When Johnny left home…

Here’s a fun little rarity, one of the few talkie shorts made by light comedian Johnny Hines. It’s an Educational Short from 1930; although Educational’s sound shorts have a reputation for being cheap, at this point they still had a bit more prestige, with decent budgets and good supporting casts. DON’T LEAVE HOME is a tightly plotted farce showing what happens when Johnny and his wife (Jean Reno) are forced to spend time apart and plan a surprise visit for each other. Hines is pretty good as a talking comedian, and the short gives him a nice mixture of dialogue, sight gags and reaction comedy to get his teeth into. It also has a juicy comic role for James Finlayson as a cynical cab driver, and a talking bit for Snub Pollard (he’s the plumber, without his usual moustache!)

There’s a blackface gag that it would have been better off without, but the rest of it is really pretty good, and it’s nice to see some silent veterans doing their thing in a strange new idiom. This is just one of the many delights on Joseph Blough’s YouTube channel, which has recently been spoiling us with many rare 1930s shorts, including Joe Cook, Ernest Truex and Lloyd Hamilton. Thanks Mr Blough for sharing these rarely seen gems!

4 comments

  1. Johnny HInes was neither a “dud” in talkies nor “yesterday’s news”, he basically suffered the same fate with First National as Harry Langdon and Colleen Moore when Warner Brothers bought the studio and would not renew the contracts with the independent producers who had been releasing through FN. HInes’ silent features were actually rather profitable for FN, certainly more profitable then Langdon’s, partially because they were less expensive to produce, but HInes did have a popular following with audiences.

    HInes apparently had invested well and was in a financial position to not have to work, so after his FN distribution ended, he didn’t make a major effort to continue his film career. He’d get a part here and there, like MGM’S WHISTLING IN THE DARK (1933) in which he’s fine in a unspectacular supporting role, but didn’t pursue any further independent production of starring films (considering he and C. C. Burr had their early success in the states-rights market, they certainly could have returned to that mode of release as Burr did, but there was less financial incentive for Hines to take those risks in the 1930’s as the Depression began and the Film Industry was consolidating to the benefit of the major studios). He was also getting older and unlike Harold Lloyd probably came to the realization that he would not be able to continue playing the young romantic go-getter much longer anyway.

    Hines apparently looked well and comfortable when he made an appearance at the first Los Angeles Cinecon in the late 60’s, so his does not seem to be a tragic story in any means.

    RICHARD M ROBERTS

    Like

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