Movie parodies on the big screen have been around almost as long as the cinema’s been around. We’ve got flicks such as Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein, Hollywood Shuffle, and Hot Shots poking fun at various scripts or life behind the scenes. However, back in the seventies, there was a great television variety show providing us with even harder bouts of laughter through parodies of its own. These weren’t comedic interpretations of modern movies of its era. These were skits that showcased the old (mostly black and white) movies, that were usually shown back then on late night television. These were really tributes to such movies given only by the one of the best comedy troupes ever: the cast of The Carol Burnett Show.
As a Southern born and bred girl, it’s going to be hard to admit this to the world, but… long before I saw my beloved Gone With The Wind (on tv, too, mind you), I saw Went With The Wind, starring Carol Burnett as “Starlett”, Harvey Korman as “Cap’n Rat Butler”, Dinah Shore as “Melody”, Tim Conway as “Brashly Wilkes” and Vicki Lawrence as “Sissy” on that show. I was about ten when it aired. So needless to say, when I saw the Selznick version a few years later and the scene when Scarlett has Mammy take down “Miss Ellen’s portieres”, I exclaimed “That’s where she (Carol) got it from!” Thank God, I was at home among family. It would have been rather embarrassing anywhere else. The entire spot is absolutely hysterical and that dress scene is certainly an iconic moment in television history. Starlett just had to have that fabric and she wound up making a dress that Krystle Carrington or Alexis Colby would have envied. (It’s on display at the Smithsonian Institution!)
You’ve got to see the whole thing:
Well, another good spoof was A Swiped Life, loosely based upon the Bette Davis and Glenn Ford drama, A Stolen Life. I’ve seen the original several times, and every time, I’ve been jaded by the sound of that damned foghorn from Carol’s show! In fact, it was after I’d shared A Swiped Life with my classic film pal, Paula, over at Paula’s Cinema Club, I recalled my Went With The Wind experience!
Then of course, there’s Carol’s frightful “Nora Desmond” and her send-up on Sunset Boulevard. That was a very popular skit that ran occasionally with Nora and Max in different situations. As usual, Harvey Korman, as Max, could never keep a straight face! His breakdowns in the show were also hilarious moments to catch.
Years ago, I’d read Miss Burnett’s autobiography, One More Time; one of my favorite books. She was raised by her grandmother near Hollywood. Like her, I had a strong bond with my own, so I could relate well to their connection. (When Carol tugged her own ear at the end of the show, it was a silent greeting to her grandmother.) In her book, she also shared her devotion to those old movies that she grew up watching and working around in a movie theatre. I’m thrilled she shared her passion through these hysterical and flattering renditions on her show. They have indeed become classics in their own right!
Now, that’s goosepimply allover kinda stuff!
UPDATE 06/04/2016: Sorry the links aren’t there anymore… however, I’ll leave the spaces there as they are in case – fingers crossed! – they come back.