Over at the Radio Spirits blog, I worked up a review for the recent Shout! Factory release of The Jack Benny Program: The Lost Episodes. Its official street date is July 23rd…but as I mentioned in this previous blog post, if you pre-ordered the set from the company’s website, a portion of those proceeds would be donated to The International Jack Benny Fan Club…and because I felt rather strongly that doing so was an extremely worthwhile endeavor, I went ahead and ponied up the full asking price (despite my usual tendency to haggle in order to get the best deal I can).
Benny and his writers decided that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade—they used the poor performance of the film as fodder for jokes on his radio program, leading audiences to believe that Midnight was the equivalent of a stink bomb some prankster set off in the theater seats. (If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that it’s actually an enjoyable little comedy—with some funny sequences and performances from the crème de la crème of many character greats.) Because so many people heard Jack joke about how much he laid an egg with this film, they went back to the theater to see it out of curiosity…and that allowed to eventually break even.
As a janitor (played by Benny regular Benny Rubin) sweeping the floor comes into view, Wagner corrects his wife: “No, honey…he didn’t direct The Horn Blows at Midnight—he was in it.”
“I did,” snaps Rubin without missing a beat, as he continues to push his broom. Later in the program, as Jack demonstrates how thoroughly inept he is when it comes to TV direction, Rubin the janitor attempts to make a helpful suggestion…but Benny waves him off, yelling “You had your chance!”