Sunday, April 7, 2013

Jules White

More about Jules White, including his involvement in the Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd film SHOW BUSINESS.

Jules White

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jules White
Stooge060 jules.jpg
BornJulius Weiss
(1900-09-17)September 17, 1900
Budapest, Hungary
DiedApril 30, 1985(1985-04-30) (aged 84)
Van Nuys, California, USA
Years active1924-1974
Height5' 9" (1.75 m)
Jules White (born Julius Weiss) (17 September 1900 – 30 April 1985) was a Hungarian-born American film director and producer best known for his short-subject comedies starring the Three Stooges.

Early years

White began working in motion pictures in the 1910s, as a child actor, for Pathé Studios. He appears in a small role as a Confederate soldier in the landmark silent feature The Birth of a Nation. By the 1920s his brother Jack White had become a successful comedy producer at Educational Pictures, and Jules worked for him as a film editor. Jules became a director in 1926, specializing in comedies.
In 1930 White and his boyhood friend Zion Myers moved to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. They conceived and co-directed M-G-M's gimmicky "Dogville" comedies, which featured trained dogs in satires of recent Hollywood films (like The Dogway Melody and So Quiet on the Canine Front). White and Myers co-directed the Buster Keaton feature Sidewalks of New York, and launched a series of "Goofy Movies," one-reel parodies of silent-era melodramas.

 Columbia Pictures

In 1933 Jules White was appointed head of Columbia Pictures' short-subject division, which became the most prolific comedy factory in Hollywood. In a time when theaters were playing more double-feature programs, fewer short comedies were being made; by the mid-'30s the three major comedy producers--Hal Roach, Educational Pictures and Universal Pictures--scaled back their operations. In contrast, by 1938 Columbia's two-reel-comedy department was so busy that White split it into two units. White produced for the first unit and Hugh McCollum--formerly the executive secretary for Columbia's owner Harry Cohn--for the second. The Columbia comedy stars alternated between the White and McCollum units.
With McCollum shouldering some of the administrative burden, White was free to pursue his first love: directing. He began directing the Columbia shorts in 1938 and would become the department's most prolific director. His sound films were made using an approach that was rooted in silent comedy. Visual action was paced very fast, and actors were coached to gesture broadly and react violently. This emphasis on cartoonish slapstick worked well in the right context, but could become blunt and shocking when stretched too far. White was generally under pressure to finish his productions within a few days, so very often White the producer did not tone down White the director, and the outlandishly violent gags stayed in. Still, moviegoers loved these slam-bang short comedies, and Columbia produced more than 500 of them over a quarter-century.

Directorial style

Physical comedy was the norm for White's short features. Some of his personal favorite gags were used again and again over the years: a comedian being arrested always protests, "I demand a cheap lawyer!" Or the star comedian accidentally collides with the villain and apologizes, "Sorry, mister, there was a man chasing me... you're the man!" White's most familiar gag is probably the one where an actor is stuck in the posterior by a sharp object, and then yells, "Help, help! I'm losing my mind!"
White's style is most evident in his string of two-reelers starring veteran comics Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan. Vernon and Quillan were old pros whose dancing skills made them especially agile comedians. White capitalized on this by staging the kind of rough-and-tumble slapstick not seen since silent-movie days, with the stars and supporting players doing pratfalls, crossing their eyes, getting hit with messy projectiles, having barehanded fistfights and being knocked "cuckoo" in film after film. These comedies were pet projects for White: he kept making Vernon and Quillan shorts long after most of his other series had been discontinued.

