Halloween video funhouse

Lugosi vs. Boop, a bewitching Chico Marx, and Sammy!

Children of the inkwell. What cartoon music they make.
  • Children of the inkwell. What cartoon music they make.

Hollywood on Parade No. B-5 (1933):

It's the star-studded premiere of Mae West's I'm No Angel at Grauman's Chinese and the Paramount newsreel cameras were there to capture it for Hollywood on Parade, a series of shorts produced between 1932 and 1934 that were intended to showcase the studio's talent roster.

The first two-thirds of the short spotlight winners of the Search for Beauty contest fresh off the train and eager to paint Tinsel Town red. The Angel premiere and a followup visit to the still extant DeMille Barn to celebrate C.B.'s 20th anniversary in show business are pretty much your standard red carpet affairs. Before Entertainment Tonight and TMZ, this was the only opportunity fans had to catch behind-the-scenes glimpses of "scintillating personalities" like Loretta Young, Charlie Chaplin, and George Raft.



The fun starts at the 6:20 mark when the caravan pulls up to a costume ball with numerous Paramount superstars in attendance masquerading as other screen personalities. Proceeding past a double-shot of Asian stereotypes we find three of the four Marx Bros. — Harpo's phone must have been off the hook when they called to invite him to the clambake — dressed as who knows what? I first saw this at a very early age and spent many a year under the false assumption that Chico was impersonating the “BOOGIE BOOGIE BOOGIE” lady from A Night at the Opera. Never mind that Opera was released two years after Chico put in his conclusive depiction of one of Shakespeare’s Witches of Endor.

The short closes on the costume ball’s grand-prize winner, the Paramount sales department, posing as an outhouse. Our narrator, paraphrasing Mae West, he invites the audience to “come in some time.” It wouldn’t be long before the Hays Office came along and effectively placed a ban on such off-color imagery. Toilet humor was bad enough; there was no way the censors would allow an actual bowl to be shown on screen. That moment wouldn’t arrive until 1960 when a very important clue was found in Norman Bates’s water closet.

Hollywood on Parade No. A-8 (1933):

Many filmgoers were first introduced to Bela Lugosi putting the bite on Betty Boop in the sensational blooper compilation film, Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage. Distributed in 1983, the film did have a limited run on VHS and LaserDisc but has never been released on DVD. The amount of money it would cost to obtain the rights to the clips would be astronomical.

Sammy Davis, Jr. wearing the same outfit as the day he won the Preakness, man.

Sammy Davis, Jr. wearing the same outfit as the day he won the Preakness, man.

This time Paramount hired two-bit comedian Eddie Borden to act as our tour guide through a backlot wax museum. The Lugosi incident occurs at 4:49, but there's plenty of lascivious pre-code behavior to be found at 3:08. Watch as Borden leeringly eyeballs and fingers our cartoon vixen brought to life by Helen Kane alternate, Bonnie Poe.

Sammy Davis, Jr. for UNICEF, man:

No holiday would be complete without a visit from the Candy Man, man. Here's an all-expense-spared PSA Sammy did for UNICEF in the early '70's. Did you know that Sammy 'medaled' in the hippie Olympics?

Have a peace-filled Halloween, man and women!

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Maybe it's me... but I think Sammy Davis share the some pronunciation of the word "keed" as Ward Bond.

Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage? I have a VHS copy that can be transformed into a DVD if your little jack-o-lantern heart desires.

One of my favorite Halloween screenings:


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