Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Jeffrey Baird: Hello?
Cecil Flintridge: Oh, hello, Jeffrey. Yes, are you there?
Jeffrey Baird: Of course I'm here.
Cecil Flintridge: Now don't shout at me - I'm in jail.
Jeffrey Baird: Well, that's all right; we don't need you.
Cecil Flintridge: I'm in jail for battery, and I want you to
get me out. I'm at the Susquehannah Street Jail...
Susquehannah! Susquehannah - S-U-S-Q-U-Q! Q!
You know the thing you play billiards with... Billiards! B-I-L-L-
Policeman at Jail: What is this, a spelling bee?
Cecil Flintridge: Ahem. No, "L" for larynx. L-A-R-Y... N-No,
not "M", N! ... "N" as in neighbor! Neighbor, N-E-I-G-H-B--B!
B! Bzzz. Bzzz. You know, the stinging insect! Insect!
I-N-S-S! S, for symbol. S-Y . . . Y! Y!
Jeffrey Baird: Well, why? Don't ask me "why."
Cecil Flintridge: Look, Jeffrey. I'm in jail.
W-wait a minute. What jail did you say this was?
Policeman at Jail: Susquehannah Street Jail.
Cecil Flintridge: Thank you, indeed. Thank you very much.
I'm in the Substi--The Subset-Jeffrey, listen closely...
Do you know where the Oak Street Jail is? You do?
Fine. I'll have them transfer me there in the morning!

Thanks to FSLC doing a "Fred & Ginger" retrospective this past weekend I got to see Shall We Dance for the first time projected on gorgeous 35mm on a big screen on my birthday and this scene here had me and everybody in the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter. Although it's damn near impossible to dance away with a movie from the likes of Fred freaking Astaire & Ginger freaking Rogers I'd argue that character actor slash genius Eric Blore playing the deranged hotel manager "Cecil Flintridge" does just that - I giggled the second he was introduced lisping the phrase "Oh goody goody!" with manic relish, and the giggling only got giddier with every successive time he appeared on-screen. 

Watching this movie amid our current political hellscape you can really see why movies like Shall We Dance were such a tonic during the Great Depression - it's one hundred straight minutes of delirious escapism involving sea-faring mishaps and roller-skates and a troupe of terrifying Ginger Rogers Masks all wrapped up in an Art Deco Meets Dali bow. It doesn't have a whiff of Real life about it and good god does it smell nice.

1 comment:

lorenzino said...

It may be interesting to note that in the Jay Ward cartoon "Dudley Do-Right" Nell Fenwick's father Captain Fenwick had the voice of Eric Blore, not the actor himself but an unmistakable imitator. There were others in the Bullwinkle show: several witches had Marjorie Main's voice (viva June Foray), and Boris Badunov was suspiciously an Akim Tamaroff soundalike. All this in addition to the great E E Horton's narration.