PISTOL PACKIN NITWITS (Columbia Pictures released April 5, 1945)
Director and Screenplay: Harry Edwards, Story: Edward Bernds and Harry Langdon.
Cast: Harry Langdon, El Brendel, Christine McIntyre, Brad King, Dick Curtis, Bobby Burns, Heinie Conklin, Tex Cooper, Victor Cox, Benny Petti, John Tyrrell, Blackie Whiteford.
Last year at Slapsticon 07, amid the whining about our showing of Harry Langdon’s last feature SWINGIN’ ON A RAINBOW (which stopped BTW the minute everyone saw it), we threatened that might just show Langdon’s last short, PISTOL PACKIN’ NITWITS this year andja’ know what?
Yep, here it is, the film Langdon did indeed fall ill from a cerebral hemorrhage during the shooting of and later died. Filmo numero tres in that infamous trio of dual-reelers in which Langdon co-starred with----gasp-----El Brendel!!!!!! Oh the pain! Oh the humanity! Oh the screaming voices in the head of the Langdon haters (notice they have decreased in number this year since the release of AllDay Entertainment’s HARRY LANGDON: LOST AND FOUND DVD set?) or even the Langdon lovers who can’t bear to see their idol enslaved and slumming in the Columbia Shorts Department, chained to ----gasp again----El Brendel!!!! ! How can we, who claim to love these comedians even dein to acknowledge that anything apart from their authorized and certified classics are worthy of our audience of comedy connoisseurs virgin eyeballs?
Well again, it’s simple, we’ve seen it, and it ain’t that bad……..
And listen, even this avowed Langdon lover has no illusions about the Langdon-Brendel Columbias (waste 20 minutes of your life sometime on DEFECTIVE DETECTIVES), but PISTOL PACKIN; NITWITS has a few things going for it . It’s a story by Langdon, and his old Director from the Glory Days Harry Edwards is at the helm. It’s actually a silly little spoof on your average B western with Harry and El (did his friends really call him this?) playing medicine showmen who end up saving pretty Saloon Gal Christine McIntyre from the clutches of evil cowboy meanie Dick Curtis. Harry gets to relive a bit of his medicine show up-bringing, play his ukulele, and do a nice little song and dance with Brendel. The two veteran comics actually have developed some chemistry together in their final pairing, certainly way beyond anything Langdon reached with Slim Summerville in SEE AMERICA THIRST. For amid-forties Columbia short, PISTOL PACKIN NITWITS shows a little more care, budget and effort spent, filming on Columbia’s western backlot with an extra or two and even adding a musical score (nearly unheard of in a Columbia short).
So you can be your average depressive film buff, and bemoan poor, broken-down old Harry, reduced to poverty-row two-reelers, or you can open your eyes and mind and have fun. When Harry Langdon departed this earth, he was financially stable, happy in his personal life, working in a film he wrote with old friends he had known through his career in a film that was nothing to be embarrassed about. Beats being Herbert Rawlinson leaving his deathbed to appear in Ed Wood’s JAILBAIT then going home to croak immediately afterwards. Hey, remember we were right about SWINGIN’ ON A RAINBOW!
RICHARD M ROBERTS
This forum is nearly identical to the previous forum. The difference? Discussions about comedy from the SOUND era.
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