Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wing Ding Tonight

You may remember that in a couple of posts about Frank Tashlin, I mentioned that he seemed to be obsessed with showing off his female characters' legs. I wasn't basing this on anything he said (there weren't many interviews with him), but just on the content of his movie, like the pinups-come-to-life scene in Hollywood or Bust.

But after I wrote that, I came upon a couple of newspaper articles from the early '50s where Tashlin was quoted, one of Son of Paleface (one of his first and best) and the other on Marry Me Again (an obscure black-and-white comedy with Marie Wilson and Bob Cummings). I don't have them right in front of me so I can't quote them directly, but here's what they were about:

- In the article on Son of Paleface, Tashlin talks about how he did something new with Jane Russell: "We lowered the camera and discovered her legs," he exults, adding that Howard Hughes called him and the producer (Robert Welch) up and thanked them for showing new aspects of his contractee.

- In the article on Marry Me Again, Tashlin talks about the buxom Marie Wilson and the censorship problems that they ran into (with the censors checking to make sure her dresses weren't too low-cut). But then he says: "Fortunately, there's nothing wrong with legs, and Marie has good ones." Then Tashlin proceeds to detail every scene and costume in the picture where he had the opportunity to show off Marie Wilson's legs.

I would say that this is something a Tashlin biographer, if any, should look into. Except, really, there's nothing very complicated or sinister about it: the guy was a leg man.


VP81955 said...

I checked out the IMDb plot summary for "Marry Me Again," a film I'd never heard of. Here it is:

Bill (Robert Cummings), a jet pilot hero from the Korean War, returns home with intentions of marrying his sweetheart, Doris (Marie Wilson). But Doris has inherited a million dollars and Bill won't marry her because he dreams of a home and babies, with himself as the sole source of income on his $65 a week. Doris has to find a way to make him change his mind.

Had I been Tashlin, I likely would have focused on Marie Wilson's legs, too, even if they were average -- anything to distract attention from an inane plot like that. But such was the depressed state of romantic comedy in the post-screwball era.

Brent McKee said...

Son of Paleface is a personal favourite of mine, although I must confess I've never really focused on the use of Jane Russell's legs until now. Let's just say that I admired the whole package.

The real joy for me is the way that Tashlin uses Bob Hope's real co-star: Trigger. He played off of Trigger's reputation as the "smartest horse in the movies" and used him almost like an animated movie character. Who knew a horse could do comedy and make Bob Hope into a straight man? Who else but Tashlin would have thought to use Trigger in that way? Roy Rogers plays out the stereotypical heroic cowboy star (as seen in the clip) while Bob Hope plays the usual Bob Hope character. And of course Jane Russell oozes sex. Only Trigger gives us something we haven't seen from him before.

Yeldarb86 said...

I still remember the pair of legs that were shown frequently in Puss n' Booty.

Anonymous said...

Another Tashlin quote, in which he ridicules the obsession on big breasts by American men kind of shows where he was coming from -- his use of buxom females in his movies was more as a source of comedy, while his use of legs in those same movies ... well, he just really liked legs (though if Frank could work a gag into having a woman show one of her gams, so much the better).