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|Index||23 reviews in total|
This Neil Simon comedy, debuted on Broadway two years earlier, minus
the song and a few characters and starred Hal March, Warren Berlinger,
Lou Jacobi, and Pert Kelton. It had a respectable run for about a year
and Frank Sinatra must have recognized a property tailor made for him
when he saw it.
The eternal problem with filming plays is how to get them out of the theatrical confines and use the scope the movie camera offers. Primarily this is done with a Sinatra song with the movie title where he lectures kid brother Tony Bill that life ain't a dress rehearsal. Sammy Cahn, who put more words in Frank Sinatra's mouth than any other lyricist, put some of his best work into play here. It's a great Sinatra song and maybe it's inclusion qualifies Come Blow Your Horn to be a musical.
Lee J. Cobb and Molly Picon are the quintessential Jewish parents and they are grand. Cobb was a very underrated actor and an unhappy man because of his experience with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Sinatra purportedly befriended him and helped him over a few rough patches.
Molly Picon brought about 50 years of experience to her part as Frankie's mom. She was fresh from a Broadway triumph in Milk and Honey. She started out as a child in the Yiddish Theatre and was only now breaking out into a wider audience. She has a very funny scene alone in Sinatra's bachelor pad, trying to answer several phones looking for a pencil to take a message with disastrous consequences.
The women here are an eyeful, Phyllis McGuire, Barbara Rush, and Jill St. John and Sinatra's involved with all of them. I won't tell you which one he ends up with, but I think you'd figure it out. I think most of Frankie's fans would settle for any one of them.
Life imitates art and the real life Sinatra unlike his character Alan Baker didn't really settle down until fourth wife Barbara Marx married him.
There's a lot of similarities with the earlier Sinatra comedy, The Tender Trap. It's ground gone over before, but it's good topsoil.
A Quintessential Sinatra film, a must for fans of the Chairman of the Board.
Round up the usual suspects. This being a Frank Sinatra comedy, there
has to be a Cahn-Van Heusen song, arranged by Nelson Riddle. Dean Martin
pops up in an under-rehearsed cameo and Jill St. John is Frankie's Bimbo.
"It's a business like any other business," says Frank. Was he talking of
manufacturing wax fruit, or cranking out cynical sex comedies?
The Baker brothers are out for fun. Alan is a thirty-nine year old playboy who, to his parents' chagrin, remains unmarried (Sinatra was in fact bewigged and fifty-one). His kid brother Buddy (Tony Bill) escapes from the stifling jewish domesticity of Yonkers and joins Alan in his Manhattan bachelor apartment. Drinks, dames and snappy clothes ensue. Because this is 1963, Frank thinks it's the height of cool to shave with an electric razor, use roll-on deodorant and furnish his kitchen in orange plastic. Impressively for 1963, he has a car phone and a remote control device to work his stereo, but were the snapbrim hat and the plaid raincoat REALLY the last word in style in the era of the Rolling Stones?
Essentially a bourgeois jewish comedy of the Neil Simon type, "Come Blow Your Horn" is a bit of froth which does not repay close analysis. There is a cute little phallic joke (the cannon in the movie playing on TV) and Frank's character almost goes somewhere with his 'oldest swinger in town' realisation, but ultimately this is a lazy, shallow little project.
Lee J. Cobb is the long-suffering jewish father, Molly Picon the depressingly stereotypical jewish mom. Hoss from TV's "Bonanza", Dan Blocker, appears briefly as the irate cuckold Eckman. Jill St. John is in simpering Marilyn Monroe mode as Peggy The Babe, not yet showing the intelligent irony on display in "Tony Rome". Tony Bill is good as Buddy, the kid brother corrupted by the philandering Alan, and Barbara Rush impresses as Connie, the good girl.
However, the film's central premise is flawed. The script does not explain (because it can't) how feckless, jobless Alan can afford swish tailoring, ski vacations in Vermont and an apartment the size of Shea Stadium. There is a lame suggestion, right at the end, that some unseen broad can be sweet-talked into donating the bachelor pad to Buddy, but it fails to convince. Rather like the film, really.
The names Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear always look good on the credits for a comedy--until you realize Lear's success was relegated strictly to the tube and Yorkin has no sense of humor. Add to the mix a script based on the play by the highly uneven Neil Simon, and you have a slick but scattershot affair. Frank Sinatra sleepwalks through role as swinging New York bachelor (now there's a stretch) who takes his gawky younger brother under his wing, much to the chagrin of their mother and father (the torturous Molly Picon and Lee J. Cobb, both giving the term 'Old World' a bad rap). Just about every one-liner falls flat, Tony Bill is hopeless in his debut as the kid brother, and Sinatra's one song (the title cut) is mediocre. Dean Martin has a cameo that's not bad, and Dan Blocker is wonderfully big and colorful as a disgruntled businessman, but the rest of this "Horn" blows. *1/2 from ****
This movie is classic Frankie.
