06 February 1932
|Director: Morey Lightfoot, Gilbert Pratt Producer: Hal Roach Dialogue: H.M. Walker
Cinematography: Len Powers Editor: Richard C. Currier Sound recording: Elmer Raguse
|IMAGE COMING SOON||REVIEW BY MICK ROCHE...
Our Thelma is a secretary/reporter for a newspaper, taking dictation (ooh!) from her boss. On the wall behind him, is a calendar which is very similar to the one that appears in the marvellous "MIXED NUTS". He tells her to "Get that out (the letter!) and I'll sign it later." Super-confident and casually gum-chewing, Thelma types it out at an incredible speed. She hands the finished letter to him, before he reaches the door! He surprisingly and sarcastically asks, "What held you up?" Thelma, in FULL show-off mode, trills "Oh not a thing, not a thing. The keys just stuck a little!" (I think that is a great answer!) She then struts back to her desk a la Mae West! We hear a knock at the door. "Come in!" she invites. Another knock on the door. This alters Thelma's mood and her face shows her lovely annoyed expression, which shortens the gap between her nose and top lip. It's a very wet ZaSu, who, helpfully brought Thelma's umbrella, but couldn't open it, as the plastic cover was still on! In comes another female reporter, boasting that her story has made the front page again. The headline reads ......
"IMPERIAL SEAL STOLEN. Owned By Baron Leiberdorf Of Siberia. Believed To Be Inside Job."
Thelma is jealously not impressed.
Elsewhere, in a 'boarding house for freaks', the landlord, (Frank Austin) is complaining about the lack of business to a couple of his lodgers, a midget and a strange looking African/Red Indian, in full get-up! Another lodger enters, a tall bendy-man who appears to have bones of rubber!
|He reveals that at the circus they all work for, a seal has been stolen. You've guessed it, it's from Siberia! I can almost FEEL a misunderstanding coming up! In another room, the two seal-stealers, (one of whom is Charlie Hall) carry their prize and place it on the bed. The plan is to keep it there for the night and sell it in the morning (great plan!) The robber phones the newspaper advertising department and Thelma answers in her posh voice. She explains that advertising is closed, but she will note it down. He dictates, "Seal For Sale- Cheap!" Thelma is excited, especially when he confirms the seal is from Siberia! Two and two have just made five! Charlie Hall disconnects the call and explains to the robber that if he continued with the call, they would both 'get pinched'. Thelma gets the number traced anyway and leaves a message for her boss to call her, grabs ZaSu and they make their way to the boarding house. ZaSu is unhappy (as usual) because it is still raining and the house is very creepy-looking. They gain entrance to the cellar and ZaSu leaps out of her skin when she treads on a horn and wraps herself around Thelma (some girls get all the breaks!). Then, they both leap, as the wind slams the cellar door shut and only the lightning outside pierces the darkness. The girls eventually make it upstairs, but are still jumpy, as the wind is blowing open and shut various other doors. They hide as they hear footsteps. It's two other lodgers, carrying between them a life-size dummy that resembles Rasputin. (Why? Who the hell knows!) Seeing this, makes the girls' fear increase, as they think that it's a body and provides us with yet another over-the-top double-take from Thelma! (I, for one, love it!)
||IMAGE COMING SOON
|IMAGE COMING SOON||The men stand 'Rasputin' up against the wall, with it's arms raised high above it's head. (?) Meanwhile, the girls walk into the landlord and Thelma quickly asks for a room for the night, which doesn't fill the still scared ZaSu with glee at all! She relents on condition that they can have a room near the stairs 'in case of fire'! This comment grates on Thelma, because everywhere is covered in damp and it is still pouring with rain! The look that she gives ZaSu, could have melted concrete! It scared ZaSu more than anything else so far! Frank Austin shows them to their room and leaves them both with a leer, which, with his face, is far from sexy! Thelma drags ZaSu to 'assist' her in the search for the seal. ZaSu is struck dumb by the sight of a giant (Clifford Thompson) who has stepped into the hall. Thelma turns to see and SCREAMS, collapsing into ZaSu's arms. Thelma makes yet another one of her extremely strange noises, as ZaSu drops her heavily to the floor. "AAH-OWW!", is as best as I can spell it, but I suppose if my bum hit the floor as hard, I may make the same noise! The giant ignores all this tomfoolery and uses the gaslight on the ceiling to fire up his cigarette. The girls run. ZaSu straight into the African/Red Indian and yells, quickly turning into the room with 'Rasputin', who slowly tilts forward and drops on ZaSu. Panic ensues, as the dummy's arms have draped around her neck and poor terrified ZaSu shouts for Thelma for 'help' as she rolls around the floor with 'Rasputin'! At that time, Thelma is entering another room, where an angry man in a skeleton suit suddenly sits up and Thelma runs screaming, and reaches ZaSu's wrestling match. Thelma pulls at 'Rasputin's' arm to help her friend. The arm wrenches off, and Thelma goes tumbling over.|
|She then looks at the cloth arm and the pathetic sight of ZaSu fighting with a dummy and her annoyed expression returns. Thelma throws the dummy aside in temper. She glares at ZaSu and barks, "Get up! What's the idea of making all this racket, over an old dummy?" Like a chastened child, ZaSu puts her finger in her mouth and sulkily says, "Well, I went in there and he jumped right at me!" Once more, Thelma recreates her annoyed face, puts her hands on her hips and snarls,"Jumped at ya? Don't make me laugh!" Thelma says this using her usual American accent, except for the word, 'laugh'. This is said in a very English, 'larf'. I don't know why, ask Thelma! All this carry on has disturbed the giant, who tells them to go to bed and be quiet. Thelma's bravado has left her, as they apologise and leave.
