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Film / Hiss and Yell

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Hiss and Yell is a 1946 comedic short film (18 minutes) directed by Jules White.

Vera Vague (credited as "Vera Vague", although the actress's name was Barbara Jo Allen) is a ditzy dame who's taking a train ride back home to see family. As she's walking down the street she sees what appears to be a man chopping off a woman's head. In fact, it's a fellow named Barton O'Hara who happens to be a Stage Magician named "Bluebeard the Great", and he was practicing a decapitation trick for his act, but Vera never finds that out.

Vera gets on the train. Sitting on the seat across from her is none other than Barton. When Vera reads a newspaper article about a real "Bluebeard" who's chopping off women's heads, she becomes convinced that her traveling companion is the killer.

Director Jules White is best remembered for being the regular director for The Three Stooges. Emil Sitka, who made his film debut in this short, went in to star in a lot of Three Stooges shorts.

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Tropes:

  • The Big Damn Kiss: Vera and Barton kiss at the end when she finally realizes that he is not in fact a crazed Serial Killer.
  • Chekhov's Gun
    • A mom puts a jar of jam, meant for her son, on the luggage rack. It leaks, making Vera think that Barton's luggage is leaking blood.
    • Vera and Barton have identical trunks and she puts hers on the rack next to his. Naturally, she picks the wrong one.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Vera just cannot get rid of the trunk with the (fake) severed head. One time she leaves it on the sidewalk, and a cop sees it and gives it back to her. Another time, she throws it over a hedge, only for the gardener on the other side to scream in terror and throw it back over the hedge at her. She leaves it outside her sister's house, only for the dog to bring it in.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Vera does this a lot. When the bellhop at her hotel asks for her trunk, she says "Have I got a trunk? Do I look like an elephant?"
  • Contrived Coincidence: This very silly short film lives on the contrived coincidence.
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    • Vera is boarding the same train as Barton, the Stage Magician that she saw through a window shade earlier in the day.
    • She reads an article about a Bluebeard serial killer chopping off heads, soon after she reported a man to the cops for chopping off a head.
    • The serial killer is called a "Bluebeard" in the paper and Barton's stage name is "Bluebeard the Great".
    • Vera and Barton are headed for the same destination. Her sister's house.
  • Fainting: Vera's misunderstanding with Barton on the train eventually causes her to faint in terror. Barton goes to get water, and in the meantime she gets up and hurriedly exits the train, with his trunk.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After blabbing nonstop at the bellhop who's come for her trunks, Vera says "Hurry up, please. I haven't time to stand here and listen to you talk."
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A lot of the humor comes from how Barton wants to make a model of her head for his act, while Vera thinks he wants to chop her head off. He keeps saying things like "Nothing would give me more pleasure than to carve your head." Barton doesn't help things at the end, when he's chasing Vera through the house, kicking in doors and screaming "I MUST HAVE YOUR HEAD!".
  • Stage Magician: Barton's job, although he doesn't do it onscreen. Comic hijinx ensue when Vera takes his trunk, which contains a prop head.
  • Stripping Snag: Vera's entire dress is torn off, leaving her in a slip, when the bellhop closes up the trunk and takes it away, with the dress caught in the lid.
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