Reviews written by registered user
|8 reviews in total|
I must disagree with the positive comments this has received. TWELFTH
NIGHT is my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies, and when you see that
Alec Guiness, Ralph Richardson, and Joan Plowright are in it, you
expect the best. Not so. I taped it when it was broadcast, and still
have it. Joan is too old for Viola, and is LUDICROUS as Sebastian. Her
male impersonation doesn't work at all. It's the worst thing I've ever
seen this normally-great actress do. I was surprised that Ralph
Richardson wasn't very funny as Sir Toby, as it seemed a good role for
him, and I've seen him be very funny in other roles. Not here. Guiness
is okay as Malvolio, but I've seen the role done better, once superbly
on stage by THE THING'S Robert Cornithwaite. Worst of all is the
horrible Tommy Steele, who is UNBEARABLE as Feste, giving good evidence
of why his overpraised career was so short.
There are much better TWELFTH NIGHTs out there to see. Hunt up the recent televised version with Helen Hunt and Paul Rudd. It was excellent! This one is a disappointment that, given the cast, has no excuse.
Lon Chaney's only talkie would be worth seeing just to hear him him speak, (His voice sounds remarkably like the old TV and wrestling announcer, Dick Lane), but this oddball film is a hoot overall. Chaney spends nearly half the film in drag, disguised as an old lady, and his weird burglary scam involves himself (He's a tremendously unfunny ventriloquist) a dopey strongman and a vicious midget, running a pet shop as a cover, and then robbing their patron's homes after delivering their pets. Chaney uses his ventriloquism skills to sell suckers parrots that don't speak, a particularly gratuitous scam since why not just get parrots that do talk? Oh, and Chaney keeps a gorilla (Well, Charles Gemora in a particularly ratty gorilla suit) as a pet. There's the standard Chaney love triangle: Chaney loves his moll/accomplice Rosie, played by the very pretty Lila Lee, who was the mother of James Kirkwood, author of "A Chorus Line", and she loves an overwhelmingly namby-pamby nice young man named Hector, who is about as far from the Trojan hero Hector as you can possibly get. What Rosie sees in this simpering wimp, who is less masculine than she is, I can not imagine. Chaney smacks her about a bit (Okay, more than a bit. She plays one scene with his hand print still visible on her cheek. But come on, he goes to prison just to please her.) but he's at least a man. Elliot Nugent, who plays Hector, went on to direct many second-level comedy films, and to write several successful plays. Judging by his performance here, his career change was well advised. Harry Earles' midget character is the most vicious character, laughing at the memory of a pitiful victim pleading for his life, and mocking Rosie's grief, and even loosing the gorilla. Many have pointed out that Chaney's voice in this film is as supple as his make ups were, but the real revelation is how seamlessly he abandons the overplaying of silent cinema for the more realistic and restrained acting of sound film.
I distinctly remember watching this broadcast live on July 17, 1955, when I was five years old, and the opening of Disneyland was, to me, the most important event in the world. Seeing it again brings back that long ago day of my childhood so vividly. The flubs and technical mishaps help bring the immediacy of this live telecast back, and seeing the nearly barren Disney park before the trees and bushes had grown or most of the rides installed is great fun. Particularly seeing empty Anaheim in the background where it is now so overdeveloped is amazing. Art Linkletter was hosting this show on his own birthday, but never mentions it. Walt turns out a parade of his Hollywood Republican pals for co-hosting bits, including Bob Cummings and Ronald Reagan. In opening Tomorrowland, Cummings says it represents the future world of 1984! If only co-host Reagan had looked at Tomorrowland and said, "Oh look, I'm the President." But no one would have believed it then. Linkletter took the camera and film concessions at the park for 10 years in lieu of payment for hosting, and made many thousands of times as much money as his hosting fee would have. Sadly, the performance by the Mousekateers on this show has been edited out of the DVD release, I assume to avoid having to pay them their royalties, which is a shame as this show was the TV debuts of Annette Funicello and Bobby Burgess, both of whom had long careers ahead of them. An amazing time capsule.
This horrible "Remake" of the James Whale masterpiece bears no resemblance to the earlier film, and has a terrible contrived plot. It can be endured only for the performances of some excellent comedy players, Tom Poston (An underrated comedy genius - not that you could tell that from this mess), Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Joyce Grenfell and Finnella Fielding. Whereas the humor in the Whale version was understated and subtle, here it is hammered into you with a sledge hammer, and emphasized with a ham-fisted musical score that hollers at you that something is funny, which is actually a help, as it's the only way to tell when it's supposed to be funny, since it never actually is. Nor is it scary. William Castle, the Hitchcock of hacks, has made MUCH better movies, such as "Rosemary's Baby". Rocky Horror fans will recognize Janette Scott from "Day of the Triffids" (As well as Mervyn John from that same movie) and that the exterior of the house is the same house as used in Rocky Horror. When it was released, this film was thought so little of by it's makers that it was released in black and white. Only now can you see it in color. But why would you want to?