Frank plays a swinging bachelor with a steady stream of dollies coming to him--and one, true steady girl. His father greatly resents his lackluster job performance for him but, moreso, is upset with him for not being married, being "a bum" as he frequently puts it.
Then Frankie's square little brother decides that Frank is living the life. He runs away from home to have his big brother show him the ropes, much to his parents' dismay.
Thus ensues a great comedy. We get to watch Frank teach what he knows best--how to swing, and see his little brother comically pick it up. And pick it up maybe too well for Frank's comfort...
Wonderfully funny situations pop up all over the movie, beautifully intertwined with a solid plot and certain points being driven home. The cast couldn't be better (despite some comments about Frank's age--Frank always looked at least ten years younger than he was).
Frank is completely on the ball with this part and does it like the pro that he is; it was just written for him to play. There's plenty of girls for him to have a field day with, and it's so funny and such a pleasure to just watch Frank play this sort of thing. The rest of the cast couldn't be better, and it all just clicks right into place.
Hilarious situations and dialogue, a wonderful cast, a fantastic, unexpected cameo, a great capture of the excellent times when the movie was filmed, and overall wonderful Sinatra all add up to a movie you've got to watch if you love the Swingin' 60's, the Rat Pack, Frank, or just great comedies.
I have to agree with most of what the previous commenter says; this is a largely disappointing movie. Neil Simon's wit here is not yet up to "Odd Couple" or "Sunshine Boys" speed, and some of the acting is lame. Jill St. John is a tad too cutesily dumb, and Tony Bill's Buddy is somewhat grating, especially after his unconvincing conversion from youthful innocent to roue. However, Sinatra is always worth watching and listening to, especially in the masterful Nelson Riddle's arrangements (here an original song, actually). However, the movie is almost worth watching solely for Lee J. Cobb's performance as papa Baker; his sidesplitting performance as the terminally frustrated Mr. Baker is a study in comic skill, particularly in the scenes where he invades the brothers' apartment. I had never see Cobb do comedy before; now my estimation of him as an actor has increased immeasurably. Catch this one just for Cobb.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Come Blow Your Horn" is an interesting artifact from the early 1960s.
While some aspects of the film strain for credibility, there also have
been worse films produced.
OK, Frank Sinatra was 47, and was only four years younger than Lee J. Cobb, who played his father. But he is fun to watch, and we get to see how time is catching up with this swinging single. And we can accept him playing the older of two sons in a Jewish family.
One major plus for the movie is having Molly Picon and Mr. Cobb playing the parents; their own backgrounds add credibility to their roles. As for their surname being Baker, it was and is not unheard of Jewish families to change such names to something more "American." That happened not just in the entertainment industry, but across the board. And given that the older Mr. Baker was a businessman, it would stand to reason.
I tuned into this because I am a fan of Jill St. John; she is not served terribly well in this production. Phyllis McGuire, Barbara Rush and Dan Blocker fare better here.
It's entertaining fare, and a cool curio from an era 50 years ago, but hardly Oscar material. You could do worse.
Looks like a stage play......feels like a stage play.....acted as if
the audience is sitting fifty yards away.....they just couldn't shake
the roots of this production. Certainly, an insignificant Simon
property, raised beyond oblivion by its casting. I'm not sure why they
just didn't change the age of Sinatra's character to his actual 48 - he
doesn't look remotely 39 - actually, he looks about 55. Tony Bill's
role would play better on stage, where his over-emoting wouldn't be
quite so grating.
Yes, the parents are perfectly cast, if you can tolerate the stereotypical Jewish mother and father, screeching incessantly. What children WOULDN'T run away from that?
The bachelor pad is certainly hip Early 60s - and unbelievable (regardless of the explanation of its affordability).
The song interlude is a bit jarring, although if they had to do it, it certainly works best where it is.
Overall, not a film I'll watch again.
There are some funny scenes, like the Mom alone in her sons' apartment.
But this is one of those films that even those of us men who aren't
wild feminists are embarrassed to watch. That whole ring-a- ding-ding
Sinatra cool where his dames are little more than sexual toys is not
hip or appealing -- it's just creepy.
But the thing that I hate most about this movie -- and some of the movies from that era -- is how we're supposed to be completely oblivious to the actors' real ages. Sinatra was more than old enough to be his kid brother's father -- hell, in another few years, he could have been his grandfather. We're supposed to ignore that because he's Frankie -- just like we're supposed to ignore age gaps in Fred Astaire movies of the Fifties, or Bogart and Hepburn in Sabrina.
I love the feel of Fifties/Sixties New York movies, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, where you can see the unrealized potential of the women, some of whom seem more confident in their place than their current counterparts. But this movie isn't one of them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
and he's going to really turn the life of his (much) older brother
Frank Sinatra upside down. Newcomer Tony Brill portrays an innocent
unaware of what he is getting himself in for moving onto Sutton Place
in Manhattan. Free of his meddling parents (Molly Picon and Jack
Kruschen) and their Yonkers home, Brill allows brother Sinatra to take
him out on a glorious shopping spree to mold him into a younger version
of his older brother. Before you know it, Brill has taken over and
Sinatra finds himself acting like his domineering father whose constant
slamming of doors causes chandeliers to fall.
