Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy 121st b-day, El!!!

Today marks the 120th birthday of Elmer Goodfellow Brendel, born March 25th, 1891.  For the celebration, here's some photos from throughout his career.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY EL!!:

In vaudeville, 17 years old

during the filming of "Wings" in 1927

with Victor McLaglen from the sadly lost film, "Hot For Paris" (1929)

looking like a deer caught in the headlights, from the 1949 film, "The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend"

with Gloria Jean from the 1959 movie, "The Madcaps"

and finally, here's El with Raymond Burr on the set of the "Perry Mason" TV show.  El was on the 1962 episode "The Case of the Borrowed Baby"

Friday, March 23, 2012

El's home movies - filming on the set

I recently wrote about some "lost" El Brendel home movies coming to light and in the post I showed some scans of what appears to be footage from the set of the 1940 Universal feature "If I Had My Way".  Well, here is a recently unearthed picture of El actually doing the filming on the set of the movie!!

The printed on the snipe on the rear of the photo has all the info:

Eddie Leonard.,most famous of all minstrel men, is one of several stage stars who return to the bright lights for an appearance in the new Big Crosby - Gloria Jean picture, "IF I HAD MY WAY" at Universal. Here Eddie talks to Charles Winninger while El Brendel photographs them with his home movie camera.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cinefest 2012 review

I just returned from ANOTHER great weekend of movies at the annual Syracuse Cinefest film festival and I’m prepared to give a review based on a star rating system from * = poor to **** = excellent.  Just a word of caution, I didn’t see every movie the Syracuse Cinephile Society showed this past weekend, if I didn’t see it, I noted in the list.  Also, I left out descriptions as I could have been writing for a week and wanted to get my review out while it was still fresh in my mind.  Here we go:


FOOTBALL 40 YEARS AGO (1931) * ½

Fairly interesting short with “Pop” Warner showing us how football was played in the old days.  It was pretty painful to hear him talk in front of the camera but not terrible by any means and I loved the "button" method of alerting the center to snap the football.

HELLO OUT THERE (1949) ½ *
James Whale's direction couldn’t save this TV show spot from being anything other than a curio.  It gets half a star because of his involvement and atmospheric sets.

WIFE TROUBLE (1928) ***
I liked this short.  Man’s wife mistakes him for cheating with a lingerie salesperson.  Lots of laughs and a scantily clad woman.  LOVED IT!

BELL BOY 13 (1923) ** ½  
A light comedy with Douglas MacLean.  Enjoyable all around and didn’t tax my brain at all

BAD COMPANY (1931) *** ½
This is the kind of movie I go to Cinefest for!!  Pre-code with gangsters and Ricardo Cortez as the head of his mob. It’s out on laserdisc somewhere, but I’ve never seen it before, but I’m glad I did!

TRAILER MANIA IV: The A's, B's, and C's of Universal (1930s-60s)
– didn’t see it and frankly don’t really care about trailers from this year or any of the other 3 years previous.

Fairly funny Mack Sennett comedy with Carole Lombard and one of my all-time faves, Sally Eilers (with dark hair, no less).  Interesting because it contained sequences of two-strip Technicolor that looked wonderful.

Another silent with the story of a parentless baby who falls in love with the lead.  Jack Hoxie was fine in the role  and lots of great action scenes in between. 

HELEN OF FOUR GATES (1920)  - didn’t see

RED SALUTE (1935) – didn’t see

N.Y., N.Y. (1957) ½ *
Saw this and boy am I sorry I did.  Art films either belong in museums or in the bottom of the trash can.  This one belongs in the latter.  Gets a half star because of the mildly interesting jazz score in the background.

Very funny two-reeler directed by Roscoe Arbuckle about two city girls impressed by their “farm bred” friend. 

Mildly interesting demo reel.  Could have done without the monotonous guy flying in his plane but beggars can’t be choosers.  The shots of the stars were the highlights for me!

I like this one, a lot!  Basically this was a retelling of the “Stella Dallas” story but real seedy bar room scenes and fast pace kept me interested.  Louise Brooks made a brief appearance and looked adorable, even though she played a prostitute.

MOONLIGHT AND PRETZELS (1933) – didn’t see

HI DIDDLE DIDDLE (1943) – didn't see


Good little short from the “Blondes & Redheads” series at RKO.  How June Brewster had any career with that voice is amazing but I love her!  GOOD STUFF!

Mildly interesting and over the top take on what your house could look like after World War 2 is over.  The film has a bunch of Hollywood stars and maybe helped the war effort.

