In 1919, when Earle W. Hammons founded Educational Pictures, the motion picture studio was dedicated to doing what was indicated in its title—making films for schools. This didn’t work out too well for E.W., so Educational switched to comedy…and enjoyed great success in the 1920s as a fun factory, with successful generators of mirth like Lloyd Hamilton and Lupino Lane working under its banner. By the 1930s, however, Educational’s fortunes had changed a bit as Leonard Maltin relates in Selected Short Subjects:
|Earle W. Hammons|
I should point out here that film historian/friend of the blog Richard M. Roberts is hard at work writing a reference tome on the history of Educational Pictures similar to his splendid compendium on the Hal Roach Studios, Smile Guaranteed: Past Humor, Present Laughter, and I strongly suspect he’ll have a (most welcomed) dissenting opinion (I know, for example, he disputes Mr. Maltin's "cheap" observation with regards to Buster Keaton's oeuvre at the studio) . For that matter, I’ve watched several of Harry Langdon’s Educational shorts and found some of them darned entertaining.
Lost Keaton), with funsters like Milton Berle, Imogene Coca, and Danny Kaye numbering among the newcomers. Maltin further observes: “There were also vaudevillians and stage comedians like Ernest Truex, Tom Howard & George Shelton, Buster West & Tom Patricola, Tim & Irene Ryan, and Joe Cook, who were not down on their luck, but whose stage success meant little in the movie world.”
|Charlotte Greenwood in Girls Will Be Boys|
|Publicity shot of Marjorie Beebe (and non-talking dog)|
|James Gleason, Harry Gribbon, and Mae Busch|
Blondes and Redheads: Pre-Code Comedy Classics, Volume 2—a follow-up to the first volume of Blondes and Redheads comedy shorts reviewed here on the blog in March of last year. I couldn’t get through the entire disc as this was going to press…but this release includes the debut comedy in the franchise, Flirting in the Park (1933), and a very funny outing directed by Sam White in Wig-Wag (1935). There’s just something about a guy (in this case, TDOY fave Grady Sutton) having to appear in drag that makes for great comedy (Some Like It Hot  taught us this); Sutton is dragooned into the female masquerade by his pal Jack Mulhall, who’s scheming to make his fiancée jealous (not knowing of course, that the bride-to-be—played by Dorothy Granger—is already wise to the gag). The icing on the cake in Wig-Wag is that it features plum roles for back-to-back Best Supporting Actress Oscar winners: Hattie McDaniel plays the family maid (and does a nifty fall into a wedding cake—though it may have been a stuntwoman) and Jane Darwell is Mulhall’s mother, who at one point takes a tumble down a flight of stairs (again—work for a double) while carrying a tiny dog in her arms. (Bud Jamison is in this short, too, as a butler—the bewildered look Bud gives Grady as Sutton keeps pulling “springs” out of his corset is gold, Jerry.)