Great Music in Old Comedies

There is a lot of great music in old comedies.

The Bob Hope of the 1930s and 1940s was a far different guy than the reactionary character of the 1960s and 1970s. The earlier Hope was funny and had what in those days passed for a streak of anti-authoritarianism. He spent the latter two decades comfortably coasting on cynical hippie jokes and embarrassingly unfunny and horrendously produced television specials. If you didn’t see them, it’s hard to imagine just how lame those shows were.

But, as bad as Hope was as a comedian at the end, he deserves immense credit for continuing to travel to entertain the troops.

The true subversive, of course, was Groucho. Here is the Hello, I Must Be Going/Hooray for Captain Spaulding sequence from Animal Crackers. It is a pure delight, except for the unfortunate racism of the first few moments. Margaret Dumont was just perfect.

Seeing the perpetual innocence of Laurel and Hardy after so many years is like visiting the old neighborhood. This dance is from Way Out West. Oliver Hardy was quite agile for a guy that big. The interesting thing is that Stan Laurel was deeply involved in putting the films together. Hardy — called “Babe” by his contemporaries — couldn’t care less. He played golf until told to show up for shooting.