Later films

By the 1950s White was working so quickly and economically that he could film a new short comedy in a single day. His standard procedure was to borrow footage from older films and shoot a few new scenes, often using the same actors, sets and costumes. A "new" 15-minute comedy could contain clips from as many as three vintage comedies. Though most of White's comedies of the 1950s are almost identical to his comedies of the 1940s, he still made a few films from scratch, including three 3-D comedies, Spooks! and Pardon My Backfire (1953), both starring The Three Stooges, and Down the Hatch, starring dialect comic Harry Mimmo.
In 1956, when other studios had abandoned short-subject production, Jules White had the field to himself and experimented with new ideas. Many of his Stooge comedies now consisted of all-new material, featuring science-fiction or musical themes, and often including topical references to rock and roll and then-current feature films. White even launched a new series, "Girlie Whirls," as musical-comedy vehicles for plump comedienne Muriel Landers; only one film was made before White reassigned her to one of the Stooge comedies.


Columbia closed its comedy-shorts department at the end of 1957. White dabbled in television at Columbia's Screen Gems subsidiary in the early 1960s, working on the sitcom Oh, Those Bells but soon retired, saying, "Who needs such a rat race?" [1]
Almost 40% of White's output stars The Three Stooges; the other films feature such screen favorites as Buster Keaton, Andy Clyde, Harry Langdon, Hugh Herbert, Vera Vague and El Brendel. To date, only the Stooges and Keaton material have been released to home video.
White died of Alzheimer's Disease on April 30, 1985. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA


Further reading

 External links

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In 1932, while working for Hal Roach, Jules White directed the Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd comedy SHOW BUSINESS. The plot in this film has it that the girls are in ( what else ) show business, and taking a train  trip along with a vaudeville troup starring Anita Garvin. They proceed to fight with Anita Garvin over a coat and other things, their pet monkey becoing involved as well. Finally, the monkey pulls the emergency cord that stops the train, leading to first Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd being kicked off the train, and then Anita Garvin as well.

At left is Anita Garvin, who is involved in a tug of war over a coat with Thelma Todd.

The story has it that Anita Garvin thought it was her coat, and that Thelma Todd just happened to not have anything else on under it but her underwear.

Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd at left, and a blonde Paulette Goddard in the middle.

 Still depicting their misadventures on the train.


Jules White went on to make two reel comedies for Columbia, and in 1936 he remade SHOW BUSINESS with the Three Stooges.

A Pain in the Pullman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Pain in the Pullman
Directed byPreston Black
Produced byJules White
Written byPreston Black
StarringMoe Howard
Larry Fine
Curly Howard
Bud Jamison
James C. Morton
Eddie Laughton
Loretta Andrews
Phyllis Crane
Wilna Hervey
CinematographyBenjamin H. Kline
Editing byWilliam A. Lyon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • June 27, 1936 (1936-06-27)
Running time19' 46"
CountryUnited States
A Pain in the Pullman is the 16th short subject starring American slapstick comedy team the Three Stooges. The trio made a total of 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959.



The Stooges are small time actors traveling by rail to an engagement—and fleeing the landlady for their unpaid rent. They are told to put their pet monkey, Joe, in the baggage car, but are afraid he will get hurt. They sneak Joe onto the Southern Pacific train with them, but Joe gets loose, managing to awaken and annoy all of the train's passengers, including Mr. Paul Pain (James C. Morton) and Mr. Johnson (Bud Jamison). Ultimately, a terrified Joe pulls the train's emergency cord, abruptly stopping the train in the process. The passengers then forcibly remove the Stooges from the train.


