Posts tagged "Ken Murray"

Bill and Coo

Bill and Coo

Bill and Coo
Written by Royal Foster and Dean Riesner
Directed by Dean Riesner

Bill and Coo
Featuring George Burton’s Love Birds and Curley Twiford’s Jimmy the Crow, Bill and Coo is a crazed all-animal movie production where trained birds run around doing people things. The idea and story structure is similar to the later film The Secret of Magic Island, it seems almost impossible that Jean Tourane did not see Bill and Coo. The Secret of Magic Island features several similar plot devices and scenarios, though I freely admit that the French film does have much more whimsy (though Bill and Coo’s print suffers from color degradation, it might have been way more beautiful when originally lensed!) Both films suffer from their villain being portrayed/named in such way that racism subtexts can’t be ignored, but Bill and Coo just comes out and has a crow called The Black Menace.

An in-depth discussion of the two films and their similarity can be found in an episode of our Infernal Brains Podcast.

A credit claims the film was based on an idea from Ken Murray’s Blackouts – this is not a reference to Murray being a giant drunk, but was the name of his LA stage review show where Burton and his birds were regulars. Bill and Coo is an amazing film, and we even recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Honorary Oscar for “artistry and patience blended in a novel and entertaining use of the medium of motion pictures.” This must have been back when the Oscars were fun!
Bill and Coo
There are a few human characters in Bill and Coo, as there is a prologue where they explain that the movie is full of trained birds, and explain what trained birds are. For the birdbrains out there. The producer Ken Murray appears along with bird trainer George Burton, while Elizabeth Walters plays the dodo. I have read that the film originally did not have this human introduction, but I don’t know when it was added. You can watch Bill and Coo yourself thanks to the magic of public domain. If you enjoy watching your movies in novelty record form, rest assured there is a Bill and Coo record just for that purpose!

Bill Singer (Bill) – a red headed lovebird, and the hero of our story, as Bill Singer earns money from his taxi job to impress his girlfriend’s dad, and also does a bunch of other jobs, including fighting the Black Menace.
Coo (Coo) – A lovebird with a black head and red body, she’s Bill’s girlfriend and doesn’t do much except hatch from the right egg to have a silver birdfeeder in her mouth, and be in danger occasionally so Bill can rescue her.
Black Menace (Jimmy the Crow) – The evil Black Menace stomps through town like a giant jerk, setting it ablaze in pyromaniacal glee. Curley Twiford’s Jimmy the Crow is one of the most famous actors of all time, appearing in The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Son of Dracula
Johnny Loo (Johnny Loo) – The town nut, he’s dressed as a Napoleon (including a huge sword), but is not crazy enough to recognize danger and attempts to warn the townspeople.

Bill and Coo
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3 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - December 17, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , ,