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Late Night Movie House of Crap: Mr. B Natural

13 Jun

June 13, 2012

A couple of years back, in the pre-Late Night Movie House era, I posted Some Monday Afternoon Mystery Science Theater 3000 featuring one of the best and notorious shorts they ever riffed over, Mr. B Natural. (Funniest line? Joel mooning “Mr. B you’re hot!”) I’ll take the lazy high school term paper writer way out and copy from wikipedia. In case you didn’t know it, wikipedia is available in over 285 languages, so the next time some foreign power starts running down the American educational system, just tell them that fact. Then wait for their country’s test scores to drop too.

Mr. B Natural is an androgynous figure, a “hep pixie” who is meant to embody the “spirit of fun in music”. In this capacity, the character inspires children to take up band instruments. The name is a pun on the musical notation B♮ (B natural), as the character explains: “that’s what your feelings of music are, as natural as you can be.”

The character also acts as a kind of nascent brand mascot for C.G. Conn musical instruments, though Mr. B Natural made no appearances for the company beyond the one film.

Conn provided details about the film in the Spring 1957 issue of their magazine, The Baton, distributed to public school music teachers: “Mr. B Natural is the spirit of music in everyone…a sort of LepreCONN who is always no more than an inch away from the fingertips of anyone. Mr. B has a code however, that prohibits him from showing himself for anyone unless he reaches out and calls for the spirit of music. In full color, Mr. B Natural entertainingly answers the call of Buzz, a shy, reticent teen-ager and for twenty-six minutes and forty seconds explains how music and playing a musical instrument will help develop posture, breathing, self-confidence, coordination and in general a young person’s character. Mr. B gives both youthful and adult audiences ease to take instruction in the values of music. The Film is being made available by the Band Instrument Division of Conn through Conn dealers everywhere.”

In captions for the productions photos included in the three-page essay, the title character is consistently referred to as “he”, an indication that Conn intended Mr. B to be of the male gender. However, in an instance of reverse-gender casting similar to the casting of Mary Martin as Peter Pan, (“Mary Martin syndrome” as Kevin Murphy says when writing about his experiences with the short film), the role was cast with an actress, Betty Luster, who had been a television musical variety star only a few years before.

The action opens upon the musical stave in which Mr. B Natural lives. Mr. B addresses the audience directly, in an effort to appear welcoming, and explains what it means to be a spirit of music. Awaiting a person’s call for help, Mr. B evinces sympathy and concern for lonely junior high student Buzz Turner.

Buzz shows an interest in music like the more popular kids at school, but is so shy that he makes excuses to not attend a dance, even when a girl directly invites him. Dejected, Buzz returns home and puts on a record. This magically summons Mr. B into the adolescent boy’s bedroom, whereupon the pixie uses magic, music and dance to convince Buzz to take up playing the trumpet.

In visiting the music dealership, Buzz’s parents are reassured by the salesman that buying a trumpet is “simply making a small investment in your son’s lifetime personality.” When Buzz mentions that he didn’t care what make his new horn would be, he is upbraided by Mr. B Natural, and is treated to a detailed description of the C. G. Conn factory and laboratories.

Through the gift of music and the help of his mysterious friend, Buzz finds the confidence and assertiveness he needs to try out for the school band, impress girls, and play solo at concerts and school dances.

A “hep pixie”? Really?

Anyway, it doesn’t take much for me to post this short because it really needs to be seen to be believed, but unlike the first time I put this up I have the original, uncut, and unriffed version for you to enjoy, with footage cut out of the MST3K version.

But don’t worry, I’ll post the Satellite of Lover version right below.

And now…BEHOLD!

Here it is, the amazing classic Misite riff:

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5 Responses to “Late Night Movie House of Crap: Mr. B Natural”

  1. zathra June 13, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Betty Luster looks a little like my step – sister, if she was slightly younger, perkier, & had a penchant for dressing like Peter Pan. 😉 The MST3K version is much funnier.

    Like

  2. Mike Monge June 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    WOW You really don’t realize how UnWatchable these are without Joel and the Bots!!!!

    Like

    • bmj2k June 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

      So much of what they watch is almost impossible to get through without them. TCM sometimes shows a few of them on their cult favorites block and they are soooo bad, especially the Italian sci-fi movies.

      Like

      • Mike Monge June 14, 2012 at 12:31 am #

        I have seen the brain that wouldn’t die on there and other b movies..haha… I have the regular non MST versions of some of the movies on DVD too…ones I’ve seen a lot like Track of the Moon Beast are still hilarious…but I only think it’s because I know what Mike or Joel and the Bots say in the scenes and I’m just laughing at that..hahaha.

        Like

        • bmj2k June 14, 2012 at 12:36 am #

          I was watching Prince of Space a couple of weeks ago. That’s the Japanese one with the aliens who wear giant metal bullet shaped helmets and the hero in the cape. It was good on its own but the SOL guys made it so much better.

          Like

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