How to Clean a Light Film
Off Of Robert Benchley
I love the Fox Studios short films of Robert Benchley. I love all of his shorts. But I don't care for the condition they are in. Benchley's shorts are 70 years old. Are YOUR shorts in any kind of condition after 70 years?
I've read every biography of Mr. Benchley. I want to walk in the footsteps of Mr. Benchley, but without picking up the 123-year old smell of his slippers. Or his shorts.
So, I shall make films, too. Just like Sweet Old Bob. I will write and direct. Maybe a sequel, or maybe a prequel, to the very Best-of-Benchley films. But which one?
I’ll just add a 21st century spin to the classic Benchley canon, without making too much noise:
• How To Watch Football [On A Television] (1938)
• How To Read [A Kindle While Sitting In Your Nook] (1938)
• The [Many] Courtship[s] of a Newt [Gingrich] (1938)
Benchley's first film was one of the very first talkies: "The Treasurer's Report." This should be easy to make an entire series out of. -- "The Secretary's Minutes." "The Sergeant-At-Arms Blocks the Door." "The Vice-President is Drinking Again." "The Board of Directors Has Absconded With All Our Money." -- The possibilities are endless, as every 10 years, a new edition of Robert’s Rules of Order comes out with more officers than before.
"How To Sleep" won an Academy Award for 1935. What would make a good sequel? How about, "How To Wake Up?" Or the prequel, "How To Get Really, Really Drowsy?"
I like the shocking innuendo of the title of Benchley's "The Sex Life of a Polyp." But what would be good follow up film? -- "Dr. Spock's Care and Feeding of Your New Polyp?" And a 20-year sequel, "The Mid-Life Crises of Polyps -- And How They Grew?"
I can update "How to Figure Income Tax," for the 21st century and Wall Street's current status. I can title it, "How to Figure Out How to Evade Income Tax." Bonus teaser will include “Dodging Indictments,” and “Bail-Out Merry-Go-Round.”
The classics never grow old. "Music Made Simple" is still as applicable today as it was in 1938. I'll just add a few new Grammy categories of music to it: (a.) Latin-Country Fusion; (b.) Ragtime Hip Hop; (c.) Disco-Grunge; (d.) Heavy-Metal Polka; (e.) Barbershop/Gay Nineties Gregorian chant; (f.) A Cappella Chipmunk; (g.) Left-Handed Red-Headed Cajun String Quartets. -- And all that jazz! -- “Didgeridoo Big Bands,” anybody?
The biggest grossing film of 1936 was Benchley’s short, “How To Be a Detective.” Today in 2012, this should be easy to modernize: (a.) DNA analysis of alibis; (b.) Lifting fingerprints off of dental records; (c.) Blood type cross-matching of getaway cars; (d.) Tire track analysis of boxers and briefs. (Say! Mr. Benchley’s old shorts may come in handy after all!)
And to think -- I thought there was no future in grungy yellow films.