Menu (1933)

Its head is off, which makes it a dead duck.

During the TCM 31 Days of Oscar series (which I have been enjoying immensely), the small chunks of airtime in between the feature-length films have been filled with network promos and short films. I wasn’t paying attention to the shorts until I noticed this one playing the other day.

The 10-minute film, part of a series produced by Pete Smith, appears on the surface to be an instructional cooking video. However, it turns out to be a satire with  Smith’s near monotone voice lending itself to the sarcastic narration. There are only three characters in the film, one of which is a hopeless young housewife who cracks eggs with a rolling pin (she had already contemplated using a nutcracker).  Fortunately, her hard-working husband’s dinner is saved by a Chef Boyardee-esque angel who magically appears to show her a thing or two. What ensues is an amusing video where the bird that’s about to be cooked is just as much a character as the humans, complete with nerves and a preference for whether the cook uses their left or right hand to baste it.

Despite it being intended for laughs, someone could actually learn how to cook a complete roasted duck dinner if they watched it! If Food Network produced more videos like this, it might once again be watchable. Ho-hum.


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