Friday, August 23, 2013

Hal Roach Series Ads

Ads for several series of two-reel comedies that were produced by Hal Roach during the 1930's. Since they were released by MGM, there are also references to other short subjects that were released by MGM during the same period including Pete Smith Specialties, Flip The Frog, Willie Whopper, the Dogville Comedies, etc.

"The Boy Friends" was like a teenage version of Our Gang. It was not a success.
The Dogville comedies featured dogs in  costumes. They were made by Jules White, who directed Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd in SHOW BUSINESS, and later would direct the Three Stooges at Columbia
Spanky McFarland and Dickey Moore were very popular in the Our Gang series at the time.

Occasionally you see where Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd were compared to Marie Dressler and Polly Moran, who starred in feature films.
An ad for the Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd series.
Although they never made it to the same level of success as Laurel and Hardy, it could be said that Zasu Pitts would become a greater success than either of them.

Willy Whopper replaced Flip The Frog at the Iwerks studio. Iwerks ended up going back to Disney, which was where he started.


Thelma Todd appeared with Charley Chase in HIGH C'S, but I'm afraid the term "he-man action" doesn't really fit Charley Chase. They probably thought that Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly made a good team, but the line about Roach scouring the world of show business to find her sounds more like hype. I think it was more that they could get her when they couldn't afford Zasu Pitts any more.

Hal Roach's "All-Stars" was a name they'd used for a while: Laurel and Hardy had come from a series with that name. But the All-Stars and the Musical Comedies in this period were not successful.

 The Irvin S. Cobb series only lasted a year. After sound came in, the Thelma Todd series was the only new short subject series at the Roach studio to be a success.

I don't know if Roach actually made any two-reel comedies based on Broadway hits, although Patsy Kelly came from the New York stage. The Dionne Quintuplets were in the news at the time and appeared in some movies.

Although Thelma Todd died at the end of 1935, her series of short subjects would continue without her into 1936, after which they switched to feature films. Our Gang also made one feature film, GENERAL SPANKY, which featured the beautiful Rosina Lawrence, also a part of the tail end of what had been the old Thelma Todd series. Charley Chase also made a feature ( and with Rosina Lawrence ), but in the end it was released as a short subject. Roach's last series was Our Gang, which he eventually sold to MGM. The era of short subjects at Roach had drawn to a close, but he would find some success at producing "streamliners" for theatrical distribution and would later make programs for television.

Charley Chase:
Dionne Quintuplets:
Dogville Comedies:
Marie Dressler and Polly Moran:
Flip The Frog:
Hearst Metrotone News:
Laurel And Hardy:
Our Gang:
Willie Whopper:


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