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  • Just What I Needed (1955)

    *** (out of 4)

    Another fun short from the Pete Smith and Dave O'Brien team at MGM. This one here has O'Brien playing Harry Horseknuckle, a man who is constantly getting things that he doesn't need and they usually just lead to more trouble. Case in point is a tool chest that his wife gives him when there's nothing to fix so Horseknuckle decides to break things in order to fix them. Another example is buying a chest when he doesn't know what's inside of it. You see the type of humor you're getting with this 9-minute short and if you're a fan of the duo then you should at least get a few nice laughs out of this. I thought this contained everything you'd want from the two with Smith adding some perfectly times narration and O'Brien delivering that spot-on performance with that perfect comic timing. The two worked so well together I often wondered if Smith recorded the narration and then they shot the footage or if the footage was shot and Smith when over it. There are a few scenes where the timing is just so good you wondered who was reacting to who.
  • ...and that is an abundance of exaggerated but familiar situations. This one simply has too many things that cannot happen for it to stand up to Smith's best work.

    This short is about Christmas gifts that are either useless or cause more problems than they solve. Here Pete Smith short stalwart Dave O'Brien is once again the mute star of the show as a man who has received a bunch of bum Christmas gifts. One is a tasteless mobile whose theme is income tax. Whoever came up with the design of this should have gotten a raise from MGM. Another is a tool chest from the wife, but there is nothing to fix. O'Brien winds up destroying a chair trying to fix it. Then he buys a locked chest at an auction. Unable to open the lock he decides to....drop it from high place and bust it open? Wouldn't this have been the time to use the saw in the wife's toolkit and bust the lock that way? I knew there was a producer named Marx that worked at the studio at the time, but I don't think his first name was Groucho!

    There are other gifts and situations, but they involve things that are probably a scientific impossibility. However the ever expressive David O'Brien is always worth watching.