How was your weekend? Mine was good. Aside from hunting down the origins of the Woody Woodpecker laugh, I erased 14,000 photos from my Amazon account. I was surprised to learn that I’d dumped lots of pictures there once, as part of my ever-evolving (definition: a gawdawful mess) backup strategy. It was somewhat depressing. All those places, all those moments competing with the illusion of progress and growth, when I’m the same damned fellow I was back then. Ah well: delete the evidence!

But not the originals, of course. The point was to reload everything so it’s chronological, and the backup isn’t infested with huge amounts of 1920s clipart, vintage cigar bands, comic book scans, and other items from the catch-all PICTURES folder. And I have progressed since then. Surely. I can still fit into the pants I had back then; I guess lack of growth in that respect is progress. Then again, they add spandex to waistbands these days. The Gap jeans have certain give to it that says all sizing is a cheat. Okay, a few of the favorite shirts from six years ago might be a bit tighter, but maybe . . . maybe they always were? Maybe I bought them when I went on that crash diet, the Atkins thing, and people who hadn’t seen me for a while thought I had an intestinal parasite?

I mean, I got so lean I thought I had an intestinal parasite. Well, I’m sorta on a diet now, because I got a bit of a tan in Mexico, and that makes me want to be lesser, bulk-wise. THIS CONCLUDES THE DIVE INTO YOUR GRACIOUS HOST’S TANGLED SELF-IMAGE ISSUES

Except to say this: the weekend usually involves the dispensation of ice cream. I would eat it every night if I could. I do not, because that way lies pants-paradigm realignment and provisioning issues. It was my wife’s birthday last week, and I got her a slab of sin from Lundsenbyerly’s, something called “Tiger Cake.” I know, I know: WINNING! (Remember when Charlie Sheen was in the news every day, and we all thought he would be dead soon? )I don’t know what large felines have to do with it. But it’s fantastic. Eat more than an inch-thick slab and your blood turns to Karo syrup.

So, I had more than inch-thick slab. With ice cream. This means you adjust elsewhere, and that meant a breakfast the next day that did not have the usual pile-it-sky-high carb load I enjoy on Saturday. But I would have a small slab of hashed browns; should I use the new oven?

Yes! But that means I have to learn how to use the new oven. It has myriad settings. It will air-fry. It will bread-proof. When you give it a job, it will do what you ask, and sing a small song when it is done. I cannot get it to talk to my phone, though, and that’s probably for the best. In the olden times no one worried about connecting the phone on the wall with its luxurious six-foot braided cord, which was hideously knotted, to the oven. The idea that the oven should have anything to say to the phone whatsoever was absurd.

So I don’t care.

(Note: I care so much. Why doesn’t this work? It’s not that I need the oven to talk to the phone. It’s the fact that it’s possible, and hence I want it.)

(Note #2: maybe I don’t want it, because hackers could exploit a vulnerability. What’s that? Sorry - my Ring app just said “that’s not possible” in a very clear and completely normal American accent. So, no worries.)

A new Monday feature: movie ads from 1929. They're taken from a big ad buy in a movie mag aimed at distributors, and there's a story behind each one. This week: Smut!

Cruze was a big draw, at least in the eyes of the Sono pitchmen. You'll be hearing a lot about this fellow. Wikipedia:

Coming from a Mormon family in Utah, James Cruze was reportedly part Ute Indian. He worked as a fisherman to pay his way through drama school.

Sounds like PR ballyhoo. Also:

Before entering the movie business, Cruze had worked selling "snake oil" in a patent medicine show.

Many of the films Cruze directed in the 1920s and 1930s have been lost. He directed a large variety of films, from Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle slapstick two-reelers to suspense thrillers to big-budget epics. In 1929 he appeared before a grand jury in Los Angeles that was investigating an accident on one of his films in which one man was killed and others were injured, one of many run-ins Cruze had with the law. He used the name Cruze on screen, but in real life remained James Bosen.

Here's the first movie on the Sono slate:

Neither Cruze or Tully’s name is attached to anything resembling a circus movie in 1929 or 1930. The title brings up nothing. It appears the movie went into turnaround, and the details are locked in an archive, or lost for good.

Just kidding! I’m pretty sure I know what happened. Thanks to this archive of Hollywood correspondence, it appears that two groups were enflamed by the book: the censors, and circus fans. If I may quote from a letter:

Dear Mr. Hays

I have just read in the public press that the
notorious book, "Circus Parade", is to be filmed
by James Cruze for Sono-Art.
As you perhaps know, the leading incident of
this book, whieh pretends to be a story of the
circus, consists of a roustabout who places a colored
girl in a circus wagon and then charges admission to
some forty or fifty bums to have relations with her.
It is just such horrible stories as these which
make people wonder just what we are coming to. The age
of the criminal has gone from 54 to 19. The Chief
Probation Officer of New York condemns heartily
moving picture stories which lead to crime by giving
a false view of life. Knowing and respecting what
you are trying to do, I beg that you make ©very effort
to prevent the filming of this viscious, (sic) ignorant and
outrageous book.

As Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the
Circus Fans Association, and on behalf of the
Association, I am addressing this communication to you.

Yours In the Bond,

Melvin D.Hildreth


The movie was never made. First ad in the series, and the movie never appeared.



We continue with this year's programmer. If the hero didn't take over, he . . .
  Here's the latest version of the theme, which its romance and big-city business and glamor.

Uh oh

What ever mystery needs. Puppets.

We have a new Falcon, remember. But like the other, he goes to parties and drinks a lot. It’s funny because he has a hangover!

See, all handsome charming amateur sleuths with no legal authority whatsoever have to be alcoholics.

I think that’s a Petty girl on the wall.

Hah! Swear to God, I didn’t know this was next.

She wants his help finding her Bro-thur. They are from You-rope. She leads The Falcon to a bar where he’s slugged, and when he walks up he’s wanted for murder. The same cops who have tangled with him before and seen how he’s always innocent of every spurious charge, and how he effortlessly reveals the true malefactor, are happy: now they got him! See also, Boston Blackie, the Saint, etc., etc.

By the way, as you learned from the opening theme, it’s wartime, and everything has to reference the war, or be war-aware. Early 40s films usually have a faint hint of civilian mobilization.

Anyway, who cares about the plot? It’s the cultural attributes, the inadvertent documentary, or the things people thought things looked like.

A grand hotel in the mountains:

The femme fatales wear interesting loungewear.

Finally we see the puppet show, which is playing at the expensive resort. (It’s for the kids.)

How did they get away with this?

By the way, the Falcon has a new houseboy, as the term goes. It was the estimable Keye Luke before; now it’s this guy.

Richard Loo.

Anyway, it ends as expected, and like all other Falcon movies so far, ends with a dame rushing in and begging him for help. I’ll go out on a limb: Conway was better than his brother. He seems more engaged, and doesn’t seem like there’s somewhere else he’d rather be.







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