Friday, September 29, 2017

Minding Her Trapeze and Cues



Three rings, and they're all a bit sleazy
This swinger appallingly easy
Dwight Frye's cheatin' bride
Lives high, but will slide
Poor thing has a fall most trapeze-y.

Aerialist Josie La Tour (Greta Nissen) is the wife of jealous husband Flandrin the Great (Dwight Frye), and is the title character in Circus Queen Murder (Roy William Neill ; 1933). Title by Donald B. Benson, minding her trapezius.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sense or Censor?



Since petals would float on the water,
He tossed in a villager's daughter.
The code disapproved.
The scene was removed,
And viewers inferred something fraughter.

Donald B. Benson

The Monster (Boris Karloff) and Little Maria (Marilyn Harris) in Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931) From Donald Benson: The monster befriends a small girl and they watch flower petals float on the lake. He tosses her in, expecting her to float as well. He's horrified when she doesn't. The scene was cut, so the next scene of the father carrying her body implies genuine evil.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Isle Be Sewing You



If you plot a course east from Bikini
There's this spot that's policed by a meanie
So sadistic a man
Here's his twisted life plan:
Making lots of he-beasts halloweeny.

Charles Laughton is the sadistic Dr.Moreau in the decidedly pre-Code horror classic, Island of Lost Souls (Erle C. Kenton, 1932). Stay tuned to LimerWrecks for the Countdown to Halloween, our month-long celebration of spooky movies and monstrous verse.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gentlemen Prefer Blondell



Ol' Joan didn't hide from publicity
On the phone she'd provide electricity
In bath and boudoir
Her path took her far
She's shown just this side of explicit-y.

Pre-Code era star Joan Blondell: no actress looked like she was having more fun getting in and out of her clothes. Title by that chaser of Loos women, gentle Donald B. Benson.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Miracle Cure For a Code



In "Morgan's Creek" Betty's a virgin
But just till some ill-advised mergin'.
The censors, I'll bet
Most deeply regret
They stood by and let Preston Sturge in.

Donald B. Benson

Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken star in the Code-defying The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), written and directed by Preston Sturges. Hutton spends a wild night on the town, marrying a soldier whose name and face she can't remember. And it gets wilder from there.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

That Impure Object of Desire?



Though quite innocent Betty appears
She shows skin when on set she premieres
The censor says, "Gracious!
Immensely salacious!
She's beginning to get lots of leers!"

David Cairns

Betty Boop excites The Old Man of the Mountain (Dave Fleischer;1933).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fritzkrieg!



This guy's a deplorable sneak
He despises those more of a freak
This ganef and ghoul
To the monster is cruel
No surprise Fritz's fortunes are bleak.

In Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931), Fritz (Dwight Frye) taunts the Monster (Boris Karloff) with a torch. Limerick lexicon: ganef = thief. It's Dwight Frye-Day at LimerWrecks.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Against the Grains



Within reach, a bare limb is like candy
Skin beseeching a him to get randy
Then the facts intervene
Showing cracks in the scene
On the beach, and in swimsuits, it's sandy.

Chester Morris and Carole Lombard are Sinners in the Sun (Alexander Hall; 1932).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

No Good Time Goes Unpunished



Just like juries, film plots must obey
Laws ensuring the rotten cliché   
In Virtue v. Sin
The church gets to win
Impure, flapper hotties must pay.

Dorothy Sebastian, Joan Crawford, and Anita Page in Our Dancing Daughters (Harry Beaumont;1928). Title by good for nothing Donald B. Benson.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nick and Noway



The facts of life cannot be stated
So alternate means are created.
If a lady expects,
She didn't have sex
But was artfully insinuated.

Donald B. Benson

After the Thin Man (W.S. Van Dyke; 1936) closes with Nick asking Nora why she is knitting booties. “And you call yourself a detective…”

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Medium Was the Menace

 

When naughtiness reached a crescendo,
Both up front and by innuendo,
The censoring boards
Protected us hordes
Till cable, the net, and Nintendo.

Donald B. Benson

Joan Blondell and Dick Powell in Convention City (Archie Mayo; 1933)--a notoriously racy film, now apparently lost.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

From Boop to Nuts



Her garter she'd flash, to amaze
All hearts filled with passion, ablaze
This flapper cartoon
Would happily croon                                                                        
Till the tart had her clash with Will Hays.

David Cairns

 

Over the years, Betty Boop's garter changed styles as well as legs, and her cartoons changed from risqué to tame, the latter due to influence of the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930, aka the Hays Code after censor Will Hays.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Don't Look Then



Could Dwight see the byway ahead?
That nightmarish highway of dread?
That soon all his roles
Would be loonies and trolls
Did it frighten the guy to drop dead?

Dwight Frye as Renfield, on the road to the castle of Dracula (Todd Browning; 1931). On November 7, 1943, Frye died of a heart attack while riding on a bus in Hollywood.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

He's Too Darn...Not



Patsy's beau doesn't cotton she's there,
So this show at a rotten cad's lair.
He's sick (morning after).
She quickly grows dafter.
Still it's no, the poor sot doesn't care.

