Lambchops


7m 1929

Brief Synopsis

In this short film, George Burns and Gracie Allen perform a comic routine along with the musical number, "Do You Believe in Me? I Do." Vitaphone Release 891.

Film Details

Also Known As
Burns and Allen in Lambchops
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Short
Music
Release Date
1929
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
7m

Synopsis

In this short film, George Burns and Gracie Allen perform a comic routine along with the musical number, "Do You Believe in Me? I Do." Vitaphone Release 891.

Film Details

Also Known As
Burns and Allen in Lambchops
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Short
Music
Release Date
1929
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
7m

Articles

Lambchops


In 1925, George Burns and Gracie Allen hit the big time in vaudeville when they joined the top-rated Orpheum Circuit. While playing Syracuse in early 1926, they introduced a sketch called "Lambchops," which had been written especially for them by Al Boasberg. The title derives from one of the jokes near the end of the routine when George asks Gracie, "What do you like?" Gracie responds, "Lamb chops." George continues with "Could you eat two big lamb chops alone?" Pausing a half beat, Gracie declares, "Oh no, not alone . . .," then pausing a full beat, she adds, ". . . with potatoes I could." The gag is similar to those in the rest of the routine, which is not a narrative skit but a series of unrelated jokes written to showcase the personas of Burns and Allen.

Burns and Allen had not been a comedy team for very long when they were tapped to play the Orpheum Circuit. In the beginning of their partnership, Allen was the "straight man," feeding lines to Burns, who responded with jokes. However, according to Burns, Gracie seemed to get all the laughs anyway, because of her exquisite timing. He reworked the act to make her the funny partner, though she never exaggerated her mannerisms or delivery. Instead, she spoke simply and with sincerity, as though engaging in conversation. With Burns the straight man and Allen the comedienne, the act became a "Dumb Dora" routine.

A Dumb Dora skit was a male-female act in which a ditzy female character appeared to be a dimwit. The male, who was the straight man, engaged the female in conversation, asking her questions and soliciting her opinion. As the routine continued, it became clear that the female was not as dumb as she seemed. She merely had a unique perspective, or responded to the situation in a different way, which vexed the straight man. Typically, the Dumb Dora archetype was a chorine, dressed in a sexy, flamboyant costume. Eventually, this character morphed into the dumb blonde archetype used in night club acts, movies, and early variety television. Gracie Allen varied the archetype by playing her more down to earth, dressing tastefully and eliminating the sexy angle. Though Allen was the focus of the routine, George Burns proved to be more than a straight man; he was adept at tossing out machine-gun one-liners.

"Lambchops" helped to perfect the personas of Burns and Allen and to hone their deliveries. It became the template for their routines, which outlasted vaudeville and made them major stars in radio and on television.

In 1929, Burns and Allen recreated the skit for the short film Lambchops, which used Warner Bros.' Vitaphone sound-on-disk system. The short, which used about eight minutes of the original 18-minute routine, was part of the Vitaphone Varieties series, also known as canned vaudeville. The series captured the best routines, songs, and performances of vaudeville's elite--Jolson, Jessel, Burns and Allen, and more. Warner Bros., which owned the Vitaphone system, hired Bryan Foy to oversee the production of the series. Foy had performed in vaudeville with his family as part of the Seven Little Foys and knew many of the participants personally.

On stage, "Lambchops" had always been performed in front of a curtain, or on a set representing a street corner. Foy and the studio provided a living room set for Burns and Allen, which did not suit the sketch as well. Director Murray Roth and Burns restructured the routine's opening to accommodate the new set. The short opens with George and Gracie searching for something. Suddenly, they look at the camera and address the audience, "There you are." At the end, while George is talking, Gracie nudges him and whispers, "Get us off." Breaking the fourth wall and self-reflexive comments would not become typical for Hollywood narrative films, but Burns would later adopt these Brechtian characteristics in his television series.