Moe Howard had fond memories of filming A Pain in the Pullman. He also recalled his intense dislike for shellfish, and how brother Curly Howard cut the inside of his mouth eating the shells from a Dungeness crab:
...In one sequence, all three of us wound up in the same upper berth. Later, we found ourselves a drawing room, not knowing it was assigned to the star of the show (James C. Morton). There was a lovely table set in the room with all kinds of delicacies.At one point Curly picked up the hard-shelled Dungeness crab. We, of course, were not supposed to know what it was. Larry thought it was a tarantula, Curly figured it to be a turtle, and I concluded that it must be something to eat or it wouldn't be on the table with crackers and sauce.
As the scene progressed, Curly tried to open the crab shell and bent the tines of his fork. I took the fork from Curly, tossed a napkin on the floor, and asked him to pick it up. When Curly bent over, I hit him on the head with the crab, breaking the shell into a million pieces. Then Curly scooped out some of the meat, tasted it, and made a face. He threw the meat away and proceeded to eat the shell.
I have to tell you, if there's one thing to which I have an aversion, it's shellfish, and I couldn't bring myself—even for a film—to put that claw in my mouth. Preston Black, the director, asked me to just lick the claw, but I couldn't. He finally had the prop man duplicate the claw out of sugar and food coloring and had me nibble on it as though I was enjoying it. I was still very wary during the scene. I was afraid they had coated the real shell with sugar and that that awful claw was underneath. I chewed that claw during the scene, but if you'll notice, I did it very gingerly.
In the meantime, Curly was still chewing on the shell, which was cutting the inside of his mouth. Finally, our star comes back to his room and kicks us out, and we three climb into our upper berth to go to sleep.[1]


  • A Pain in the Pullman is the longest Stooge short filmed, running at 19' 46";[2] the shortest is Pardon My Clutch, running at 15' 16".

The Stooges make life a living hell for vain Paul Pain (James C. Morton), the self-proclaimed "heartthrob of millions"
  • This is the first short in which Moe, Larry, and Curly are actually referred to as "The Three Stooges" in the dialogue.
  • The closing shot of the Stooges leaping over a bush, and landing on a trio of bucking steers was reused at the end of A Ducking They Did Go.[2] Same gag was used in the end of The Ren and Stimpy Show episode "Rubber Nipple Salesmen" (show creator John Kricfalusi was apparently a big fan of the Three Stooges, using a good number of Stooge gags as part of his tenure with Ren and Stimpy; the character of Stimpy is himself based on Larry).
  • The plot device of performers traveling via rail and enduring sleeping hardships was previously used by Laurel and Hardy in 1929's Berth Marks. Female comedy team ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd also borrowed the plot device for their 1932 short Show Business (directed by Jules White).[2]
  • The name "Johnson" was shouted a total number of 10 times.


External links

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Having seen both SHOW BUSINESS and A PAIN IN THE PULLMAN, I'd have to say that the Three Stooges version is better. After all, when those three lamebrained knuckleheads get smacked around, you know that's the way it's supposed to be - they're Stooges. When a similar series of misfortunes befalls a couple of girls, it isn't always all that funny, even when it's supposed to be.

Amoung the supporting cast in this film are Bud Jamison, who also worked with Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd, and Phyllis Crane, who was also part of the "Three Hollywood Girls" series. And Wilna Hervey, who had played "The Powerful Katrina" in silent movie adaptations of the comic strip "The Toonerville Trolley", and had made this film as a sort of a comeback in 1936.

                                                                  Moe and a Monkey

The monkey is one of a number of elements repeated from the earlier film.

The man at the right is plauged by the Stooges in place of Anita Garvin,
who had been the  nemnesis of Thelma Todd and Zasu Pitts in the original.

                                             Bud Jamison looks out, the Stooges look out too.



By David Bruskin
Like the Three Stooges, the White Brothers were also three in number, Jack, Jules, and Sam. This book told the story of them all and their long careers in movies and television.
In an interview, Jules White and his brother Sam talked about their experiences with Hal Roach and the making of SHOW BUSINESS. They said that creative differences led to Jules White leaving Roach, but that the one picture he made there had been a tremendous success.
Sam White said that James Parrot ( Charley Chase's brother ) told him that SHOW BUSINESS was a "terriffic picture". "When the preview was held, the audience just got hysterical and Zasu Pitts was never funnier."
Jules White said, "I don't think I ever heard greater laughter than at the preview of that one picture I made for Hal Roach. It was really very funny."
I guess it was a pretty good one, even if the later version with the Three Stooges was even better.

Watch A PAIN IN THE PULLMAN on youtube:





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