Industry + Work | 1950 | Sound | B/W
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A funny look at the problems of running a restaurant, management and running your own business in the 1950's. Very good Americana and diner scenes.
Giant 'Eight Ball' as a man (Joe McDoakes) peers out from behind it. Titles: the man behind the giant eight ball.
Man (Joe) and woman (Alice) stand outside shop window with 'Dirty Dan's' above the window. He is showing her the restaurant he has bought. She queries the name and he says he will change it to 'Dirty Joe's'. He is in business for himself. The woman, probably his wife, queries whether he should have punched his boss on the nose, or ripped up his social security card. He says that the restaurant is their social security card. They walk into the restaurant arm in arm. In the next scene, Joe addresses his new employees. Wearing a white shirt, black bow tie and short white overall coat, he paces from right to left and back again, holding two spots on his shirt between his fingertips as if he were wearing braces and pulling at them. He announces that no one will be laid off and asks if there are any questions. Marvin, the chef, asks, if he can have the day off. Marvin is wearing a white chef's uniform with hat. He is also wearing comic, very thick-lensed glasses. He is seated at one of the restaurant tables and appears to be the only other person in the room. Marvin and Joe talk and then Marvin takes off his hat and gets up to leave. He is going across the street for lunch but Joe grabs him by the back of his collar and pushes him towards the kitchen. Marvin shouts "There's nothing in my contract that says I have to eat here too". Next scene as Joe walks through tables and rearranges chairs as he passes. Marvin can be seen, through large hatch to kitchen, working on counter. Joe's wife, Alice, leans on glass counter by the till and looks bored. She asks Joe if she can leave to go home and cook dinner. Joe tells her she must stay and eat in the restaurant he has bought. She complains that neither she or anybody else want to eat Marvin's food and that in the four hours Joe has owned the restaurant, no-one has come in to eat. He produces a sign reading 'Fresh Fish Served Here', saying that it will bring in customers. A man in a suit and hat comes through the door and is greeted by Alice. Joe greets him and leads him to a table. The man takes off his hat and is about to sit down when Joe suggests he move to another chair so that he may see out of the window. Just as the man is about to sit down on this chair, Joe moves him to another table where the man is in the shade. The man finally takes a seat as Joe takes out his waiter's pad to take the man's order. He suggests a steak and the man asks if he charges for gravy or bread. Joe answers no charge and the man asks for bread and gravy. Joe throws the notepad on the table and looks to camera with his hands on his hips.
Next scene. The restaurant begins to fill up with more people. Joe walks over to Marvin, who is behind the counter in the kitchen. Joe is happy that the restaurant is filling up. He gives Marvin the order for two clam chowders. Marvin, wearing comically thick glasses suggesting that he has a sight problem, walks over to the wall on which are three signs, painted in large letters, that read 'Oyster', 'Clam' and 'Turtle'. Under the oyster sign is suspended a large oyster shell. Under the clam sign, a large clam is suspended by a long wire. Under the turtle sign is a large stuffed turtle suspended by wire. Marvin feels the turtle and talks to himself before shouting to Joe to see if Joe was sure that he did not want turtle. Joe pokes his head through the square gap in the kitchen door where the glass should be and says 'clam'. Marvin picks the clam off the wall and holding it by the wire and grinning, he crosses the kitchen to a large pot on the stove. He dips the clam in and out of the boiling water whilst counting to himself. Joe appears at the counter saying that two more people have come in and ordered fruit salad, which Marvin then gives to Joe, and alphabet soup. Marvin walks over to a table on which there is a typewriter. He rolls out some dough or pastry with a rolling pin and then inserts the large, flat rolled-out dough or pastry into the typewriter. He sits down at the typewriter and presses the keys. Pieces of dough fly out of the typewriter as he types alphabet letters for the alphabet soup. Next scene, as Alice behind the counter in the main restaurant greets an elderly lady who comes through the door. The lady asks Alice if the restaurant has cockroaches. Alice laughs and then says 'No'. Her attention is distracted, and she looks astonished to see half a French baguette, with insect legs visible underneath, walk across a table with a white table cloth and plate on it. She quickly collects herself and walks out from behind the counter and holding the lady by the shoulders, she reassures her that she will like the restaurant. Joe comes over to take the lady to her table but Alice turns her around, to avoid seeing the bread being carried off by cockroaches and Joe leads the lady backwards to the table. She is flustered by this. Once they arrive at the table, the baguette is still on the table and being carried off by the cockroaches. Joe seats the lady and puts the menu right up to her face to obscure the baguette. Alice looks on in disbelief and composes herself when another diner calls for the waiter. Joe walks over to an elderly, white-haired man, sitting at the table. He complains that the bowl in front of him is wet. Joe tells him that that is the soup. The man complains and asks for the special fish dinner. Joe knocks on the table top before going to the kitchen. He appears at the kitchen hatch where Marvin is huffing on the plates and then polishing them. Joe orders the fish dinner and tells Marvin to make it good as they have already had a complaint. Marvin says it will be okay, and if there is one thing he knows how to cook it is fish. He marches across the kitchen and pulls a checked cloth off of a large rectangular fish tank with fish swimming around inside. He then attaches some bait to the hook of a small fishing line and puts the line into the water of the tank and waits.
