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Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Herbert’

Coo-Coo Nut Grove (1936)

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Click here, or on the image above, to see Coo-Coo Nut Grove (1936).

Here’s a classic Warner Bros. cartoon from 1936 which has long been a favorite of mine; not so much for the humor, but for the parade of Hollywood caricatures that populate the film. The person who originally posted this on YouTube helpfully provided this list of the stars depicted in the cartoon, many of which will probably be unrecognizable to contemporary viewers. Here it is:

“At 0:53 – Ben Bernie; 1:11 – Walter Winchell; 1:29 – Hugh Herbert; 1:34 – WC Fields & Katharine Hepburn ;1:45 – Ned Sparks; 1:50 – Johnny Weissmuller & Lupe Velez; 2:04 – John Barrymore; 2:18 – Harpo Marx; 2:50 – George Arliss & Mae West dancing; 3:10 – Laurel and Hardy; 3:22 – Edna Mae Oliver; 3:33 – Clark Gable; 3:41 – Gary Cooper; 4:01 – The Dionne Quintuplets; 4:51 – Groucho and Harpo Marx; 5:00 – Helen Morgan, a famous torch singer of the period; 5:18 – Wallace Beery; 5:59 – Edward G. Robinson & George Raft.” Directed by Isidore “Friz” Freling, with animation by Robert McKimson and Sandy Walker, and music arranged and conducted by Carl Stalling.

It’s a sweet reminder of a Hollywood long since past.

Sh! The Octopus

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Click here, or on the image above, to see a truly astonishing clip from Sh! The Octopus

One of the oddest and most clearly surreal of all Hollywood feature films, William McGann’s Sh! The Octopus (1937) features Warner Bros. stalwarts Allen Jenkins and Hugh Herbert as two dimwitted detectives investigating mysterious goings-on at a deserted lighthouse. Of course, the lighthouse serves as the clandestine headquarters of a master criminal known only as The Octopus, who keeps a live, giant octopus in an aquarium underneath the lighthouse. That’s just the beginning of this incredibly bizarre film, which seems to do whatever it wants to do whenever it wants to do it, without any regard for logic, narrative, or viewer expectations.

There are numerous websites that discuss this film in detail; a quick Google search will uncover them; suffice it to say that this one-of-a-kind 54 minute film has an air of experimental abandon that reminds one of nothing so much as Luis Buñuel’s L’Age d’Or (1930); the climax of the film is a bizarre mashup of every imaginable genre, from horror to comedy to romance, and all possible stops inbetween. Sh! The Octopus has recently been released as part of a box set of six films on Warner Archive Video; certainly worth an hour of your time.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him or his website,

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