Mack Sennett's shorts

Jim Kukura posted 02/01/05 10:37 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Even though I think all the Mack Sennett shorts made by Bing are a hoot, "Dream House" would be at or close to the bottom of the bunch.

In most of the Sennett shorts, Bing plays himself. But here he plays Bing Fawcett, a plumber. The plumber wants to wed his 17 year-old fiance, but mother is gumming up the works. In any of these short films, if there was a mother, she and Bing did not get along. Mother takes daughter to California to get away from Bing. Bing promises to come in three months when his love becomes 18. Mother is scuttling letters both ways and neither knows that the other still cares. Bing makes his way to Hollywood where fiance has become a star and is romatically linked to leading man (more of mother's work). Bing gets a face of black paint looking through a fence hole, and is mistaken for a black extra in film starring fiance. He uses this opprtunity to scuttle romance, and loves triumphs, after typical slapstick chase and other farce of the period.

Vernon Dent, who plays the director, would show up in Bing's Paramount short, "Please".

Bing sings "When I Take My Sugar To Tea", in a bathtub, with enough lather on him to shave a gorilla. Next, while in the movie as an extra, he sings "It Must Be True". Fianlly, when he and finace make good their escape, he sings the title song, "Dream House".

Bing's comedic talents were very obvious in these early efforts, and by the time the "Road" films were made, this early training paid handsome dividends.

These shorts are easily availabel on VHS and DVD at reasonable prices.
Jon O. posted 02/02/05 12:22 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
One thing I like about each of the Sennett shorts is that you can tell Bing is having a good time in them. He's always mugging or doing some kind of physical bit of business that makes his character (who's basically the same in each one, continuing on through his 1930s feature films) fun to watch. Look closely, and you'll see him add an extra little gesture or facial expression here and there while waiting for the other actor to read his or her line. Watching him perform at this early stage of his career, one can't help but marvel at what a natural Bing was at "light comedy", as he would later describe it – and at how relaxed he already was on-camera.

Bing's penchant for wearing hats -- or more accurately his preference for them over the "scalp doily" -- is already obvious in this early project, as he wears some type of headgear in every scene except the one in which he's taking a bath, and even then his head is strategically covered in thick soap suds.

After Bing sings in blackface in a scene that ranks high on the discomfort meter, the plot -- which is academic anyway -- immediately degenerates into basic Sennett style slapstick, featuring a lion that's alternately a real lion, a guy in a lion suit, and a cartoon. This cartoon "stunt lion”, which takes the falls for the real one, is awkwardly animated and even appears to be translucent in a few frames. It's surprising though, given the low budget appearance of each of these shorts, that there was enough money allocated to pay an animation studio (I doubt Sennett had one “in-house”).

"Dream House" is mildly amusing, not a bad way to spend 20 minutes of your time. But I have to agree with Jim that, of Bing's Sennett films, this would have to rank near the bottom.
Lee posted 02/02/05 09:40 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Well, I saw "Dream House" this past weekend. It was a fast little bit of fun. Most fun for me was seeing Vernon Dent, who played the director. He also was a 3 Stooges regular heavy, usually playing a judge or some official character the Stooges could accidentally mess up in some fashion, be it cutting up his suit or blowing up a birthday cake in his face. In this Bing short he plays the director. Also Stooge related is Del Lord, who was also involved in the Stooge shorts, he has a hand in this Dreamhouse Bing short too. I don't remember what his credit was, perhaps writer.

The funniest scene was when a black guy sees a lion and gets scared and starts running, but he's running on an oil slick and he just keeps running in place. Finally another guy throws sand down and the guy's able to run away. But he runs so fast he left his shoes behind still in the oil slick and his shoes were still running in place by themselves. That gave me a laugh. The rest of the short wasn't extremely funny. The animated lion was interesting to see jumping around. And the lion and the mother of Bing's affections fighting in the back seat of a car was pretty funny too. All in all a nice 20 minutes, but hardly anything to write home about. An amusing short that will pass with a push.
Malcolm Macfarlane, BING magazine posted 02/02/05 12:51 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Thought you might like to read the contemporary reviews of Dream House:

