMO that whole style of comedy (Skelton and Hope) wears thin after the first few scenes. It's tough to walk a line between a romantic aspirant and complete buffoon, but I don't think he pulls it off all that well.

 

And beyond that, there's just too much of the "ten impossible things to believe before breakfast" schtick, most notably with Skelton doing his Max Patkin imitation before a curiously credulous crowd at Ebbets Field. Personally I'll take Grant / Hepburn or Belushi / Ackroyd or Jean Harlow or Fernandel any day.

 

But that said, it's all just a matter of taste, especially in comedy, and I'm certainly not recommending that TCM hold back on any birthday tribute or even another SUTS day somewhere in the future.

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While I like Skelton's overall comic persona I have a similar feeling with regards to his movies. e.g. gags are repeated too often and run too long. But this is often the nature of movies built around a single comic.

 

e.g. Marx Brothers movies have 3 very different comics and multiple combinations of the 3. As much as I like the antics of all 3 a movie that was based on only the antics of one of them would get old fairly quickly.

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While I can agree with that to a degree, James, I'd prefer it if the negative comments were only more personal. For example, just say something like, "I never thought Skelton was funny. His style was too silly and insipid for my taste." instead of something like, "Red Skelton was the unfunniest man alive. I never understood how anybody with a BRAIN could find that bufoon to be any way entertaining."

 

Comments like that usually start heated replies and posts that deteriorate a thread into attacks on each members character, and get quickly erased. It's bad enough this message board is beginning to make me feel the need to participate while drinking a glass of "Victory" gin.

 

Oh, and by the way...How many of you, when you were real little kids( like I did) ever call him Red SKELETON?

 

Sepiatone

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>How many of you, when you were real little kids( like I did) ever call him Red SKELETON?

 

My sisters and I didn't. We lived next door to a family with the name Skelton. I don't think it ever crossed our minds to add an extra 'e' in our pronunciation-- not even in fun. It was like people with the last name 'Raines'-- we never associated it with weather or anything funny. It was just the name of a family.

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As an aside, at a Halloween party back in the early '80's, a friend of mine showed up in one of those "skeleton" suits with the bones colored red.

 

I walked up to him and said, "DON'T tell me..." and he quickly replied, "Yep. RED SKELETON!" HE knew the name was really Skelton, it was just HIS droll sense of humor.

 

Sepiatone

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I agree with you that negative comments should follow the style represented in the former example you provided instead of the latter.

 

As for Skelton; Our family just called him Red. My dad was a big fan of his T.V. Show and I remember him yelling at us kids 'hey, Red is on'.

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