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Captain Haddock & Snowy: TV clip, performed by Arvix

jock123
Moderator
#1 · Posted: 25 May 2022 18:35
I would love to know more about this clip!
Watch and be amazed at this rare screen appearence of the president of the Society of Sober Sailors, attempting to tell viewers about Tintin, and being thwarted by the antics of Snowy...!

If, for any reason, you can't see the clip, it dates from 1966, and shows a man, dressed as Haddock, trying to tell a stroy about Tintin, while holding Snowy (which is a large glove puppet he himself operates), who is doing anything but paying attention.

There's really nothing much helpful on the INA page it appears on, other than identifying the performer as "Arvix", a "ventriloque Normand" (Normandy ventriloquist).

He really manages to capture the tone and appearance of Haddock (his nose is especially fine!), but is perhaps even outdone in that by his turn as Snowy - the combination of posture and moveable eyebrows makes for a very convincing interpretation.

A little further research revealed that his puppets, Milou/ Snowy, and a ventriloquist's dummy, "Uranium Bill", a cowboy, were for sale at auction in 2003 (so there's hope that they still exist).

The description of the lot gives a year of manufacture for Milou of 1965, and says it was made, with Hergé's approval and permission, by Gaston Decamps for Arvix. There was (is?) a venerable manufacturer of dolls and automata called "Roullet et Decamps", and there was a Gaston of that family.

Decamps also made "Uranium Bill" (in 1948), and from searching on "his" name, I came across a copy of a French theatrical union newspaper, the Journal de la Confédération Musicale de France, which mentions him appearing on the same bill as André Arvix (curiously they seem to get separate billing, as if they were two different acts, but that's maybe just what ventriloquists and their dummies do...?), so it was plausible to assume that the man in the clip is named André, and, according to the paper, a "magiciene fantaisiste" ("whimsical magician"). Uranium Bill is credited as a "radio-ventriloque" ("radio ventriloquist", a strangely popular phenomenon of the radio era, given you can't see if their lips are moving - but Peter Brough (with dummy "Archie Andrews") in the U.K., and Edgar Bergen (with "Charlie McCarthy") in the U.S. were huge stars).

A little further searching came up with the information that an André Arvix sponsored another magician, Pierre Le Pecheur, for entry to a group called "Groupement des Magiciens de Basse-Normandie", which sounded right.

Another mention of the name I came across was to an Arvix credited with the making of a street sign for the rue Robert Houdin in Caen - whether this was for use in a real street, or part of his act I don't know (the sign too was being sold at an auction, so it's apparently not in the street now, if it ever was), but as Robert Houdin was a famous magician (the inspiration for the stage name "Houdini"), it again seemed likely to be him.

Finally I came upon a reference to an appearance in November, 2007, of "le doyen de la table le magicien, André Arvix, 85 ans", so if he is still with us, he's cebrating his centenary!

So that's what I know so far - has anyone else anything to add?
Does anyone know if Arvix is still with us? Or the current location of his Milou...?
mct16
Member
#2 · Posted: 26 May 2022 17:09
Lovely. You feel that this really is Haddock.

In this clip he is trying to describe how Tintin is being held prisoner, but is constantly disrupted by Snowy.

He is trying to explain that Tintin is locked in what sounds like a dressing room and wondering how he can be rescued. A suggestion is that they should dress as musicians.

This could be a reference to the 1960s "Hergé's Adventures of Tintin" TV cartoon series, maybe when Tintin is hiding in Bianca Castafiore's dressing room from Sponsz in "Calculus Affair". It was not unusual at the time for a presenter to give a brief recap of the previous episode and ponder how the cliffhanger could be resolved.
jock123
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 26 May 2022 18:08
mct16:
what sounds like a dressing room

I couldn't be certain (his agitation makes comprehension difficult, no matter how often he tries to repeat himself!) but I though he was saying "la tourelle" - implying a turret, or tower, which indeed would make for an ideal place to lock someone up; however, there are hotels and the like aslo called "la tourelle", so perhaps he might be making a local reference to somewhere his viewers would know.
The talk of "dancing" and "anarchy" are slightly odd, but then again, it explains the musicians...
I've asked an old friend from near Cæn (where Arvix was from) if she remembers seeing him and his act at all, and more importantly, if she gets everything he's saying - in case he is using Normandy expressions which might resonate with locals.
mct16:
This could be a reference to the 1960s "Hergé's Adventures of Tintin" TV cartoon series

Ah, that's a good thought; I'd just assumed that this was part of his routine, and not that he's actually there to do something, in context, as it were! Yes, that might indeed explain it, if it was a Children's Hour-type situation, with him acting as in-vision announcer.
My only reservation might be that wasn't Calculus Affair broadcast as a movie, rather than a serial?
Literalman
Member
#4 · Posted: 29 May 2022 15:46
I couldn't understand a word, but the act seems excellent. Snowy really seems to be an independent character rather than a puppet controlled by the ventriloquist.

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