Dame Edna Everage, Housewife/Megastar, in reality Australian comedian Barry Humphries, may well be the funniest man in the world! These shows are hilarious, and habit forming. When you've seen them all, you'll want more. Unfortunately, the format was such that they had to all be shot before the first one aired and tipped the gag, so there are only 12 episodes, in 6 volumes. No secret piece of smut is so well hidden that Edna won't ferret it out. No bedroom wall scratches where the headboard has hammered the wall will pass un-noticed. No tacky decorating choice will go uncriticized. Madge wanders through the victim's - I mean contestant's homes, helping herself to their clothes, their beds and their stuff, or making out with her boyfriend on their sofa. Anything with Dame Edna is wonderful. These are great! DAME EDNA RULES!
The brilliant Australian comic genius Barry Humphries had a rare failure with this uneven, and occasionally distasteful comedy, which was snatched back from release after only a few days. Drunken, lecherous Australian diplomat Sir Les Patterson accidentally sets an Arab potentate on fire at the UN and is posted to his tiny country as punishment, arriving just as a palace coup puts a new leader (American soap star Thaao Penghlis) on the throne. Sir Les, with the reluctant help of Dame Edna Everage (Both played by Humphries) almost accidentally foils a scheme by the new leader to release a deadly, disgusting, AIDS-like virus on the Western World. Joan Rivers has a cameo as the female President of the United States, her desk plate reading "President Rivers"! Extreme bad taste mingles with slapstick and Humphries' usual scathing satire in a film which is more enjoyable in it's many funny parts, than taken together as a whole. Dame Edna's TV fans may be puzzled by the presence of a different Madge Allsop, sadly, one who lacks Emily Perry's wonderful drab comedy magic in the role. The film was written By Humphries & his third wife, Diane Millstead, and directed by the Mad Max man himself, George Miller. For die-hard Humphries fans like myself, essential. All others, beware.
Episode one, the pilot of Dame Edna Everage's first American talk show from her Bel Air Mansion, with Cher, Bea Arthur, Jack Palance, Mel Gibson, Larry Hagman, Doc Severison & of course Madge Allsop, was a good, strong funny show, and an excellent inroduction of the brilliant Dame Edna to American viewers. Edna & Cher sing "I've Got You Babe" together in the show's highlight. Larry Hagman is dropped through a trapdoor into the swimming pool, Mel Gibson is left outside, begging for admittance, and Bea Arthur is relegated to dog grooming duties. The second episode, with Kim Basinger, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Chevy Chase, Burgess Merideth, Rue McClanahan, Robin Williams, Ringo Starr, George Hamilton & of course Madge Allsop, was even better. I was present at the taping and the comic interplay between Edna and all her guests, though especially with Williams, was top-notch. Edna flirts with Basinger, has a trick sofa fling Chase out the window, fails to rescue George Hamilton who is trapped in his sunbed and says that bandleader Starr is "Twirling his baton in my vestibule". Episode 3, with Sean Young, Barry Manilow, Robin Leach, Burt Reynolds and the ever present Madge Allsop is the least of the series, though still funnier than anything anyone else is doing on American TV. Lackluster guests Young, Manilow & Reynolds bring the fun quotient down, especially the smarmy Reynolds whose charms have hardened into boorishness, so the flirting from Edna is slightly creepy, rather than funny. Manilow sings "I'll Be Seeing You" and Edna sings Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You". Actually the second show shot, it was held back as the later shot episode with Robin Williams run first, as the Williams show was so clearly better than the one with Reynolds. Edna has Robin Leach tossed off a balcony though, so you've got to love her. All told, a great, far too short-lived comedy/variety series. Edna, come back! American TV NEEDS you!
I was present at the taping of this show, which was butchered by the Fox network, slashed to half it's running time the day of broadcast. The original hour-long show was hilarious, featuring, in addition to the televised appearances by Roseanne & Tom Arnold, Luke Perry & Cesar Romero, surprise appearances by Cathy Ireland, Teri Garr & Patrick Stewart. Dame Edna, as usual, was too funny for America! This pilot never sold, which was a shame as it was an extremely funny show. Even the poor mutilated version that was broadcast was very funny. The studio audience contained such luminaries as Julian Sands, Cliff De Young & Miriam Margoyles. De Young also made an unbilled appearance in the broadcast show as a dermatologist, speaking only 3 words, in an infomercial parody for "EdnaDerm". Incidentally, this program was the final performance ever in the long and distinguished career of Cesar Romero.