HIS NEW LID (1910) – didn’t see

– didn’t see

LAUGHTER (1930) – didn’t see

LADDIE (1940) – didn’t see

This early comedy, with Marie Dressler, is a tough one.  First only one reel survives and second, I really have a hard time with these primitive comedies.  It was worth seeing but not one I need to see again.
Just a so-so feature with Enid Bennett.

JUST NUTS (1915) ** ½
An early Harold Lloyd film in his Willie Work incarnation, pretty good comedy.

A DEEP SEA PANIC (1924) ***
This one had me in stitches.  A Paul Parrot starring role of a reworked  Harry Langdon title “Shanghaied Lovers” (1924), this short has enough gags to keep you laughing throughout

I really wanted to like this comedy with Billy Bevan and Louise Fazenda but I didn’t find myself laughing that much.


A great pre-code with Sylvia Sidney about a college girl having a baby out of wedlock.  LOTS of girls walking around in lingerie!!  Good story, too!

THE TOY SHOP (1928) ½ *
I hate cartoons with kid characters.  The only thing saving this turd is the Technicolor.

A SONG IN THE DARK (1920s-30s) *** ½
Richard Barrios presents another installment of clips from early musicals.  NEVER to be missed, this one was a lot of fun.

FOOD AND GROWTH (1930) ½ *
Utter crap.  I do not care about the growth habits of rats.  Who really gives a shit??

THE DARK MIRROR (1920) * ½  
A film about someone trying to psycho-analyze the leads dreams.  Meh.
- didn't see

Saturday – 35mm show at the Palace Theater

NO CHILDREN (1929) ***
Pretty funny two-reel comedy about parents not being able to get a hotel room because they have children.  Lots of child hijinx with them tormenting the hotel dick. 

THE JANITOR (1919) **
Sometimes these early comedies work, sometimes they don’t.  This Hank Mann comedy was just all right, not great, not bad and the fighting scenes were just hilarious.

THE PEST (1922) *** ½
What more needs to be said, it’s a Stan Laurel comedy.  Everyone should have a view of this one.
An early Mack Sennett comedy with nearly everyone making wild gestures and crazy faces.  This one was not as amusing as other Sennett’s I have seen but Ford Sterling was great, as usual.

GET YOUR MAN (1927) ****
Even though two reels of this feature were missing (title cards with explanations made up for it) this Clara Bow vehicle was terrific!  It’s really too bad that some of her silents from this period are missing as I think she was at the top of her game. Maybe the best film of the weekend.

MR. FIX-IT (1918) ***
Super fast paced comedy with sans-moustache Douglas Fairbanks which was a pleasure to watch.  No wonder the public loved this guy!

HAIL THE WOMAN (1921) *** ½
Florence Vidor vehicle that I was enthralled by.  The father, played by Theodore Roberts, is a misogynistic pig and although purporting to be Christian, judges everyone from the start, including his own daughter.  Great cameo by Vernon Dent as Flo’s jilted pursuer.

ONE A MINUTE (1921) ** ½
Neat little programmer with Douglas MacLean trying to save the family drug store.

Unseen Three Stooges short??  Yup, just what I needed but the projectionist didn’t turn on the sould for the first 30 seconds, so that kinda sucked.  Just enjoyable.

This film when on too damn long.  JackOakie was funny, but once the story switched from Vaudeville to Hollywood, it just got crazy (like "Hellzapoppin" but no where near as funny)and D-R-A-W-N out.  BLAH!

Back at the hotel and now we switch from film to digital presentation:

A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) * ½
I understand the historical importance of this film and yes, this IS from the restored hand-colored print but I really don’t care all that much.  When David Shepard announced the producers had spent something ridiculous like $500,000 on this restoration, I was thinking to myself, “Hmmmmmm, they should have let this turn to dust and restored them two Colleen Moore films in Italy and about 4 others”.

Too bad the first reel of this Willie & Eugene Howard Vitaphone short doesn’t survive, as the second half was terrific!

Interesting brief clips from a bunch of Clara Bow films saved by a collector and presented by the Museum of Modern Art.  Common clips from “It!” but brief snippets from the missing reels of “Get Your Man”.  The only downside is the clips were “projected” too slow.  Oh well.

