Monday, April 25, 2016

Edgar Kennedy Day

TCM is marking the birthday of actor Edgar Kennedy tomorrow, with a day of his films. Kennedy was a character actor so he didn't really get to be the star of features. But, he was famed for his "slow burn" of exasperation at the antics of the star around him. In addition to all those supporting roles, Kennedy did get to star, although in two-reelers. At RKO, he was the star of a series known as the "Average Man" shorts, and made four or five of them a year in the 1930s and 1940s, being in several dozen of them as a man who just wants to do his job or his work around the house, only to be stymied at every turn by his wife and her family. TCM will be showing eight of those shorts between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM. The schedule has two 90-minute blocks with four shorts each, so I don't know the order of the shorts. I also haven't seen any of them, so I can't really comment on them. For whatever reason, TCM plays the RKO shorts from the 1930s and 1940s they have a lot less often than the shorts from Warner Bros. and MGM.

As for the features, one that I'd like to mention is Hold 'Em Jail, which you can catch at 8:00 AM tomorrow. This is a Wheeler and Woolsey movie, starring RKO's comedy duo as a pair of salesmen who get framed and sent to prison. There, they basically wind up running the place, much to the chagrin of warden Kennedy. They also take part in the big inter-prison football game, on which the two wardens have a substantial bet. So Kennedy needs Wheeler and Woolsey to use every trick in the book to win the game for his prison. The result is a football game sequence reminiscent of the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers. There's one other interesting thing about Hold 'Em Jail, which is the sort of family you can only get in a Hollywood movie. Edgar Kennedy as the warden is married to Edna May Oliver, funny as always. They have a daughter played by... a teenaged Betty Grable!

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