The Bootleg Files: The Gay Nighties

BOOTLEG FILES 588: “The Gay Nighties” (1933 short starring the comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough plus James Finlayson).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: In a public domain label collection of the team’s films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright.

No one is going to restore this orphaned gem.

Unless you are a near-rabid devotee to old-time comedy, you are probably unfamiliar with the team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. They began their careers as circus acrobats before working their way through vaudeville and burlesque until they reached stardom on the New York and London stages during the 1920s. When sound came to movies, Clark and McCullough were recruited by Hollywood to star in a series of two-reelers, first under Fox and then under RKO.

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The Talk of Hollywood (1929)

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the release of “The Jazz Singer,” which forever changed the way audiences see and hear films. Today, it is difficult to imagine the chaos that sound recording brought to the film industry, but back in the day the introduction of the microphone and the sound engineer resulted in the destruction of some prominent careers.

The 1929 independent feature “The Talk of Hollywood” was the first film to detail the impact that the “talkies” had on the motion picture capital. The production also takes advantage of the lenient Pre-Code era by incorporating racy and politically incorrect humor into its often-savage satire of the business side of the movie world.

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