Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


After viewing this fourteen-minute disguised commercial, I could see why it was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  It is truly one of the greatest What-the-Heck-Are-They-Doing films of all time.

     Songwriter Jeff (Ward Ellis, creator of The Doodletown Pipers) and Mary (Virginia Gibson, Tony nominee for Happy Hunting) have been married for a year and are finally about to go on their honeymoon when he gets a telephone call from Gordon (Alan Mowbray, Topper, My Darling Clementine, My Man Godfrey), the producer for the show he's been working on.  The show's star does not like one of the songs and wants a new one asap.  Jeff and Mary's plans seem doomed are time goes by, a gazillion cigarettes are smoked, and no musical inspipration comes to Jeff.

     Help comes in the form of Wilbur (Chick Chandler, Lost Continent, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the Soldier of Fortune television series), Jeff and Mary's guardian angel.  Sent down by the head angel to fix things, Wilbur, invisible and wearing very stupid-looking sunglasses stays on the roof, tangled in the television antenna and tossing pixie dust (actually, it's angel dust, but if I used that phrase it may be mistaken for the angel dust of today's parlance) downwards.

     Mary goes into the kitchen to make some coffee for Jeff and she faces a leaky faucet, a refrigerator door that won't close, and a pilot light that won't stay lit.  With the help of the pixie dust, she dreams of a modern (well, 1956 modern) kitchen where she can sing and dance joyfully.  Still under the influence of the pixie dust, her mind transforms the drab living room (and puts Jeff in a tuxedo) and then the bedroom (serarate beds, natch; sex was invented until well after 1956) where her mind transforms it through several decors -- still singing and dancing all the time, mind you.  (So maybe I should have called it angel dust.)

     Then, poof!  Back to reality.  Back to the drab, yet horribly decorated house, back to poor uninspired Jeff who most likely will have black lung before the films fourteen minutes are up.

     Ah, but Wilbur has some more pixie dust up his sleeve (literally).  Jeff tells Mary to call Gordon and say that he can't come up with an idea.  Mary rotary dials the pixie dust-laden phone.  (Remember rotary phones?  Half the time when you dial a number 7 or beyond, your finger slips and you have to start all over again.  Those were the days, my friend, those were the days...)  INSPIRATION!  Jeff tells Mary to dial the phone some more.  The clickclickclick noise of the rotary dial sounds out a beat and Jeff starts playing the piano to the beat and then Jeff and Mary start singing a song and Gordon and the diva hear the song over the telephone and Jeff and Mary keep singing and dancing while Jeff picks Mary up in his arms
an grabs their bags and dances/sings their way out their door and into their honeymoon.  And we are left with invisible Wilbur playing the piano.

     As I indicated above, what the heck?

     Please note that this film was directed by Gower Champion (Forty-Second Street), a pretty big name in the entertainment/song and dance world at the time.

     Again, what the heck?

     Well, the film is actually a commercial, designed by Bell Labs to promote their latest innovation, colored telephones.  In the dream sequence, there's a red phone in the kitchen, a blue phone in the living room, and phones to match the various decors in the bedroom.  The head angel uses a white phone, of course, and Wilbur also uses a white phone, except his looks like a hand hair dryer my wife had in the Seventies.  Basically, the entire thrust of this film was to say, "Ptah! to your plain old black phone!"

     Sadly, few people made the connection.  (Haha, I made a pun.  Aren't I clever?)  (By the way, there's no indication on the credits of Bell Labs involvement.)

     Anyway, here's the non-informercial.  This is not the MST3K version (sorry), but see if you can outsnark Crow and Tom Servo anyway while you watch this.


For today's links for Overlooked Films and/or A/V, drop in on Sweet Freedom, where Todd does his thing.


  1. Sure wish you'd put in the U-Tube or a link... sounds like a hoot, Jerry.

  2. I've embedded the Internet Archive link, Richard. It's worth alook.