Friday, April 28, 2017

Yes, Bluetooth Can Sue the Bijou!

In the April 5, 1940 Vic and Sade episode titled “Can Bluetooth Sue the Bijou?” Rush gets Vic’s opinion on Bluetooth’s chances of successfully suing the Bijou motion picture show.  Bluetooth fell through a defective theater seat and suffered “possible nervous shock and possible high blood pressure”.   As the episode progresses we learn that the reason the seat was defective was Bluetooth’s own doing.  
I often wonder how Paul Rhymer came up with these strange plots for Vic and Sade episodes.  Obviously, he was an incredibly creative guy.  But in this case, I wonder if the seed of this episode was something that was reported in the news.  In 2017, we’re used to people suing at the drop of hat – for the silliest of reasons.  But in the 1940’s, I suspect that suing a theater over a defective seat was a bit unusual and probably newsworthy.  

Consider the court case [1] of Fox West Coast Agency Corp. vs. Jean L. Forsythe. On March 24, 1940, the plaintiff,

Jean L. Forsythe, entered the United Artists Theater in Los Angeles, California. According to the complaint,  “…the seat collapsed causing her to be thrown violently to the side and down.” She was seeking damages of  $2500 for injury and suffering.

The defense countered with “…was an unusually large and unusually heavy woman weighing approximately from 275 pounds to 300 pounds, and negligently and carelessly failed to take into consideration the fact that the seat was, and all of the seats in said theater were, designed to accommodate persons of average bulk and weight and negligently and carelessly failed to control her body and the manner in which she forced her body into said seat.”

The plaintiff, maybe a bit offended by these remarks, countered “My body was firm…. it was not the flabby kind of fat that would give away at the poke of a finger. It was good hard flesh.” [I’m not kidding, it’s in the court records…]

I wonder if this story was in the news in March of 1940 and served as the seed for Paul Rhymer to write this episode? There’s no way to ever know. I searched Chicago newspaper archives and did not find it. The timing is right, as this episode aired in April of 1940, one month later. Or it could just be coincidence.

Even back in the 1940’s the world was a crazy place, but leave it to Paul Rhymer to make it even crazier in the wonderful world of Vic and Sade. I rest my case!

-- Dave from Wisconsin
[1] Case Law: United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit 
(search this file for “fox west”)

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