Monday, July 12, 2010

Fractured Funnybone

Here's another one that goes way back for me. When I was a kid in third grade reading monster magazines, a friend turned me on to TV's Fractured Flickers. Released in 1963 by Jay Ward and the Rocky and Bullwinkle crowd, it featured silent movies, edited down and given a goofy soundtrack. As a diehard MST3K fan, I remembered this fondly, but not too well, since 1963 is a long time ago.

I was surprised to find this obscure TV series was available on NetFlix. And boy we were happy when we had seen a few. Admittedly, the silent movie "fractures" are not always that funny. Some are pretty much just the film edited down with silly voices (mainly Paul Frees and June Foray). Some pretty clever, like bullfight classic Blood and Sand done as Death of a Salesman, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame made into Dinky Duncan, Boy Cheerleader.

The part I'd forgotten was host Hans Conried doing the intros and some celebrity interviews. He had a beautifully sophisticated air, along with a deadly deadpan sense of sarcasm. He does short silly interviews with a strange variety of modern and classic entertainers: Rose Marie, Alan Sherman, Fabian, Edward Everett Horton, Rod Serling. And this isn't just kid stuff - when Rose Marie objects to being treated like a cheap entertainer, Conried sounds her out on her views of Godard and the French Nouvelle Vague. When Annette Funicello tells him he might have seen her wearing little animal ears, he guesses that she was a Playboy bunny.

So, fun for kids, but we adults like it too.

Trivia for Old-Time Radio lovers: Hans Conried played Professor Kropotkin in My Friend Irma. His catch-phrase, "It's only me, Professor Kropotkin" doesn't read like much, but it's the way he said it.

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