“We didn’t need dialog. We had faces.” –Norma Desmond to Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard.

Didn’t they, though?

Cast in order of appearance:
Humphrey Bogart, Franchot Tone, Jane Greer, Greer Garson, John Wayne, Paul Muni, Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Joan Fontaine, Basil Rathbone, Ralph Bellamy, John Barrymore, Sidney Greenstreet, Eric Blore, Jack Oakie, Turhan Bey, Joan Blondell, Bobby Breen, Dean Jagger, Fred Astaire, George Raft, Merle Oberon, Jean Harlow, Sabu the elephant boy, Richard Loo, Cedric Hardwicke, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn, Boris Karloff, Irene Dunne, Betty Grable, Nelson Eddy, Alice Faye, Joel McCrea, James Cagney, Myrna Loy. (I hope I have rounded ’em all up correctly)

Frank Jacobs wrote for MAD magazine:

Pictures from Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans

‘Twas Bogart and the Franchot Tones
Did Greer and Garson in the Wayne;
All Muni were the Lewis Stones,
And Rooneyed with Fontaine.

“Beware the deadly Rathbone, son!
Don’t Bellamy the Barrymore!
Beware that you the Greenstreet shun,
And likewise Eric Blore!”

He took his Oakie firm in hand,
Long time the Bracken foe to quell;
He stopped to pray at Turhan Bey,
And murmured, “Joan Blondell.”

And as he Breened with Jagger drawn,
The deadly Rathbone, eyes Astaire,
Came Rafting through the Oberon
And Harlowed everywhere!

Sabu! Sabu! And Richard Loo!
The Oakie gave a Hardwicke smack!
He seized its Flynn, and with a Quinn,
He went Karloffing back.

“And didst thou Dunne the Rathbone, Ladd?
Come Grable in the Eddy, boy!
O Alice Faye! O Joel McCrea!”
He Cagneyed in his Loy.

‘Twas Bogart and the Franchot Tones
Did Greer and Garson in the Wayne;
All Muni were the Lewis Stones,
And Rooneyed with Fontaine.


11 thoughts on “"Hollywood Jabberwocky" by Frank Jacobs (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

  1. Jacobs described himself as "the least-known writer of hysterical light verse in the United States." Wikipedia.

  2. Frank Jacobs–the most brilliant parodist in history. He did another hysterical version with grocery products. It starts, "Twas Brillo" I wish I could remember the rest but if you read a certain amount of Jacobs' work you come away realizing that he was every bit the genius of our most beloved poets and lyricists.

  3. This is one of my fav. videos here on YT! Love the poetry and the video montage you added to this. I've watched it so many times over the months. 5***

  4. @pundar it is a parody of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky," which in its nature is nonsense (although many enjoy finding patterns in its poetry). Frank Jacobs substituted the nonsensical words in "Jabberwocky" with the names of prominent classic film actors and actresses. Ultimately, it should be enjoyed simply for its lyrical rhythmic sound, not for its content.

  5. Years ago I saw a MAD parody of Wordsworth's 'The Daffodils', which I have always assumed must have been by Jacobs.

    I have a clear memory of only the first strophe:

    I wandered lonely as a clod,
    Just picking up old rags and bottles,
    When all at once I saw a lod:
    A lod a liddle axolotls.

    I've never been able to locate the full poem since, but that fourth line is a glory of English poetry.

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