Movies in the Movies: Even More More 'Hellzapoppin''

Movie buffs will be tickled to see "Hellzapoppin''s" topical reference to another film of 1941, "Citizen Kane."


Movies in the Movies: More More 'Hellzapoppin''

People ask me about movie projectionists' nightmares. There are several, which include showing the reels out of sequence -- and anything upside-down or with Adam Sandler, but the worst of the worst would have to be film on the floor.

It's a mess that just keeps on coming when a winding element of the equipment breaks while the celluloid continues to advance. Invariably, the operator's attention is elsewhere, yet even if he notices, the show must go on!

The "Hellzapoppin'" projectionist faces such a predicament.

When I saw this scene, I said, "Tsk, tsk," shaking my head in disgust. One of the first items I was taught about projection is the steadfast rule: "No Girls in the Booth!"

Continued From: "Movies in the Movies: 'Hellzapoppin''" and "Movies in the Movies: More 'Hellzapoppin''"

Related: "Movies in the Movies: 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'" | "Movies in the Movies: 'Girls! Girls! Girls!'"


Big Weekend

Big weekend, making excruciating decisions. I've about got it narrowed down.


Movies in the Movies: More 'Hellzapoppin''

An oddball film is "Hellzapoppin'." Not only do the characters break the "fourth wall" and turn to speak to the audience, but they also break the space-time continuum, shouting off-the-cuff instructions up to the projectionist inside the theatre with you and the other audience members.

Amazingly, and, perhaps, the most outrageous notion to swallow, the booth operator is paying attention to the picture. Projectionists spot check the screen and sound, yes, but seldom follow along with the action. There are other duties and too much noise in the machine room, maybe food.

Furthermore, in the farce, the *live* projectionist can somehow redirect the already printed camera work on the fly, while satisfying the various whims of the two-dimensional black-and-white people weaving inside the photoplay, unprofessionally abandoning the script at this particular performance.

Physics, logic, thespians, technical equipment, and projectionist unions don't bend like that, but here they do, weirdly and wildly.

It's surreal. It's crazy. "It's," as Olsen and Johnson remind us, 'Hellzapoppin'!'"

My favorite gag amidst the insanity is when, due to a movie projector problem, the image jumps out of frame, causing a noticeable obstruction. This condition displays itself with the bottom section of one picture from the celluloid appearing on the screen above the top section of the next frame of the film.

After the visual disruption happens during "Hellzapoppin'," the cast is irate, although they are not too angry to pitch in to help. The taller players raise their arms over their heads and try gallantly to push the black frame bar all the way up past the top of the screen. It budges in the impossible spirit of accommodation.

Funny? We projectionists adore the concept -- with caveats. Some shake heads and say, "@*#%!," and others are preoccupied on dreams of clocking out and lottery tickets....

Continued From: "Movies in the Movies: 'Hellzapoppin''"

To Be Continued...

Related: "Movies in the Movies: 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'" | "Movies in the Movies: 'Girls! Girls! Girls!'"


Movies in the Movies: 'Hellzapoppin''

"Hellzapoppin'" (1941) is based on the Broadway musical-comedy success starring Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, a popular team during the 1930s. I enjoyed the frantic, anything goes structure of the enterprise, which became, in part, the basis for the "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" television series, and, subsequently, scores of shows.

Many readers of these pages know I put myself through school and a large part of my life as a movie theatre projectionist.

So, imagine my delight and pride to discover that the iconic projectionist within "Hellzapoppin'" is none other than...

Shemp Howard!

I'm a Stooge!

Related: "Movies in the Movies: 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'" | "Movies in the Movies: 'Girls! Girls! Girls!'"



Cat photos: Where's Morty?

Morty was fascinated with the record once-in-a-century flood dousing us in Georgia. He had that TV on around the clock, when all the cat needed to do was look out the window, go outside even. No, he wouldn't do that. Kids gotta have their electronic gadgets to filter life. Why bother to actually experience?

Morty did offer to dash down to our creek bank to check on the water currents, but only if I'd buy him a catnip snorkel.

I didn't fall for that one, believe, you, me. We've got catnip flippers strewn all through this house, but just try to find a fourth.

Oh, sure, I could locate two left rears, except they don't fit Morty up front in "Shotgun."

Besides, flippers are a moot mew anyway. He'll only wear them to waddle through catnip slobber.


My Latest Obsession (Collect the Hole Series)

Have you ever heard a stranger's voice and felt an immediate connection? Love at first sound bite? 

I have. The Talking Pothole.


Off the Wall

Saving Facebook: My Confessions:
I would love to see you and New York at Christmastime. That would be fun, but I cannot this year.

Hang in there, though, I will be at Carnegie Hall April 12th with my one man show, "A Tribute to Beyoncé in Card Tricks, Jello Molds, and the Dogg's Swerve On," featuring tropical fruit and, of course, jammm. I'll be crooning, flying them all, from "Sweet Dreams (Smash Mode Remix)" to "Ave Maria" to "Get Me Bodied." I'll leave comps at the box. Bring congratulatory liniments. Looking for a Dance Captain, Dance Private First Class, and a gunner.

I think I've developed Carpal Tunnel Bathroom Syndrome. And I wasn't even right-clicking my mouse.

On Mom's Cuisine:

I boycotted her gargantuan cow tongue on a platter. I think my vegetarianism began with those moo tongue bumps with the hairs in them.

Man, that was the creepiest dinner ever.

That poor cow, running around, going, "MOOF."

On the Dangers of Phoning and Texting While Driving:

Fortunately, I'm old school. I just spin plates on a stick.


