Perhaps the Only Movie in Existence About Popcorn and Country Western Music
"Corn's-A-Poppin'" is the kind of film you shouldn't even attempt to watch on your own. If you were to pop this in in the privacy of your living room, you would probably be put to sleep -- it's bad, but not bad in the outrageously entertaining way that something like "Reefer Madness" is bad. But with an audience who are collectively gathered prepared to make fun of a notoriously bad film, it does provide a lot of fun. I saw it at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago with an audience of about 70 or so people, and there was quite a bit of howling going on.
The film has been preserved by the Chicago Film Society and is being shown publicly in an effort to stimulate interest in a DVD print. It's a curio from 1956 made in Kansas City, and Robert Altman is credited with writing the screenplay. According to the publicity materials, Altman wanted this film to be forgotten (obviously), but it's clear that it's only because of his association with it that anyone thinks it's worth preserving at all. It's not an "Altman" film, and anyone going in with the expectation that it will bear any hallmarks of his later work will be disappointed, although it does display the same fondness for country western music that would figure prominently in some of his later pictures. It's not really the kind of movie you can review as a movie -- it feels more like something a bunch of bored and maybe slightly drunk college buddies with an interest in filmmaking would make in the basement of their frat house. It's only 58 minutes long, and while it was entertaining enough to see with a lively audience, I'm glad it wasn't any longer, as I'm not sure even an audience would have made it worth sitting through if it was.
I do have to say thought that, bad as the movie is, it's not completely disposable. There are some musical moments, most of them involving a young actress billed as "Little Cora Rice," that are catchy and rather sweet, particularly a love song about Mars that occurs late in the film, even if the context in which the song is performed (with the character who's supposed to be her brother) seems a little weird and slightly pervy.
And am I the only person who thought that Keith Painton, who plays Thaddeus Pinwhistle, popcorn impresario, looked like E.G. Marshall?
The thing that keeps "Corn's-A-Poppin'" from being as spectacularly entertaining as other much more famous atrocious movies is the fact that it makes fun of itself. It's so much more fun to ridicule a movie that's in earnest.
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