|Index||8 reviews in total|
HI DIDDLE DIDDLE is one of those pictures that, because it has fallen
into public domain, is almost always seen in dreadful dupe prints.
Well, don't let that dissuade you from seeing this picture. It is one
of the fastest-paced, downright hilarious comedies of the early 40's.
The combination of sharp dialogue and impeccable characterizations make
this a real winner. Here is Dennis O'Keefe at his farceur best. He's a
sailor-on-leave-bridegroom who spends his wedding night doing
everything EXCEPT what he's supposed to be doing. Adolph Menjou is his
pop, a conniver (not Connover this time!) who pledges to help Dennis'
mom-in-law, dizzy Billie Burke, regain her fortune. Menjou is married
to Pola Negri, a domineering Wagnerian opera singer. June Havoc is a
lady friend of Menjou's and is she hot! They're all a riot. One of my
favorite bits is when waiter Joe Devlin, taking Billie's order at a
night club, does a double take and walks away. Billie exclaims - "He
did a double take - just like in the movies!" Then Billie, Martha Scott
(the bride), Walter Kingsford and Barton Hepburn all proceed to
practice doing double takes. Devlin gets a gander at this and does - A
DOUBLE TAKE! A wonderful musical moment is June Havoc singing alongside
herself in a Panaogram Soundie machine. Composer Richard Hageman, who
also appears in director Andrew Stone's SENSATIONS OF 1945, does a very
wry bit as a brokerage firm president.
If you need a laugh - see HI DIDDLE DIDDLE by any and all means!
A B film but a very funny comedy starring Martha Scott and Dennis
O'Keefe as newlyweds who get caught up in the schemes of daddy (Adolphe
Menjou) as he tries to win back mama's (Billie Burke) money at a
crooked roulette wheel. Not much on plot but very funny with Menjou's
opera singer wife (Pola Negri in her first American film in more than a
decade)) singing Wagner at any given moment.
The film rushes between standard comedy and weird comments to the camera. There's also a running gag about an actress who is only in the film because she's dating the director. And then there's that animated wallpaper.
Co-Stars include June Havoc, who steals the film as a nightclub singer who at one point sings a duet with herself, Walter Kingsford, Bess Flowers, Barton Hepburn, Georges Metaxa, Paul Porcasi, Harry Tyler, Matt McHugh, and Bert Roach. as the flustered cab rider.
The real interest here is of course Pola Negri in a talkie ... and she's very funny indeed and looks great.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I recently purchased a used copy of a 1987 video of Hi Diddle Diddle at Pike's Market Place in Seatle, Washington because it mentioned a cartoon sequence from Leon Schlesinger just before he sold his studio (as well as characters Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck) to Warner Bros. Those animations open and close the picture to amusing effect in this slightly surreal romantic comedy starring Dennis O'Keefe, Martha Scott, Adolphe Menjou, Billie Burke, June Havoc, and in her last film before The Moon-Spinners 21 years later (which was her final one!) Pola Negri. One of my favorite running gags involves a beautiful woman (Lorraine Miller) who keeps appearing in various scenes in different roles as noted first by Menjou, then various cast members. Finally, Burke says, "She was put in different places as a favor to the director!" It's interesting to note that both Negri and Menjou (in Pollyanna) made their final feature appearances opposite Hayley Mills in Disney movies. For the occasional nonsense that pops up, Hi Diddle Diddle is worth a look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sonny Phyffe (Dennis O'Keefe), a sailor with a conquest in every port,
is three hours late to his wedding to Janie Prescott (Martha Scott),
whose mother is the very wealthy and scatterbrained Liza Prescott
(Billie Burke). Liza harbors doubts about Sonny's sincerity. Sonny is
anxious about the wedding because he only has two days ashore before he
has to report back to his ship. But minutes before the wedding Mrs.
Prescott confesses that she has lost her fortune, swindled out of it by
a high society clot who is determined to wed Janie himself. But now
that sly old scoundrel, Col. Hector Phyffe (Adolphe Menjou), who is
Sonny's father, steps forward and says he'll put things right. All he
needs is a few hours. The Colonel, however, is married to the opera
diva Genya Smetana (Pola Negri). He hasn't a dime of his own. She keeps
him on a short lease. He must do what he does best, come up with a
series of improbable schemes and stratagems to replace Mrs. Prescott's
fortune. All the while the clock is ticking. Will the Colonel somehow
find a way to get back Liza Prescott's money? Will Liza with her ditzy
behavior make things better or worse? Will Sonny and Janie work their
way through this maze of mix-ups and into bed before Sonny has to
leave? Will there at last be a consummation devoutly to be wished,
especially by Sonny and Janie.
