I have this
gap I need to fill between movies I have seen and movies I have reviewed. This
gap is now down to 26 films (not counting all those modern films I have not
even gotten to yet) and I am struggling to close it. It has been about a year and
a half since I saw them so I need to see them again in order to write some
decent comments. Otherwise it just becomes some bland “yeah, I liked this” or
“no, this one sucked” comments. Usually these reruns are fun since most of the
films are good, but there are also those of them that I did not like very much
and I dread having to see them again. “L’Atalante” is one of those.
belongs to my download collection and when I travel it is easier to just watch
movies from the harddisk and this one is, well, next in line. I actually bought
it on DVD back then, but directly from France and it turned out that the
subtitles included were only in French and Italian. Now, I do not speak either
so I had to find a download with subtitles I could read and after all that work
the film left me rather disappointed.
much reduced expectation it may be no wonder that I liked it better second
round. Not the movie or story itself, mind you, that is still somewhere between
incomprehensible and lame, but some of the characters are very interesting and
there are a number of redeeming elements, which I will shortly get back to. If
I should sum up the reasons to watch L’Atalante it is a single name: Michel
leads, Jean (Jean Dasté) and Juliette (Dita Parlo) generally annoy me. The
story is briefly that they get married and immediately set off on Jean’s barge.
When they get to Paris they have a fallout, get separated and then reunited.
That is about it. Juliette obviously married Jean as a ticket out of her
village to see the world. She is naïve and it is hinted at that she was lured
into the marriage by grand promises from Jean. When finally she gets to Paris
she is easy prey for the vultures lurking there and seems even to actively seek
them out. Jean is a very jealous husband. Now that he has won his wife she is
his and his alone and he is prone to violence when he sees his possession being
So, we see
these two people madly in love, then shouting at each other, then having
passionate sex, then some more shouting and so on and on. It basically makes me
resign and think “whatever”, which is a problem since their relationship is the
core of the story.
found myself enjoying Michel Simon as the rough old sailor Pere Jules. Simon is
always a pleasure to watch and this is the best performance I have seen from
him. He is grimy and crude and frankly rather disgusting, but gradually we (and
Juliette) see sides of him that are both tender and interesting. In his cabin
on the boat he has and builds all sorts of paraphernalia and keep countless
(and adorable) cats. He at least is very convincing and stays in character
throughout. Everything he does is consistent with Pere Jules, tough on the
outside, soft on the inside and lonely all over, yet self-reliant.
liked the set on the boat. It is always interesting to confine a small group of
people in limited space and see what happens. I would say some 70% of the film
takes place on the barge and truly there is something romantic about drifting
along on the canals from dock to duck.
annoying character however is the idiot they meet at the dancehall (Gilles
Margaritis). At first I was annoyed with Jean for getting provoked by him but
soon I felt like punching his face as well and be cross with Juliette for not
seeing him for the scum he is. Sic.
may notice that they serve Moules et Frittes at the dancehall. That is just
delicious and I can recommend that to anybody. The movie however only if you
are a diehard Michel Simon fan.
On an entirely
different note I am now in Tokyo, Japan, and man, I feel watching Lost in
Translation again. So, watch out for that review coming up soon. There may be
some location shots included.
En Tosset Diktator
There is no
denying the genius of the Marx Brothers. They did to the talking comedy what
slapstick did for the silent. Their anarchistic and outrageous ways founded
numerous styles in comedy, from stand-up to the crazy-comedy of Police Squad
and there is hardly any comedian today who does not owe something to the Marx
Brothers. They are that big.
I have not
seen all of their work, but Duck Soup seems to be a particularly anarchistic
example. In a period where the world were slowly warming up to war part two and
nationalistic vibes were sounded again the Marx Brothers tear it all down and
ridicule the entire statecraft business. In the film someone (Mrs. Teasdale,
the always good Margaret Dumont) got the entirely idiotic idea to replace the
president of the imaginary state of Freedonia with the moron Rufus T. Firefly, Groucho
The idea of
letting the Marx Brothers sabotage something as lofty as the leadership of a
state and a self-important one to boot is brilliant. A classic Marx Brothers
theme. They did that to several esteemed institutions like the opera or the
races. I cannot help to think of this as a reference to countries like Italy or
Germany where nutcases had been installed in power due to the apparent failure
of their predecessors. Though it is probably just me applying the unbearably
bright clarity of hindsight.
