The Old Bull
Series: ZaSu Pitts & Thelma Todd Distribution: MGM  Director: George Marshall  Cinematography: Art Lloyd
Production: A-8 Type: Sound short Producer: Hal Roach Editor: Richard Currier
Released: 04 June 1932 Length: 2-reels Dialogue: H.M. Walker Sound recording: James Greene

ZaSu and Thelma are stopped in their car by the roadside when they decide to swap seats. As Thelma moves over to the passengers' side she climbs on top of ZaSu and gets tangled in the streeing wheel, with both ladies showing a considerable amount of leg in the process. ZaSu pulls away and drives down the country road (you cannot fail to notice and cringe at the rear-projected background) when they encounter three farm hands trying to pull a bull out of the road. The car crashes straight through them all and continues onward, through fences, chicken coups and animal enclosures at a nearby farm. Plowing through several bee hives, unable to stop the car on account of ZaSu getting her feet stuck on the gas pedal, the ladies finally crash through a barn door. The owner of the farm (Otto Fries) finds the girls in their car under bails of hay and after reprimanding them, attempts to free ZaSu's foot from the pedal. ZaSu reaches up to free herself from the car and pulls on a lever which opens up a downpouring of grain upon them all. The farmer blows his top and orders the girls off his farm, without their car.
After wandering around lost for miles in the dark the girls spot a nearby house and knock on the door. Yep, it's the same farm they caused all the havoc earlier. The farmer slams the door on them, trapping ZaSu's skirt in it. Thelma helps her try and take it off but when the farmer opens the door Thelma goes flying out of camera range (see favourite bit).
As the girls sit outside on the porch taking off their shoes, a news bulletin comes over the radio that a lion has escaped from a circus. ZaSu ventures into the barn to get the car whilst Thelma distracts the farmers with a tin can which makes the sound of a lion roaring (!) Clumsy ZaSu trips and stumbles her way through the barn, accidentally making as much noise as humanly possible, falling into traps and displacing the equipment. Thelma gets scared when she thinks the lion has got her but discovers it is in fact a cat. She throws it on the farmer who is coming out of a window and then pulls on the tin can. The sound of the roar sends him right back through the window much quicker than when he came out!
ZaSu stumbles upon the bull, screams, then ducks under the car whilst having her rear pecked by a duck that has continued to follow her around. When her back is turned, the lion finds his way into the barn and jumps on ZaSu's back. She escapes and the lion hops into the back of the car and lies down. Thelma jumps into the front, not seeing the animal and attempts to leave but is stopped by the farmer who laughs at the suggestion of the lion being nearby. A roar from the back seat alerts all of them that the animal is closer than expected. The farmer quickly leaves, the girls panic and the picture fades to black!

Favourite bit
At around 8½ minutes into the film, ZaSu has her skirt trapped in the door. Thelma tries to free her but she goes flying off camera when Otto Fries opens the door suddenly. It's a comical moment and although probably rehearsed before shooting, it does look quite genuine as well as Thelma falls off the chair which is just to the right of the frame in the film.

Production A-8 - ZaSu Pitts & Thelma Todd series.
Copyrighted May 18, 1932.
Filming dates
March 18-25, 1932.
This was the ninth film in the series to be released.
Maybe it's just me, but when the bull first makes that noise at ZaSu in the barn it reminds me of Boris Karloff's "Frankenstein" monster!

What the experts say
"A terrible rear-projection scene, a pretty poorly executed sequence with ZaSu in the barn stumbling around the place, and a pace which is at times slower than old people shagging.... but some funny moments along the way do help the film over the finishing line, eventually." ~ Lord Heath.

Zasu Pitts
Thelma Todd
Otto Fries
Mr. Bailey, the farmer
Bobby Burns
Farm hand
Ham Kinsey
Farm hand

This page was last updated on: 05 June 2017