Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I don't usually post stuff like this, but what the heck. Jimmy Durante has been one of my all time favorite comedians for years. I just got Roadhouse Nights (1929) on DVD a few days ago and thought I'd post a clip on YouTube (don't worry, it's public domain). This movie is special not only because it was Durante's first film, but it's the only film that features the comedic teamwork of "Clayton, Jackson & Durante" (Lou Clayton, Eddie Jackson and Jimmy Durante). BACKGROUND: New York, late 1923, during the days of prohibition, Jimmy Durante opened a night club. The Club Durant on 58th Street near Broadway only lasted two years, but it made Durante a star. One of the most popular speakeasies, it featured a good band, comics, dancing girls, and always a scattering of celebrities in the crowd. It also brought together Jimmy with Eddie Jackson and another song-and-dance-man, Lou Clayton. The team of Clayton, Jackson, & Durante, known as "The Three Sawdust Bums", became the sensation of New York in the mid-1920s. "I doubt if a greater combination ever lived," said Broadway chronicler Damon Runyon. When the Club Durant was padlocked by the Feds in 1925, the team took off for even greener pastures, performing their loud, corny songs and comedy at The Dover, The Parody, and finally, The Palace Theater. "We was collosial!" Jimmy recalled. In the late 1920s, the team toured in vaudeville, to the distress of his home-loving wife, Jeanne Durante. By this time, much of Jimmy Durante’s stage persona was formed. His fracturing of the English language ("It’s a catastrostrophe!"), his asides to the audience ("Surrounded by assassins!", "Everybody wants ta get into th’ act!", and his signature "hotcha-cha!").