The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the name Hal Roach was synonymous with rollicking screen comedy. During those decades particularly, he built up a reputation as a comedy baron producing a series of hit short films and features starring single comics (Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, Harry Langdon), screen duos (the most famous being Laurel and Hardy), and the ubiquitous Our Gang earning two Academy Awards along the way and introducing the world to a host of funny men and women. When his very successful female screen duo of glamorous Thelma Todd and zany ZaSu Pitts broke up after three profitable years due to Ms. Pitts’ salary demands, he replaced her with raucous vaudevillian Patsy Kelly renowned for her dancing and a way with a wisecrack. The team of Todd and Kelly become just as successful as the earlier team and the duo churned out twenty-one two-reel comedies featuring the unlikely duo, the partnership only ending with the tragic death of Thelma Todd in 1935. All twenty-one of these comedy shorts have packed in a three-DVD set titled The Complete Hal Roach/Thelma Todd/Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection.

3 x DVD9 | NTSC 4:3 | 452 minutes | 22.3 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: none


Filmed during three years of the Great Depression, the majority of these short films find the gal pals struggling to make ends meet in order to pay rent, buy food and clothes, and get along in an often hostile world. Occasionally they have jobs like hairdressers, air hostesses, short order cooks, small-time entertainers looking for a break, struggling reporters, door-to-door saleswomen, or maids, but even in the shorts where their occupations aren’t important (Sing Sister Sing, The Tin Man, Hot Money), the comedy is almost always of the same variety with the headstrong Patsy blundering into situations that make it tough for Thelma and her to emerge unscathed. With Hal Roach’s expertise and the direction of veteran Gus Meius and others, slapstick is the order of the day, sometimes on a grand scale as with a massive traffic pile-up on the Roach studio’s city street backlot location (Beauty and the Bus) or a sandstorm which completely engulfs the farm Patsy has impulsively bought with the girls’ hard-earned nest egg (One-Horse Farmers).

Hal Roach was also smart to surround his comic duo with featured players who were like a Roach comedy stock company. If you’ve ever seen any of the Our Gang or Laurel and Hardy shorts, you’ll be sure to recognize faces who regularly appeared there and in these Todd/Kelly shorts: the effete Don Barclay, the perpetually intoxicated Arthur Housman, the jittery Johnny Arthur, the cranky Clarence Wilson, the authoritative Dell Henderson along with Our Gang moppet Tommy “Butch” Bond and the grown up Mickey Daniels and Billy Gilbert, Eddie Foy, Jr., Benny Baker, Billy Bletcher, Charlie Hall, and Jack Barty. The shorts also share the very familiar and unmistakable set of themes by composer Leroy Shield that also ran through the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang shorts as musical accompaniment. And speaking of music, in Slightly Static, you’ll see the unimaginably young Roy Rogers singing lead vocals with the Sons of the Pioneers, the entire short devoted to Thelma and Patsy trying to break into radio and which allowed Patsy her best (but not only) opportunity to show off her considerable tapping skill.

DISC 1

Beauty and the Bus (1933, 17:21) - The girls win a new car and take it out for a spin. With Don Barclay, Eddie Baker, Tiny Sandford, Charlie Hall and Tommy Bond.

Backs to Nature (1933, 19:22) - Hoping for a good rest, the girls go camping in the woods. With Don Barclay, Alice Belcher and Charlie Hall.

Air Fright (1933, 18:36) - Thelma and Patsy are “air hostesses” during a flight to test an experimental parachute. With Don Barclay, Billy Bletcher and Wilfred Lucas.

Babes in the Goods (1934, 19:00) - The girls get locked in a department store window overnight. With Arthur Housman and Jack Barty.

Soup and Fish (1934, 17:50) - The girls are mistakenly invited to a swank affair and become the life of the party. With Billy Gilbert, Gladys Gale, Don Barclay and Charlie Hall.

Maid in Hollywood (1934, 19:29) - Patsy fixes a screen test for Thelma, but is a little too helpful on the set. With Billy Gilbert, Don Barclay, Eddie Foy, Jr., Constance Bergen, Billy Bletcher, Charlie Hall, Charley Rogers, James C. Morton and Jack Barty.

