EmilSitka.com / Films / #12
Emil Sitka's List of Movies
Aug. 22, 1946
Films of Emil Sitka: HONEYMOON BLUES (1946)
by Saxon E. Sitka
A week after working in SLAPPILY MARRIED
with Joe De Rita, Emil found himself once again at Columbia Pictures, working with yet another of their numerous "stars." This time it was Hugh Herbert, a very popular comedian of the era who made more than twenty shorts for Columbia.
HONEYMOON BLUES is the first of three shorts Emil worked in starring Hugh Herbert. Less than two months later Emil and Herbert made HOT HEIR
, a precursor of the Three Stooges short GENTS IN A JAM, and about another year later they worked together in A PINCH IN TIME.
Hugh Herbert is the comedian some have claimed Curly Howard of the Three Stooges was trying to imitate, all the way down to the "woo-woo" expression.
Emil's diary for Thursday, August 22, 1946:
Movie Bit #12
This "bit" of a janitor in Hugh Herbert's comedy I feel will be somewhat funny. Funnier, that is, than many I've been allowed to do.
Ed Bernds, the director of this one, is a good-natured, easy-going fellow and allows for the actor's own way of creation.
This, of course, is my meat. I just casually became acquainted with Hugh Herbert until the first shot of me sitting on a ladder & "dead-pan" watching his screwy antics. This prompted him to remark "with a face like that what the hell am I getting paid for" and he pulled out a set of false teeth to insert into his mouth & consequently attempt to "steal" the laughs ere actual shooting of the scene.
I performed all in pantomime. Amongst the "business" I did were two pushes into a pail of water (head-first), a nose caught between ladders, twist by a broom-handle, & finally a fall down a stairway after a stampede crash of onrushing humans! And for the $50 role I uttered but one word: "Brother!"
This film role marked the first time in Emil's career that a stuntman was on-hand to perform any difficult or dangerous stunts. However, after working in plays on stage for ten years before starting in movies, Emil was accustomed to doing his own stunts. Performing live leaves no opportunity for substitution.
Thirty years later, during a speech he made in 1976, Emil responded to a fan's question about the use of stuntmen by describing this day on the set of HONEYMOON BLUES:
When they had a stuntman for me the first time, I was amazed because they had a guy dressed up like me and all. We come to the part where he rolls down the stairs, as a janitor. And the director says, "Now, Emil, just sit down; take it easy. The hard part, he'll do."
I watched and he did it, but nobody laughed. So they had him do it again.
The stuntman said, "What'd I do wrong?"
"Nothing, nothing. Just ... do it again."
So he's loaded up again with the water bucket, some mops, and what he's supposed to do is block a stampede of people coming down the hall. And just as he comes to the edge of the stairs, he looks back and they just run over him.
The stuntman did it again and nobody laughed. I didn't laugh either.
So I said to the director, Ed Bernds, "I mean, ummm, I mean, he has to do that, doesn't he?"
"No," he says, "no. You mean you... you'd do it?"
I says, "Well, why don't I? I don't mind... I'd rather do it. I know I can do that."
So it happens the stuntman didn't mind; he gets paid anyway. I went up and I did it. And they all laughed. One take ... and that's it.
From then on they always asked me. There was a stuntman there, on payroll, but they'd ask would I do it. And I'd say, "Sure, I prefer it."
Copyright, Saxon Emil Sitka. All rights reserved.
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