Take two for movie madness
By David James Smith
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Tommy: ‘That’s perfect for Bobby, he’s the right size to fit on a wristwatch.’
Bobby: ‘Tommy loves the outfit because everyone says “Hello Sailor!”‘
WC Fields and Mae West
Bobby: ‘I’ve always fancied playing the fields, Tommy.’
Tommy: ‘Come up and see me sometime – you’ll get the shock of your life.’
Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula
Bobby: ‘Deep down, everybody really hates me. Hey, Tommy-I thought you were going to change for this one.’
Tommy: ‘I have, I’m Count Dracula.’
Bobby: ‘Count Dracula-you can’t even count 10!’
Edward G Robinson and Humphrey Bogart
Bobby: ‘Bobby G Ball, that’s me.’
Tommy: ‘The G stands for gormless. But I look so tough, I could spray on Henry Cooper.’
No, it’s not a trick of the light, nor a bad dream. The famous film faces on the left are all cartoon caricatures of Cannon and Ball, conquering comic heroes of the small screen and now film stars in their own right.
Why the disguises? Well, by happy coincidence this week you can see the start of a series of films on Channel Four under the title of The Bad Guys, and, on ITV, The Cannon and Ball Easter Show, featuring a strong movie theme to celebrate the duo’s film debut in The Boys In Blue.
We asked ITV and Channel Four film buyer Leslie Halliwell, who prepared The Bad Guys series, to let his imagination run riot and envisage some legendary Hollywood ‘double-acts’ whose shoes Cannon and Ball could have stepped into. Our artist turned Halliwell’s words into pictures, and Cannon and Ball gave us some impressions of their own which you can read on the left.
Halliwell sat in his large London office and consulted the comprehensive array of film books around him (most of which he seemed to have written).
‘This one’ he said, stabbing a finger at a picture of Tommy Cannon, looks faintly feminine.’ Really! ‘Oh, I’m not doubting his masculinity, but he would probably make a good woman, arid I think it should be Mae West-with that one [Bobby Ball] as W C Fields.’ Fields, when dying, was asked how he felt and replied that, on the whole, he’d rather be in Philadelphia. And that’s pretty much how Bobby felt on seeing himself as the snub-nosed, acid-tongued actor. ‘On the whole’ he said, ‘I’d rather be in Crossroads.’
In a more charitable moment, Halliwell saw something tough and heroic in Tommy, and a look in the eyes of Bobby, that suggested Humphrey Bogart and Edward G Robinson.
Then, perhaps remembering Fields, who rarely had a kind word for anyone, he pointed out ‘a certain similarity between Tommy Cannon and Donald Duck’. With Bobby as a moustachioed Mickey Mouse, and Walt Disney turning in his grave, Halliwell felt that ‘an air of menace’ about the person of Tommy made him ideal for Count Dracula, with Bobby as a miniature Frankenstein’s monster.
We found Cannon and Ball in rehearsal for this week’s show, with Tommy perfecting his Bogart routine and Bobby bracing himself to play Sam the pianist in a skit on the classic movie Casablanca.
Jill Gascoine appears in the Ingrid Bergman role, and Eric Sykes, who co-stars in The Boys In Blue, will join them for a Hercule Poirot-style murder mystery, with apologies to Agatha Christie.
Apologies also to Cannon and Ball. We neglected to ask the duo if Leslie Halliwell reminded them of anyone from Hollywood’s golden age. Perhaps it’s just as well.