"Bing Crosby, the radio crooner, is starred in this Featurette Comedy. Bing is a young plumber who has his troubles with a future mother-in-law who is trying hard to separate him from her daughter after they are engaged. She spirits the girl off to Hollywood, where Bing follows to find her on the studio set with a sheik making love to her. Bing busts into the scene in black face, and crabs the sheik's act with his crooning. Plenty of snap, and well gagged."
(Film Daily, December 17, 1931)

"Bing Crosby who demonstrating his talent as a purveyor of melody, but lack of histrionic ability has the lead in this Sennett comedy effort. Several comedy situations of the slapstick variety draw a fair portion of laughs. Bing plays a small-town plumber, whose girl, after going to Hollywood, is successful. Her mother writes to Bing, telling him the engagement is off. Unsuccessful in getting on the set, he disguises himself as a colored boy and gets an extra bit. His voice is recognized by the girl, but the mother and a lion chase him, with fairly amusing results. All in all, a fairly good comedy—Running time, 19 minutes."
(Motion Picture Herald, January 9)
Jim Kukura posted 02/02/05 07:18 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
While the blackface routine is understandably objectionable, I think it is an important distinction to note that Bing's character being in blackface in this film is purely accidental. As far fetched as it is, had this been a real life situation, the character, after accidently getting a face full of black paint, would not have had any opportunity to clean his face, unless he interrupted his search for his fiancee, which that character was obviously not ready to do at that point.
Sue Horn posted 02/09/05 06:49 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I'm coming up the rear again with my reviews, but I guess it's better late than never. As promised, I watched the three full shorts on the DVD I have as well as the scenes from "Please." I fully agree with Jim, that our official selection for the month is close to the bottom of the barrel in terms of these shorts, but it's not such a bad barrel to be in!!

"Blue of the Night" (January 1933, Paramount). They'd gotten the formula right by the time they released this one. It is my favorite of the ones that are on this disk. First of all, the barking bulldog that opens these shorts, in an obvious parody of Leo the Lion over at MGM is a hoot! The sound and picture on these films is good, for the most part, with only a few times that the dialogue gets obscured or is low. Bing's beautiful voice (on a recording because the musician's blacklist imposed by the Cocoanut Grove prevented other musicians from performing with Bing) comes over loud and clear singing My Silent Love over the credits to this flick. Bing gets top billing, a practice he would later eschew, preferring to share the credit or blame as the case may have been with his costars. Here we see "Blue of the Night" starring Bing Crosby with Franklin Pangborn, etc. Bing's great self-deprecating humor was evident here, when as singing in a club (a dig to the Grove, perhaps?) he is told that the "Gamma Gamma Gamma" girls have sent him flowers. "Bot the Gamma, Gamma, Gammas!" exclaims Bing with glee, then we pan to the three not-so-young fans, swooning at a table. That sets the tone for the whole movie. My favorite part of these pics is that there is always a mistaken identity, and Bing never carries any ID so he has to "sing for his supper" so to speak, and to prove who he is, win the girl and stay out of jail, not always in that order!
Here, he is on a train with a lovely young woman, and they are mistakenly put into the Honeymoon Suite (a sorry excuse for one, if the couple were really newlyweds, it would have put a serious kaibosh on the proceedings being in bunk berths with many others all around and only a flimsy curtain offering privacy). Since Bing and the lady in question were actually strangers, it was rather racy in an innocent, playful way. When they ascertain that neither is married but that the girl is engaged, the following exchange ensues, and it is the pure Bing persona.

BC: Who's the lucky fellow?
Girl: (pauses uncomfortably) Bing Crosby.
BC: (very surprised) You're gonna marry Bing Crosby? The fellow on the radio?
Girl: Yes, are there any others?
BC: Not that I know of. Well, I guess that lets me out!!

Later when they go to their bunks, the girl says that this is the first night that she won't hear Bing before going to bed. BC obliges by pretending to have a radio in the upper berth, manufacturing radio static noise with his mouth and a full orchestra from a two-bit guitar to croon her to sleep with a lovely tune.

This is one scene where the dialogue is obscured. There was a seeminly funny exchange between two passengers on the train, but nothing can be heard apart from the song.

Then we cut to the girl at a party, horrified that a newspaper article has come out saying that she is to marry Bing Crosby. Her real fiance is Franklin Pangborn, played foppishly as always. He is insulted that his honor has been besmirched, not that the girl doesn't care for him. They've always been assumed to eventually marry, due to family pressures. A match made in heaven, right? Then they say they've invited Bing to the party and our girl gets nervous, because she knows she doesn't really know Bing, or does she?

