The image should be at once familiar to completionists -- those fanatics who buy $1.99 VHS tapes from Walgreen's, or those whose TVs are crowned with upside down coat-hangers and who are stil within viewing range of a UHF station. You guessed it: At the center of the three figures is the shame of the US Navy, 'Lobsterhead' Crackenby, in one of his many salty adventures (Crackenby Walks the Plank, Assimilated Studios' 1952 release). Unfortunately, too little know about W. W. "Bob" Trowbridge, screenwriter extroadinaire, creator of "Lobsterhead" and so much more -- including the first feature by the much-loved comedy duo "Mac and Cheese." When I tried to post Trowbridge's bio at the IMDb, imagine my outrage when it was brutally censored. OK, so that time I posted the scoop that Ang Lee's new movie was Harold and Kumar Go to Bangkok, I should have double checked, but that video clerk seemed so authorative ... anyway, here is the page that the IMDb refuses to print: W. W. Trowbridge
Born: July 7, 1982, Croton, New York
Died, Woodland Hills, California 1993

As Screenwriter:
Ants in Your Pants of 1941 (1942)
It Happened in Jail! (1942)
Katz's Pajamas (1942)
Snakes on a Stagecoach (1942)
Golden Gators (1943)

-- Debut movie of team of funnyman Al McIntyre and banjo-playing vaudevillian I.P. Cheeseman, best known for their comic tagline, "Ehhh, slug me in the stommick, I'm dreaming!" "Mac and Cheese" were Monocle Studios answer to several other studio's answer to Abbott and Costello. An abbreviated list of their credits:
Mac and Cheese Go To Long Beach, Mac and Cheese's Nutzi Nazi Vacation, Mac and Cheese at the South Dakota State Fair, Mac and Cheese Twist Slowly in the Wind, The Syncopated Cluck, and Mac and Cheese Meet  A Brooklyn Gorilla. All released in October 1943.

The Whoop-de-doo Girl (1942)
Not in the Face, Please! (1942)

-- Co written by Nash Gauloise, the only screen credit of a name students of the McCarthy Era will recognize. Though he was a marginal figure in the film industry, Gauloise's appearance before the House Unamerican Activities Committee isn't likely to be forgotten: "Yes! I am a Communist! Hee hee hee hee! Try to catch me, mortal fools!" And then he vanished in a burst of sulfurous flame and a cloud of red smoke.

The Brass Monkey Mystery (1943)
Goose on the Loose (1944)
Why, I Oughta! (1944)
Geese Unleashed (1944)
A `Hole' Lot of Gophers (1944)
Angels With Submachine Guns (1946)
Chimp On His Shoulder (1947)
Sin, You Sinners (1947)

-- One of the tunes here was a minor hit for Hezzy Panther and His Musical Pumas: "OK, You Win, So Go Ahead and Kill Me, Already."

Bassoons on Parade (1948)
"Lobsterhead" Crackenby (1948)

-- You wanted Wiliam Demerset. You'd settle for William Bendix. You got Freddy Paramus, a pugnacious, lumpy character actor best known in his role as Crackenby, an ornery Navy CPO who talked around a cigar butt. Before retiring, Paramus made several movies about the mishap-prone sailor, following it with a short-lived TV show on the Dumont network. Trivia question: What was the name of Lobsterhead's talking parrot?*

Circus Berzerkus (1949)

-- Keep an eye open during the scenes where the clown throws a pie in the face of the walrus wearing the Joe Stalin hat and uniform. Second row, third from the right: that's Sal Mineo! Unless it isn't.

The Moor of Babylon (1949)
Screwy the Pooch (1950)

-- There weren't many slapstick dog comedians, but "Screwy" was one of them. "I saw that dog at the Orpheum in Des Moines. Boy, did he know how to take a punch!" -- Buster Keaton, to Francois Truffaut.

Lobsterhead Crackenby Sails Again (1950)
Unlucky Pierre (1951)
Three Dopes and a Sap (1951)
Three Dopes, a Sap, and a Baby (1951)
The Day the Earth Twitched (1953)

-- Massive earthquakes occur as a resul of not enough atomic testing. The special effects consist of someone jostling the camera while the actors wave their arms. ("Whoa! Whoaaaaaa!," they cry.) Historically interesting as a 90 minute lecture on the wisdom of increasing the nuclear arsenal. The moral, as stated by an Air Force colonel (Ferd Dwyer): "If we can't show our planet who's in charge here, we might as well have never left the caves."

Ensign Lobsterhead Crackenby (1952)
Lobsterhead's Brig Buddy (1952)
Crackenby Walks The Plank (1952)
Katie, Bar the Door! (1954)
Mr. Foxglove Steps Out (1955)

-- The rumor of the "dead munchkin on the set" from The Wizard of Oz may have started with this film, since the comedic subplot of this one involves the suicide of a little person. Says Mr. Foxglove (Dudley McGleet): "Ah, 'tis more room for the rest of us, I'm thinking. Admittedly, not a lot more room, but" (twinkle) "every little bit helps."

The Bucktoothed Marshall of Muleshoe County (1956)
The Ghost of the Invisible Chick (1966)
Wally the Wall-Eyed Dugong (1967)
The Far-Out Crash Pad of Hiram Q. Plumtree (1969)

-- During the LSD sequence, that's an uncredited Sir Michael Redgrave, reading the St. Swithin's Day speech backwards.

Hellacious Angels on Mopeds (1969)
Cherokee Bill's Death Whoop (1970)
Cherokee Bill's Payback With Compounded Interest (1971)
Snakes on a Greyhound Bus (1972)
Tell Me That You Love Me, Sagittarius Kowalski (1973)
Moonshine McSwine (1974)

-- Check out that credit: Second Revenuer Eaten By Hogs: John Huston!

Student Stewardesses (1976)
SOS: Glider Crash! (1976)

-- IRA terrorists wire up the navigation system in a glider to target the Queen Mother's appearance at the Huill Memorial Rose Garden, craftily scheming that the old dear is too feeble to get out of the way. Meanwhile the crew of the glider (Sensualdo Cascabel, Montana Wildhack) try to bring down the plane on their own. Stock footage of the Queen Mother's actual visit to the the rose garden during the previous year was used to clever -- and thrifty -- purpose.

I-Yi!-Yi! Robot (1978)

-- The only Star Wars/Latin Hustle genre-bender.

Crazy Worthless Psycho Billy (1978)

-- Revisionist account of the career of Billy the Kid, shot in modern dress in Central Park.
Goofus and Gallant: The Animated Motion Picture Experience! (1980)
She's So Adorable That I Could Just Die All Over the Place (1983)

-- "If I ever meet you, you're a dead man." The first line of John Hughes' famous open letter to Trowbridge in Variety.

Dracula, Prince of Lambada (1987)
Lobsterhead Crackenby on Monkey Island (1990)

categories Cinematical