Released by MGM | Directed By Morley Lightfoot and Gilbert Pratt

Seal Skins: House of Whosits

“A seal for sale– cheap!”

For this installment, Thelma’s a newspaper stenographer who yearns to beat one of the female reporters at her game. A mix up in search of a stolen Siberian seal leads Thelma and Zasu to an old dark house full of sideshow performers, including a tall man, a midget, a witch doctor (who apparently lounges around in his getup), and a boxing gorilla. There’s nothing malicious in their portrayals, as all the freaks are working stiffs just trying to relax while two hysterical women run around in search of a seal.

But which Smith?

But which Smith?

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy in this one, besides the journalism mileau that so many other pre-Codes took advantage of. Setting up a female reporter rivalry is a nice touch, even if there isn’t a payoff. There’s also a few moments where the short tries to build tension rather than just go for laughs, which makes it a bit better than your usual spooky house send-up, if only by a hair.

Awards, Accolades & Availability

  • This film is available on YouTube.

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Danny is a writer who lives with his lovely wife, adorable children, and geriatric yet yappy dog. He blogs at, a website dedicated to Hollywood films from 1930 to 1934, and can be found on Twitter @PreCodeDotCom.


Matthew Bateman-Graham · February 3, 2016 at 9:58 pm

That’ll be Charles Gemora in the monkey suit, Hollywood’s favourite gorilla. Also in Island of Lost Souls, Murder in the Rue Morgue, At the Circus (Marx Bros), Swiss Miss (Laurel & Hardy) and the Martian in “War of the Worlds” (1953)

    Danny · February 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    The man had a niche. Good on him.

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