In any case
Rufus T. Firefly soon makes a mess of everything, insults everybody insight and
throws the country into war, though he was likely duped by the rival country.
however is not so important. This is really about how much sabotage the three
of them (Zeppo, the pretty boy does not really count) can do and all the witty
and absurd jokes they can fire off. And they pack it pretty dense. Chico and
Harpo are supposed to be spies from the rival country, but that plotline sort
of wash out and they generally just harass everybody, though it does lead to
the highlight of the film where they are stealing the battle plans of Freedonia
dressed up as Rufus in nightgown, glasses and moustache.
the big question: Was it funny?
immediately say yes, and assure the reader that this is definitely good stuff,
but the truth is that I only laughed twice throughout the movie. This ought to
be right down my lane. I absolutely love insane comedy. Black and anarchistic (and
deadpan to really kick it into gear). Slapstick is also fine with me, even
silly stuff. So what on Earth is going wrong here? I have been wrecking my
brain over this question since I saw “Duck Soup” first time a year and a half
ago and I think I touched upon that issue in my comments on “A Night at the
Opera”. My conclusion so far is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the
Marx Brothers themselves. It is the reaction of their victims and the
consequences of their actions or the lack of it that is the problem.
Marx throws insults at his surroundings or behaves entirely inappropriate he does
not just get away with it. It usually seems as if his victims or the onlookers
in general hardly notice and that makes the jokes go dud. The moments that are
funny are when we do get credible reactions. The insulted ambassador is a good
example. His taking offence makes Groucho funny. Mrs. Teasdale’s stunned
expressions is a good response too and the peanut stall scenes makes me laugh
(laugh #1) exactly because the poor victim reacts exactly like you expect, with
anger and exasperation and eventually futility. His look of defeat when Harpo
finally jumps up and takes a foot bath in the lemonade tank is priceless and
makes Harpo funny.
is way too little of this. For me the entire parliament and nobility should
have been in an uproar and a state of chaos. I would have loved to see some results
of their jabs. I had a hearty laugh over Laurel & Hardy’s “Sons of the
Desert” because their actions trigger the right reactions from their wives. In “Duck
Soup” I miss those reactions. Margaret Dumont could have done much more, which
she also finally did in “A Night at the Opera”, instead she easily becomes just
laugh came in the nightshirt scenes. The three of them running circles on each
other all dressed up as Groucho is just hilarious, culminating in the glorious
mirror scene. That is excellent physical comedy. It cannot be described but has
to be seen.
In a later
age the group around Leslie Nielsen did a number of comedies (Airplane, Police
Squad, Naked gun) along similar lines. While Leslie Nielsen was never as sharp
as Groucho Marx the anarchistic style was harks right back to Duck Soup. And also
their problems. It is not enough to be funny. You need to be funny against
reality. Like a hammer needs a hard place to hit.
I find it a
bit strange that the List places “High Sierra” AFTER “The Maltese Falcon” when
chronologically it was the other way round. “High Sierra” leads up to the “Maltese
Falcon” in several ways. First of all through Humphrey Bogart himself. “High
Sierra” was his first starring role in an A-list film, so in many ways this was
his breakthrough and in a movie that did well too, both critically and at the
box office. However Bogart was still typecast as a gangster so he got this part
mostly because he fit the bill and since none of Warners other gangsters were
He is a
hard man, Roy Earle, and Bogart plays him with an iron spine and a hard gaze
but also with a soft spot and a tenderness that I have some difficulty seeing
in James Cagney or Edward G Robinson. That may sound like a contradiction to
combine those qualities in the same person, but I actually think it makes Roy
Earle a complete person and not some gangster caricature. I believe in Bogart’s
Earle and I am willing to root for him even though he is a criminal who readily
shoots and talk freely of killing people.
brings up the second issue where this predates “The Maltese Falcon”. “High
Sierra” is so film noir before the genre has really been defined. In that sense
it has a lot more in common with “The Maltese Falcon” and its kin than the
gangster flicks of the early thirties. It is almost less important that Earle
is a gangster. It is just what he happens to be and with fatalistic gloom he
has a job to do and like the doctor tells him, he is just racing to his doom.
