The Human Comedy (9-16-1936)

The Great Depression was a grim time.  And yet, sometimes people needed a laugh.  On this date, Chicagoans were chuckling over two stories.  Both of them were somewhat risqué—at least by 1936 standards.

The first tale begins with Hazel LaBreck, a 27-year-old singer from Wisconsin, traveling to Chicago for a concert audition.  On the bus she became acquainted with an older man named Mr. LaRue.  LaRue told the young lady he was a movie agent, and that he might be able to get her a job in Hollywood.  But first she would have to demonstrate that she had a shapely figure.

9-16--skyline 1930s.jpg

LaBreck might have come from farm country, but she was no hick.  Once off the bus, she called police.  Now joined by two detectives, the young singer went to the Morrison Hotel, where she had arranged to meet LaRue in his room.  The cops waited outside.

When the young lady arrived,  LaRue produced copies of official-looking studio contracts and a silhouette chart.  Then, taking out a tape measure, he told her to get undressed.

With that, Hazel LaBreck gave a signal, and the detectives burst in.  LaRue quickly confessed that he was not a Hollywood agent, but a clothing salesman.  He also gave the cops his right name—which wasn’t LaRue.  As he was being led away to the police station, he explained: “Something snapped in my brain when I saw this girl on the bus, that’s all.”

The second story involved a movie that Stephen Holish had shot at a nudist camp in Indiana.  The Eastman Company had refused to develop the film, claiming it was obscene.  So Holish filed suit against the company in Small Claims Court.

Judge Samuel Trude heard the case.  With attorneys from both sides in agreement, the judge decided to view the film.  The courtroom lights were dimmed, and Wonders of the Human Anatomy was screened.

When the lights came back on, Holish’s attorney argued that the film was “just as good and clean as movies of any Sunday school picnic–except that the people haven’t got any clothes on.”  This film was not obscene, because “the leer of the sensual” was absent.

Judge Trude disagreed.  He declared the film indecent, and ruled Eastman could destroy it.

I wonder if Holish hired Mr. LaRue to direct his next film?

—30—

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