Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Mr. Lemon of Orange" slide

Every once in a while I will post a piece of El Brendel memorabilia that I have acquired throughout the past few years. Here we have a glass advertising slide for the 1931 film "Mr. Lemon of Orange" with El and Fifi D'orsay.

This film is currently at the top of my list of El's films I would love to see as it features him in a dual role as his usual Swede character and a a rough talking gangster type. It also is supposedly has him speaking in his normal voice (which I have not been able to find a recording of yet).

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Listen to the Band"

One of the purposes of this blog is to give a good overview of El Brendels career and certainly an aspect of that (and one I love to find information on) is unrealized film projects. I have a little calender from the Fox Film season of 1929 with some adverts for upcoming Fox product. Films such as "4 Devils", "City Girl", and "Sunny Side Up" are displayed as well as many films that were made under different titles or just abandoned all together.

Here we have a film titled "Listen to the Band". In all the other research I have done I have never run across any other mention that El Brendel was going to have a place in a film of this title. In fact, when I first saw the ad and saw the heading "Youthful Talk and Song and Dance" I immediately thought it was an early title for the "Fox Movietone Follies of 1930", but digging a little bit (OK, I went to IMDB!) I think that the film was made under the title of "Let's Go Places".

The film featured Lola Lane, Walter Catlett, Sharon Lynn, and Frank Richardson and is also supposed to have a young Betty Grable in an uncredited role. Benjamin Stoloff was out as director and replaced by Frank R. Strayer who had a long up and down career working for Paramount and Columbia in the silents, then down to the Poverty Row studios in the early/mid 30's, then back to the big leauges in the late 30's, directing a few for 20th Century Fox, before settling in at Columbia to helm a bunch of movies in their "Blondie" series.

Here is a brief synopsis of the film (from TCM):

"Paul Adams (Joseph Wagstaff), a singer, assumes the name of operatic tenor Paul Du Bonnet and sets out for a career in Hollywood. En route to the coast, he meets Marjorie Lorraine (Lola Lane), who falls in love with him, and in Hollywood he occupies the mansion of the famous singer. By the time Du Bonnet (Charles Judels) arrives, Paul has successfully launched a film career, though he has lost Marjorie because Du Bonnet's wife is claiming him, sight unseen. All is resolved, however, when Du Bonnet discovers Paul to be his long-lost nephew."

It seems that "Let's Go Places" is another of those tragic silent/early sound Fox films that we can count as never being able to see again as it's listed as lost.

From the New York Times:

LET'S GO PLACES, with Joseph Wagstaff, Lola Lane, Sharon Lynn, Frank Richardson, Walter Catlett, Dixie Lee, Charles Judels, Ilka Chase and Larry Steers, based on a story by William K. Wells, directed by Frank Strayer; overture selections from "Madame Butterfly": "Spirit of Labor"; "Snowflakes," with Patricia Bowman, Roxyettes and ballet corps; "Hudson River Bridge," a Grandeur film; "Cavatina"; Movietone news reel; "Lazy Lou'siana Moon," with Mildred Byram and William Robin. At the Roxy Theatre.

Frank Richardson, Lola Lane, and Joseph Wagstaff in "Let's Go Places"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

El on "Perry Mason"

So I am finally beginning this blog about El Brendel by starting with one of his last filmed appearances.

On April 14th, 1962, CBS Television aired the popular Perry Mason show, well into its fifth season. The episode was “The Case of the Borrowed Baby” (episode 26) and according to the synopsis from the website

“Perry (Raymond Burr) and Della (Barbara Hale) return to their office to find that someone has left a four-month-old baby on Perry's desk. Soon thereafter, Ginny Talbot (Kaye Elhardt), claiming to be the child's mother, shows up--and not long after that, Perry receives evidence that the infant may be heir to the celebrated Kerrick fortune. The key to the child's true identity is the St. Christopher medal around its neck, but before this matter can be cleared up, Perry must defend Ginny on a charge of murdering one Lester Menke (Corey Allen). “

The episode also featured Kenneth MacDonald as the Judge who had a long film and television career but this author will fondly remember him for his appearances in some Three Stooges and other shorts for Columbia.

I was pretty disappointed with El’s part in this show. When I first read on IMDB that his character was the court manager, I thought he would have a beefy role but while viewing the episode, it is revealed that Ginny Talbot lives at the Bungalow Court and Brendel is the manager of the place.

His part comes about 25 minutes in when Perry and Lt. Arthur Tragg (Ray Collins) enter Ginny’s apartment and find Lester Menke dead on the floor. We then hear El speak out of shot:

“You…, stop or I’ll shoot”.

The scene then cuts to El and Ginny entering the scene as El says:

“All right, Miss Talbert, let us see what did happen in there and remember I…..”

and that’s it. We get to see him standing next to Ginny holding a shotgun with a shocked look on his face. His screen time is less than 10 seconds and he never appears in the show again. I tried to see if he was in the courtroom scene at the end and I can’t spot him anywhere.

Some screen captures from his brief scene:

According to some sources, El speaks in his normal voice in this episode but I can confirm he does not. First, it “sounds” to me like his later Swedish voice where he was pouring it on a little stronger (maybe he was out of practice) and in his line where he refers to Ginny’s name as “Talbert” instead of “Talbot” is a practice he used to do to make a name or word sound the same but slightly different.

So, the search continues for the ELusive "Brendel's real voice". Until next time!