We know going in he is not going to make it, we just do not know exactly what
it is that will bring him down. Is it the amateurs he has to work with (Alan
Curtis and Arthur Kennedy as Babe and Red)? Or the two girls, Velma (Joan
Leslie) the innocent girl he falls in love with or Marie (Ida Lupino) the
tag-on to the gang and his essential soul mate. Or maybe the alleged cursed
dog? Yeah, the gangsters always go down, but the style, fatalism and gloom is
essentially film noir.
have loved to have seen “High Sierra” before “The Maltese Falcon”. It would
have prepared me better and I could better have seen Bogart as the new star
without the falcon in fresh memory.
But I did
enjoy watching “High Sierra” and not just because of Bogart. Ida Lupino was
top-billed as the star of the film, which may be odd in hindsight, but she was
a true joy to watch and not just because she is a pretty girl. She did really
well here. Joan Leslie probably did her part just as well, it is just a much
less sympathetic character and we are made not to like her, though in a sense
she is just being honest. Nobody asked Earle to pay for fixing her foot and it
would be quite unfair if the price tag would be marriage to an essential
stranger. The relationship was mainly a product of Earle’s imagination.
element to enjoy is the technical quality of the film. It is a general thing of
the period that compared to the thirties movies have technically become much
better by the early forties. That is all the way round, sharpness in the
picture, excellent sound quality, crafty use of shadows and speed and timing in
the action sequences, not least the car chase up the mountain. Speaking of
cars, I fell in love with the car Earle is driving around in. It is totally
awesome. I know you can get these gangster cars today, I once rented a Chrysler
Cruiser (which for the record was terrible, it needed an entire parking lot to
turn), but this one is so much more right. I want one of those.
glitch I can see really is near the end. Earle sends Marie and the dog off to
Las Vegas on a bus before his own appointment with destiny. On the way Marie
learns that Roy is trapped on a mountain by the police. A person in her right
mind would think A) Better get as far away as possible B) Earle has enough to
worry about as it is, do not add to it and C) Do not hand the police another
weapon to catch him. If they announced that they had his girlfriend he would
yield to protect her. Instead she returns and blunders right into the party.
Roy Early would have lost anyway, but now she became the trigger. The problem
for the movie is that it portrays Marie as a smart girl and hard boiled enough
to do the right thing and what needs to be done. So to me, by returning in such
a clumsy fashion she breaks character. That is annoying and unnecessary, but
also the only blemish I can find on an otherwise excellent film.
As I wind
my way through the movies of the forties I just know that I am going to enjoy
it and particularly Humphrey Bogart.
She Done Him Wrong
Back in the
thirties Mae West was known as depravity incarnate. She would insinuate sex,
not the loving kind, but the raw version and she was a walking, talking
scandal. At least that was her reputation. After the production code went into
force her acting got more restrained. “She Done Him Wrong” is just before that
happened and as far as I understand this is the film that largely created the
reputation of Mae West.
“She Done Him
Wrong” is not a bad film at all. I like the idea of this woman who works like a
magnet on all men and juggle them partly by inviting them in and by fending
them off. While taking care of her many admirers, some more dangerous than
others she genuinely helps people around her that need help and has to keep her
balance as the people she rely on turn out to be master class crooks. This is
all good basis for an interesting film and certainly one where a woman gets the
chance at glory.
just one problem: Mae West. The character Lou is the hottest thing under the
sun, but to me Mae West is the creepiest thing to come out of a third class
brothel. I know the film is from the thirties and that it is supposed to take
place in the nineties and that tastes in both those eras where different from
today, but really she looks like a horror show and acts like street hooker from
a particularly rough neighborhood. In fact she reminds me of a spider with her
web to draw in her prey (the men) which she sucks dry (of diamonds) before she
discards them and moves on. That is in a sense okay if Mae West was not so
entirely lacking elegance. She wrote the script herself as a showcase for
herself, but I really wish she would have given her part to somebody else. I
would have loved to see a true hottie like Barbara Stanwyck as Lou. She could
have done a combination of “Stella Dallas” and “The lady Eve” and I would have
believed why all the men of the story go nuts about her. Another interesting
option would have been Aline MacMahon. Or maybe Marlene Dietrich in a
combination of “Der Blaue Engel” and “Shanghai Express”.
really a shame. I had braced myself to watch this again as I did not like it
the first time round, but found that the film really had a lot of potential if
I did not get the shivers every time Mae West swung her hips or drew her lips
in an invitation. Yics.
happens a lot in “She done him wrong” as the entire film revolves around her.