If this sounds like screwball comedy, it tries hard to be and sometimes succeeds. Menjou keeps the wheels spinning. Burke's character may not be as flighty as Billie Burke. Pola Negri, a great silent star, at 49 is stunning. She could easily pass as Hedy Lamar's slightly older sister. June Havoc has a funny featured role and a couple of songs. What Hi Diddle Diddle really has going for it is a clever twist that is well disguised and two accomplished actors who were right at home with light comedy, Adolphe Menjou and Dennis O'Keefe.
Menjou was never better than playing a man of the world who has seen all the tricks and mastered most of them himself. He moved from a major leading man in the silents (A Woman of Paris, 1923) to a master portrayer of amusing rogues, charlatans, fathers and lawyers. He was at his best as the shyster lawyer Billy Flynn in Roxie Hart, 1942. As an old man he still knew what he was doing. His portrayal of Mr. Pendergast, an irascible recluse in Pollyanna, 1960, is touching, amusing and believable.
I doubt if there was ever a Hollywood leading man, other than Cary Grant, who was as good at light comedy as Dennis O'Keefe. He paid his dues in countless unbilled bits in the Thirties, moved up to second billings and then lead roles in the Forties and early Fifties, but was never able to establish himself in big A movies. He was a tall, handsome guy who could play puzzled bumpkins, tough G-men, doomed noir heroes and nice guys. If you have the time, watch him in these: As Jerry Manning in The Leopard Man, 1943; as Monty Brewster in Brewster's Millions, 1945; as Joe Sullivan in Raw Deal, 1948; as Sam Donovan in Cover Up, 1949; and as Danny Leggett in Woman on the Run, 1950.
This film starts out differently, with an animated sequence before the opening credits. This is the first of several off-beat touches which makes Hi Diddle Diddle an enjoyable film. Pola Negri, former silent star from Valentino's day registers well here as a temperamental opera star. Not only is her voice understandable, but it is downright good here. She is also still quite beautiful in 1943, and it seems a pity that she did not have a bigger career in sound films. The rest of the cast, headed by Adolphe Menjou, Martha Scott, Dennis O'Keefe and Billie Burke are all in top form, and a special mention for a musical sequence featuring June Havoc singing along with herself on a soundie screen. There are some good belly laughs to be had and, all in all, this is a charming piece of forties fluff which will whizz by painlessly enough.
This film is notable for the presence of Miss Pola Negri, a favorite actress of mine. She was better known for her early German silent films. I think this film is great fun and highly amusing. Good family entertainment
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film tries very, very hard trying about to be funny--perhaps a bit
too hard. However, in spite of this it's still a pretty decent comedy
and one that is a little better than just a time-passer.
The film begins with Dennis O'Keefe arriving late at his wedding to Martha Scott. However, just before the ceremony, O'Keefe is told that his new ditsy mother-in-law (Billie Burke) has just lost her entire fortune. So, with the help of his rather larcenous father, O'Keefe spends most of his 48-hour leave racing about town to win back Burke's fortune. It's all very frantic and some of the comedy works well and some falls a bit flat. However, if you don't mind the occasional lulls, the overall film is lively and fun. I particularly was fascinated by the final scene--as it is both bad and wildly creative at the same time! As far as the acting goes, Adolph Menjou was nice as was O'Keefe. I do wish that Burke had tried something other than her usual ditz role, however, as after a lot of similar roles it was wearing a bit thin. Overall, it's worth a look.
This movie presents serious problems for me. First, I couldn't stand the fact that an admitted felon, a swindler (Barton Hepburn), was wandering through the movie without anyone thinking to call the police. Not only did he swindle Billy Burke of everything, but then proceeds to disrupt everyone's life and PEOPLE LISTEN TO HIM!!! I also have no patience for Ms. Burke's as a ditz. She is capable of so much more.
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