Meanwhile, in another room, 'Jocko' the boxing gorilla, is misbehaving for his trainer, who is trying to get him to wear a glove. At last, he succeeds and they fight. Jocko knocks him through the wall, where our girls are passing by on the way to their room. They run. As the trainer connects with the wall and sinks unconscious to the floor, Jocko removes his gloves and watches while the door slowly opens. It's Thelma. She looks all around the room, but not behind the door, where Jocko is standing. Thelma says to ZaSu, "Nothing here." ZaSu makes a similar check and agrees. Jocko seems confused, well, as confused as a gorilla CAN seem! They look through the keyhole of the robber's room and jump in fright as Charlie Hall says ,"Are you dames looking for something?" They lie and say 'telephone'and he points them in the direction, 'around the corner'.
|IMAGE COMING SOON
|IMAGE COMING SOON||He then panics and does a massive pratfall, as he rushes into his room, telling his boss, in a fearful, stuttery voice and jittery, jerky body movements, that the place is being raided. As this wonderful cartoony over acting is taking place, he cheekily looks at us in the camera twice and doesn't get away with it, like Mr. Hardy would! The boss tells Charlie to 'hide the seal' and as it seems to be so easy to get from room to room, he hides it in the girls' bed! As this madness is occurring, the girls pass Jocko's trainer, who is still unconscious on the floor and Thelma nodding to ZaSu knowingly, says "He's drunk." Then they both scream when they see Jocko strolling in the hall. They run. Thelma makes a 'quack' sound. (honestly!) They get to their room and Thelma hides in the bed that contains the seal! Now, this is where I get very jealous. Thelma finds that her lovely big bum is being slapped. (Someone has actually stood in for the seal!) She at first thinks it is ZaSu doing the deed, until she sees her frightened friend near the door. More slaps make Thelma revisit her dictionary of bizarre noises and yells something like, "AYAYAYAYAY" together with the biggest double-take of the day! She falls out and rolls under the bed. ZaSu moves to the bed and asks Thelma, (though we know that it is the seal) to move over, which Thelma does- under the bed! ZaSu gets in and the 'seal' immediately starts slapping ZaSu's bum (what lucky swine became a seal for the day?) and she says, "Stop it Thelma, I'm scared enough as it is! From underneath the bed, Thelma pulls at the covers and ZaSu thinks that there is somebody ELSE in the room! Thelma sits up and realises that the continuing slapping is NOT down to her blonde buddy, so she SCREAMS, rolls out of the bed, getting in a right old ramble-tamble on top of Thelma,whose suspenders are visible! (Has anybody got any tea bags? PLEASE!) They get up and see the seal on the bed, in fact, Thelma had to look twice to get her famously dreadful double-take in! She then happily says, "It's the seal! It's the royal seal! Here's my chance to make the front page!" She instructs ZaSu to keep an eye on the seal, while she phones the newspaper.
Charlie Hall meanwhile, has HIS instructions to get the seal out of the girls' room and back to theirs. Charlie does this quickly and quietly and ZaSu is none the wiser! Thelma's boss (Billy Gilbert) tells her to hold on to the seal until he gets there. Big panic happens when the girls realise that the seal is gone! Then they hear, quite clearly (thin walls), the robbers next door planning on getting 'the seal out of here!) Thelma has a plan. She will keep the robbers busy in the hall (ooh!) whilst ZaSu creeps in and gets the seal back to their room. So, Thelma knocks on their door and says, "Pardon me, I'm trying to find a name in the phone book." The boss replies, "You shouldn't have any trouble, there are a lot of names!" To give ZaSu more time, Thelma waffles about 'Smith'. "John Smith, now there's a name. Reminds me of Pochahontas. Hunting.Fishing." All with dramatic movements! Which made the boss say, "Do you want a name or a vacation?"
ZaSu, meanwhile is trying to coax the seal into their room. Saying, "SHOO", a lot. Which unsurprisingly, doesn't work. But a trail of fish, does!
Back to Thelma. "Come to think of it," she waffles, "It wasn't Smith, but it starts with an 'S'.Let me see. 'Thompson!' " The robbers have had quite enough and return to their room. It's their turn to panic, as their room is 'seal-less'. In fact, Charlie panics so much, he keeps looking at us in the camera! (Dontcha love it?) They rightly suspect our girls and bash in their door. Thelma grabs ZaSu and pulls her into the closet and after a lot of protest, gets ZaSu's slip off of her! (Where IS that tea?) Thelma wraps it around the seal to make it look like a baby and sets it on ZaSu's lap. The robbers burst open the door and bash Thelma aside and she does an expert slapstick tumble over the bed. Like in a silent movie, she rolls her sleeves up, ready for a fight and slams the door in Charlie's face, bashing his nose! ZaSu plays the doting mother, singing "Rock-a-bye baby", to her 'baby!' Thelma scolds the robbers for, 'waking up baby' and throws them out. Poor Charlie literally! Billy Gilbert and his newspapermen arrive. The robbers run away. "Great work, Toddy old girl." says Billy, "This means the front page for you!" Then, he sees the 'seal.' He explodes, "You're fired!" whilst showing her the paper with the 'proper' seal story. He storms out. The girls get their coats. Thelma says to ZaSu, "I guess there ain't nothing else gonna happen." Then in comes Jocko, the girls SCREAM and their hats zoom up into the air with fright! Still in great fear,they run right through the door, collapsing on to the floor. Get up, SCREAM again and run for their lives!
Extremely enjoyable and a big favourite.
A kiss to both. xx
Did you notice?
Jocko, the boxing gorilla
Nelson Hughes (help and assistance)
Craig Calman (help)
Review by Mick Roche.
This page was last updated on: 28 October 2017