A Year in Shorts Day 33: "Sure Cures"
Last month we covered our first Pete Smith Specialty, Marines in the Making, which offered us a somewhat humorous alternative to your garden variety of World War II propaganda. Today we’ll be looking at Sure Cures, a 1946 short which won’t encourage you to join the war effort, but might come in handy regardless.
Sure Cures follows the misadventures of Xavier T. Schneckendorf (played by Dave O'Brien, who also co-wrote and directed the short) as he attempts to use home remedies for several ailments. This being a Pete Smith Specialty, it all goes wrong, and Schneckendorf learns a valuable lesson about the dangers of alternative medicine.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Pete Smith Specialties were all more or less the same, but truth be told there was a considerable amount of variety in the series. Sure Cures belongs to what I consider the best of them, in which Pete follows around a specific character who tries and fails to solve a specific problem or set of problems in comedic fashion. It's simple stuff, but it's amusing enough to watch, and there's nothing wrong with a bit of good silly fun.
Sure Cures certainly isn't a great short, and not all the jokes land. There's especially some unfortunate "Battle of the Sexes" type humor involving Mrs. Schneckendorf that hasn't aged well. But altogether, I think Sure Cures just wants to be informative as well as entertaining, and it gets the job done. Dave O'Brien is a game physical performer, and Pete Smith's sardonic delivery is always good for a laugh.
And besides, I really just think we should be lauding the filmmakers for bringing light to the serious issue that is male pattern baldness. If that doesn't merit an Oscar nomination, I don't know what does.
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