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How to trick tricksters, 21 August 2012
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This version of Up The River is one of the strangest conglomerations of
genres ever put on film. It's got elements of a caper film, a prison
film, a musical, and finally a football game climax to rival what the
Marx Brothers did in Horsefeathers and Wheeler&Woolsey did with Hold
'Em Jail. Still in a goofy sort of way it's actually fun. In some ways
it's better than the original Fox version that John Ford directed and
that had those two young rookies in film, Spencer Tracy and Humphrey
Preston Foster who is playing the part Spencer Tracy had showed that he had a nice flare for comedy that will surprise many who are used to seeing him in action/adventure films. He and his sidekick Arthur Treacher pull one too many cons which earns them a trip back to their old correctional alma mater. And then the cop who arrested them, Alan Dinehart, becomes the new warden.
Where they also meet up with Eddie Collins the talent show impresario, the prison football coach Slim Summerville, his trainer Bill Robinson, and a new kid getting ready for parole Tony Martin.
Martin and Phyllis Brooks his fiancé are both doing time, she in the women's facility, for a confidence game where the mastermind Sidney Toler skipped and left them holding the bag. When Brooks finds out that Toler is working an insurance swindle in their hometown and one of the scammed is Tony's mother Jane Darwell she goes to Martin.
Instead of Martin breaking out it's Foster and Treacher who know how to trick tricksters. All this with the big game with a rival prison hanging over everyone's head.
Let's just say that a happy ending is arrived at where all get their just deserts. It was interesting to see that the comedy here was broader and funnier than the first version, especially since John Ford was a master at knockabout comedy.
Of course the film hasn't the slightest resemblance or pretense to reality. You would think prison was one long summer camp the way this whole cast behaves. But to hear Tony Martin sing and Bojangles dance is reason enough to watch Up The River.
Up The River is as goofy as F-Troop or The A-Team, but it's fun and I think people will still enjoy it.
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