This month’s Uncut has a review of Hellzapoppin’, possibly the funniest film every made. It is now available on dvd, which makes it a compulsory purchase around my household.
Hellzapoppin’ was made in 1941 by Olsen and Johnson, who made several other films, none as successful, although Ghost Catchers is very funny. However, this one movie is funnier and wilder than any of the Marx Brothers films – and it contains material that would still be up-to-date if it was released now. It is a movie within a movie withn a play within a movie!
The film starts with Olsen and Johnson in the studio reading the script to the movie, and rejecting it. The actors talk to the audience about being in the film. The projectionist messes the film up and the actors notice. There are two running gags, one about a parcel delivery and one about a man in the audience called Stinky Miler who is wanted at home.
And it has the best lindy-hopping routine ever filmed.
Now all we need is Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness, and the world will be complete. (My suspicion is that this will turn out to be less amusingly awful than memory suggests, should it come out at any point. But we shall see.)