Milton Berle’s Paradise Lost

In a fit of madness I have written about two Milton Berle star vehicles (picture collapsing clown cars and you won’t be far wrong). I have done this for Forgotten By Fox over at Mubi and it did give me fresh appreciation for Uncle Milty’s talent, though only when I looked at his live TV work.

Not the movies.

Not the movies.

OVER MY DEAD BODY stars Mad Man Mooney; Rose Mapen; Frank Crawley; Duffy; The Chump; Wonderful; the voice of Col. Hathi the Elephant; Ed Sipple; and Toto.

WHISPERING GHOSTS stars Mad Man Mooney; Jane; Gaston Morel; Second Idea Man; Charles Haskell Jr; Ed Sipple; Og Oggilby; Dr. A. Tomic; Chota; and Bim.

10 Responses to “Milton Berle’s Paradise Lost”

  1. Grant Skene Says:

    Sounds like the first film was aptly titled. Never “got” Milton Berle, but my low opinion is influenced by his many self-absorbed and arrogant guest star appearances in 60s and 70s television. Never inspired me to seek out his peak years on tv.

  2. Simon Kane Says:

    Oo, where have I seen a tortoise with a candle on it before? Is it a trope?

  3. Breaking Bad had a tortoise or turtle with Danny Trejo’s severed head on it. Is that what you’re thinking of? I know that Danny Trejo’s severed head isn’t exactly like a candle, but both are dribbly and brighten a room.

    Grant, follow the links in my piece. Two incredible bits of performance, so different from the lazy stuff I’d seen before.

  4. Check out “Always Leave Them Laughing”. Berle plays an egotistical, unoriginal comic who veers towards heeldom but is ultimately redeemed by the love of a nice girl. His big break is understudying his idol, played by Bert Lahr, in a Broadway-bound revue. Lahr is presented as age to Berle’s youth, although I don’t think they were that far apart. And yes, some of the plot revolves around swiping material as well as Lahr’s hot young wife (Virginia Mayo).

    Early on, you see a Berle routine and assume this is his “before” mode, to be contrasted with his “real” comedy later. It turns out that all his stuff is played at that desperate, gimmicky pitch — even after he learns that Comedy Must Have Heart. And we’re meant to laugh unironically.

    And here’s the Tough Talk from his agent and Sentiment from Lahr:

  5. The candle-carrying tortoise which I recall most vividly is the one in A Night to Remember (1942), a heavy-handed but moderately amusing old-dark-house comedy with Brian Aherne and Loretta Young.

  6. Re turtles:

    “Sh! The Octopus” (1936) is a dandy old WTF comedy / mystery / horror film where tentacles yank people (and logic) out through hidden doors. Hugh Herbert, exploring a cave, sets a candle on the back of a turtle and something or other ensues.

    “Dangerous Money” (1946), is one of the goofy / sad Monogram Charlie Chan films. Number Two Son and chauffeur Chattanooga Brown are rattled by a turtle with a flashlight on his back.

  7. It’s definitely a trope, then!

    I have seen Shit! The Octopus! as I affectionately call it, but remember very little except an alarming transformation that uses the same filter-effect to reveal makeup as Mamoulian’s Jekyll & Hyde…

  8. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Marty is a huge fan of “Always Leave Em Laughing” and cites it as a major influence on “The King of Comedy.” Berle’s impact on U.S. TV was as big as Lucille Ball’s. People actually bought sets to see his low vaudeville schtick every Saturday Night. As far as I know he never appeared in a production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” which would have been perfect for him.

  9. Simon Kane Says:

    Thank you, everyone! I think… I think it might be used as a distraction in a historical prison break – Wait! Is there one in “Bill”? I found it very funny, without knowing it’s a trope. (HOW is it a trope?)

  10. Maybe more of a meme?

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