HIS CAPTIVE WOMAN (1929) ** 1/2

Interesting little film with Dorothy Mackaill & Milton Sills.  This courtroom drama was another film which went on way too long, but it’s rarity (the sound version has not been seen in 80 years) made up for the film length.  GREAT performances by Marion Byron & Gertrude Howard.  Hopefully this film can be restored as the quality of the print looked superb but the digital projection was jerky.  Lots of beautiful scenery, with and without Ms. Mackaill!!

MAMBA (1930) *** ½
Another winner for me, although I heard some people didn’t like it.  I though Jean Hersholt’s performance as the loathsome lead was tremendous, there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about this guy that would give any reason to sympathize with him.  Eleanor Boardman was pretty stiff as the heroine.

– was not shown

back to FILM from this point on:
– didn’t see


LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (1940) -didn't see

What more can I say other than I look forward to this every year.  Lots of fun and Leonard makes it interesting!

– didn’t see any of these

– didn’t see any of these either, on the way back home.

All in all, a wonderful weekend of great films, friends, food, and fun times.  Cant wait for it again next year!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

CINEFEST 2012!!!

Yes kiddies, it's that time of year again when all lovers of rare and unusual film make the trek to upstate New York to view a bunch of hard to see films.  Of course, I am talking about Cinefest which starts on March 15th in Syracuse (it's actually in the hamlet of Liverpool, but it's all about the films anyway, right??).  This is the 32nd year the boys and girls of the Syracuse Cinephile Society has put this show on and this year looks to be like another killer line-up!  Here's the schedule of films being shown, hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 15th

9:00 am    FOOTBALL 40 YEARS AGO (1931) with Glenn “Pop” Warner
9:10 am    HELLO OUT THERE (1949) Dir.: James Whale, with Harry Morgan
9:45 am    WIFE TROUBLE (1928) with Robert Graves, Adrienne Dore, Muriel Evans
9:55 am    BELL BOY 13 (1923) with Douglas Maclean
10:45 am    BAD COMPANY (1931) with Helen Twelvetrees, Ricardo Cortez


1:00 pm    RAY FAIOLA’S TRAILER MANIA SHOW  IV  Hosted by Ray Faiola
2:05 pm    MATCHMAKING MAMMA (1928) with Carole Lombard
2:25 pm    THE FORBIDDEN TRAIL (1923) with Jack Hoxie, Evelyn Nelson
3:20 pm    HELEN OF FOUR GATES (1921) with Alma Taylor
4:25 pm    RED SALUTE (1936) with Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Young


8:00 pm    N.Y., N.Y. (1957) Directed by Francis Thompson
8:10 pm    CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1931) Dir.: Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle
8:55 pm    STREET OF FORGOTTEN MEN (1926) with Percy Marmont  
10:10 pm    MOONLIGHT AND PRETZELS (1933) with Roger Pryor, Mary Brian
11:35 pm    HI DIDDLE DIDDLE (1942) with Adolphe Menjou, Pola Negri

Friday, March 16th

9:00 am    SKIRMISH ON THE HOME FRONT (1943) w/ Alan Ladd, Betty Hutton
9:10 am    CONTENTED CALVES (1934) with Grady Sutton, June Brewster
9:35 am    HIS NEW LID (1911) with Thomas Ince
9:50 am    CLASSMATES (1914)  with Blanche Sweet, Henry B. Walthall
10:55 am    LAUGHTER (1930) with Nancy Carroll, Fredric March, Frank Morgan


1:10 pm    LADDIE (1940) with Tim Holt, Virginia Gilmore, Joan Carroll
2:25 pm    TILLIE’S TOMATO SURPRISE (1915) with Marie Dressler
2:35 pm    PARTNERS THREE (1918) with Enid Bennett, Casson Ferguson
3:50 pm    JUST NUTS (1929) with Harold Lloyd, Jane Novak, Roy Stewart
4:05 pm    A DEEP BLUE PANIC (1924) with James Parrott, Mildred June
4:30 pm    ASTRAY FROM THE STEERAGE (1921) with Billy Bevan,
4:50 pm    CONFESSIONS OF A CO-ED (1931) with Sylvia Sydney


8:00 pm    REMEMBERING RICHARD GORDON Hosted by John Cocchi
8:15 pm    THE TOY SHOP (1929) with Joseph Swickard, Virginia Marshall
8:25 pm    A SONG IN THE DARK III Hosted by Richard Barrios
9:55 pm    FOOD AND GROWTH (1920s) Informational Short
10:05 pm    THE DARK MIRROR (1920) with Dorothy Dalton, Huntley Gordon
11:00 pm    GRACIE ALLEN MURDER CASE (1939) with Warren William

