|One Track Minds|
|20 May 1933|
|Gus Meins||Hal Roach||Hap Depew||Louis McManus||James Greene|
|Our lovely ladies are on a crowded train. Immediately, you can spot Charlie Hall in the seat in front of Thelma. (Just HOW many films, has that man been in?) A very happy and boastful Thelma, reads aloud a letter to ZaSu, (but also for the 'benefit' of the other passengers to hear),
"Dear Miss Todd, The committee congratulates you upon being chosen, the most popular and talented girl in Joplin." (No wonder she's so boastful!) She continues dramatically, (voiced raised a bit higher) "You are to report to the 'Roaring Lion Studio' for a test. The rest depends upon the impression you make upon, Director Von Sternheim. Yours truly, The Joplin Chamber Of Commerce."
ZaSu absorbs all this, whilst cutting Thelma's reviews from newspapers and says to Thelma (who is still sighing loudly with satisfaction from the letter!), "Oh, I just know you're going to be successful." Thelma, who is absolutely BRIMMING with self-confidence, replies "Well, I don't see why I couldn't, I have everything!" As she 'shyly' states this, she has an expression on her face that says, "Isn't it obvious?" She cracks me up! Thelma relaxes with a smug face and tells ZaSu to read out loud from her clippings. ZaSu reads, "Our loss, is Hollywood's gain. Eagle Laundry..." The name of the girls' previous employment, jolts Thelma from her bathing in glory and nudges ZaSu sharply. Voice lowered, ZaSu reads on. "Loses best mangle girl!" This sentence earns ZaSu a filthy look from Thelma! The review continues, "Who knows but what Miss Todd's name will be alongside at such stellar lights as Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and (ZaSu gushes) Clark Gable." Thelma stops preening herself and looks quite put out. She adjusts herself on her high horse and spits, "Alongside nothing! (resumes preening) Huh! My name will stand alone!" With good timing, she is silenced by the raspberry sound that comes from the Train Conductor's (Billy Gilbert) ticket machine. "Tickets please!" He says, and almost immediately gets in his usual bad mood, as ZaSu empties their case of clothes, handing them to Billy in the search of the tickets. His mood is not helped by the dirty looks he's receiving from Thelma, who is also snapping at ZaSu. Tickets are finally found and Billy dumps the clothes on ZaSu's lap and tries to peel the sticky (why sticky?) tickets from his fingers. He realises that there is also a child's ticket in his hands and asks where the child is. Suddenly, the girls remember that ZaSu's little brother Spanky, (McFarland) is accompanying them. They panic when they see him having fun bouncing on brooms, that are sticking out of the moving train window! He is quickly brought inside to his dismay, as his fun is over. ZaSu tells Billy, "That's Spanky!" Billy, unimpressed as ever says, "He needs it!"
He removes the brooms and accidently (I think!) hits ZaSu and other passengers with them. A train steward with his tray of goods enters and also feels Billy's broom. His voice reminds me of the 'Stork' in Disney's "Dumbo." A very nonsense-ical conversation ensues and Billy's blood pressure raises. 'Stork' notices this and ends the talk with a sweep of his hand saying, "Ah well, skip it!" Another sweep from Billy's broom hits 'Stork' in the face and they depart.
|'Stork' recognizes our girls and asks them when they left the laundry. Much to Thelma's disgust. ZaSu explains that they are going to Hollywood, "Did you hear about Thelma?" (Thelma preens) 'Stork' says "No. Did she get hurt in the mangle?" Thelma stops preening and turns to the window in temper. He decides to give them all a present to take to Hollywood. "For Spanky," he says "An aeroplane (toy!) for you." For ZaSu, "Caramels to you". He holds up a bag for Thelma "Nuts to you!" Oh, if looks could kill!
Cor blimey, can you believe it, but the VERY director that Thelma has to impress in Hollywood, a certain Von Sternheim, enters the carriage? He is of a same mood as Billy Gilbert. He complains, "Aeroplane, forced landing? BAH!" "Yes, Mr. Von Sternheim." Says his crawling yes-man assistant, who is on his way to complain to Billy about not having a carriage to themselves. His cases bash the heads of seated passengers and no apologies are on offer! Billy is not interested and the assistant retorts, "Look here! Do you realise who he he is?" For some reason, he says 'he' twice! Billy doesn't care and leaves. Von Sternheim moves around the carriage with his thumbs together staring at the view through his hands. When he gets to the girls' area, he decides he likes the view there, and wants the girls' seats (don't we all?) The girls refuse and Thelma gets as annoyed as Billy when he is complained to. Billy points to the empty seats opposite and the Director and his assistant reluctantly sit down. Von Sternheim is especially displeased when Spanky puts HIS thumbs together in a comical impersonation of him!
Later, ZaSu unsuccessfully attempts to assemble Spanky's toy plane and only succeeds in disturbing Thelma, who is nut-nibbling, and she grabs it and fixes it together herself. Unwisely, they let the plane fly through the carriage, which knocks off a man's toupee and gets entangled in another man's big beard. The girls untangle it, only to see it fly through the restaurant carriage, crashing into the waiter who spills food all over the Director and the yes-man assistant. Again, they complain to Billy, who gets in such a volcanic temper, he pulls the chain, to stop the train (Hey! That rhymes!) and everyone lands in a heap on the floor.
