Classic Comedy Films for Easter – Happy Holidays :)

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Sit back this Easter and have a little rest and a big laugh with our collection of Comedy Classics.

Watch them in the comfort of the Pumpkin Palace Cinema, your very own movie theater! I would like to wish all our listeners a happy, peaceful, and fun filled family Easter with plenty of the finer things in life, not excluding marshmallows, chocolate, and jelly beans!

Best wishes: John
ROK Classic Radio

** Click on a movie poster to watch that particular  film! **

Band Wagon

The film version of the radio series Bandwaggon released in 1939 by Gainsborough. The plot involved Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch running a pirate TV station in a ghostly castle and rounding up a gang of spies.

Cast:-Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Jack Hylton and his band, Pat Kirkwood, Moore Marriott, Peter Gawthorne, Wally Patch, Donald Calthrop.

You may be interested to know that Richard Murdoch plays ‘2’ in the Men from the Ministry!

Africa Screams

Though many of the gags go splat (they’re either feebly timed or missing the requisite punch line), the chemistry between the preeminent straight-man Abbott and his tubby, scatter-brained sidekick Costello is as raucously abrasive as ever.

Yes, the range of their shtick is admittedly narrow (the Marx Brothers would’ve had these guys for lunch), but after whiling away numberless Saturday afternoons during my formative years with revivals of their movies on television, the very thought of Abbott and Costello fills me with a nostalgic warmth.

Ask a Policeman

Another comedic masterpiece from Will Hay and his associates Moffatt and Marriott from 1939.

Here we have all three as village policemen trying to save their jobs whilst fighting headless horsemen, smugglers and a disgruntled police commissioner! … definitely not to be missed if you love classic British comedy.

I Thank You

In desperate need of money to put on a show, the pair dress up as house servants {Murdoch a servant and Askey in drag as a cook} and bluff their way into the home of Lady Randall (Lily Morris), an ex-music hall star known to give financial aid to performers in the arts close to her heart.However, chaos reigns.

Cast:

Arthur Askey, Richard Murdoch, Lily Morris, Moore Marriott, Graham Moffatt, Peter Gawthorne, Kathleen Harrison, Felix Aylmer

Oh, Mr. Porter!

William Porter is working as a lowly wheel tapper on the English Railways until, through the influence of his downtrodden brother-in-law (who happens to be managing director of the railway company), he is offered the position of station master at the isolated station at Buggleskelly in Northern Ireland.

The greatest and funniest of all Will Hay’s comedies, Oh, Mr. Porter! still stands as one of the all-time classics of British cinema, a joyous anarchic romp that can never fail to send an audience into hysterics of unbridled laughter.

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Gracie Allen

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Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen

Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen (July 26, 1895 – August 27, 1964), known as Gracie Allen, was an American comedian who became internationally famous as the zany partner and comic foil of husband George Burns.

Gracie Allen was born in San Francisco, California, to George Allen and Molly Darragh, who were of Irish Catholic extraction. She made her first appearance on stage at age three and was given her first chance On Air by Eddie Cantor. She was educated at the Star of the Sea Convent School and during that time became a talented dancer. She soon began performing Irish folk dances with her three sisters, who were billed as “The Four Colleens.” In 1909 Allen joined her sister, Bessie, as a vaudeville performer. At a performance in 1922 Allen met George Burns and the two formed a comedy act. The two were married on January 7, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Burns & Allen

The Burns and Allen act began with Allen as the straight man, setting up Burns to deliver the punchlines — and get the laughs. In his book Gracie: A Love Story Burns later explained that he noticed Allen’s straight lines were getting more laughs than his punchlines, so he cannily flipped the act over —- he made himself the straight man and let her get the laughs. Audiences immediately fell in love with Allen’s character, who combined the traits of stupidity, zaniness, and total innocence.

In the early 1930s, like many stars of their era, Burns and Allen graduated to radio. The show was originally a continuation of their original “flirtation act” (as their vaudeville and short film routines had been). Burns realized that they were simply too old for that material (“Our jokes were too young for us”, he later remarked) and changed the show’s format in the fall of 1941 into the situation comedy vehicle for which they are best remembered: a working show business married couple negotiating ordinary problems caused by Gracie’s “illogical logic,” usually with the help of neighbors Harry and Blanche Morton, and their announcer, Bill Goodwin.

Jack Benny - Good friend and frequent guest star on the Burns & Allen Show

Around 1948 Burns and Allen became part of the CBS talent raid. Their good friend (and frequent guest star) Jack Benny had decided to jump from NBC over to CBS. William S. Paley, the mastermind of CBS, had recently made it openly clear that he believed talent and not the network made the difference, which was not the case at NBC. Benny convinced Burns and Allen (among others) to join him in the move to CBS. The Burns and Allen radio show became part of the CBS lineup and a year later they also brought their show to television. They continued to use the formula which had kept them longtime radio stars, playing themselves only now as television stars, still living next door to Harry and Blanche Morton. They concluded each show with a brief dialogue performance in the style of their classic vaudeville and earlier radio routines.

Allen retired in 1958, and Burns tried to soldier on without her. The show was re-named The George Burns Show with the cast intact except for Allen. The locale of the show was changed from the Burns home to George Burns’ office, with Blanche Morton working as Burns’ secretary so she could help Allen keep an eye on him. Allen’s absence was only too obvious and impossible to overcome. The renamed show barely lasted a year.

Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again

Gracie Allen fought a long battle with heart disease, ultimately dying of a heart attack in Hollywood in 1964. She was interred in a crypt at the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Burns was interred at her side when he died 32 years later. (“Gracie Allen and George Burns—Together Again,” reads the engraving on the marker.