Saturday, March 17th

7:45 am    Buses will begin to load from the front entrance of the Holiday Inn for the 35mm presentations at the Palace Theatre.  Last bus leaves the Holiday Inn at 8 am.
8:30 am    NO CHILDREN (1928) with Smitty and his Pals
THE JANITOR (1919) with Hank Mann, Madge Kirby
THE PEST (1922) with Stan Laurel, Vera Reynolds, Mae Laurel
THEIR FIRST EXECUTION (1913) with Ford Sterling
GET YOUR MAN (1927) with Clara Bow, Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers
MR FIX-IT (1918) with Douglas Fairbanks, Wanda Hawley


HAIL THE WOMAN (1921) with Florence Vedor, Lloyd Hughes
ONE A MINUTE (1921) with Douglas MacLean, Marian DeBeck
SURPRISE, SURPRISE (1937) with The Three Stooges
ONCE IN A LIFETIME (1933) with Jack Oakie, Sidney Fox
    The buses will leave the Palace Theatre immediately after the presentations.


8:10 pm    A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) Dir.:Georges Mèliés
8:20 pm    THE MUSIC MAKERS (1929) with Willie and Eugene Howard
8:30 pm    TO BE ANNOUNCED
10:05 pm    MAMBA (1929) with Jean Hersholt, Eleanor Boardman, Ralph Forbes
11:20 pm    KING OF THE KONGO, Ep. 5 (1929) with Walter Miller
11:40 pm    EXILE EXPRESS (1939) with Anna Sten, Alan Marshal

Sunday, March 18th

9:00 am    LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (1940) with Jack Benny, Fred Allen
10:30 am    THE AUCTION (2012) Hosted by Leonard Maltin
12 noon    JUSTIN HERMAN SHOW IV (1950’s Paramount Toppers)
12:35 pm    WITHOUT REGRET (1936) with Elissa Landi, Paul Cavanaugh
1:55 pm    THE UNTAMED (1920) with Tom Mix, Pauline Starke
2:50 pm    CHAMPAGNE WALTZ (1937) with Gladys Swarthout, Fred MacMurray

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Lost" El Brendel films surface

I don't really know what to say about this post as I am just flabbergasted. I could go into a long diatribe about lost films and such but I feel it would be much better if I was just blunt about it.  In all my years of studying the films, career, and life of El Brendel I never thought I would be the one making an announcement like this.  Over the past weekend I had the opportunity to borrow over 35 film reels of El & his wife, Flo Bert.  Comprising mainly of home movies, there are also a few other tidbits included line a two minute 35mm snipe announcing El's "visit to your town", and the best film of all,  a Kinescope of a previously unknown and undocumented television show starring El!

I have just started going through some of the cans but am holding off projecting and documenting what's included on these reels until I have the opportunity to clean them, after all, they've been sitting in a closet for a long time and probably haven't been viewed in over 30 years!  I will say the majority of films are in Kodachrome and appear to be in very good shape, especially the 35mm snipe, which is on nitrate and shows absolutely no sign of deterioration.     

As I go through these I will be reporting on what I find, but from what El wrote on the side of the cans, I pulled out a couple of the most interesting ones and unspooled a small section and made scans of some of the frames to give you an idea of what is on them.  Just remember, I have not screened these films from beginning to end, so they could contain just about anything. 

First up, we have a film which El entitled "GAGS".  The film was marked with a code suggesting it dates from September 1960.  In the scans we see El appearing in front of the camera doing a similar routine he did with a trick cigar in 1959's "Laffing Time":

Next, we have a film marked "Universal Studios" where El worked in 1939 and 1940.  It's interesting as he filmed behind the scenes and in one section it appears to show Bing Crosby who worked with El on the 1940 film "If I Had My Way".  Can anyone identify the other people or scenes??:

Here is the 35mm snipe touting El's visit to your town.  Seeing as the film mentions he has been in 47 films, I would date this as probably being from the late 30's:

And lastly we have the "lost" TV show.  The leader on the film states it is a Kinescope and is dated August 24th, 1949.  The studio who produced this is NBC and I'm assuming the name of the show was "Hollywood Premier Theater".  The episode with El Brendel was entitled "Accidentally Axel" and featured singer, musician, and actress Anne Triola, who according to Wikipedia, is still alive.:

That's all I have right now, when the films are cleaned and ready to go, I'll report more details.  I'm amazed these films survive and I can't wait to view them!!