Our man shows up, pretending to be Jack Smith, reporter. That explains the scoop in the paper, and he agrees to impersonate Bing for the others at the party to help our heroine save face. "I wouldn't know Bing Crosby if I fell over him", our girl admits, and Bing winks and the chase is on. She's obviously falling for Jack/Bing anyway.

As is always the case with these shorts, the boyfriend gets dunked in the water a few times (with the same outfit on, and it dries out and looks pressed immediately, between dunkings). Pangborn challenges Bing to sing "I Surrender Dear" since he's got a policeman ready to arrest him for impersonating a singer (since when was that a crime?) if he can't pull it off. The others insist he sing "Blue of the Night, and put in those whistles!" Of course, Bing comes out ahead by winning a new Caddy convertible and the girl to boot when he proves he actually IS BC (whistles and all). They drive off into the sunset, presumably to live happily ever after.

As I said, this one is my favorite of the ones I've seen. The humor works, isn't too forced. The girl is pretty and doesn't overact in her swooning. A nice little picture.


Dream House (January 1932, Paramount)

As others have said here, this one cut corners and even gave us too much of a good thing. My first indication that something was up was when we only heard the dog bark over the credits, we didn't get to see the full thing.

The lathering up of heroes in the tub must have been a vaudeville image. Not only does Bing open this one inexcplicably this way, but later in "I Surrender Dear" the much hairier marquis does the same thing (with just as much lather). I think that Bing wasn't wearing a rug here, because what hair he had was rinsed and stuck in place as he was rinsing off. He didn't have tons of it, but in 1932, there was still some in evidence!!

This time our man is a plumber, Bing Foster. He always played a common man, even when he was the famous radio star, no one knew who he was when meeting him in person, and he never put on airs. I noticed that Bing had eaten a few too many tortillas in all of these shorts. His suit jackets were snug around the middle, and he was a bit barrel-shaped. Still gorgeous, though, with piercing eyes that displayed warmth and an easy smile that could win over men and women alike.

There's a train in this one too, I guess Sennett liked to film on trains. A controlled set that was easy to use for physical comedy. Bing manages to find his girl as her mother is spiriting her off to Hollywood to become a star (why, I don't know, she wasn't pretty and couldn't act, as far as this film showed, anyway). Bing promises to write daily, seals the deal with a ring and continues to build his house. For no reason at all, he is dumped into a rive as he gets off a train. This is symptomatic of much of the humor in this short, it felt thrown in for no good reason.

When Bing get's his "Dear John" letter, penned by mother with the engagement ring returned, his sorrow is palpable and he looked very handsome. Tanned and forlorn, a killer combination! He decides he won't take this news sitting down and heads out to Hollywood.

Others have commented on the blackface scene, and this one is not very well done. I have always defended the use of blackface in Holiday Inn, it fits in with the plot and was done as tastefully as those could be done, taken in their context. Here, it does fit in with the "plot", technically, but the rest of the images are painful. There are other black actors that have to be alongside Bing while he is thus disguised, and it is ludicrous that he woldn't have been found out immediately and ushered off the set. I did think his initial body language when he got himself chosen to be in the scene with his girl was impressive. He was not overdone, he walked and moved like a poor but proud black man. When he opened his mouth, though, it was over because the dialect was horrible. The real black actors themselves were forced to talk in the same "black-speak" (as viewed by white Hollywood), and it is not one of the more shining moments.

The puns in this movie are not as clever as in some of the others either, when the director screams "cut out that horse's play" it was an obvious reference to the fractured English of some of the self-important film figures of the day, but it wasn't really funny. Then he asked "What do you think this is, a two-reel comedy?" If this were a better short, that could have been a funny line. Unfortunately, it wasn't and the line isn't.

In the end, we have the mistaken identity theme once more and the scenes that have been commented on by others with the lion and it's animated and costumed incarnations. The mother-in-law is the bad "guy" here. Bing finally gets the girl and drives off into the sunset, presumably to live happily ever after in their Dream House. The only new twist here is that he is wearing a turban!

Billboard Girl (March 1932, Paramount)

Though this one started with the off-screen barking, I liked it for the most part. Bing is an unknown youth, selling magazine subscriptions to get to meet his dream girl, the "Billboard Girl".

