Audiences always roared with delight when Red Skelton went one-on-one with post-war life in The Yellow Cab Man, The Fuller Brush Man and other films. In Half a Hero, the legendary comic ...
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Audiences always roared with delight when Red Skelton went one-on-one with post-war life in The Yellow Cab Man, The Fuller Brush Man and other films. In Half a Hero, the legendary comic took on a slice of 20th-century Americana that still resonates today: the suburbs. Red plays Ben Dobson, a magazine writer whose boss approves of Ben because he lives in a cramped Manhattan apartment instead of "the slums of tomorrow": the 'burbs. So, of course, when Ben movies his family to a sprawling housing development, he struggles (hilariously_ to keep the fact a secret. Jean Hagen, a year after her iconic portrayal of the itsy-voiced screen siren in Singin' in the Rain, plays Ben's long-suffering wife, and singer Polly Bergen makes a guest appearance with a torrid nightclub-scene rendition of "Love." Written by
I saw this movie many years ago, but couldn't remember anything about it. Watching it again, I think I know why. "Half a Hero" is probably enjoyed better as a drama or a view of the world at a certain point in time. Watching Red Skelton is always enjoyable, but wanting this movie to be a comedy can make the viewing almost painful.
Men working hard is great and women wanting to make house & home is wonderful -- whether it's today or 60 years ago. The pain for me surfaces when this couple are at odds during their financial difficulties, bringing up talks that should precede marriage and not deferred until after getting a mortgage.
So if you approach this movie from a non-comedy perspective, I think you will enjoy it. Skelton's performance is almost as good as in _The Clown (1953)_ (qv). Jean Hagen demonstrates a wonderful difference from _Singin' in the Rain (1952)_ (qv) where everyone remembers "Lina Lamont". Single scene participants of 'Kathleen Freeman (I)' (qv) and 'Mary Wickes' (qv) made me smile.
This production made a profit when it was released and then quietly disappeared. If you can find a copy of it, Skelton fans should definitely watch it. Maybe young people getting ready for marriage can learn one or two things as well.
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