Night time. Most of the passengers are asleep. ZaSu is disturbed from her knitting by a loud, deaf hillbilly who asks her if her "seat is took?" She arises, looks where she was just sitting and says, "The last time I looked, I was sitting in it!" He mis-hears and asks, "You say you're going to Cincinnati?" ZaSu's attempts to correct him are wasted as he butts in to tell her that she will have to talk loud, as he is a little bit 'deef!' "Can't you find a chair?" she asks. "Fair, yes. I'm going to the fair." He answers. He goes on, "I'm taking my prize bees with me!" He shows her his glass box full of bees. (Who ARE these people?) All this commotion wakes everybody, including the Director who shouts at ZaSu and wags his finger in her face. Thelma reacts like a shot (You DON'T wanna upset HER!) and smacks his arm, gets up and fiercely wags HER finger in HIS face! Lots of pushing and shoving and suitcases flying until fade.
|ZaSu wakes with a stiff neck. Thelma violently and noisily remedies this with some physical jerks. ZaSu equally noisily, cracks the bones in her hands and fingers, one by one. Looking for Spanky, she spots him fast asleep in the lap of the Director. (Don't ask!) She says to Thelma, "Oh there he is, the little darling." Thelma says, for some reason, in a slight Irish accent(?) "Darlin' me eye!" As ZaSu lifts Spanky, she notices a large advert in the newspaper underneath him. It's a big picture of Director Von Sternheim 'Star Maker Of The Roaring Lion Studios'. Seeing this, Thelma is in a massive panic and they both go to the bathroom to make themselves presentable before he wakes. There is quite a few girls in there already, and bitchiness reigns as they all give each other the evil eye. But NOBODY can do it like Thelma! Heated rollers are left on a chair and Thelma shouts in pain when she sits on them. In a temper, she throws them in the sink that ZaSu is using.
This causes steam to rise in ZaSu's face and, in between coughs, she asks Thelma to get her some water. Thelma mistakenly presses the 'soap' button as well, so after drinking, ZaSu is blowing bubbles! One even 'pops' on Thelma's nose!
The girls return to their seats and smile sweetly at the Director, who ignores them. Thelma even flirts and waves and he turns away! (The mad fool!) Thelma looks at him in disbelief, because, quite rightly, she is not in the habit of being turned down! ZaSu tells her to recite something to impress him. Thelma begins: "Into the valley of death, rose the 500...." " 600 ." corrects ZaSu. Von Sternheim is still purposely taking no notice, so ZaSu tells Thelma to recite louder. Thelma does so, but unfortunately has problems remembering the "500 / 600" part, three times! A fed up Spanky asks her, "Can you make up your mind?" The look that Thelma gives him would scare a grown man, never mind a child!
Meanwhile, the yes-man assistant, rushes in with a telegram and says, "Our star has got temperamental again and she's left!" The Director asks, "Well? What of it?" He continues to say that he can make a star out of anyone. ZaSu stands and announces that Thelma is an actress and shows him Thelma's scrapbook, filled with cuttings, pictures and reviews. Von Sternheim remains unimpressed, especially when ZaSu points to a picture and says, "Oh, that's not her, that's a bloodhound, I think!" Charming!" While all this is going on, Thelma is making some rather unflattering (for her) toothy poses! Eventually, he relents and agrees to give them both a test, right there on the train. "See what you can do with this!" He gives Thelma the script, informing her that she is 'the daughter'. To ZaSu, he says, "You're the Father! And you must say, 'Go! And never darken my door again!' " He gives her a large walking cane to emphasize her line. She does so, but not with enough 'force', so when she gets more forceful, the second time, she nearly falls out the window! Charlie Hall, Baldwin Cooke and others help her back in. Tangled at the end of ZaSu's hooked cane is a large mailbag that was 'hooked' outside! A further attempt leads to her repeating her mistake of nearly flying out the window, but this time hooking a tree! Spanky says, "Next time, bring me in a pony!" He then seems to remember that he has to laugh. And because it's a tiny bit late, it comes out very fake. But he's SO cute, he gets away with it! All this is much to the displeasure of Thelma, who wants to impress the Director! Naturally, Billy has his usual 'turn', as he takes away the mailbag and tree!
Back in their seats, a very upset Thelma turns to ZaSu and snorts, "With force! Huh!" and using both feet, violently kicks the chair in front of her. The poor man in it, goes flying and this leads to tit-for-tat goings-on with the other passengers in the carriage. Thelma, as usual, places her hands on her hips, unafraid, ready for action (tea please!)Then SHE goes flying, as a passenger behind her, pushes HER chair! Before you know it, the glass case containing the bees gets hit. Beemania fills the carriage! Thelma and ZaSu clamber over chairs (and people!) to create a distance from the little buzzers! Be warned! All that 'clambering' will increase the need for more tea! They find a "Eagle Laundry" (WHAT a coincidence! That's where they used to work!) linen basket to hide in. The 'buzzing' increases in volume and the girls peep out and deliver four evil eyes to Spanky, who is happily blowing on a 'buzzing-whistle-type toy. He hears the REAL bees coming their way and fearfully tells the girls to "Move over!" He squeezes into the linen basket in between Thelma and ZaSu (Is that kettle on yet?) just in the nick of time, as the bees enter the room.
Corny ending, to a corny short film and I love it!
•Film #17 in the Pitts-Todd series. It was also the last.
Did you notice?
•Baldwin Cooke is one of the passengers on the train, though his part is not credited on the IMDb.
•Billy Bletcher has two roles: he is the passenger whose beard catches Spanky's toy plane, and he is also the passenger sitting directly in front of Zasu.
Deaf Beekeeper passenger
Train snack salesman
|Carl M. Leviness
Passenger with whiskers/
Passenger whose seat is kicked by Thelma
|George 'Spanky' McFarland
https://silentlocations.wordpress.com (John Bengston)
Jim Clewer (help with Helen Dale)
Mick Roche (review)
Brent Seguine (identification of Billy Beltcher, Carl M. Leviness and Billy Engle)
This page was last updated on: 22 May 2017