Thursday, July 16, 2015

Is "A Southern Yankee" endangered?

With this issue about the confederate flag and taking off "The Dukes of Hazzard", I was wondering if the Red Skelton film "A Southern Yankee" is next to go.

A Southern Yankee (1948 MGM)
Plot: The movie is about a bellboy from the north that ends up impersonating a spy from the south. He goes to the south to plant false maps and instructions. He ends up falling in love with a female agent.

Story: St. Louis - 1865 at the Palmer Hotel. Aubrey Filmore (Red Skelton) is a bellboy day dreaming of catching southern spies. Told to knock on doors for wake up call. Talks to Col. Baker and tries to join his special service. Col. Baker gets word that the "Grey Spider" is coming to St. Louis. He decides to dress up as a civilian. Aubrey is looking for the Grey Spider and see someone in grey and follows him. He lost him but finds another person in grey. He tries to capture him and finds out it is Col. Baker.

     Aubrey is sent to delivery clothing to a Maj. Drumman. He finds the room empty and plays with the hat. He finds a hidden pocket in the brim. It has a note to the Grey Spider. He finds someone in the hall with a bathrobe for help. The person happens to be Maj. Drumman. Drumman wants Aubrey to where the clothing and make people think that Aubrey is the Grey Spider. Drumman give him a special ring. Aubrey is able to knock Drumman out by accident. He hears a knock on the door and someone is singing "Oh, Susanna". It is Sallyann (Arlene Dahl) a southern spy. Aubrey takes the role of the Grey Spider to find others spies. He finds that they have northern battle plans. Col. Baker wants Aubrey to keep on being the Grey Spider to give the south false plans. This sets up a classic gag about papers in the pocket and the boot with the buckle.

     Aubrey need to cross the north and south line in the middle of a battle. He ends up wearing half of northern uniform and half a southern uniform. He has two flags, one United States and one Confederate. He walks between the fighting armies until the wind changes and exposes the flags to the wrong side. He runs but gets wounded. At a hospital. He looks for his uniform with the papers and map. During this time there is a comedy bit at the dentist. Aubrey is hard to understand because he has a tooth pulled. He tries to find the boot with the buckle in pile with some negro children. Then he goes through a pile of jackets to find the one with the papers. Later on he meets Sallyann working at the hospital.

     Sallyann has been going with Kurt Devlynn but now she is falling in love with Grey Spider. Kurt finds out that the Grey Spider has important papers. He hires a raiding party to get the papers. The raiding party dress up as Yankees and chase after Aubrey. Aubrey thinks that they are real Yankees and tell them he is a spy with important papers. The raiding party is chased off by Confederate soldiers. 

    Aubrey arrives at a southern headquarters at a plantation. He meets Sallyann's father, Col. Weatherby, he gets the map and papers mixed up and give Weatherby instructions to another spy. Aubrey tries to find the other spy. They find out the papers and map are mixed up and try to switch them. The other spy is caught and trap is set to find who is working with. The real Grey Spider has escaped and travels to the headquarters. Aubrey is able to trick the Grey Spider into the trap. The real Grey Spider's father arrives and exposes Aubrey as the fake. There is a chase in the plantation. Aubrey is caught but end up with a "fate worse than death".   

Buster Keaton was a gag writer for the film and many gags were from his films.  Most compare it with "The General" because it is set in the south. But there gags from "Our Hospitality". In "The General" he did were both uniforms. In "Our Hospitality" he did have a chase scene where he had to dress as a woman then put the clothing on a animal to fool the people chasing him. This was used in "A Southern Yankee" but it was not a remake of the Keaton movies. 

Note: In the film Aubrey said his age was 26. Red was 35.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Junior in 1950 comic strip ad.

1950 ad for Sheaffer's Skrip. Sheaffer still makes ink bottles today. The ad features Junior "the mean widdle kid". Red Skelton would have been on radio at this time. The ad also plugs "The Yellow Cab Man".