Next scene, an official-looking man in a dark suit and hat comes through the door and greets Alice. He tells her that he is from the department of sanitation and asks for 'the boss'. Alice replies that Joe is around but he is just washing his hands. Cut to Joe mixing food in a large bowl with his hands on a waiter's table in front of two diners. The sanitation man looks at Alice and asks if Joe always washes his hands with salad dressing. He approaches the table where Joe is very sloppily serving the salad from the bowl. He picks up any stray pieces with his fingers and then puts them on the plate before placing the dish in front of the awaiting male diner. Joe asks him if he would like a table. The sanitation inspector asks to see the kitchen first. Joe misunderstands the man's interest and thinks that he is a newspaper reporter who has come to write a piece about his new restaurant. Joe shows Mr. Elliot, the sanitation inspector, into the kitchen and introduces him as a newspaper reporter to Marvin. Elliot sees the fish tank and asks Marvin what he uses for bait. Marvin tips out of a tin the garden worms he uses, and states that they are 'plain old dirty worms'. He tips an amount of worms into his cupped hand and shows Mr. Elliot. He then tips them back into a tin, wipes his hands on his chef's jacket and then picks up a raw beefburger with his unwashed hands and claps his hands on the burger. He says to Joe that the meat is not very tender and then passes it to Joe, who also claps at it, with more force. Mr. Elliot asks if they always handle burgers like this and Marvin says yes, to limber it up. As Joe wipes his hands on a cloth, Marvin drops the burger on the floor, he picks it up off the floor and Joe dusts it off with the cloth. Mr. Elliot looks amazed as Marvin puts the burger back on the table and all three men walk over to a shelf on which 'Roach poison' and sulphur are kept next to molasses and other food stuffs. Marvin reaches up for one of the packets and knocks the 'roach', or cockroach, poison off the shelf as the contents drop onto the work surface and into a large pot on the stove. Marvin reads that the antidote is sulphur, molasses and soda. Joe disappears to find the soda, whilst Marvin, watched by an incredulous Mr. Elliot, pours an unknown quantity of sulphur and molasses into the pot containing food. Joe reappears with the soda and that is poured in. Marvin stirs the 'antidote' mixture in the food containing the poison and Joe turns to Mr. Elliot saying 'see how careful we are'. In the restaurant, two dissatisfied customers walk out of the restaurant. Alice rushes through the tables of more customers showing their displeasure at the food. She hurries into the kitchen to where Mr. Elliot, Joe, and Marvin are still standing and tells Joe that something is wrong as all the customers are leaving. Cut to the restaurant full of people as one man calls for the manager as he bangs his knife on the table. The elderly lady from a previous scene says that she has found a worm in her hamburger. Joe comes out of the kitchen and attempts to placate the customers, but they all leave. He drops to his knees to beg them to stay, but they leave as he shouts that it is his first day in business. In despair, he sits at one of the tables and looks to camera and says that he cannot go back to the office as he has burned all his bridges behind him. This repeats a comment that Alice made at the beginning of the film. Joe stares at the floor, wide-eyed, and chews at the end of a napkin. Mr. Elliot walks out from the kitchen and over to Joe. He tells Joe that he is from the department of sanitation and that he is closing the restaurant down. He will only re-open the restaurant if Joe learns to handle food properly. Elliot leaves. Marvin walks over to Joe, and unbuttoning his chef's jacket, says that it is his dinner time and moves towards the door to go to the restaurant across the street. Joe grabs his shoulder as he passes and, standing face in face, asks Marvin what size collar he wears. Marvin, still grinning, says he does not know and suggests Joe measure it. Joe agrees and puts his hands around Marvin's throat and starts to shake him violently. Shouting 'You call yourself a chef'. Fade to black.
Next scene. The restaurant is full of happy customers eating and drinking. Alice standing behind the cash register counter, offers Mr. Elliot, the sanitation officer, a cigar from a large box. Mr. Elliot, wearing a suit but no hat, turns around to survey the restaurant and expresses his amazement at the change in the restaurant. He turns to Alice and asks her how it was achieved. She smiles and says that it was all Joe's idea. Cut to a sign above the kitchen counter hatch, reading 'Our Food. Untouched by Human hands.' Pan down to a gorilla, or man dressed in a gorilla suit, standing behind the counter. Joe appears at the restaurant side of the counter and asks for a hamburger. The gorilla pats the hamburger between his hands and Joe turns to the camera and raises his eyebrows and grins. Fade to black. Giant '8'Eight Ball as Joe peers out from behind it and then disappears behind it as 'The End' title appears.
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