In the meantime, his fantasies run wild! He dreams of meeting her, and choreographs a kiss to allow her to swoon on a settee, while eating a ham sandwich that she has prepared for him in advance. All very humorous and very Bing-persona.

Bing's buddy and sidekick was a good character and complement to him in this one. He had good lines and seemed to want to humor his buddy in his delusions about the beautiful girl that he aspired to win over. The one number that he tried to sing with Bing, however, confirmed the fact that real musicians were blocked from performing with our favorite crooner due to his legal difficulties. Thanksfully, he only does a few bars and then leaves the singing to Bing.

Bing, it seems, has been corresponding with Mary, the Billboard Girl. She seems to want his attentions, oddly enough, if her letters can be believed. Soon we find out that it is her "rascally brother" who has been writing back to Bing and convincing him that he has a shot with the girl. This brother's character is the weak link of this short for me. His character was unlikeable, and he seemed to enjoy dressing up as his sister (complete with frilly garters and undergarmets) and taking the impersonation too far. This was definitely a secually ambiguous character, to say the least.

The car in this one is a strange contraption, with an airplane propellor at the back that is used to comic effect to blow tumbleweeds at pursuing vehicles (debris which magically disappears when the shot includes both cars) and spray water at unsuspecting saps as well. The funnies use of this was to send girls dresses up in the air in a precursor to the famous Marilyn Monroe scene from "The Seven Year Itch." Bing certainly was a groundbreaker!

Bing's rug in this film was a terrible one, too heavy and very unnatural. Luckily he kept his head covered in other ways throughout the proceedings.

The worst singing by a non-musician with Bing in a short is in this flick, where the brother, impersonating Mary, tries to sing in falsetto that she "was on the level" when Bing croons "Were you sincere?" to her as he pushed her on the swings. How he didn't realize that this guy was no dame is beyond belief.

Bing is dumped in the drink in this movie too, I guess it wouldn't be a Bing short without that. He had a funny line where he found a frong in his shirt and said, "Oh, for a minute i thought I was the one that was croaked!". The fact that he made that clunker a funny line, delivered naturally and with his characteristic smile goes to show what a natural actor and comedian he was.

Bing also gets to crow like a rooster in this one, adding to his animal impressions. I am sure that there were two male doubles in a scene where he was escaping with his love in the car (his normal modus operandi). If any of you have this one, take a look at the scene where "Bing" and "Mary" look behind them in the car while they are in the pond, those are two guys or I'll eat my hat!

In the end, Bing gets the girl and rides off into the sunset, presumably to live happily ever after (is this starting to sound familiar?).

I Surrender Dear (September 1931, Paramount)

I think this one is my second favorite of these four, though I would love to see the full version of "Please" that Bob Deflores found in 1966. Bing opens this one in a club, singing and being a bandleader. All of the girls in the audience are staring at himn and have no eyes at all for the unusually old coots who are their dancing partners. Their interest is very direct and unabashed, and I thought it was an interesting portrayla for the day.

Yet another train figures in this one. Our heroine is a pretty young girl (good actress again this time) who is on her way to somewhere to be married to a Marquis (this marquis is a strange bird, too old for her, ugly as sin, and he spouts off in Spanish whenever he is proviked). For some reason, they are all traveling in the same train car (Mom, daughter and marquis). He is fully dressed with only one shoe off (sans sock as well), a very strange image which is only this way to allow a bee to sting his toe later for no real reason and then display the latest movie-making tehnology when said toe throbs in a way that is not humanly possible. I guess all of this was to establsih that this girl needed some serious reucing from the dire fate of marrying the marquis, and our Bing is the man for the job.

She is listening to Bing on the radio, and mom is berating him, saying that she doesn't like him at all. We could almost cut to the end of the film now, because you know how it will end, but then we'd miss some nice songs and a few kisses.

Bing's character here is actually a bit different from the norm. They insinuate that he is actually quite a hit with the ladies. He is accused of being a masher too many times for there not to be a bit of truth to it. He accosts our girl at the train station, calling her Sis and planting a big wet one on her lips. Supposedly, he thought she was his sister, but that didn't exactly seem like a brotherly greeting to me.

A duel ensues with the hapless marquis. Bing is able to take him quite easily, bruising his dignity by hitting him on the rear after exclaiming "En garde," and quipping, "Now I'm two up." He eggs the marquis on saing "Come, come, come" with a cool syncopated seqeunce. As you can see, the lines are nothing special, but with Bing's delivery, they become comic genius!

