Watch SLAPPILY MARRIED in the link above (turn up the volume)
Before we get to the final Shemp short next week, we review a Joe Derita solo film. As I was putting the starting touches on this review, I comment to my brother I'm reviewing a Joe Derita solo film. His response, "Sorry." Indeed.
A remake of Andy Clyde's MAID MADE MAD, which I have never seen, writing wise, this is the typical let's have one real cool slapstick scene to start and then have the rest involve some confusion with a jealous husband when the comedian is really innocent. Ho-hum. Again, a tired device. Done only a few times in Stooge shorts, this seems to be much more common outside the Stooges, as it is with Charley Chase, Shemp solo, and here.
That opening slapstick scene is constructed fine. Steaming waffle irons, dough over heads and faces, pratfalls, ties caught in doors, broken dishes, this is a cliche I like! The problem is the comedian himself. Derita is what I call a homogenized comedian. He can fall decently, pretty well for a man his size, actually, but not as funny as Buster Keaton. He reacts just enough to not be a dead pan comedian, but not well enough to be memorably expressive. If Shemp was in this scene, you can picture noise reactions, one liners, and funnier facial expressions. Derita just goes through the motions of the slapstick, adding absolutely nothing to the proceedings. His big line? A gentle look at the pancakes, observing, "Nice and fluffy." Nice and banal.
Then there is the scene where for one minute, he bumps into some Bud Abbott clone firing line after line of misconstrued logic in rapid succession. Lou Costello would slow burn and eventually explode. Derita? Just one calmly delivered puncline about hot air that's not all that funny.
The saving grace about this short is Christine McIntyre, Jean Willes, and Dorothy Granger all appear. The latter two fighting over a hat would be a highlight if the comedian in between them had a pulse. Sorry guys, I just don't think Joe Derita had it in him to carry a film by himself.