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Everything's Rosie (1931)
Robert Woolsey's Lone Solo Feature
"Everything's Rosie" is Robert Woolsey's only (surviving) film without the presence of his comedy partner, Bert Wheeler. It is a respectable effort with Woolsey playing a carnival con-man and his adopted daughter trying to fit in with the high society of a small town. This film has many laughs, but the primary difference between this and the other Wheeler/Woolsey films is that it is not afraid to stick dramatic moments into the comedy as well as treating the characters played by Woolsey and Anita Louise as real people instead of slapstick/cartoon characters. I generally liked this movie (being a fan of Wheeler & Woolsey, I usually like all their movies). However, Woolsey's abrasive comic personality is sometimes hard to take for a long period of time, even in this 67 minute film. This film would have worked a lot better had he been able to vent his jokes onto a comic foil, a role which Wheeler usually would have played. The video I have this movie on was taped off of Turner Classic Movies several years ago and features clear sound and very clear picture quality.
So This Is Africa (1933)
Wheeler and Woolsey's most notorious film
This is another classic in Wheeler and Woolsey's long line of slapstick films. However, it is one of the more difficult ones to obtain a copy of. I managed to get the non-TV print (which is 54 minutes) and mine runs 65 minutes. The story, or better, the excuse for their burlesque humor is pretty weak this time. Wheeler and Woolsey play out of work vaudeville performers who are at the end of the line. Their only income stems from their exploitation of several large lions (don't ask). For some reason, they are invited to film an epic African movie on location, and this is officially where the story ends and the sexual double entendres enter. Dorothy Lee is missed, but Raquel Torres (from DUCK SOUP) is pretty good playing a female type of Tarzan. My favorite scenes are where Wheeler and Woolsey encounter a bear in Africa, and the very strange all-female tribe of "Africans." For Wheeler and Woolsey fans, this ranks very high on the must-see list. Also, I think this is their only film not produced by RKO, instead being done at Columbia Pictures.
The Big Noise (1944)
Good for a few laughs
This is one of Laurel & Hardy's later Twentieth Century-Fox films and it is not one of their best. However, it is an upbeat and fast-paced effort that shows signs that they put some effort into it. THE BIG NOISE has some good bits: the dinner with the inventor, the bunk bed scene in the train, and the constant threat of the bomb going off with Stan transporting it carelessly. The only part of this movie that seems weak is the Nazi segment and the scenes with a very annoying little kid. Other than that, this is recommended for all L&H fans, especially younger fans. 7 out of 10.
Great Guns (1941)
Good later Laurel and Hardy!
This wartime comedy is one of Laurel and Hardy's first movies for Twentieth Century-Fox, so it isn't nearly as consistently funny as the ones they made at MGM. However, I found this to be very amusing and enjoyable, with many good laughs. The first half is very slow, but once they get involved with their Sergeant Hippo, it picks up a lot. Try not to laugh when Stan shoves a crow down Ollie's pants during an inspection, or when Stan and Ollie are forced to build a pontoon bridge (I liked Stan's choice of wood). All in all, this movie is ten times better than any of the comedies they come out with today and is definitely worth any L&H fans time. 8 out of 10.
Every Home Should Have One (1970)
One of the best Feldman movies
Marty Feldman was an extremely funny and under appreciated comedian and this film is one of his funniest. You probably will remember Feldman from his Mel Brooks days in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and SILENT MOVIE. However, he also had two other worthwhile films to check out: THE LAST REMAKE OF BEAU GESTE (1977) and IN GOD WE TRU$T (1980). In Think Dirty, Feldman wrote the screenplay and stars to wonderful comic effect. Most of the funniest moments are sex-related and there is a brief nude scene with Julie Ege, but overall the film portrayed in a seemingly innocent tone. The basic idea of using a controversial topic (in this case sex) to sell a product is not an advertising novelty, but Feldman pulls it off with a good deal of funny moments, especially the day-dreaming sequences and the animated bits (by Richard Williams Studios of PINK PANTHER fame). I happen to disagree with Leonard Maltin's review of this film (and this is not uncommon). I would recommend this to any Monty Python fan or anyone who enjoys the Farrelly Brothers and Mel Brooks comedies today.
