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A Few Moments with Eddie Cantor, Star of 'Kid Boots' (1923)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Short, Music | 15 April 1923 (USA)

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This experimental talking short shows Cantor in his vaudeville act.

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(uncredited)

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Storyline

In one of the earliest experiments with synchronized sound, Eddie Cantor does his vaudeville act (stand-up comedy and songs) against a plain backdrop. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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Genres:

Comedy | Short | Music

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

15 April 1923 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

(De Forest Phonofilm)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the 50 films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931" (2004), compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the Library of Congress (AFI/Maurice Zouary collection) and has a running time of 7 minutes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Eddie Cantor: Hello. Oh, no. No, lady, no you're wrong. I'm not Tommy Meehan. Funny how everybody takes me for Tommy Meehan. No, Tommy hasn't got that certain... you know, that I have.
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Soundtracks

Oh, Gee, Georgie!
(uncredited)
Written by Jack Meskill, William Raskin and Al Sherman
Performed by Eddie Cantor
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User Reviews

 
A six-minute Vaudeville time capsule
23 June 2007 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

If you'd like to get a taste of what old-time Vaudeville was like, take a look at this fascinating and amusing talkie short. Headliner Eddie Cantor delivers a six-minute routine consisting of several jokes, two songs, and one comic poem, performed before a black backdrop in an empty studio. It's too bad the filmmakers couldn't have captured him in front of a live audience-- as it is, Eddie's jokes are met with eerie silence --but at least George Olsen's terrific dance band was present (off-camera) to provide jaunty jazz accompaniment. This short captures Cantor's act at the point when his career was really taking off, when he was starring in the Broadway musical comedy "Kid Boots," produced by legendary showman Flo Ziegfeld. The film was made at the midtown Manhattan studio of Lee De Forest, pioneer of the sound-on-film process known as 'Phonofilm.' Between 1922 and 1928 De Forest made dozens of talkie shorts featuring prominent performers such as Cantor, DeWolf Hopper, Weber & Fields, Eubie Blake, etc., films that are invaluable records of the great stage stars of the day.

Mr. Cantor sings two funny songs, "O Gee Georgie," and one he co-authored with a punchline for a title: "The Dumber They Come, the Better I Like 'Em ('Cause the Dumb Ones Know How to Make Love)." If he was uncomfortable performing his act without an audience you'd never guess it from his exuberant delivery. Eddie skips, dances, scatters imaginary rose petals from his derby hat, etc., looking very much like the caricatured version of himself that would pop up in so many Warner Bros cartoons in later years. Most of his jokes are "groaners," but Cantor (like Milton Berle, Johnny Carson, etc.) was a comic who got more mileage out of the jokes that bomb than the ones that score. That's why I regret there wasn't a live audience in the studio when this film was made: if they'd groaned at his punchlines, Eddie would've tossed out comeback lines funnier than the original jokes.

I wish Lee De Forest had been able to capture footage of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and W.C. Fields performing his juggling act when he was still young and nimble, but as it stands I'm grateful for the survival of the films that were made. This one is a treat, and it's available on DVD from a couple of different sources. Someday, however, it would be terrific news for Vaudeville buffs to hear that all the surviving De Forest Phonofilms have been restored and released in a single collection. If that happens, someone please let me know!


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