I'll Be Suing You (1934, 18:18) - The girls are responsible for hitting a truck, but an ambulance chasing lawyer makes them think otherwise. With Eddie Foy Jr., Benny Baker and Fred Kelsey.

Three Chumps Ahead (1934, 18:35) - Thelma falls for a smooth-talking shyster, but Patsy sees right through him. With Benny Baker, Eddie Phillips, Frank Moran and Billy Bletcher.

DISC 2

One-Horse Farmers (1934, 17:21) - Patsy and Thelma leave the big city for the simplicity of farm life. With James C. Morton, Nora Cecil and Billy Bletcher.

Opened by Mistake (1934, 18:46) - Patsy loses her job and apartment and barges in on Thelma at the local hospital where she lives and works as a nurse. With Nora Cecil, Charlie Hall and William Burress.

Done in Oil (1934, 17:54) - Thelma poses as a famous artist to try and sell some of her paintings. With Arthur Housman, Eddie Conrad, Leo White, Art Rowlands and William Wagner.

Bum Voyage (1934, 19:55) - The girls get free tickets on a cruise, but soon find out their presumed identities are as gorilla tamer and assistant. With Adrian Rosley and Noah Young.

Treasure Blues (1935, 18:49) - Patsy inherits her uncle’s estate which includes a map for buried treasure. With Arthur Housman, Sam Adams, Charlie Hall and Jack Lipson.

Sing Sister Sing (1935, 20:10) - Patsy is invited to room with Thelma, but they don’t get along. With Arthur Housman, Harry Bowen and Charlie Hall.

The Tin Man (1935, 14:47) - Lost while driving, the girls stop and ask for directions at the house of a mad scientist who is bent on the destruction of the opposite sex. With Clarence Wilson and Matthew Betz.

The Misses Stooge (1935, 18:48) - After losing their jobs as hoofers, the girls are recruited by a magician to be in his act. With Esther Howard, Herman Bing, Rafael Storm and Henry Roquemore.

DISC 3

Slightly Static (1935, 18:20) - Looking for a job in radio, the girls land a break when other performers walk out just before air time. With Sons of the Pioneers (including Roy Rogers in his first screen appearance), The Randall Sisters, Harold Waldridge, Dell Henderson, Nora Cecil and Carol Hughes.

Twin Triplets (1935, 20:29) - Patsy gives news reporter Thelma a hot tip about sextuplets being born and they concoct a plan to use the story as a means to land on easy street. With Greta Meyer, John Dilson, Billy Bletcher, Bess Flowers, Charlie Hall, Grace Goodall, James C. Morton and Charley Rogers.

Hot Money (1935, 17:23) - A crook asks the girls to hold $50,000 in cash, but when he winds up dead, everyone in the girls’ apartment building is a suspect. With James Burke, Fred Kelsey, Louis Natheaux and Brooks Benedict.

Top Flat (1935, 19:18) - Patsy creates a ruckus at a Park Ave penthouse where Thelma is employed. With Grace Goodall, Fuzzy Knight, Ferdinand Munier and Garry Owen.

An All-American Toothache (1936, 19:38) - Thelma convinces Patsy she has a toothache in order to let the local college football star pass his dental exam. With Johnny Arthur, Mickey Daniels, Duke York, Bud Jamison, Si Jenks and Billy Bletcher.

BONUS SHORTS:

Pan Handlers (1936, 20:15) - Patsy and Pert try their hand at selling aluminum pots and pans door-to-door. With Rosina Lawrence and Grace Goodall.

At Sea Ashore (1936, 19:29) - Patsy gets stuck in the local immigration office while trying to find her boss’ niece. With Al Shean, Robert Emmett O’Connor, Joe Twerp, Harry Bowen and Fred Kelsey.

Hill-Tillies (1936, 17:52) - Out-of-work showgirls Patsy and Lyda hatch a scheme to get free publicity by camping out in the forest without any modern conveniences. With Toby Wing, Harry Bowen, Sam Adams, Jim Thorpe and James C. Morton.

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