blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

How to Sleep (1935, Nick Grinde)

Robert Benchley stars in HOW TO SLEEP, directed by Nick Grinde for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

How to Sleep isn’t just a funny little short featuring a man who can’t get to sleep, mostly because he keeps doing stupid things, but it’s also an interesting look at how a personality works on film.

Robert Benchley wrote the film, he hosts the bookends as though it’s a serious scientific exploration and he appears as the model sleeper. During the tossing and turning and snack eating and so on, Benchley comments on his own actions. However, he’s not commenting in the first person, but in the third—the narrator and the protagonist, though played by the same person, are different characters.

The barrier breaks when the protagonist starts yelling at the narrator. But more amusing is the narrator’s charge the protagonist is only having so many problems because he drinks so much—something the audience never sees and has to take the narrator’s word for….

It’s rather smart.



Directed by Nick Grinde; written by Robert Benchley; produced by Jack Chertok; produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Robert Benchley.


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