Monday, June 30, 2008

Lunedi Lunacy

Back in the middle of the last century, when I was a small Willym (oh grow up!), Saturday afternoons meant Kids' Matinees at the local movie theatre. Every Saturday, a whole dime and a nickel jingling freely in my pocket I would head down to the Royal Theatre (fondly known as the Royal Rat Trap after an incident involving a scampering rodent of some sort, Harry Simmons' foot and his sister Doreen's loud scream.) Because it meant going through a large open field area and across the main train tracks we always went as a gang - Judy, Teresa, Eddie, Davey, Sharon and I. It was okay to walk down with the girls but of course the minute you reached the cinema you only stayed with them if you wanted to risk taunts of "Billy's got a girlfriend!"

For that dime you got God Save the Queen with a grainy, line streaked Trooping of the Colours, a cartoon, a travelogue, News of the World and two sometimes three features. Usually a western - Roy or Gene or Hoppy - maybe a horror movie - the Gillman was a great favorite, and a comedy. At least once during the afternoon the movie would be stopped and a booming voice would suggest death and destruction if "you kids don't quiet down!" For the nickel you got a watery Orange Crush and really salty popcorn. And if you hadn't spent that nickel the week before you could go for broke and get butter on the popcorn and a candy bar.

The comedy might be Frances the Talking Mule, Ma and Pa Kettle (my least favorite,) The Bowery Boys or Abbott and Costello. Bud and Lou were my favorites. Their routines were funny no matter how silly the situation and it wasn't until years later I realized they were old vaudeville and burlesque sketchs that the two of them had polished to perfection over the years. At 10 you don't realize the work that goes into making something funny - its just funny!

"Slowly I Turned" probably has its origins in the comedies of ancient Rome but it was a standard of any respectable burlesque comedian in the days of the circuit. Lou performs it here with one of the great second bananas Sid Field. I honestly don't believe anyone ever did it better. And by the way that's Sid as the lawyer in a piece of film trickery.

30 giugno - I Martiri Proromani


Anonymous said...

LIving in small town Ontario I also went to the show on Sat. One day the movie was stopped and we all had to go outside and move our bicycles away from the business next door!
The movies were a little different than the ones you saw and the prices were a little higher!

sageweb said...

That was really good. It is so fun to watch those guys.

Doralong said...

"Slowly I turned"- a true classic in every sense!