This hysterically funny Neil Simon comedy isn't a great movie, but gets a higher rating simply because of its laugh quotient. There are also several moments that seemed like song cues, and one time, when Sinatra breaks into the title song (during the shopping spree), it actually happens. Brill is hysterically funny going from innocent to ring-a-ding-ding playboy, throwing a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" like party, and getting perhaps too big for his britches when Sinatra gets him to pretend to be a movie producer from Hollywood.
Kruschen and Picon are so funny, but nothing is more hysterical than watching the lovable Picon playing reluctant frustrated secretary when she begins to answer Sinatra's phone calls after popping in on Brill unannounced to beg him to return home. The sight of this diminutive woman running around this obvious playboy's apartment looking for a pencil is a visual you won't forget. Picon makes her Jewish mother endearing and so lovable that you want to just pick her up and hug her.
While Picon and Sinatra don't share scenes until the end (because of the obvious difference in their appearances), I half expected Picon to tell Sinatra "We needed to share one scene in this movie" when he asked her why she was there. It is mentioned that Sinatra (who works for Kruschen's factory that makes glass fruit) takes off both Jewish and Catholic holidays (as well as Halloween!) so perhaps Kruschen and Picon have a mixed marriage; That is never confirmed.
Then, there are the ladies in Sinatra's life: the beautiful red-headed Jill St. John (too intelligent seeming to be playing a bubble-head), Phyllis McGuire (as the sadomasochistic business associate from Dallas) and Barbara Rush (as the wife and mother type). The film may seem a bit too much like a stage play in some scenes (minus the songs it seems to be about to break into), but is still a lot of fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by Bud Yorkin, who co-produced this slightly above average
light comedy with Norman Lear, who wrote the screenplay adapting a play
by Neil Simon, who earned his first motion picture screen credit, it
stars 47 year old Frank Sinatra playing a 39 year old older brother to
a 21 year old character, played by Tony Bill, and the son of Lee J.
Cobb's (though Cobb himself was only 51 at the time) and Molly Picon's
(65 at the time) characters, who'd been married for 43 years.
If you can get past all these improbable numbers (and aren't offended by its shallow female, and other stereotypical characterizations), it's actually (still) a pretty entertaining film today. Barbara Rush, Jill St. John, TV Bonanza's Dan Blocker, and Phyllis McGuire round out the primary cast; Dean Martin, Mary Grace Canfield who plays a woman hypnotized into thinking that Sinatra is JFK (an "inside" joke), and Grady Sutton (who can be glimpsed while Sinatra sings the film's title song) are among those who also appear uncredited.
Sinatra plays Alan Baker, a playboy whose refuses to "grow up" and get married, per his father Harry's (Cobb) wishes. Harry blames his wife Sophie (Picon) for being too soft on Alan as a child, hence their "boy's" situation. Both are pleased that Alan's (much) younger brother Buddy (Bill), who still lives at home with them, is more responsible. Of course Buddy's had enough of being treated like a child, and leaves their suburban home to live with Alan in his extravagant bachelor pad in New York (how he affords it is a loose end until the film's end), though only about an hour's drive away, on his 21st birthday. Both sons work in their father's decorative artificial fruit business, Alan as a salesman and Buddy in design (?).
Once Buddy lives with Alan, and with his older brother's encouragement (at least initially), he undergoes a transformation into a younger version of Alan. Buddy learns by example, having seen Alan successfully juggle an attractive air-headed wannabe actress who lives in his building, Peggy John (St. John), a beautiful singer named Connie (Rush) who's conveniently on tour a lot of the time, and even a would-be, though married, client of their father's company Mrs. Eckman (McGuire), a buyer for Neiman Marcus, whose husband's discovery of Alan's swinging sales technique finally gets him in trouble with Mr. Eckman (Blocker), and fired by Harry. Naturally, Buddy's "corruption" is upsetting to their parents as well.
Not only are the characterizations humorous, for example Cobb's Harry is evidently a self-made immigrant who loudly calls his son a 'bum' (though Martin, in a cameo, is the film's only real bum) and Picon plays a long-suffering "Jewish" mother, but the tried and true (silent film) technique of never knowing who's on the other side of Alan's apartment door when the doorbell (or the phone) rings is effectively utilized with comic results. Rush plays a woman whose biological clock is ticking such that she's hoping Alan will settle down with her after only six months of dating. John plays a bubble- headed neighbor who helps Buddy begin his "fling". The film's final third is not as good as the first two thirds, and it does end rather predictably - with Alan seeing the error of his ways through Buddy and deciding to marry Connie. However, that doesn't keep it from being a good ride while it lasts.
The film's Color Art Direction-Set Decoration was nominated for an Academy Award.
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