I Got Nuthin'

Consolation Video: Yaen: "Fish Fight" via YouTube

Thanks to Randy Stewart, especially for the ouchless fish unquents and the snarky Hello Kitty bandages.


100 Things About Me #171

Michael Caine is making news, WENN reports:

"The actor played spy Harry Palmer in three movies in the mid-1960s - 'The Ipcress File,' 'Funeral In Berlin' and 'Billion Dollar Brain' -- and he's keen to bring the bespectacled Cold War super agent back to life one more time."

Show Business Is My Life
The mention of "The Ipcress File" stirred memories of my 8th grade adolescence, working at the Emory Theatre, a single auditorium in Atlanta, where I apprenticed to become a professional motion picture machine operator. This film, as I recall, was the first 35mm feature I ever screened unsupervised to a paying audience.

I was manning -- rather, boying -- the snack bar during Christmastime, 1965. We'd close the counter by 10 p.m. and I'd climb the staircase to the projection booth each night and finish out the last show with approximately 90 minutes remaining to the end titles. My mentor left the premises early and drove home as part of the big test.

I was under a lot of pressure to not bumble the reels and keep the film advancing smoothly through the trusty pair of Simplex projectors. The large, satisfied audiences gazing Caine never knew an actual grown-up was not in control.

Showing movies properly is not as easy as the task might appear. The urge to make shadow puppets is darn near overpowering. I've always managed to stop two fingers short of a bunny.

I was pleased with my performances of "The Ipcress File," heavily determined by the not getting yelled at.

Operating the machinery without a safety net during those late nights was exhilarating, but -- hey, wait a minute! -- it meant my ride was already in bed.

I didn't mind. I had grinning achievements to ponder, walking out of the building and into more dark.

"The Ipcress File" (1965) Trailer via YouTube

100 Things: #1 | Previous | Next

Poster via Moviegoods


Big Weekend

Kicked myself for missing out on the Bob Hope stamp.

And, hey, how' 'bout that Frank Thompson, huh?



Follow Mike on Twitter

My Recent Confessions and Observations on Twitter, Where Everything Must Be Said in 140 Characters or Less

Missed LOLITA at the drive-in. Saw it on our honeymoon. James Mason: "You're a good little wife." My Donna: "Don't you ever say that to me."

...Yep. Of course, I do.

Finished my paying job. Now important work resumes: Twitter, Facebook, blog, disappearing snacks tricks, kitty wrangling...

Down to [my] last 11 BURN NOTICEs. Rhett, wherever shall I go? Whatever shall I do?

May see FROGS (1972) at the drive-in. Stars Oscar winner Ray Milland and fresh-faced kids Sam Elliott and Joan Van Ark and Burp the Tadpole.

@luckyshirt sez: "Just bought some breakfast at IKEA. It looks pretty good, but I just know it's going to fall apart in a month."

[I] negotiated 4+ weeks on the RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR. 16-hr. days rehearsing & eating with the Rockettes. They had me at "catering."

Serious now, back on [my] rigid diet. All of the succulent arrays of cookies have been removed from the house. ... *burp*

May see SHANTY TRAMP (1967) at the drive-in. Dixie lust, "fights, murders, lynch mobs, ruined reputations & broken homes." But no sweet tea.

Follow Mike on Twitter

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Twitter Birds by SpoonGraphics


Bone to Pick

Finally, I have managed to see "Bachelor Flat," a 1962 release by one of my movie director heroes, Frank Tashlin ("Son of Paleface," "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter," "Hollywood or Bust," "The Geisha Boy," "The Glass Bottom Boat").

Tashlin was a successful animation director, working alongside "Looney Tunes" masters, like Tex Avery, Robert Clampett, and Chuck Jones. He yearned to make live-action films, however, and set out to do so, leaving cartoons behind.

Or did he?

Indeed not. Tashlin became a much sought after comedy director in the '50s and '60s, largely known for his inventive sight gags and cartoonish situations set in the real world.

"Bachelor Flat" is a colorful, frisky sex farce, dripping in Tashlin's trademark pin-up girls and mischievous innuendo, taunting the Hollywood Production Code censorship of the day.

But what I instantly loved about the movie is this sequence, a throwaway subplot involving a little dog (Jessica Dachshund) and a very big dinosaur bone.

"Bachelor Flat" Dinosaur Bone Sequence via YouTube

Music by Johnny Williams of "Star Wars," "Jaws," and "Schindler's List" fame.


Meet the Neighbors

We have drop-ins.

They come from far and wide for our famous 24-hour picnic buffet, but not all guests are pleased


Off the Wall

Saving Facebook: My Confessions:
A Butterball® Turkey makes an attractive ottoman!


'The Dick Van Dyke Show: It May Look Like a Walnut'

Several friends and I spent years trying to capture this particular episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" for our home libraries -- yet, I found it in seconds on the Internet.

Word is producer Sheldon Leonard hated the script and was reluctant to give the go ahead. As it turned out, the walnuts story became the cult favorite in the entire series.

To elaborate on the atypical production would spoil the experience. So, from Feb. 6, 1963, Season 2, Episode 20, here's one I saw first-run, making for a very memorable night.

"It May Look Like a Walnut" via Hulu



My friend Bill Jackson, who doubles for the beloved actor William Colquitt in movies, plays, Las Vegas ooo-la-la! revues, evil dictatorships, and Halloween door-to-doors, sent along this photo.

Kathy and I went to the Broad River [Sunday] - floated down the river for about 2.5 hours.

They take you up the river about 5 miles in an old shool bus - saw this and (for some reason) thought of you....

I've made quite a following with my body fluids.
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