Films of Emil Sitka: ANDY PLAYS HOOKEY (1946)
by Saxon E. Sitka
A few weeks after role number three in AIN'T LOVE CUCKOO?
Emil was called again by Columbia's short subjects department. The star
of Emil's fourth film, ANDY PLAYS HOOKEY, was Andy Clyde, a very popular
comedian who had the second longest running series of shorts at
Columbia, behind only the Three Stooges. He specialized in playing a feisty old man character, and
Emil considered him a role model for the "old man" characters he played
in later movies.
In this film, however, Emil's role is an "explosive
traffic cop." He's on for 45 seconds and has only four lines, but
this was his biggest role yet. And he had a character he could do
something with. Emil the cop is writing a ticket when the car he's
leaning against gets hit from behind. Jolted from the impact, he falls
clear on his back. Emil's first on-screen pratfall!
But let's let Emil tell it himself. Emil's diary entry for Tuesday, February 14, 1946:
I was a bit uneasy, true, when I entered the
gates of Columbia Ranch again I admit. It was very cold and I was way
too early. As, little by little, the deserted streets of this man-made
"city" of false fronts came to life I found myself slowly thawing out
into more confidence.
There was Ed Cobb, a very well
known cowboy star and another actor in my dressing room. And in a cop's
uniform, I felt as though I'd be a mere Keystone Kop - background for
the comedian, Andy Clyde!
But watching this great
artist, who puts make-up on to resemble an old man, made me want to be
like him. The intense hours of waiting until I got to my "bit" almost
had my tongue white again, but by Gosh, when the lights were all set,
cameras measured off and Ed Bernds directing I was there with my
business well-planted in my mind. What gave me confidence was the
director's liking my outline of what I showed him I'd do. Andy Clyde's
car hits the one I'm writing out a traffic ticket to, knocking me on my
fanny. My scene follows on his running board, which caused even Andy to congratulate
Emil got his next call within a week of this job, and it was in another Columbia two-reeler. Called BRIDE AND GLOOM
, the star was Shemp Howard whom Emil met two months earlier while filming the Republic Pictures comedy feature ONE EXCITING WEEK
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ANDY PLAYS HOOKEY (1946)