Burns & Allen
Produced: Vitaphone Varieties

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

George Burns & Gracie Allen in their prime star in Lambchops (1929). It opens with George & Gracie searching all over the room for something they seem to have misplaced, looking under pillows, behind curtains. "There they are!" exclaims George, pointing at us, the audience, & Gracie is so happy to have found us.

LambchopsThey do a stand-up routine in which they're both just funny as can be, & Gracie a cutie-pie into the bargain. She's her classic ditzy self, convinced though she is that "I have brains! I have brains I haven't even used yet!"

George starts off a comedy love song, & he & Gracie take turns with the lines: "Seeing is believing that's a story old & true/ Don't believe all you hear, you've often heard that too/

"You dear & I dear are two exceptions to the rule/ You may think me giddy, believe me I'm no fool/ I love you love you love you dear I cross my heart I do, Do you believe me?/ I do/ Now you're the first & only girl I ever told that to, do you believe me?/ I do..."

They dance back & forth exchanging jests. George says, "You're too smart for one girl," to which Gracie replies, "I'm more than one. My mother has a picture of me when I was two," & more of that sort, including the joke that gives the film its title:
George: Do you like to love?
Gracie: No.
George: Do you like to kiss?
Gracie: No.
George: What do you love?
Gracie: Lambchops.
George: Could you eat two big lamchops alone?
Gracie: Oh, no, not alone. With potatoes I could.
When their performance nominally is over, the film keeps going, & they get all befuddled because they can see we the audience are still watching them. What a great little one-reeler they've left us!

Ethel Sinclair, seated on the right, & Marge La Marr, are in beach chairs. There's a closed shade-umprella mounted behind them, a table with drinks between them.

At the Sea Shore (1929) was filmed during Prohibition, & the presence of the drinks, together with many jokes about drunken escapades while on vacation, certainly reveals the lack of respect the public had for bad laws.

At the Sea ShoreThere may be some significance to these women's act as reflecting liberated women of the Roaring Twenties.

They do fairly unfunny conversational comedy, commenting crudely about other people on the beach (not actually present), poking fun at a fat girl, admiring on the hunky guys.

Nothing funny comes out of this dialogue, though it's surprisingly risque. Ethel tells Marge about how she picked up a man in a bar & later he was making love to her. "At first I thought it was convulsions, but he said no, it was just love."

After what seems like forever but was only five minutes, someone yells from off-screen, "Help! I'm drowning!" Both women stand up from their chairs to get a better look as Ethel calls to the man, "Well go ahead, what are you bragging about?"

The music is cued, & these semi-talented commediennes perform a talking-song, consisting of a rhymed series of more bad jokes.

A third player arrives, a seedy guy who wants them to go with him to a party, starting up another batch of bad, bad jokes.

I suppose at the time it was amusing just to see that women could be rude & crude, thus good material wasn't needed to support the personae. Marge & Ethel seem to fall into that burlesque tradition of "the talking woman," the gal who did monologues instead of stripping, as space filler between strip acts, & comparable to the baggy-pants clown whose jokes were generally traditional rather than original.

Ethel as the "straightwoman" doesnt' get the "best" lines, & wise-cracking Ethel can barely suppress a grin, she finds herself funny whether or not anyone else does. There's so little visual about their act it seems scarsely worthy of film, but could've been restricted to a comedy record or radio show.

They can't have been particularly popular, because they're so bad, & only Marge seems to have done much in the way of minor background cast & uncredited roles. She's one of the miscellaneous chorus girls in 42nd Street (1933) for instance.

See also the linked set of:
"Vitaphone Varieties" among the extras
with the Jazz Singer 80th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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