Today's Video Link
Well now, what do we have for you today? Hmm…it seems to be the entirety of the 1941 comedy classic, Hellzapoppin' starring the comedy team of Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson. This started life as a Broadway revue, opening on September 10, 1938 and running for 1,404 performances. That would be an impressive number now but it was really impressive at the time. Throughout the thirties, only two other plays managed to have more than 500 performances.
The show's success was attributed to a number of factors. In no particular order, they were that Olsen and Johnson were always scurrying around New York doing crazy promotional stunts; that superstar columnist Walter Winchell loved the show and plugged the hell out of it; that the show kept changing so people came back to see it again and again; and that it was indecently funny. In addition to its long Broadway run, it also became a cottage industry: Its producers sent out all sorts of touring companies and spin-off sequels with different casts and (often) different material.
The movie was made while the original New York version was running and it opened a week or two after the show closed on Broadway. Olsen and Johnson were the only two cast members from the show who were seen in the film, which used some songs and sketches from the stage but not a lot. For the most part, the movie was an original creation and it set some sort of industry record for not only breaking the fourth wall but annihilating it. It was successful enough that Olsen and Johnson made more films — some of them quite funny — but with diminishing box office. The two men are largely forgotten today…I suspect because while their scripts were often hilarious, they themselves weren't. Shemp Howard is probably the funniest one in this film, which is really quite hilarious at times. As you'll see if you clear the next hour and twenty minutes and click below…
The video that used to be in this position seems to no longer
be available at the location where I once found it.