By Susan Doll

Producer: Bryan Foy for Vitaphone Corporation, distributed by Warner Bros.
Screenplay: George Burns and Murray Roth from Al Boasberg's original sketch
Director: Murray Roth
Cast: George (George Burns), Gracie (Gracie Allen)
1929 B&W 8 mins.
Lambchops

Lambchops

In 1925, George Burns and Gracie Allen hit the big time in vaudeville when they joined the top-rated Orpheum Circuit. While playing Syracuse in early 1926, they introduced a sketch called "Lambchops," which had been written especially for them by Al Boasberg. The title derives from one of the jokes near the end of the routine when George asks Gracie, "What do you like?" Gracie responds, "Lamb chops." George continues with "Could you eat two big lamb chops alone?" Pausing a half beat, Gracie declares, "Oh no, not alone . . .," then pausing a full beat, she adds, ". . . with potatoes I could." The gag is similar to those in the rest of the routine, which is not a narrative skit but a series of unrelated jokes written to showcase the personas of Burns and Allen. Burns and Allen had not been a comedy team for very long when they were tapped to play the Orpheum Circuit. In the beginning of their partnership, Allen was the "straight man," feeding lines to Burns, who responded with jokes. However, according to Burns, Gracie seemed to get all the laughs anyway, because of her exquisite timing. He reworked the act to make her the funny partner, though she never exaggerated her mannerisms or delivery. Instead, she spoke simply and with sincerity, as though engaging in conversation. With Burns the straight man and Allen the comedienne, the act became a "Dumb Dora" routine. A Dumb Dora skit was a male-female act in which a ditzy female character appeared to be a dimwit. The male, who was the straight man, engaged the female in conversation, asking her questions and soliciting her opinion. As the routine continued, it became clear that the female was not as dumb as she seemed. She merely had a unique perspective, or responded to the situation in a different way, which vexed the straight man. Typically, the Dumb Dora archetype was a chorine, dressed in a sexy, flamboyant costume. Eventually, this character morphed into the dumb blonde archetype used in night club acts, movies, and early variety television. Gracie Allen varied the archetype by playing her more down to earth, dressing tastefully and eliminating the sexy angle. Though Allen was the focus of the routine, George Burns proved to be more than a straight man; he was adept at tossing out machine-gun one-liners. "Lambchops" helped to perfect the personas of Burns and Allen and to hone their deliveries. It became the template for their routines, which outlasted vaudeville and made them major stars in radio and on television. In 1929, Burns and Allen recreated the skit for the short film Lambchops, which used Warner Bros.' Vitaphone sound-on-disk system. The short, which used about eight minutes of the original 18-minute routine, was part of the Vitaphone Varieties series, also known as canned vaudeville. The series captured the best routines, songs, and performances of vaudeville's elite--Jolson, Jessel, Burns and Allen, and more. Warner Bros., which owned the Vitaphone system, hired Bryan Foy to oversee the production of the series. Foy had performed in vaudeville with his family as part of the Seven Little Foys and knew many of the participants personally. On stage, "Lambchops" had always been performed in front of a curtain, or on a set representing a street corner. Foy and the studio provided a living room set for Burns and Allen, which did not suit the sketch as well. Director Murray Roth and Burns restructured the routine's opening to accommodate the new set. The short opens with George and Gracie searching for something. Suddenly, they look at the camera and address the audience, "There you are." At the end, while George is talking, Gracie nudges him and whispers, "Get us off." Breaking the fourth wall and self-reflexive comments would not become typical for Hollywood narrative films, but Burns would later adopt these Brechtian characteristics in his television series. By Susan Doll Producer: Bryan Foy for Vitaphone Corporation, distributed by Warner Bros. Screenplay: George Burns and Murray Roth from Al Boasberg's original sketch Director: Murray Roth Cast: George (George Burns), Gracie (Gracie Allen) 1929 B&W 8 mins.

Quotes

Trivia