Monday, April 11, 2011

Sim Sala Bim!

This coming Friday will be the next banquet for The Two Tars Tent of The Sons of the Desert.  The SoD is, of course, the Laurel and Hardy film appreciation society, formed in part by Stan Laurel himself.  Each city has a Tent named after one of the films, and the one in Philadelphia is Two Tars.

This week will include a screening of A-Haunting We Will Go (1942) starring The Boys.  This is one of their last films, and was made at Twentieth Century Fox, after they left Hal Roach.  It is not considered one of their best films, but it is worth seeing.

The film is about L&H getting involved with con men and a magician.  The magician is played by real life magician DanteDante the Magician was considered one of the best.  He was born in Denmark as Harry August Jensen (1883 - 1955) (possibly spelled Jansen).  He was also the last of the large traveling magic shows in the USA.  He often said, "Sim Sala Bim" during his performance.

His career as an entertainer started when he was about 16 years old, and he was quickly recognized as talented.  He was given the stage name Dante by Howard Thurston (1869 - 1936) in 1925.  Thurston was, at the time, the premier magician in the world.  Thurston was more well known than Harry Houdini (1874 - 1926). 

In film, Dante first appeared as himself in a Swedish film called Dante Mysterier (1931).  Next came A-Haunting, and then two more films; Bunco Squad (1950) from RKO Radio Pictures, and The Golden Coach (1951) made in Italy.  Of his four performances on screen, A-Haunting would be the best choice to see a good movie, but my guess is Dante Mysterier would be the best to see Dante.  (If you can find it.)

Another great Bit Actor we will see in A-Haunting We Will Go is Elisha Cook Jr. (1903-1995) who made more than 200 titles in his career. 

At this banquet we will also partake of a sumptuous buffet dinner, and then be entertained by a real life magician, who performs in the style of Dante.  We will raise a glass to Dante, Stan and Ollie, and some other friends, and then park our camel and have one for the road.


  1. This is interesting info on Laurel and Hardy!
    I must admit that I've never really watched them, The Marx Brothers, or Abbott and Costello! I'm ashamed to admit that but it's true.

    I'm making it a point to watch a few of their films now so this gives me a jumping off point.

  2. OMG! You did NOT say that! Before you go to the film library, click on my Laurel and Hardy label on the right. I have quite a bit of info there.

    Then, start by watching Sons of the Desert, their best feature film from 1933. The best short films are Perfect Day (1929), Blotto (1930) and The Music Box from 1932 which is their only Academy Award winning film.

    If you send me your location (just the city and state) by e-mail, I will get you in touch with the closest Sons of the Desert tent and maybe you can attend a meeting.

    Go watch those films...I'll wait...


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