Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jack Benny and Ronald Coleman Try their Hands at Othello

"Jack and Mary See Coleman's Movie." The Jack Benny Program. NBC. 2 February 1948. Radio.

From my earliest days, I've been a fan of Jack Benny. I remember many hours at the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library, listening to LPs and audio cassettes of old time radio programs—and always searching for more and more Jack Benny.

The dubious benefit of having all the advertising slogans of Lucky Strike Brand Cigarettes (L.S. / M.F.T.—It's Toasted!—Smoke a Lucky to Feel Your Level Best—Be Happy; Go Lucky!—et cetera) running periodically through my head is outweighed by the delight that the rest of the show occasions.

In 1948, Ronald Coleman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in A Double Life, the story of an actor who fears playing Othello because he may become murderously jealous.

I told you that to tell you this. Ronald Coleman and his wife Benita frequently appeared on The Jack Benny Program as the exasperated next-door neighbors of Jack Benny. The plot of a 1948 episode of the program centers on Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone's trip to the movies to see A Double Life.

I've extracted the part of the episode that has to do with Othello and placed it in the video below.  Ronald Coleman delivers the "By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in his hand" speech (V.ii.63ff), and Jack Benny shows him how to do it better.

The video images are from the 1911 silent film Desdemona (for which, q.v.), the Emil Jannings silent Othello (for which, q.v.), and from Janet Suzman's Othello (for which, q.v.). I realize the combination of the radio show's audio with these visuals is a bit surreal, but it's the easiest way for me to get the audio to you.


Links: A Double Life at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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