From Harold Lloyd to Rock Hudson – Celebrating the Soda Fountain in Classic Film

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Harold Lloyd’s Speedy at the Egyptian Theatre. Presented by the Art Deco Society it was accompanied by a fascinating lecture on the history of the soda fountain by C.K. Farnsworth. Why this pairing? Because in Speedy Harold Lloyd is a soda jerk with some impressive skills.

via GIPHY

Not only can he toss ice cream scoops like there’s no tomorrow but his quick thinking allows him to share baseball scores with the guys in the kitchen.

After watching Speedy I started thinking about all the other classic film soda fountains I was fond of. Luckily, at the same time the Food in Film Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings rolled around and I decided to share my finds with you.

A year before Speedy Buster Keaton stepped behind the counter in College but his soda jerk didn’t have quite the same skills.

In 1938, Mickey Rooney found himself in quite a pickle in Love Finds Andy Hardy when he finds himself juggling three girls played by Ann Rutherford, Lana Turner and Judy Garland.

While treating Garland’s Betsy Booth to a drink at the soda fountain he runs into Turner’s Cynthia Potter but luckily Betsy always has a sympathetic ear for poor old Andy.

After Lloyd and Keaton it was Abbott and Costello’s time to step behind the drugstore counter in their 1942 comedy Who Done It?

While serving as soda jerks with varying degrees of skills they find themselves caught up in the midst of a murder mystery.

A year later another comedian, Red Skelton, would do the white coat and hat in a skit in the all star ensemble Thousands Cheer.

Despite hating ice cream his character is forced to offer a wide variety of flavors to a young Margaret O’Brien.

A few yeas later perhaps films most memorable soda fountain scene appears in It’s a Wonderful Life.

While a young George Bailey tries to convince Mary Hatch that she should like coconut she reveals her true feelings for him.

The next year much of the MGM musical Good News takes place in an ice cream parlor.  I suppose it’s not technically a soda fountain but when it contains a memorable (if not entirely PC) song and dance number I just have to include it.

A few years later Jane Powell visits a soda fountain when she’s feeling blue in the heartwarming Two Weeks With Love. Though a key moment in the film I can’t find any decent pictures of it so lets just enjoy an image of the star stepping behind the counter for a publicity shot.

Finally, in 1952 Rock Hudson steps behind the counter in the period comedy Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

A sweet soda jerk he gets a job for a millionaire in hiding played by Charles Coburn and has to teach him the tricks of the trade.

After watching Speedy I had no idea my list would be so big. There are a lot of soda fountains in classic movies! I’m sure there are plenty more but these just happened to be my favorites. If you have a different favorite let me know!

4 Comments

  1. Sarah November 6, 2017 at 2:30 am

    What a fun article! You’ve got quite a list here. Sounds like I need to see Speedy! That Rock Hudson scene!! 🙂

  2. Silver Screenings November 6, 2017 at 2:52 am

    These are some of my fave soda fountain scenes, too – especially the scene between George and Mary in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Also, I love that photo of Jane Powell and her megawatt smile making a sundae.

    Thank you for joining the blogathon with this refreshing look at the (sadly) disappearing Soda Fountain.

  3. Patricia Nolan-Hall (Caftan Woman) November 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Enjoyed your wonderful article and it started me thinking about those movie soda fountains.
    In 1943s Slightly Dangerous Buster Keaton trained Lana Turner for her scene where her character performed her soda fountain duties wearing a blindfold!
    The 1949 film noir Tension features much action at a soda fountain run by the lead character.
    What other titles will come to us in the middle of a sleepless night?

  4. Kristina November 7, 2017 at 12:24 am

    Wonderful, so glad to see the soda fountain (and on another blog the automat!) represented in this blogathon–key places in favourite classic movies that you’d love to visit. Thanks for being part of the blogathon!

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