Natascha, a White Russian countess, stows away on a luxury liner at Hong Kong, determined to seek a new life in America. Natascha hides in the cabin of Ogden Mears, a millionaire diplomat, ... See full summary »
Three Chaplin silent comedies "A Dog's Life", "Shoulder Arms", and "The Pilgrim" are strung together to form a single feature length film. Chaplin provides new music, narration, and a small... See full summary »
Whether or not Elmer Rice was interested in bashing the business world, that comes across as secondary in this film. Sure, the dismal life of the office clerk is nothing to write home about, but it honestly was not as heart-wrenching as Mr. Zero's home life. In fact, if we wanted to make a federal case of it, we could pin Zero's anger on his wife. So, what is primary? I think this film reached beyond Rice's play into quite a few plateaus of its own. First, it definitely brings to light the science vs. religion angle with more oomph. For instance, the lieutenant's monologue concerning monkeys and men is more than a little presumptuous, since it either doesn't consider that the idea of a Creator necessarily makes evolutionary theory just a little flimsy, or else it decides to have its cake and eat it too! Another moment is, of course, Shrdlu's dilemma, which is too delicious to examine clinically.
Second, there is more than a little hip enlightenment going on here. Whether you include Planet of the Apes, or Watermelon Man, or Rhinoceros, it's apparent that the late 60's/early 70's were a breeding ground for tough playwright-to-screenplay initiative. It is very cool to watch a film from 1969 bring the sensibilities of 1930's New York to life with every bit of exaggeration and yet authenticity. From the dress to the jargon and accents, there is a briskness here that will either abrade or excite you. I found the latter to be true for me. There is also the camera work, which I think is quite good, and ritualistic for the decade in question.
Third, I think it is quite noticeable that some industry competition is at work here. Perhaps I read too much into things, but the director seems to be giving Billy Wilder, and perhaps even Woody Allen or Kubrick a run for his money. Sure, the budget is low, but that only makes me want to invoke Val Lewton! Now, just for pleasure, how great is Justin Glover, who looks so much like Crispin Glover you'll pinch yourself (ow!), but they're not related... I don't think. And Billie Whitelaw is to me a dream here, a perfect character and a terrific actress with a look that is so now extinct, it makes one wistful.
That's all, folks.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?