Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Edna May Oliver puts Ted Healy and his Stooges in line
MEET THE BARON (1933). Director: Walter Lang.

"I know I'm not good-looking, but what's my opinion against thousands of others." -- Jimmy Durante.

Two men (Jack Pearl, who is not given a name, and Jimmy Durante as "Joe McGoo") are lost in the jungles of Africa when they encounter Baron Munchausen (Henry Kolker of The Crash), who takes all of their water supply and abandons them. Jack and Joe are rescued, and the former is mistaken for the real Munchausen, and hailed as a hero. The two men are brought to Cuddle College where "Munchausen" is to lecture, and they meet the upstairs maid Zasu (Zasu Pitts of Let's Face It), janitor Ted Healy and his Stooges, and Dean Primrose (Edna May Oliver). All is well until the real Baron Munchausen shows up ... Jack Pearl had done his turn as the baron on the radio (and was still doing it on Jackie Gleason's show in the early sixties), but while he's a competent performer, he isn't that funny and his film career never amounted to much. It's easy to see why the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Curly Howard, and Larry Fine) dumped the completely unimpressive Ted Healy, their nominal leader, and branched out on their own; nevertheless Healy did quite a few movies after Meet the Baron. Zasu Pitts is Zasu Pitts, but the film is stolen by an absolutely excellent comic performance by Edna May Oliver [Lydia], who can put those stooges in their places! A highlight is the MGM Girls doing the production number "Clean as a Whistle," not to mention the smashing final gag.

NOTE: It took me long enough to realize it, but I have been continuously misspelling Zasu Pitts name as Zazu with a "z" when it's Zasu with an "s," for shame! If only the damned lady hadn't appeared in so many movies reviewed on this blog! I have corrected some of the earlier reviews, but you'll probably still come across the misspelling now and then. Let's hope I get it right in the future, Zasu!

Verdict: Minor, but cute, comedy with enthusiastic players. **1/2.

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