 

Burns & Allen – Gracie treats George like a King (15th May, 1947)
470515_Gracie_treats_George_like_a_King

Burns & Allen – Francis Langford – Vacation Plans (29th May, 1947)
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Listen to Gracie Allen in the Burns & Allen Show on the American Comedy Channel from the ROK Classic Radio Old Time Radio Network!

Happy Listening 🙂

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The Abbott & Costello Show

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William (Bud) Abbott and Lou Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo)

William (Bud) Abbott and Lou Costello  performed together as Abbott and Costello, an American comedy duo whose work on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s, as well as a top ten box office draw for a full decade (1942—1952).

The team’s first known radio appearance was on The Kate Smith Hour in February, 1938. Initially, the similarities between their voices made it difficult for listeners (as opposed to stage audiences) to tell them apart due to their rapid-fire repartee.

The problem was solved by having Costello affect a high-pitched childish voice. “Who’s on First?” was first performed for a national radio audience the following month.

They stayed on the program as regulars for two years, while landing roles in a Broadway revue, “The Streets of Paris”, in 1939.

Streets of Paris 1939

In 1940 they were signed by Universal Studios for the film One Night in the Tropics. Cast in supporting roles, they stole the show with several classic routines, including “Who’s on First?” The same year they were a summer replacement on radio for Fred Allen. Two years later, they had their own NBC show.

After working as Allen’s summer replacement, Abbott and Costello joined Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on The Chase and Sanborn Hour in 1941, while two of their films (Buck Privates and Hold That Ghost) were adapted for Lux Radio Theater. They launched their own weekly show October 8, 1942, sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

The Abbott and Costello Show mixed comedy with musical interludes (by vocalists such as Connie Haines, Ashley Eustis, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Skinnay Ennis, and the Les Baxter Singers). Regulars and semi-regulars on the show included Artie Auerbach (“Mr. Kitzel”), Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth, and Benay Venuta. Ken Niles was the show’s longtime announcer, doubling as an exasperated foil to Abbott and Costello’s mishaps (and often fuming in character as Costello routinely insulted his on-air wife).

Ken Niles

Niles was succeeded by Michael Roy, with announcing chores also handled over the years by Frank Bingman and Jim Doyle. The show went through several orchestras during its radio life, including those of Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Matty Malneck, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Fred Rich, Leith Stevens, and Peter van Steeden. The show’s writers included Howard Harris, Hal Fimberg, Parke Levy, Don Prindle, Eddie Cherkose (later known as Eddie Maxwell), Leonard B. Stern, Martin Ragaway, Paul Conlan, and Eddie Forman, as well as producer Martin Gosch. Sound effects were handled primarily by Floyd Caton.

In 1947 Abbott and Costello moved the show to ABC (the former NBC Blue Network). During their time on ABC, the duo also hosted a 30-minute children’s radio program (The Abbott and Costello Children’s Show), which aired Saturday mornings, featuring child vocalist Anna Mae Slaughter and child announcer Johnny McGovern.

Lou and wife Anne Battler

Both Abbott and Costello met and married women they knew in burlesque. Bud Abbott married Betty Smith in 1918, and Lou Costello married Anne Battler in 1934. The Costellos had four children; the Abbotts adopted two.

Abbott and Costello faced personal demons at times. Both were inveterate gamblers and had serious health problems. Abbott suffered from epilepsy and turned to alcohol for pain management. Costello had occasional, near-fatal bouts with rheumatic fever. On November 4, 1943, the same day that Costello returned to radio after a one year layoff due to his illness with rheumatic fever, his infant son “Butch” (born November 6, 1942) died in an accidental drowning in the family’s swimming pool.

During 1945, a rift developed when Abbott hired a domestic servant who had been fired by Costello. Angered by Abbott’s decision, Costello refused to speak to his partner except when performing. The team’s films of 1946 reflect the split, with the comedians appearing separately in character roles. Abbott resolved the rift in 1947 when he volunteered to help with Costello’s pet charity, a foundation for underprivileged children.

The Legendary Fred Allen

In the 1950s Abbott and Costello’s popularity waned as their place as filmdom’s hottest comedy team was taken by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Universal dropped the comedy team in 1955, and after one more independent film, Bud Abbott retired from performing.

In 1956, the Internal Revenue Service charged them for back taxes, forcing them to sell their homes and most of their assets, including their film rights. In 1957 they formally dissolved their partnership.

Lou Costello made about ten solo appearances on The Steve Allen Show and headlined in Las Vegas. He appeared in episodes of GE Theater and Wagon Train. On March 3, 1959, shortly after making his lone solo film, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, Lou Costello died of a heart attack just short of his 53rd birthday.

Grave of Louis Frances Cristillo

A depressed Bud Abbott attempted a comeback in 1960, teaming with Candy Candido. Although the new act received good reviews, Bud quit, saying, “No one could ever live up to Lou.”

Abbott made a solo appearance on an episode of GE Theater in 1961. In 1966 Bud voiced his character in a series of 156 five-minute Abbott and Costello cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera. Lou’s character was voiced by Stan Irwin. Bud Abbott died of cancer on April 24, 1974.

 

The Abbott & Costello Show, The Baseball Player including the iconic ‘Who’s on First’ from the 17th April 1947
470417_-_Baseball_Player

The Abbott and Costello Show can be heard on the American Comedy Channel at the following times:

Every weekday at 04:00 GMT
Saturday at 16:00 GMT
Sunday at 08:00 GMT

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