RVOD110 The Parts of Speech

(1962, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

...bleep Dwight Burton.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Kids play at a beach while a linguistics professor drones in the background.


All hail the Ball on High!A Mr. Dwight L. Burton would like us to know the parts of speech. To this end, he narrates a group of children playing beach ball, a game no more complicated than tossing a ball back and forth on a beach. He interrupts the action frequently, mainly to diagram the sentence he just used.


I guess the short’s reasonably informative, but aside from a couple of chuckle-worthy fifties-era idiosyncrasies—namely, a teenage boy’s diaper-esque swim trunks and a “gay” towel—there’s really nothing especially odd or goofy about it.

Thankfully, the riffers rise to the occasion. The main (and funniest) running joke has to do with Bill’s ever-increasing loathing for our narrator Mr. Burton. Other good comments: When the scene freezes on a shot of the beach ball held aloft, Kevin says, “The ball has spoken. Its word is law!” When the saggy white swim-trunked boy runs into the surf, Mike says, “Keep trying kid, you’ll be potty trained in time for senior prom.” When Kevin’s heartfelt pleas to get the narrator to address the F-bomb fail, Bill says, “Forget it, Kevin. It’s Parts of Speech Town.” As a Rifftrax short, The Parts of Speech should have been average at best, but the riffers deliver, not just keeping up with the short, but seizing the narrative and running away with it.