This one was a bit too soggy for me. There were more pratfalls into ponds than I could count. Bing also sounded a little hoarse.

He tried to find his love in a big hotel, going door to door and conquering many a lady on the way (married and unmarried) offending the sensitivities of husbands, boyfriends and significant others right and left.

He also had to sing to prove his identity twice in this one. In the end he gets the girl and they ride off... You get the picture!!

Excerpts from "Please" (1933, Paramount)

I wish I could see this one complete. There were good songs and a nice montage. The heroine here was a sweet-looking blonde who reminded me more of Dixie Lee than the other raven-haired heroines of the previous shorts. I know that the mistaken identity theme is here too, because the girl's father takes a signed picture of Bing out of a box of cracker-jack and realizes who he is. Even though I didn't see the end, I imagine that they drive off together, happily ever after. i must be clarivoyant.

I'll try to watch the other shorts I have on VHS (Crooner's Holiday, SIng Bing Sing, the Two Plus Fours) this week and will report on part two.

The best part is that these are available now and we can see 'em.
Sue Horn posted 02/19/05 11:00 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Okay, here is the promised second installment on the shorts.

"Crooner's Holiday" actually turned out to be a truncated version of this month's short, "Dream House". Don't know why it was released this way, but the print was muddy, choppy and really hard to follow. This made me realize that the DVD versions I have are actually really good. Much restoration has been done. Try to get the DVD if you can, because these shorts really can't be appreciated in the horrible VHS that was issued by Video Memories or something like that. So "Crooner's Holiday" was actually a false alarm and I won't review it.

"Sing, Bing, Sing". Put out by the same folks as "Crooner's Holiday". I'd love to see this one restored. It opens with Bing singing "Won't you let me take you awaym, to a cozy cabin..."

Bing is singing in a club somewhere on the radio. He actually pauses in the bradcast to tell his girlfriend (along with the rest of the radio audience) that he'll pick her up to elope that night. When she hears him whistle, she should come out. He pauses when she speaks back to him(to her radio, of course), and it is a cute moment, because obviously he can't hear her.

When Bing goes to get his girl, Dad is the one who comes down to chase him off. ("I heard your message, I'll bet you thought I was listening to Amos and Andy!")

The poor hapless official boyfriend, the one Dad prefers, is played by Franklin Pangborn again in this short. Jokes are a bit thin, here, but Bing gives them his all. Dad doesn't want his little girl to marry a radio crooner, and Bing come's back with this clunker, "But prosperity's just around the crooner." Yuck, yuck.

He sings "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea". Plenty of slapstick here, with people falling in ponds, guns shooting gramophones instead of singers, guns shooting water after having been thrown in the drink. The animal component is filled in this one by a man in a gorilla suit (I think I preferred the Lion in "Dream House"). No blackface this time, thankfully, but it is still not the best of these shorts.

The ending has a bit of a twist, Bing and his love don't ride off to happiness in a car, they fly off in a plane. I didn;t recognize the song, but here's what I caught of the lyrics. Maybe someone more knowlegeable can fill in the title: "Snuggled on your shoulder, cuddled in your arms, dreaming while we're flying, I'm thrilled by all your sharms. While the music's playing, I'm in ecstasy. Sweetheart hear me saying, Oh this is heavenly. We're sailing away from there, what a grand sensation. Sailing, say it isn't a dream. You're my inspiration. Let me fly forever, and I can dream about your charms while I snuggle on your shoulder and cuddle in your arms."

I also watched Festival Films "The Road to Hollywood", which is an excellent retelling fo Bing's early career, put together by Ron Hall. The prints used have been lovingly restored. Hollywood on Parade (a short made with Mary Pickford) was mentioned and a clip was shown. I'd never seen this before and I wonder if the full short exists. The best part of this is the short "Please", which is presented in its entirety:

Bing and a dog are driving along in a convertible. Bing is doing creat Jazz scat singing and whistling. Another car comes along, driven by a beautiful blonde. Bing doesn't want to let her pass, and blocks her a few times. Then she gets a flat tire, which he fixes to be a gentleman and get in good with the girl,. She insists that she doesn't need his help, and we finally find out that her boyfriend (who I though was her dad when I saw clips of this before seeing the whole thing) is in the back seat. He's a mechanic and could have fixed the flat easily. He tips Bing a nickel for his trouble and drives off, dirtying Bing's pants with a cloud of soot in the process.

