Forced into acting by a steady diet of chicken patties and canned peas.
I'm reading this obituary of a character actor:
That's from 1946. I was interested in Charles Butterworth because I just watched the 1932 movie "Love Me Tonight." I was going on about that movie in the comments to yesterday's post about 3 movies from the 1930s. The other 2 were "The Smiling Lieutenant" and "One Hour With You."
All 3 starred Maurice Chevalier, and all 3 featured the character actor Charles Ruggles, but this morning I was clicking around and reading about Charles Butterworth, reading his Wikipedia page, wondering if he killed himself and fascinated by the information that "His distinctive voice was the inspiration for the Cap'n Crunch commercials created by the Jay Ward studio."
In the comments to yesterday's post, I linked to video of the entire movie "Love Me Tonight" (which was directed by Rouben Mamoulian). I specified that I loved the first 18 minutes, which features some brilliant use of what I think is called musique concrète. Sound effects like hammering and street noise converge into music. I'll just embed the video below.
We're introduced to Paris in general and then Maurice Chevalier specifically and to his highly sexualized relationship to Paris. Eventually, the montage of sound and the music carries us to the Princess who's longing for love but cloistered in her chateau (and singing her lungs out).
The 18 minutes I love are completed as a ladder comes into view. Scroll to that point and you'll experience the entrance of Charles Butterworth (as the Comte de Savignac, the extreme opposite of a desirable lover):
Here's something interesting about Butterworth: He was friends with Robert Benchley and other literary wits of the time and "became so famous for his dry quips and cynical asides that Hollywood screenwriters began writing only fragmentary scripts for him, hoping that the actor would 'fill in the blanks' with his own bon mots." We're told he once "complained," exclaiming, "I need material as much as anyone else!"
Was that a complaint or an example of the wit?
18 Comments on Althouse: Forced into acting by a steady diet of chicken patties and canned peas.
And I liked the character actors better than the leads. Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Edna May Oliver, and I remember Butterworth too. What a great name!
IRL my favorite people were the eccentric ones, the characters."
Then I read about Jay Ward's somewhat goofy series of enterprises, and how Allan Burns got his start with him. Burns saw himself as an animator/artist, and walked in to that Sunset Strip office with no appointment, but with a portfolio. He thought he had missed Burns completely, but before the day was out he was hired--mostly to produce posters, reproducing someone else's art, to begin with. Burns got a feel for dialogue, timing, setting up jokes, and I think this all helped him co-create the Mary Tyler Moore show. "
Remember Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, the cereals shot from guns (to the accompaniment of the 1812 Overture)?
Remember Quisp and Quake and the short-lived Quangaroos?
Remember giving Life cereal to Mikey?
He won't eat it. He hates everything!"