|Index||5 reviews in total|
Considering the temporal context, this movie starts out like a film
noir, but it's not -- it's in beautiful Technicolor, worthy of a
musical of that era. But it's not that, either. Crooner Frankie Laine
singing a couple of songs -- "Danny Boy" sung twice, plus another song
fragment introducing the opening nightclub scene -- does not a musical
If you know Frankie Laine only by his top 40 hits, from "That's My Desire" in 1947 to "You Gave Me a Mountain" in 1969, you may be surprised to find that he was also a competent actor. His nuanced facial expressions in the scene with his character's newspaper buddy which leads into the flashback which consumes most of the movie pleasantly surprised at least this viewer.
This was Blake Edwards' second movie as a director, and the Blake Edwards style is already in evidence. (I haven't seen his first, "Bring Your Smile Along," also with Laine, so I can't comment on it.) What's the Blake Edwards style? It's one of those things that's undefinable (at least by me), but if you're familiar with his body of work, it's recognizable.
As for the movie itself, it's a pleasant pastime, especially in Technicolor; and the interplay between the engaging leads, Richard Long as a cop and Lucy Marlow as his fiancée, a chanteuse turned mob boss, makes for some mildly intriguing comedic conflict.
Blake Edwards films are quite hit or miss - some are hilarious, some are just dry and boring. This one, He Laughed Last, written and directed by Edwards, is an okay period piece, and has singer Frankie Laine as Gino Lupo, even singing a couple songs. Fade to flashback... Mob boss Dan (Alan Reed) and Jimmy, played by Richard Long, are fighting over nightclub singer Rosie LeBeau ( Lucy Marlow). Livening up the action is Dan's blustering sidekick Max, played by Jesse White, who was the Maytag repairman for many years, and did tons of Disney movies. White's cigar must have had its own agent, since it has a large role... he's always confidently chomping on that cigar. Suddenly a shot rang out... and you'll have to see the movie to find out who dunnit and what happens next! Keep an eye out for John Zaremba, the doctor, who probably holds the record for playing the doc in the most films...after a while, we don't really care what happens to most of the characters, which isn't good. There are a couple of twists and turns along the way, and a few clever jokes thrown in, but I guess we know why its hardly ever shown on TV. Also interesting that IMDb lists the Birth date (1883) for "George the lawyer" (Florenz Kolb aka Florenz Ames) but not the date of death. Did he move out of the country?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Blake Edwards directs his screenplay and story, which seems to be a
small homage to Guys and Dolls. This is his second movie as director
and his star is crooner Frankie Laine. What appears to be a musical
actually is not. Rosemary 'Rosie' Lebeau(Lucy Marlow)inherits her
gangster husband's nightclub. A chorus girl in the 1920's having a
nightclub dumped in her lap can cause much concern. Rosie will become
even more attractable to her dead husband's friends...and enemies. This
all doesn't sit well with her policeman boyfriend Jimmy(Richard Long).
Also concerned for her welfare is Gino(Laine), the
rough-but-attractable club's manager and singer. In spite of business
squabbles, it doesn't tale long for him to secretly fall in love with
his new boss.
This film can be fun and spirited with the story line told in flashbacks, narrated by Laine, who also croons "Danny Boy" and "Save Your Sorrows For Tomorrow". Also in the cast: Anthony Dexter, Alan Reed, Richard Benedict, Jessie White, Alan Reed, Henry Slate and Barrie Chase.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Recently I caught Blake Edwards' debut film 'Bring Your Smile Along'
and enjoyed it. It was smoothly directed, star Frankie Laine sang
several nice songs and the banter between the male and female leads was
relatively sophisticated, something that would become a hallmark of
many of Edwards' later films.
Initially, this recreation of the gangster era in America in the 1920s starts off on the same engaging level. But from the midway point when mob boss Big Dan Hennessy dies, the film loses its way.
There are several different plot strands in the film's second half (the stuttering romance between Jimmy & Rosie, Rosie by inheritance becoming the big mob boss, Max Lassiter's attempts to take over) but none of them go in interesting directions so that even at the film's short running time, it's a bit of a slog to get through to the end.
Also, 'He Laughed Last' is a much weaker vehicle for Laine than 'Bring Your Smile Long'. He sings far less here and his character is basically a non-entity, basically waiting at the sidelines while all the other characters do their thing.
There are some pleasing aspects to this film, but 'Bring Your Smile Along' is a superior exhibition of the Edwards/Laine combo.
Ever notice how gangster-movie spoofs never seem to work? Even when done on a big budget, like ROBIN AND THE SEVEN HOODS with Frank Sinatr and Dean Martin as Chicago 'Hoods' (in the Locksley sense) who fight with sticks not over a pool but next to a pool table. Must have sounded great on paper. Even the legendary GUYS AND DOLLS didn't translate all that well from the stage to the screen, and modern attempts, like JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY with Michael Keaton, mostly fell flat on their faces. Maybe it's because the gangster period piece is so over the top to begin with that satires don't seem any funnier than the old Cagney/Robinson/Bogart/Garfield flicks they're doing a riff on. Still, if western spoofs can work (CAT BALLOU, BLAZING SADDLES), then why not gangster comedies? Your guess is as good as mine, but if you want to see the absolute bottom of the barrel of this disappointing genre, then catch HE LAUGHED LAST. The film begins in the mid-1930s, with a crooner/club owner (Frankie Laine) warbling and welcoming guests. He's asked about 'the good old days,' and the rest of the film is a flashback to the Roaring Twenties, when he was in with such mob figures as Big Dave. Lots of fine character actors, who do look like fugitives from a Damon Runyon fable, pop in and out of the story, but to little avail. This was one of the first efforts by then young writer-director Blake Edwards, and it's amazing, considering the results, that he ever got to work again. Not one joke really scores, and many are groaners. It also doesn't help that this was filmed in vivid color - there's always been something about that era that calls out for gritty black and white. And if you've ever wondered why Laine didn't become a screen star like Sinatra and Martin, look no further for the reason why. Though he certainly sang in a league and class with both of them, there's no charisma at all - much less acting ability. The ultimate disparagement is that this doesn't even make it as a 'so bad it's good film' - hats off to any one who can make it all the way through to the supposedly clever but overly telegraphed ending.
|Ratings||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|