There is some debate as to whether Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was actually born on Christmas day but let’s go with the perverse premise that he was.

I have been late in writing about this major star principally because he was not a very show bizzy type of guy and had no track record in the variety theatre, our original bailiwick. And I have refrained from writing too much about noir and crime films (although I love them) because so many other bloggers write about this stuff and again because I simply have other priorities. Even as an actor, Bogart’s thing is not the sort of thing I can identify with or “do”. In Key Largo, I’d want to be Lionel Barrymore; In The Maltese Falcon,Sydney Greenstreet; in Casablanca,Claude Rains. It’s a different skill set, even a different way of being.

And yet Bogart was probably…

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My favorite part of last night’s Oscars was the most amazing song, This is Me. WOW, WOW, WOW!! What a wonderous anthem. Keala Settle who plays the bearded lady in The Greatest Showman has a powerhouse voice that gets you up on your feet with tears of triumphant in your eyes. Michael Gracey’s original movie musical is a must see. Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have hit a home run. Like most of us Keala had the bad habit of self-criticism saying, “I’ve always been the biggest bully to myself. No one can bully me better than me”. This song has helped her to kick insecurities out the door saying, “I learned not to give power to that doubt and that insecurity anymore. Everybody has those feelings. So it made me step up. That fight will always be something I struggle with, but each time I sing, it gets…

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A Little Weird

I’m a big fan of learning things. New things, old things, things that are beyond me. The one thing you keep learning as you learn things is that you can continue to learn things. For instance, I’ve been dabbling in physics since I was in my twenties. The term ‘dabble’ is fitting; my math skills are rudimentary and I still can’t quite grasp things that have to be described by math. I was in my forties before I finally figured out that geometry and algebra do, in fact, have a place in adult life. If you want to lay out a soft ball diamond and have it not look like a new Picasso-inspired sport, learn the relationship between the hypotenuse of a right triangle and the sides. Nobody likes it if the run from third base is sixty feet longer than the run to first base. Makes it hard to…

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Today is the birthday of the incomparable Jack Cassidy (1927-1976). Growing up in the 1970s, he was one of my favorite character actors. The idea of himself that he seems to have held (and that has been perpetuated by others), i.e. that he was living in the shadow of his wife Shirley Jones, has always been a bit perplexing to me as someone who saw him on television constantly, where he was always cheerful, witty, carefree,  and in possession of a larger-than-life, clearly defined public image. Cassidy was both ahead of, and behind his times. He adored John Barrymore (even played him in W.C. Fields and Me), though he unfortunately seemed to model his persona on late Barrymore: one part former thespian, one part drunken buffoon. Clearly talented, not just as a musical comedy star but as a dramatic actor (he won both a Tony and an Emmy)…

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March 3 is the anniversary of the release date of the hilarious W.C. Fields short The Fatal Glass of Beer (1933).

Classic comedy buffs cherish this film to a degree that you can scarcely imagine. Fields only made about a half dozen comedy shorts during his film career; most of his movies are features. Most of the shorts (like this one) were made for Mack Sennett and count among the Keystone founder’s very last films. Fields’ shorts were based on sketches he had originally presented in Broadway revues. Many of them slipped into the public domain in the 1960s and thus have gotten a good bit of play, originally on tv and then on home video. This little movie was one of my earliest exposures to the comedy of Fields, and was one of the first videeotapes I ever owned — I’ve probably seen it 50 times.

Further The Fatal Glass…

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We enjoyed the pilot of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel a great deal — in fact, enough to write our own review. But we knew someone who could write a better one: multi-talented actress, comedienne, screenwriter/playwright, podcast host, comedy scholar and Gracie Allen expert Lauren Milberger.  Her Gracie Allen guest post here five years ago is in our all-time top 25! I just knew she’d have great things to say about the new show, and she did. I turn you now over to her:

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel: A Woman in Redux

Many people would consider the modern Golden Age of Comedy to be the 1950s and 60s, when what we know today as stand-up became all the rage and television was in its infancy. When the comedy from vaudeville finally had its eyes back again (after years of being in the dark with radio) and was able to…

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