Short: (1956) An American oil executive struggles to assimilate after he is transferred to South America.
I’m going to review this short. You?
• You can watch this one here, here and here.
• The short was originally intended to be one of two that were to be included on a planned MST3K CD-ROM (back when CD-ROMs were a big thing; recall “Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time”). The project fell through when the bottom fell out of the CD-ROM market and the company that was going to produce the product, Voyager Company, got radically downsized.
• For the record, the second short, never seen by anyone outside of BBI as far as we know of, riffed on an industrial film called “Mylar, What’s It To You?” You can watch the unMSTed original here and here. Although the short we’re discussing today is generally thought of as MST3K’s “lost” short, that description is literally true of the “Mylar” short. The master somehow got misplaced at the BBI studio. In the Sci-Fi era, following the release of this short, a concerted effort was made to find the tape but it never turned up. It appears to be lost to the ages.
• This short was shown to the public for the very first time on Friday, Aug. 30, 1996, in a large hall of the Minneapolis Convention Center, at the second MST3K convention. Those who were there, please correct me if I’m wrong, but if I remember correctly it was Paul Chaplin who introduced the short. He coyly teased the audience a bit, saying that the short existed, but then saying he wasn’t supposed to show it and then finally giving in and off they went.
• For several years, the only publicly available version of that short was video footage recorded by convention attendees. The angles to the screen were not great, and the sound was terrible (the acoustics in the large hall were atrocious, and several of the riffs were obscured by laughter and/or applause in reaction the previous riffs), but MSTies will take what they can get. These videos, along with videos of the “MST3K: The Movie” outtakes that were also shown that night, soon found their way onto bootleg “MST3K: The Movie” DVDs that were selling on E-bay for $100 and more.
• It was eventually released on a VHS shorts collection and later that collection was also an extra on a Rhino set.
• The short was an incredible treat for fans, who had not had any new MST3K for months, and did not expect to get any more for a long time. I can remember, as the short ended and the lights came up, seeing more than one fan around me wiping tears of laughter from his or her eyes. One was my friend Jon Whitney, who, quoting Joel from Season Two, muttered, “Wow, blindsided by a short!”
• Crow channels “Apocalypse Now” with the riff “Never get outta the boat. Absolutely Goddam right.”
• Tom Servo and then Crow BOTH invoke country music personality Minnie Pearl with a boistrous “HOWWWDEE!”
• The whole “narrow-wide” thing really had folks roaring. It was one of those running gags that just gets funnier and funnier. “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Big Lake!”
• However, it was the riff “Bag-o in car-o!” that really brought the house down. It was a little like the recent “Rudolph, I need you tonight,” moment at the RiffTrax Live show. People just fell out. On the videos taken by the convention attendees, you can’t even hear the next two or three riffs. It was one of those memorable moments of being a MSTie, when you’re in a large group and the funny just gets funnier because there’s more of you to enjoy it.
• Fave riff: “I saw a nude midget circus.”