All other characters are only there because of their relationship to her. We
get to see a very young Cary Grant, which in itself is interesting.
Unfortunately he does not have the screen presence here he would later develop
and which would make him maybe the biggest star of Hollywood. Instead he
appears pale and unseasoned and not enough the interesting mysterious man that
would catch the attention of a vamp like Lou. But hey, who am I to criticize the
great Mr. Grant. He is my favorite actor at the moment and cannot ruin a film.
actors do a good job in creating the bottom side of New York in the 1890’ies.
Especially Russian Rita (Rafaela Ottiano) and her friend Sergei Stanieff
(Gilbert Roland) are excellent suspect types and Owen Clark does a good job as
Chick Clark, Lou’s desperado boyfriend who breaks out of jail to get back to
really wish Mae West were as good as her reputation. That she was a hot sex
bomb that would give a guy wet dreams. Instead I am just feeling nauseous and
shaking my head in incredulity that all the men of the film fall for this third
rate prostitute bedecked by diamonds.
And then I read
that Mae West apparently was a really nice woman who did a lot of good work for
many people including supporting minorities. Ah, well…
memory I have of Dumbo is an album for collecting stickers from the Dumbo film
that my grandmother had. The stickers you would find in Rich’s coffee packages,
a particular brand of coffee substitute on the Danish market in the years of coffee
shortage during and just after the war. That would place the age of the album
to somewhere between 1946 and 1954. No American films reach Denmark during the
German occupation. Even back then in the
late seventies and early eighties this album felt ancient.
I used to
leaf through this album when I was a child. I had little comprehension of the
story from the stickers, but I was fascinated by the little elephant with the
big ears and his little mouse friend.
years Dumbo would remain a film I felt I knew of but could not really tell what
changed shortly after Christmas when I brought home a Dumbo DVD along with a
new batch of films from the List. The explanation is simple: My son loves
Dumbo. No, “loves” does not cover it. He is absolutely NUTS about Dumbo. I must
have seen that film at least a dozen times over the past month and those are
just the times where I was watching it with him.
entirely amazing how this cartoon does not age. As an adult I find it adorable,
touching and beautifully made. As a child of 3 years my son shouts “oh no!”
when the pyramid of elephants collapse, he plays with his train during the
train scenes, the pretends he is hammering in spears with the work crew, he
dances with the pink elephants and he is laughing like berserk when Dumbo blows
bubble (okay, my son is also nuts about bubbles in general). I know no other
film that engage him like this, not even Pinocchio, his former favorite.
is super cute. This tiny elephant with big big ear breaks your heart. There is
motherly love from Mrs. Jumbo, both when she defends him against harassment
(from an equally big eared idiot of a boy) and when she comforts him in a cradle
made of her trunk. That scene in itself is pure Kleenex. Not an eye is
dry. We also get real friendship between
Timothy the circus mouse and Dumbo. An odd couple, but it works beautifully.
is facing so much adversity, primarily due to his big ears and the intolerance
they generate in others. Besides the heartbreaking confinement of his mother
for defending him there are the mean aunts. Those other elephants are behaving
in an all too human and heartless way, deriding him, freezing him out and blaming
him for all the trouble facing them and his mother. We feel so sorry for Dumbo.
in the circus is also a deroute. He is relegated to mockery in the clown show.
