"Skeets" Gallagher would arise from his perennial stupor to say, apropos of nothing, "Good old Mandalay, where the fish are aviators." Or the ebullient Wynne Gibson might stagger in, flopping down on your lap with a "whoops!" I'm thinking of those pictures that, once upon a time, glutted Paramount—not "stories" but stupendous fiascoes of continuity. Somehow Skeets and company managed to wrap entire productions around miscellaneous pranks and fatuous one-liners. And the whole thing was an open sesame. Perhaps the mercurial ghost of vaudeville was afoot in Hollywood, drunk again, to give us pretzel-shaped movies, twisted glee. Today's "lesson" is actually a toast to the intoxicated style of early talkies and their tendency to go joyfully awry—to vignettes, lurches, ruptures, and zigzags—to klutziness and chintziness and failures of craftsmanship. Case in point, the opening to 1931's The Road to Reno:
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