Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Pete Smith Specialty

I usually download the monthly TCM schedule and base my blogging and vieweing off of that. One of the disadvantages of this is that the shorts are programmed much closer to when they air, so they don't show up in the monthly schedule. I notice that tonight at about 11:50 PM (after the remake of Back Street), TCM is showing a 1941 short called Flicker Memories.

This is one of the many many shorts produced by Pete Smith at MGM in the 1930s through to the mid 1950s. Smith's shorts are generally comedic in nature, with all of the footage being silent except for Smith's narration which contains his brand of humor, often consisting of a mildly acerbic commentary. Smith made shorts which are more like a documentary in that he was filming real people doing real things; in these shorts, the people are usually doing things that are either close to "Believe it or Not" territory or otherwise exotic. Other shorts look at the foibles of modern life, such as 1939's Let's Talk Turkey, about carving a Thanksgiving turkey.

I'm not a huge fan of Smith's narration which I find somewhat irritating, but the more documentary shorts are certainly interesting time capsules, while there are funny moments in the fictionalized shorts.

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