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Eddie Cantor on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by bigshot, Aug 6, 2018.

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  1. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I searched for info on Eddie Cantor movies on DVD, but it was just sporadic mentions in a bunch of different threads from a long time ago... So I'm creating one.

    I ordered the Eddie Cantor Goldwyn Collection (Palmy Days / Kid From Spain / Roman Scandals / Strike Me Pink) along with the singles of Kid Millions and Whoopie. I passed on Ali Baba Goes to Town because of the negative reviews about the image quality.

    This weekend I screened Roman Scandals on my projection system. The movie is a lot of fun but the print quality leaves a bit to be desired. The sharpness and clarity was OK, but it was a little contrasty and dark. Not enough to make it hard to watch, but not perfect. Glad I got it though because it's a LOT better than the print I used to see at one in the morning on channel 5 in Los Angeles when I was a kid. The Busby Berkeley musical numbers were great and the inevitable blackface sequence wasn't too jarring. Great film. I'm looking forward to checking out the other five titles.
     
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  2. TJPC

    TJPC Cinematographer

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    After staying up all hours of the night to see these Eddie Cantor musicals in the 60’s and 70’s before home video, and then making Beta and later VHS copies when the appeared on TV, I was thrilled to get this collection.
    “The Kid From Spain” was my first “permanent” tape that started my Beta library (I invested $25.00 for the blank tape!).

    I’d love to see these all re-mastered and on Blu ray but that is an impossible dream of course.

    After about 40 years of scanning the TV guide for “Ali Baba Goes To Town” and never finding it, I was excited to order it and finally see it, although it doesn’t match the entertainment value of the Goldwyns.
     
  3. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor
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    WAC also released Show Business and If You Knew Susie on MOD. Both RKO features. Along with Thank Your Lucky Stars on WAC Blu-ray, you pretty much have Eddie’s base of work. I do think his work with Goldwyn is very entertaining and he was at his best.
     
  4. TJPC

    TJPC Cinematographer

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    A silent “Kid Boots” and two experimental Deforest talkies are also available.
     
  5. atcolomb

    atcolomb Screenwriter

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    TCM was broadcasting some Eddie Cantor films a few weeks ago and had a great time. He made me laugh and now would like to see more of his work. I did hear of him but never saw any of his films until i saw them by chance on TCM.
     
  6. TJPC

    TJPC Cinematographer

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    I have always wondered why Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Field, The Marx Brothers etc. are still well known and Eddie Cantor, who is just as hilarious and wildly popular in his own time is forgotten. Is it because he was always in musicals, is it because he always had a black face number?

    My mother, who would have been 100 this year, believed it was because of over saturation. He did not know when to quit, and when he was not making movies he was on the radio and early live television, to the point where everyone became tired of him.
     
  7. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

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    I like Cantor and have seen most of his movies and highly recommend ROMAN SCANDALS, THE KID FROM SPAIN and KID MILLIONS, but I don't think he's in the same league as L&H, Fields and the Marx Bros. Cantor's movies were hit or miss, but if you're a fan of any of the other acts named you pretty much like the majority of their work, which was much more voluminous than Cantor's. If a repertory theater wants to program a Marx Bros. show, they've got pretty much every movie they made from 1929 to 1941 to consider. I should know because I saw all of them on the big screen back in the 1970s--and on TV, too. The only Cantor films I remember seeing on the big screen are WHOOPEE, ROMAN SCANDALS and THE KID FROM SPAIN. The others I caught on TV. His persona was not as endearing as the other comics cited. I get the sense that he rubbed some people the wrong way and not every one who saw his films became a fan, whereas the other acts constantly picked up new fans from new viewers, esp. back in the 1970s. Just some thoughts on the subject...
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I think that sounds about right. Time is much more destructive to the memory of "good" rather than "great" performers. Of course, it's all subjective. But I am horrified that my kids have no real idea who Bob Hope and Bing Crosby are...let alone Johnny Carson or Sid Caesar. I just figured that performers like them would never be forgotten. And while to a certain extent they won't...I fear to most of the younger general public, they will.

    I read Cantor's life story when I was a young boy. Found all the stories about vaudeville, etc. fascinating. And then I was thrilled whenever I actually saw a film of his on TV because I was able to see this guy whose story I had read.

    While I still have those memories (and have always had a great love for the song Makin' Whoopee), Cantor seems to be one of those stars of yesteryear whose luster continues to diminish year after year.
     
