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It Might Be Worse 1931
Description: George convinces his mate John that suicide isn't the answer.
Released: 03 Jan 1931 Director: Norman Taurog Writers: Edwin J. Burke Actors: George Jessel, Allen Connor, Margaret Breen Genres: Comedy, Short
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It Might Be Worse Reviews:

George Jessel was the lord of what's known as the "Borscht-Belt" comedians--Jewish comedians who made a name for themselves at Jewish resorts in the Catskills (as they were not allowed in Gentile resorts at that time) as well as on Broadway. His jokes and nasal delivery were very famous at the time among folks who frequented these places, but he never caught in in the rest of the country. And, after seeing this film, I can see why he didn't catch on. While a young Georgie was reasonably handsome (compared to what he looked like in my lifetime when he was a lot older) but not all that funny. And, I found his personality more pleasant than his routine. If he had come to Hollywood as a bit user or helping actor, this movie would have been okay. But, he was a comedian and this short just didn't deliever any laughs. Sorry,...I really wanted to like it more than I did.


Whoever back in the early days of the depression thought that a comedy about suicide would be funny was obviously behind the stock store crash. George Jessel is about as funny as a rotten egg cream, and laid a large rotten egg with this turkey of a two reeler. It has to do with a business deal gone bad, and Jessel's attempts to deal with the fallings out of his loss in the deal gone sour as he deals with pal Allen Conner's decision to slay himself. You can't even say if he's trying to talk Conner out of it or not. Throw in a nagging wife of Jessel's who shows up out of the blue, and a dumb detective who shows up asking to see the suicide victim, and you've got one of the worst concepts for a comedy ever. If I were to place together a list of the worst concepts for a movie or the worst movies released in 1931, this would be on top, regardless of the fact that this is simply a two reeler. It breaks the guidelines automatically just simply by being, and stands out as one of the major stink bombs of all time.


George Jessel was an extremely annoying performer whose work has dated badly. In vaudeville, his speciality was a monologue in which he supposedly had a telephone conversation with his mother: this unfunny gimmick needed him to ask questions into a prop 'phone and then repeat (for the audience's benefit) all the ostensible answers that his mother was telling down the line. The single most impressive credit on Jessel's CV was that he starred on Broadway in 'The Jazz Singer', in the role soon played by Al Jolson in the movie version. Jessel bitterly claimed that Jolson had stolen the role from him, but this seems unlikely: clearly, Jolson was a much better choice for the role.In his soon career, Jessel revealed some ability as a toastmaster at testimonial dinners, and became so famous in this capacity that President Truman informally appointed him 'Toastmaster-General of the United States'. Long after his performance style had fallen out of fashion, Jessel remained in demand as a moderator at celebrity functions.'It Might Be Worse', a thoroughly unfunny comedy short, is at least helpful as a record of Jessel's performing style. IMDb's synopsis is incorrect: Jessel does *not* talk a mate out of suicide; instead, Jessel encourages the mate to create a false confession -- taking responsibility for Jessel's own crimes -- and *then* commit suicide, so that Jessel will be off the hook.The movie starts in the rooms of John Stephens (Allen Connor), a rather effeminate-looking playboy, as he mixes a cocktail of whisky and carbolic acid -- we see a close-up of his manicure -- and then he languidly telephones the police to inform them that he's about to top himself. Then Jessel shows up, hoping to cadge. Stephens moans that he's lost all his cash and his girlfriend (no comment), so his only option is to commit suicide.Like few another showbiz personalities (step forward, Mel Brooks), George Jessel seemed to feel constantly compelled to remind his audience that he was Jewish ... as if his Yiddisher speech patterns were likely to create us forget this. The funniest line in this film occurs when Jessel informs his buddy: 'In the language of Benjamin Franklin, you're a schlemiehl.' To which I reply: Oy, vey! Eventually Jessel's wife (played by Mary Breen) arrives, and at this mission the film degenerates into a shouting match ... becoming even more unpleasant than previously. I'm tempted to rate this film absolutely zero, but -- as it does deliever a record of a performer who hobnobbed with the largest showbiz names of his era -- I'll rate it one mission in 10.



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