They are actually funny the clowns and they actually do recognize that their
success is due to Dumbo, but he is not included in their camaraderie.
and Timothy are having their own party accidentally drinking champagne
resulting in the aforementioned bubbles and the most peculiar scene of the
film: the surreal parade of the pink elephants. The first time I saw this scene
I was thinking “what the f…?”, but I have come to love this part. This is an extraordinary
psychedelic trip. There are lines back to the classic Busby Berkeley musical
with surreal formations, but the scene has itself also been referred, notably
by Pink Floyd in “The Wall”. I can understand if children got scared from this
scene, I know I would have been, but my son takes it in stride and dances with
Dumbo meets the crows, a bunch of characters living a free life on the
outskirts of society. This is a clear reference to black culture, complete with
lingo, dance and song, to an extend I doubt would be considered political
correct today. But these characters are happy and though initially spiteful,
they become true friends and help Dumbo learn to fly and thus get back at all
his adversaries. Thus again help and support is found from the most unlikely side.
is outstanding. It may not be as beautifully detailed as in Pinocchio, but the watercolors
used gives the pictures a beautiful and gentle hue. That helps the atmosphere
immensely. It is also notable that the animals are all drawn in detail with a
lot of personal character, while the humans are faceless extras with the
exception of the idiot boy who is clearly a villain. It is an interesting
of Dumbo is also outstanding, both the general circus theme music and the
individual songs. “Elephants on Parade” of course stands out but my personal favorite
is “When I See an Elephant Fly”. I find myself humming it unconsciously. Pure
I am not
sure if this is the best Disney Classic so far, personally I like Pinocchio
better, but if you ask my son there can be no doubts: Dumbo rules.
You have a
right to change your standpoint and there is no shame in evolving tastes and
opinions. Indeed one should take some pride in being able to do that. It means
that you have not entirely petrified yet.
working my way down the list, particularly this second time round, has meant
that I have had to reconsider my default opinions on several topics and genres
and I believe I have become a tiny bit more open minded (odd to say that after
having just trashed “Sergeant York”…). The musical is one of the genres I have
mellowed toward. Just two years ago (and probably in my early entries) I would
have said that they are not for me and I would try to skirt them if I could.
Not so any more. The good ones I really enjoy and they put me in such a good
mood. “Gold Diggers of 1933” is not top of the line. Not even close. But seeing
it this second time I have to admit that it is better than I remember and I
enjoyed myself watching it.
it place itself in between its sisters “42nd Street” and “Footlight Parade”.
It is Busby Berkeley and that means that the overall story is about putting up
a show, three lavish musical pieces pretending to be on a stage that would never
hold or do honor to the scale and angles of the piece and a core of actors
including Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Guy Kibbee
as a dirty old man.
anywhere as good as “Footlight Parade” I think it plays out better than “42nd
Street”. Not so much because of the musical pieces. They are okay; “Pettin’ in
the park” is perhaps the most catchy of them and “Remember my forgotten man” is
a good finale. A powerful song, but not as strong a production as “42nd
Street”. It is the story and its execution that makes “Gold Diggers” better
than” 42nd Street”.
the story is particularly big or convoluted, but it is fun and charming. The
theme of this musical is the Depression. This could easily have become gloomy
and, well, depressing, but by focusing the story on good natured gold digging
show girls it becomes a fun watch. This is mainly due to Joan Blondell and
Aline MacMahon as Carol and Trixie, two out of three roommates (the last being
Ruby Keeler as Polly) who scramble through the depression eager to jump any
show coming up or rich patrons that can be milked for all they are worth. When
Lawrence Bradford (Warren Williams) and Fanuel Peabody (Guy Kibbee) step in to
drag Lawrence’ brother Brad (Dick Powell) out of show business and the matrimonial claws of Polly, the
showgirl, Carol and Trixie go full throttle gold digging. And that is
entertaining. There is comedy in these two vixens to carry an otherwise weak
plot through and it was a delight to watch their antics. Joan Blondell would go
on to deliver a master performance in “Footlight Parade”, but Aline MacMahon
have not appeared in any other film on the list so far (I believe some will
show up later), which is a shame. She is outstanding.
following the girls fighting for an outcome we see the Broadway musicals in
crisis. They are taken off even before they are put up and funding is very
limited. It is a scramble to get this one up as well and it only works because
Brad pitches in. The musical they are trying to set up is about the depression
itself, which is only recognized in the last song. “Remember my forgotten man”
is about the WWI veterans who are now the victims of the Depression. An
interesting counterpoint to “Sergeant York”, my previous entry. The veterans
who gave the country their best years are now forgotten and sinking deep in the
mire of the Depression. This lends a very sobering end to an otherwise witty
and light film.
