|Index||8 reviews in total|
Many clips from the silent era through MGM's heyday. The editing could have been tighter--some sequences went on too long and others way too short--but I suspect the filmmakers wanted to make sure they didn't leave out any of the stars. Nevertheless, this is overall a funny stroll down memory lane.
Funny stuff, but arranged without much rhyme or reason, by compiler
Robert Youngson. Obviously, the first limitation is that the clips are
exclusively from one studio. Moreover, there is no real attempt to
present the very best of what was available at MGM. "The Big Parade of
Comedy" is neither a definitive look at MGM's comedy pictures, nor does
it present a comprehensive look at any one comedian.
Narrator Les Tremayne is helpful identifying performers who may not be familiar to modern audiences - along with top-billed stars Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, who co-sizzled for real in "Susan Lenox" (1931). Most haphazard is the tacking on, without explanation, of some Dave O'Brien comedy shorts. The material is good, but should only be considered a sample. Seeking the original works is imperative.
***** The Big Parade of Comedy (9/23/64) Robert Youngson ~ Les Tremayne, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Dave O'Brien
This uneven documentary by Robert Youngson, basically showcases MGM's
comic talented stars in films produced at the studio. Some performers
fare better than others, as we keep hoping for more. One can guess
because the limitations of the format, it could only include just so
much when there were so many stars from where to choose from.
There is a wonderful sequence of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel with Lupe Velez. The comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello are seen in scenes from "Rio Rita". The Marx Brothers classic "Going West" train routine is shown. Best of all, in our humble opinion, Greta Garbo laughing and having a good time in "Ninotchka" and "Two Faced Woman". The wonderful Dave O'Brien is also showcased doing his Pete Smith character.
William Powell, Jean Harlow, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, and the others in the film are seen at some of the funniest moments of their MGM's heyday.
A better title would have been "Our Big Stars and Some Special Effects "... Much of it is just film run backward and sight gags... ie the train scenes at the beginning... smoke going back into the stack, and when the handcart gets out of the way at the last second at the bottom of the mountainside, watch for the big puff of sand right BEFORE the cart moves.. not after. This review would probably be more interesting for those who haven't seen the specific films highlighted here. It's a whole bunch of short clips from their big films. Written, directed, produced by Robert Youngson, who even wrote the lyrics to a lot of the accompanying (bad) songs to the clips. Melodies by Bernard Green... must have taken them about eight minutes during the lunch hour to come up with those songs. Gotta mark this one down... you can skip it if you've seen most of the films involved.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was surprised to learn this compilation was put together in 1964, by that time MGM should have been able to put together a more coherent and cohesive product. It's got plenty of comedy stars as the title implies, but it's put together rather randomly and with no expressed central idea. Beginning with the silent films of the 1920's, the picture wends it's way through the Thirties right up to a Red Skelton picture made in 1948 - "A Southern Yankee". Whereas the early film clips presented were short and to the point, the longer this went on it seemed like the segments got longer and longer for each picture selected as representative for their respective stars. This wasn't what I was expecting, and actually thought it would be more like another picture I just recently watched called "Hollywood My Home Town" (1965) which featured a lot more candid clips of celebrities of the era 1927 through the early Sixties. If you're a major movie fan you've probably caught many of the movies on display here, but at least in my case the picture provided the inspiration to record a film offered on Turner Classics that I'll get to in due course. I've seen Marie Dressler's name pop up more and more on my radar lately, so I'll be looking forward to her team up with Wallace Beery in 1930's "Min and Bill".
Wow. This collection of clips was disjointed, not funny at all and
edited extremely poorly.
Carole Lombard was only shown in one brief clip. She was an extremely talented comedienne and this film did not do her justice at all.
The Jean Harlow clips shown were adequate and they did show one of her funniest scenes (with Marie Dressler in Dinner At Eight).
Cary Grant was shown only briefly. The man was much funnier than the clips led us to believe.
I could go on and on, but my point would remain the same: don't waste your time on this movie. Not only is it poorly made, it is also insanely boring.
MGM's Big Parade of Comedy is just a random compilation of comedy clips with no point that don't do their stars any justice. They've all appeared in funnier films at other studios. They serve up probably the worst clip from the worst Marx Bros. film (Go West). Couldn't they have used A Night At The Opera instead (that was an MGM film)? They just dredge out any comedy star who just happened to appear in an MGM film - they even dish up a silent Joan Crawford film (now there's a comedienne). The only moments of levity for me were when they showed a compilation of Pete Smith comedy shorts (with Dave O'Brien). It also ends abruptly. I'm thankful someone had the good judgement to put it out of its' misery.
Youngson must have been the last real movie ghoul, making a living by
cutting up old films into virtual guitar picks. Good bad or
indifferent, the only reason for inclusion in this compilation seems to
be he could get his hands on a print and then chop chop chop, funny or
not. It reminds me of Glenn L. Martin delivering a plane to the Army in
WW2 (the B-26 aka The Widowmaker) which kept killing its crews. Martin
explained that it met the contractual specifications. This film meets
somebody's contractual specifications and made what's called a 'nice
show business dollar', but it is a pile of junk whose stink is even
more loathsome considering the talent which gets ripped off.
Normally I would just leave this alone except for the fact that this film contains the most perfunctory and execrable film lyric of all time. In the song, which is introducing a segment on Robert Benchely, the lyric goes- "Robert Benchley was a funny man/ A funny man was he". Certainly a new low in the lack of imagination department. Robert Youngson was a cheap-son-of-a-bitch/ a cheap-son-of-a-bitch was he. Of course Youngson didn't hire a lyricist but wrote the 'lyrics' himself, just like he wrote (oh, that narration would be rejected by Hallmark as soporific drivel, and it just goes on and inanely on), produced., directed, did the visual effects and titles, himself. His wife did the research. This was just one in a series of compilation films he did coming from the short film assembly lines which died in the early 50s. Insteed of going in to TV he did this.
Now, I believe Youngson has been completely superseded by the age of film preservation and the like of Turner Classics and various DVD distributors though I guess he'll have his product in 99¢ bins for a long time to come. And not a moment too soon.
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