Donald B. Benson



Marion Davies and Lawrence Gray in The Patsy (King Vidor; 1928). From Donald: "Davies has schemed for the hero to burst in, rescue her from a playboy, and realize he loves her. But aforementioned playboy is enduring a hangover, so she tries -- and fails -- to rouse him with impressions of three current sirens, Mae Murray, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish (above)."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Holy Unlock



The hero, who sure wasn't choosy
Gets married to pure-looking floozy.
A proper divorce?
Too sinful, of course.
It's lucky the floozy is boozy

Donald B. Benson

Dorothy Sebastian and Anita Page in Our Dancing Daughters (Harry Beaumont; 1928). Says Donald, "Evil Anita Page steals Johnny Mack Brown from pretending-to-be-fast Joan Crawford. SPOILER: The villainess then conveniently gets drunk and takes a header down a stairway to clear way for happy ending."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Unflappable



Her raciness draws 'em like flies.
Disgraceful, her flapperesque guise.
When called on her bluff,
She hollers, "Enough!
This face is a front to please guys!"

Donald B. Benson

Mr. Benson writes, "A rich young man (Neil Hamilton) tests a poor girl's virtue in Why Be Good? (William A. Seiter; 1929) -- as in many other films. But instead of the usual melodrama, Colleen Moore rips into him with an angry lecture on how girls HAVE to play sexy."                 
Here at LimerWrecks, we LOVE Colleen Moore.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Holy It



This shop girl is good, but ambitious
And maybe a bit too delicious.
Mistaken for bad,
She still gets her lad
When cleared in a manner propitious.

Donald B. Benson

Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno in "It" (Clarence G. Badger, Josef von Sternberg; 1927). Says Mr. Benson: Clara Bow targets a rich young man, but he thinks she's an unwed mother (her roommate has a baby; her marital status is kept fuzzy). Happy ending aside, it's implied unwed motherhood WOULD disqualify her from respectable marriage.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

From Max to Minimum



Unlike some cartoon ignoramus,
We tykes preferred Fleischer to Famous.
The latter were meager
Too flat, and no Segar
No Ike era grownup could blame us.

Donald B. Benson

From Donald Benson: "Discerning baby boomer kids quickly learned that the vintage Max Fleischer Popeyes were far and away superior to the later toons from Famous Studios."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Henry and Goon



In silence and shadow they're scheming
Of science gone bad they've been dreaming
Would the two follow through
If they knew it was true
That nine of ten madmen die screaming.

Colin Clive, Dwight Frye, and friend in Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931).

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Formula Won



No target too tall for a zinger,
The Marxes put all through the wringer
Said Metro, "That's stupid!
They better play Cupid."
So Barta gives Thalberg the finger.

The Marx Brothers with "Boy Wonder" Irving Thalberg, head of production at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Seen in retrospect, A Night at the Opera, first film for MGM, marked the beginning of a tamer Marx Brothers. From Wikipedia: "In their Paramount films, the brothers' characters were much more anarchic: they attacked anybody who was so unfortunate to cross their paths whether they deserved it or not, albeit comically. Thalberg, however, felt that this made the brothers unsympathetic, particularly to female filmgoers. So in the MGM films, the brothers were recast as more helpful characters, saving their comic attacks for the villains."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cutie on the Q.T.



For Harpo no dialog's written
But sharp eyes espy when he's smitten 
When a blonde wanders near
That he's fond will be clear
He'll carpe the viable kitten.

Harpo with Marion Martin in The Big Store (Charles Reisner; 1941). The brassy, curvaceous Martin was dubbed "Hollywood's blonde menace." 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

They Are The Leg Men



These sleazy old hams like the views
When easing young lambs into shoes
From thighs down to toes,
Their eyes ogle hose
As pleasing, curved gams they peruse.

The Marx Brothers run the shoe department in The Big Store (Charles Reisner; 1941). With Margaret Dumont, Virginia Grey, and Marion Martin. Title by leggy Donald Benson.

Monday, September 4, 2017

I Only Have Thighs For You



Two characters, showing some shin
He stares, gives the ol' knowing grin
One limb, though, is wrong
And doesn't belong
It's bare, and who knows where it's been.

Harpo Marx, Marion Martin and a mannequin leg in The Big Store (Charles Reisner; 1941).

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pop-eye Culture Reference



So, Popeye was born in a trunk?
What shopworn and worn out old bunk!
Without Bluto to bludgeon
This snooty curmudgeon
Would stop such forlorn, pointless junk.



From Puttin’ on The Act (1940), in which Popeye and Olive Oyl dust off their routine from their days in vaudeville, including Popeye's impressions of Jimmy Durante, Stan Laurel, and Groucho Marx. The cartoon is unremarkable, but it does have some fine hoofing by noodle-limbed Olive. Title by pop-eyed Donald B. Benson.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Actin' Diet



This fiend eats the sets for his lunch
The scenery gets a good munch
A gimp who's crook-backed
On impulse he'll act
Routinely gives best boys a crunch.

David Cairns

Dwight Frye glares into the graveyard in Frankenstein (James Whale; 1931); With and Colin Clive. Limerick Lexicon: In a film crew, best boys are assistants to the gaffer (in charge of electricians) and the key grip (lighting and rigging), respectively. Title provided by South Beach rioter Donald B. Benson.