No, this is
not the highlight of the List, nor is it the best musical around, but it is not
so bad either or I would not have had such a good time watching it. Hey, I like
musicals these days!
understand why ”Sergeant York” is on the List. I also fully understand why it
won two Oscars and was nominated to a heap of other Oscars. It makes perfect
however this is a terrible film.
There are a
number of story/plot elements I find problematic in general and “Sergeant York”
seems to be overflowing with them. I am terribly sorry if I am offending
anybody with my views, I certainly realize they are not shared with everybody.
This is the
story of the average, simply fellow who does not want any trouble, but is
upright and work hard to get what he wants, which are decent things like a
better outcome for his family and wife to be or later in the film, to save his
outfit in the war. This is so cliché American Dream stuff and so tailored to an
American audience that as an outsider I can only feel bemused.
have a massive religious element. I am not a religious person and the emphasis
on religious imperatives grates on me. I am perfectly fine with Alvin York having
trouble killing people. I think most people have their concerns in that
respect. I even do not mind that his reservations come from religious reasons.
I know that the intent is to depict Alvin York and his community as a good
Christian and God fearing community and that would certainly strike a chord
with many people. To me it becomes an expression of the hardships these people
live through. There are only two options. Either you succumb to despair,
drinking and idleness or you find support in the religion and the congregation
to keep you afloat. There is no middle ground.
patriotic element: I can understand why people may feel very patriotic about
their country and I actually do not have a problem with that although the
concept of dying for your country has gotten a bad ring to it with suicide
bombers and the like. The trouble here
lies with the argumentation that Thou Shall not Kill unless you do it fighting
for your country. Alvin York does some soul searching and arrives at the
conclusion that that sounds fair enough. Notwithstanding that the fighting
takes place in Europe in a war witch is the result up the biggest diplomatic
fuck-up ever. Nobody have a clue why they are fighting except to kill the other
guy and the people in charge of the carnage are too far removed from it to
realize its absurdity. To claim that you are fighting for a good cause and to
protect your country is bogus beyond belief. No matter who won in Europe they
would be no thread to the freedom and way of life in the US. This was no fight
against an evil empire like in WWII, but a very violent squabble between
trigger happy European powers. But York buys it and sacrifices his religious
and quite human convictions on that altar. Well, that offends me.
is the description of the war. We do get a massive slaughter. It is difficult
to describe WWI without that, but the image is toned down. This is not the
devastating innuendo we see in “All quiet at the Western Front” or “The Big Parade”,
but a single (stupid) charge where York single handedly shoots and capture several
hundred German soldiers. I am not saying this is a lie. Apparently the film is
based on the true story of Alvin York. But it paints a very different and
glorious picture of a war with real heroes who make a difference and not the
senseless slaughter that was the real war.
gets back he gets parade, offers and tons of gratitude including a new house on
his plot. This is what you want to see. The country showing its appreciation of
the sons who sacrificed much for their country in the war. That may have
happened to Alvin York, but reality for the majority of the returning veterans
was and has always been very different. They came home to unemployment and a
country who soon forgot about them. The List has countless films to that
objection to the film is to the storyline. This is a 2 hours and 13 minutes
long film. The cover boasts of fighting and shooting and lots of action. An
hour into the movie we are still learning about this fellow who tries to make
an outcome on his poor plot of land, tries to save money for a better parcel
and find his religion. I was thinking that all this hardship might be what
causes him to join the army. Nope. This story reaches a happy conclusion where
Alvin gets his girl and his land as a sharecropper and lives the life he wants
to live. End of part one. An hour and 10 minutes in an entirely new film starts
with the US joining the war and Alvin getting drafted. So I get two very
different films with only the lead actor in common. If the purpose was to
establish the character that could have been done in 20 minutes. Instead I was
wondering if I was actually watching the right film. I had to check a later
scene to be certain.
York” is a film with the very clear intent, to prepare the population in the US
for WWII. It is clearly, even shamelessly, aimed at hitting a note that the
average population can relate to, giving them a hero they will like and showing
them that such heroism is well rewarded. And people loved it! The heap of Oscar
nominations and the massive success at the box office is a testament to that.
