Ray’s a Laugh

In answer to your unspoken pleas, NO, I will NOT stop banging on about the sublimely fatuous Raymond Griffith, my new comedy hero. Over at The Chiseler you can peruse my latest cannonade in salute to his conspicuous overall awesomeness.

Here’s Raymond, characteristically top-hatted in MISS BLUEBEARD, a Bebe Daniels drawing-room farce in which RG provides an ever-so-slightly broader variety of capering than those around him. Initially trying to cover up for a philandering friend, he ends up struggling with an unconscious woman, anticipating Buster Keaton’s drunken bride routine in SPITE MARRIAGE by some years.

Eleanor Keaton, who reprised that act with Buster on TV in the fifties, said of her husband, “Women were tremendously important to him, as props.” Why that’s OK, both with Keaton and Griffith? Because the comedy routines presuppose that using a woman as an inanimate object is absurd and inappropriate, therefore funny. It’s far from sexist.

Griffith’s use of a broomstick to transport the prone lady (Diana Kane, I think) does seem a little racy, though, dependent as it is upon an unspoken recognition of anatomical features not open to discussion in films of the period: buttocks.

I don’t want to end on the word “buttocks”, so here’s the lovely poster, which is in no way representative of anything that happens in the film, apart from the undeniable fact that pajamas are worn.

8 Responses to “Ray’s a Laugh”

  1. David, Another of your deliciously silly limericks on The Fly was posted today over at Limerwrecks. The last one was posted this past Sunday. My apologies if I gave you an inaccurate schedule. I’m rather awful at the technical and organizational end of things.

  2. Don’t worry, I keep checking. I usually link to them a day late.
    Readers, try to tear through the word “mandibles” as fast as you can so it appears to scan properly.

  3. No, no, no our unspoken pleas are for you to KEEP banging on about the sublimely fatuous Raymond Griffith, everyone’s favorite too-little known great comedian. A sentence like “To watch him is to watch a succession of masks dropping, each a perfectly captured emotion, but each discarded as soon as it’s served its purpose” is proof that you’ve gotten to the heart of Griffith’s art.

  4. Thanks! Have just ordered a copy of You’d Be Surprised from Grapevine Video, so hope to have more to report soon.

    This recent piece by David Bordwell touches on Griffith’s last silent, Trent’s Last Case, and though it’s a negative review it makes me want to see it. Griffith and Hawks! http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2011/07/02/bringing-up-hawks/

  5. This reminds me that I should pay more attention to Bebe Daniels. I was quite taken with her in Wyler’s amazing adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Counselor-ar-Law

  6. Oh, that’s a terrific film, and one I need to see again. I enjoyed Bebe in Feel My Pulse for Gregory La Cava, and 42nd Street, would like to see more.

  7. Christopher Says:

    They must be cashing in on the popularity of the current Bluebeard phenom in title just as they did with Bebe’s- “Shes A Sheik”,which I’d like to see also, as her comedies are quite breezy and pleasant.

  8. The title isn’t really justified at all! Bebe gets accidentally married by proxy to a songwriter she’s never met, who has other plans. While waiting for a divorce, of course romance blossoms. No cupboard full of dead husbands at all.

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