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Benchley returned to the cinema in 1937, cast in the revue , and in his largest role to that point, the critically-panned Live, Love and Learn. A short that Benchley completed for MGM, , was Benchley's greatest success since How to Sleep, and won him a contract for more short films that would be produced in New York. These films were produced more quickly than his previous efforts (while How to Sleep needed two days, the later short How to Vote needed less than twelve hours), and took their toll on Benchley. He still completed two shoots in one day (one of which was The Courtship of the Newt), but rested for a while following the 1937 schedule.
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In 1933, Benchley returned to Hollywood, completing the short films Your Technocracy and Mine for , How to Break 90 at Croquet for RKO, and the lavish feature-length production for , starring , , , and ; Benchley's character was slurring drunk throughout the movie. Upon completion, MGM invited Benchley to write and perform in a short production inspired by a study on sleep commissioned by the . The resulting film, , was filmed in two days, and featured Benchley as both the narrator and sleeper, the latter a role Benchley claimed was "not much of a strain, as [he] was in bed most of the time." The film was well-received in , and promotions took over, with a still from the film being used in Simmons advertisements. The only group not pleased was the Mellon Institute, who did not approve of the studio mocking their study.
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During the time that Benchley was filming various short films, he also began working at , which had started in February 1925 under the control of Benchley's friend . While Benchley, along with many of his Algonquin acquaintances, was wary of getting involved with another publication for various reasons, he completed some freelance work for The New Yorker over the first few years, and was later invited to be newspaper critic. Benchley initially wrote the column under the pseudonym (the lead conspirator in the English ), and the column was very well received. Benchley tackled issues ranging from careless reporting to European , and the publication flourished. Benchley was invited to be theatre critic for The New Yorker in 1929, leaving Life, and contributions from Woollcott and Parker became regular features in the magazine. The New Yorker published an average of forty-eight Benchley columns per year during the early 1930s.