Bing drives into town and tries to find a place to change his clothes. He goes into the boyfriend's shop, because his car needs a bit of work. Deosn't recognize the boyfriend, who is singing in a nice tenor voice to a record player. The mistaken identity theme is brought out here too. The boyfriend asks, "Do you know Bing Crosby?" Bing cautiously asks, "Why?" "I'm gonna run him right off the air," responds lover boy. "Well, they're getting wise to him anyway." Quips Bing and goes off to find the music teacher, who just happens to be the beauty he was trying to woo before coming into town.

She's in the middle of a lesson with a deep-voiced bass singer. The shock comes when we see that it is a 7-year-old boy named johnny. Bing asks for lessons, sings horribly for the teacher. Improves gradually so she thinks she can help him.

They go to a picnic and the boyfriend feels threatened by Bing. They throw a medicine ball around, with the guys doing the typical macho thing of throwing the ball hard and trying to make the other come off badly. Bing and his lady go fo a swim and the jealous boyfriend decides to hijack Bing's clothes. When Bing goes into the tent to change, the boyfriend takes the bathing suit he's just doffed as well (which Bing conveniently hung over the window opening), leaving our man in the duff with no way to follow in this family-rated short!! We get to see a healthy crop of hair on Bing's bare chest, which I must say surprised me. I thought he was hairless on his head and chest for some reason, but I was wrong!

Bing send his pooch to go find his clothes. This dog is better than Lassie and chases the culprit into the woods. Meanwhile, Bing dons the tent as a caftan and gets on his way.

We cut to the recital of the students of the music teacher. The boyfriend opens singing Dear Old Girl. The dog gets away from Bing and sabotages the song. The girl gets angry with him. Then Howard Jones gets up to sing. Who's he? The alias Bing took on. He sings "Ghost of a Chance" and slays the crowd, until the boyfriend takes the prize out of his cracker jacks, an autographed phot of Bing Crosby. He announces that Howard Jones is a fraud and the gril runs off in a huff, having been made a fool of at her own recital.

Bing follows her and sings "Please" to her for forgiveness through her window. He convinces her, of course and pulls her through the window. They drive off in the car and live happily ever after. (Big Surprise).

This was a cute one too.

That's all for the shorts folks! Gonna get to the February film before the end of the month and I'll be up to date.
Ron Field posted 02/21/05 08:29 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Sue, the song is called 'Snuggled On Your Shoulder'.
It is on the Mack Sennett LP of all the songs from those shorts.
Rich posted 02/21/05 09:08 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Sue, Ron is correct.
From the liner notes of the Biograph LP: "Snuggled on your Shoulder" sung by BING to the girl at the finale, as they are finally getting away - in his private plane, no less! The lyrics are slightly changed by BING to fit the elopement premise. An entirely straight version of this song was recorded by BING on January 21, 1932, months after the completion of this film but a good year before the film was actually distributed to theaters". Interesting.
Lars posted 02/24/05 01:48 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
We had time to watch a couple of the shorts the other evening (Where the blue, Billboard Girl and Dreamhouse). Of the three we enjoyed Billboard girl the most (we'll see if we can get to the rest of these shorts soon). There's not much to say about them. Bing seemed to be the best actor especially considering he had no training at all. Maria said she enjoyed all the music. I loved the record (on Biography?) that contained all the songs from the Sennett shorts (along with the song from "Reaching for the Moon")and listened to it a lot at the time (in the 80's). It was years until I finally was able to actually watch the movies. There's plenty of good songs - some never recorded by our man - used in the Sennett shorts. Especially I love the Columbo hit "Auf Wiedersehen my dear" (a song Bing also performed in a Paramount on Parade that I was was happy to find included on the great video The Road to Hollywood from FESTIVAL FILMS). BTW we also enjoyed the scene descrived by Lee, the black guy running on the oilslick. As long as we take these cheaply made older shorts for what they are and don't expect too much they are amusing enough and certainly filled with great songs. But I've got to dig up my laserdiscbox "Hollywood Rhythm" that included the Crosby-Sennett short I consider the best in the bunch - where Bing had a sidekick and was spending much time at a hotel (there's a train somewhere in this one too).

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