  9. williampl7@aol.com

    [email protected] Stunt Coordinator

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    Still waiting for Warner Brothers Archives to release "Forty Little Mothers", his only MGM film.
     
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  10. JoelA

    JoelA Cinematographer

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    Terry, Brian and Mike, I think you've all provided good analyses as to why Cantor hasn't had the strong longevity of some of the comedians and entertainers mentioned here. His comedic style is softer, less anarchic and sarcastic than some of the others. These latter qualities have spoken to future generations, the Marx Brothers especially. And God knows Warner's 1953 biopic did nothing to sustain his status as one of the most successful performers in the first half of the 20th century as Columbia's Jolson biopics did for him. Saying that Keefe Brasselle's portrayal of Cantor is over the top is putting it mildly. Almost a freak show.

    I find Cantor's work entertaining especially in his Goldwyn films where it's always fun to see the Goldwyn Girls who would go on to much bigger successes such as Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard and Lucille Ball, among others. And, maybe there's something to be said about the fact that we're all sitting here today in 2018 writing about Eddie Cantor. ;)
     
  11. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I think it's pretty obvious that the reason Cantor isn't remembered is the blackface numbers.
     
  12. TJPC

    TJPC Cinematographer

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    These are usually 1 number, not in all films, and are easily snipped, although it would be a shame to lose the fantastic performance by the Nicholas Brothers in the minstrel number in “Kid Millions”.

    Most of these numbers, (said the old white guy!), seem to be imitative rather than mocking, and often involve a black supporting cast. Both Cantor and Mae West always insisted on employing black people as much as they could, and were considered very liberal at the time, although the parts played by black people in their movies seem racist today.

    There is only one time that sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Cantor is putting on black face at a make up table and remarks that it is tough to put on and take off. Then he says with surprise to an actual black actor — “you know, you’re lucky”!
     
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  13. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the blackface numbers, I just think that is the reason that these haven't gotten the same distribution as other comedy films from that era... especially in the home video era where edits in a film are a kiss of death for sales. These films are in a "damned if you do damned if you don't" limbo.

    Another film I haven't seen in a very long time is Million Dollar Legs. Is there a good DVD of that available?
     
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  14. David Weicker

    David Weicker Cinematographer

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    If you are referring to the W. C. Fields film, there are two releases. A single release from TCM (about $17 on Amazon), and a collection of 18 Fields’ films (about $34 on Amazon).

    If you mean the Betty Grable version, I’ve never seen a release
     
  15. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I meant the one with Jack Oakie. I just ordered it. Thanks for the tip.
     
  16. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    Last night I screened Warner Archive's Kid Millions. I hadn't seen the minstrel section in that before. It was always cut out on TV. I think the Technicolor ending was in B&W when I saw it before too. With the beautiful print and cut scenes included, it was a whole different movie. Fantastic!
     
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  17. Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    I don't think it's that simple. How about Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn? Still shown - not edited.
     
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  18. Tony Bensley

    Tony Bensley Producer

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    I suspect one important difference is Bing Crosby's popularity has held strong through the decades, at least compared to Eddie Cantor's. Also, how many black face numbers did Bing perform on Film compared to Eddie?

    CHEERS! :)
     
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  19. Message #19 of 22 Aug 26, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    Mysto

    Mysto Second Unit

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    I don't disagree with you. I just wanted to point out that perhaps Eddie Cantor's lack of current popularity was more complex than just one factor. :wub:
    ADDED: According to Wiki Bing Crosby performed in blackface in six movies.
     
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  20. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Supporting Actor

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    Well, if anyone wants to discuss Bing Crosby and blackface routines, take a gander at "Dixie" (1943). I think this one has been quietly pushed down the memory hole over the past few decades, due to this. But of course, it's a different animal, as the whole film revolves around the early origins of the burnt-cork minstrel shows, whereas the other examples are isolated numbers, like a historical tip-of-the-hat to their status in American stage / entertainment history. There did seem to be a lot of musicals back then that liked to romanticize and harken back to early days of vaudeville, riverboat shows, early-era composers, etc. Minstrel stuff seemed to be a part of that, until the realization started setting in about how unseemly it all was. I'm still sometimes surprised that Lippert still managed to come out with that "Yes Sir, Mr. Bones" film as late as 1949.
     
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