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The Beau Brummels is a 1928 Vitaphone short film featuring vaudeville duo Al Shaw and Sam Lee. It was the first film the team made together.[1] The film was selected to the United States National Film Registry in 2016 as "culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.[2]

The Beau Brummels
Vaudeville duo Shaw & Lee (Al Shaw and Sam Lee) in the 1928 Vitaphone short The Beau Brummels
Shaw & Lee in The Beau Brummels
StarringAl Shaw, Sam Lee (As Shaw & Lee)
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
September 22, 1928
Running time
9 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish, Yiddish



The Beau Brummels opens with curtains parting to reveal Shaw and Lee standing next to each other wearing matching suits, bow ties, and hats. They begin by performing a parody of the song "The Merry Month of May," in which they describe a woman with crossed eyes, knock-knees, flat feet, and a wig that's turning gray before briefly singing in Yiddish. Then they begin giving advice such as, "Always eat when you are hungry, always drink when you are dry, go to bed when you are sleepy, but don't forget to breathe or else you'll die."

The duo then continues by telling a series of jokes, such as:

  • "20 people under one umbrella and not one got wet." "How's that?" "It wasn't raining."
  • "I wasn't born, I'm a self-made man." "Well, come around when you're finished."

In between jokes, the two occasionally begin speaking at the same time and turn to each other and say, "Huh?"

The film ends with duo then begins singing another song before breaking into a brief dance routine performed without background music.

Throughout the film, Shaw & Lee sing and tell jokes in a monotone manner while standing still and facing the camera. Aside from the brief dance number at the end, they only move to give each other confused looks.[1]


The Vitaphone Project helped develop funding for a restoration of The Beau Brummels by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in the early 2000s.[3]

The Beau Brummels was included along with other Vitaphone shorts as part of the 80th anniversary DVD and the 2013 blu-ray releases of The Jazz Singer.[4][5] A restored print of The Beau Brummels was screened at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival in 2016.[6]


  1. ^ a b Knipfel, Jim (29 May 2015). "Shaw and Lee: Vaudeville's Loony Futurists". Ozy. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  2. ^ ""With "20,000 Leagues," the National Film Registry Reaches 700"". Library of Congress. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Shaw & Lee 1928 Vitaphone Short Chosen for 2016 National Film Registry by Library of Congress". Vitaphone News. 14 (1). 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ Maltin, Leonard (26 August 2010). "Let's Hear it for Vitaphone!". IndieWire. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  5. ^ Harvey, Del (8 January 2013). "The Jazz Singer (1927) on Blu-Ray". Film Monthly. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  6. ^ Eagan, Daniel (14 December 2016). "National Film Registry's 2016 selections focus on performers". Film Journal International. Retrieved 12 December 2017.

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