It is not
just that such obvious propaganda leaves a sour taste with me, it is the effect
such stories and films have on people who do not know better. I cannot help
thinking of the teacher in “All quiet on the Western Front” who encourage his
student for whom he has a responsibility to go out and give their lives for the
fatherland and glorious battle. War is ugly business. It always was and will be
and any attempt to describe it otherwise is bogus and bound to backfire.
however not let my comments end on a bad note. Gary Cooper is excellent as
Alvin York and Joan Leslie is adorable as his girlfriend Gracie Williams. Alvin
York is very likable and I suppose he was a hero worth celebrating. Especially
since his “heroic act” was not for his country or the war but to save his
friends from being killed.
Gøg og Gokke på Vulkaner
I grew up
with Laurel & Hardy. Or “Gøg og Gokke” as they are called in Denmark. I
must have seen a ton of episodes, but only few that I actually remember in detail.
That is partly because it was long ago and I was a child, but also because the
stories are subordinate to the antics of the duo. Story apart the duo is iconic
to a degree where a silhouette of them is recognized in a split second by just
about everybody and they are a widely used by-name for clumsiness.
course I do not need to introduce them.
here is that they only get one entry on the list, though the answer is obvious.
With the plot being of minor interest you just need to pick a representative
film and the label “Laurel & Hardy” is covered. That is the list’s common
procedure for comedians. Why W.C. Fields gets two movie and Laurel & Hardy
only one beats me. It ought to have been the other way round.
item selected to represent Laurel and Hardy is “Sons of the Desert”. Personally
I would have picked “The Flying Deuces”, but “Sons of the Desert” is not a bad
pick. If you grew up in the wilderness somewhere and never heard of Laurel
& Hardy, “Sons of the Desert” is certainly a nice film to get acquainted
The Sons of
the Desert is a fraternity lodge composed of men wearing fez and having a jolly
good time. The Exhausted Leader of the lodge has made all the brothers swear an
oath that they will all attend the lodge convention in Chicago. That is all
good and well, except that Oliver’s (Oliver Hardy) wife, Mrs. Hardy (Mae Busch)
has planned a trip to the mountains. Despite all his cockiness he is NOT the
king of his castle so he and Stanley (Stan Laurel) embark on a complicated,
ridiculous and ultimately disastrous scheme to attend the convention without
the wives finding out.
Hardy is as
always the smart guy whose clever schemes always backfires and Laurel the
simpleton who gets away with ridiculous feats, though more by luck than clever
design. Certainly Hardy consistently
underestimates Laurel and overestimates his own cleverness. This leads to
countless comedic situations, both slapstick, situational and dialogue sorts. I
love their scheme with the veterinarian they hire to diagnose a bad case of
Canis Delirious (crazy dog, or dog madness), for which the only cure is an
ocean voyage to Honolulu. The scene where the wives, thinking they went down
with the boat from Hawaii, suddenly see the two airheads making fools of
themselves in a newsreel from the convention in Chicago, is simply priceless.
are just two of the many many hilarious moments. They are literally back to
back as Laurel and Hardy cannot do a single thing without screwing it up.
the Desert” would not be half as fun without the wives. They are only identified
as Mrs. Hardy and Mrs. Laurel (Dorothy Christy), but in no way they are beneath
their husbands. In fact these are two tough women. Not mean like W.C. Fields
wives always are, but strong and determined and not willing to take any crap
from their men. This is of course what makes it so funny when Ollie and Stan
try and fail to run corners on them. Stan’s wife is an upright woman who goes duck
hunting while Stan is a crying wimp who breaks down as soon as she looks at
him. Yet they do get along because Stan accepts this.
the other hand keeps trying to outsmart his wife. Not by confronting her,
because he is mighty afraid of her, but by lying and sneaking around, which
pisses her of in a really bad and loud way.
I know I
should feel sorry for the two clowns, but they really have a talent for getting
themselves into trouble and watching them squirm is just hilariously funny.
& Hardy was a favorite when I was a child and they have not lost their
power. This is comedy that never grows old and I was having a grand time re-watching