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
"Let me get your complimentary crazy bread..."
I've seen Hobgoblins, Time of the Apes, The Pod People, The Beast of Yucca Flats, Red Zone Cuba, Skydivers, Eegah, Mitchell, The Creeping Terror, Parts: The Clonus Horror, The Girl in Gold Boots, The Wild Wild World of Batwoman, The Amazing Colossal Man, Cave Dwellers, The Sidehackers, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Phase IV, The Crawling Eye, The Crawling Hand, Bloodlust, etc. Never before have I witnessed such inept "filmmaking" in my entire bad-film watching career. Despite Joel and the 'bots frequently hilarious banter, Manos somehow manages to pull ahead and, by the end laps the Satellite of Love by producing more pain than laughs. Now, to describe the plot......... um, well, there's this guy driving forever and he's supposed to be doing something. Then, there's this LSD-driven "guy" who has big knees, and he kind of interacts with this black robed Frank Zappa, who happens to have a dozen or so "wives" who wear next to nothing and tend to get into big mud-wrestling brawls. Then, these people drive and act stupidly and then other people drive to exactly the same place. It took months of therapy and multiple viewings to gather that synopsis for your reading pleasure. If you do view this on MST3K, then stay tuned through the very end for a hilarious encounter with Torgo, who now works at TORGO'S PIZZA (with free crazy bread!).
Phase IV (1974)
BOOOOOORRRIIING!!! (Even with MST3K)
I saw this Mystery Science Theater episode recently and was bored beyond human capability due to this incredibly "complex" and scientific film called PHASE IV. Actually this is one of the funnier KTMA episodes with hilarious moments coming when the British scientist slowly strolls up to a dead lamb and appears to put his cigarette out on it. The narrator drones on about nothing at the beginning and states that "mystics predicted earthquakes and the end of life as we know it" to which Joel quips "... as they often do." The only thing this movie has going for it is the fact that, unlike the sci-fi movies from the '50s, the killer ants are normal sized. If you can find a copy of this early episode from Mystery Science Theater, I definitely recommend it; if you happen across PHASE IV in a video rental store, report it to the authorities for proper disposal. 1 out of 10 for PHASE IV, 9 out of 10 for MST3K.
Amusing, if not overly consistent, parody of the Holmes canon
I viewed this film recently after a long battle trying to obtain a copy on video. All in all, it was worth the effort. Peter Cook is hilarious as Sherlock Holmes, not the typical portrayal of the super sleuth that we know and love. At the onset, Cook is wearing women's clothes while conversing with a potential client (but only because Watson wasn't supposed to admit any clients)! Dudley Moore plays two roles, one as a confused Watson, and also Sherlock Holmes' irascible mother. Highlights include Holmes putting out a help wanted ad for a "runner of errands" and getting only a one-legged man to apply; Denholm Elliott's pet chihuahua who happens to be quite incontinent, especially around poor Watson; and finally, a scene that appears to be inspired by the Exorcist and presumably penned by Andy Warhol's director Paul Morrissey. For fans of gross-out British humor and Monty Python fans, this film provides many laughs; others steer clear. My edict: 7 out of 10.
The Skydivers (1963)
The worst of the Coleman Francis troika, and that's saying something!
My personal favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, but man is this movie terrible. Crow summed it up best when he quipped "Someone with attention-deficit disorder edited this film." None of the scenes really contain any sense of continuity and the characters are extremely shallow. As Tom said when viewing the over-exaggerated credits: "Oh, and this is the 'I can't pay you, but I'll put your name in the credits' cast list." Also, all three Coleman Francis movies tend to have the same major plot points: coffee and cigarettes. The characters keep talking to each other about getting coffee (which really has nothing to do with the "story"), yet never get the coffee until the very end, when Crow comments: "Finally, coffee!" I'm not sure why Francis was allowed to make another film after this catastrophe (RED ZONE CUBA), but SKYDIVERS is the funniest of all the MST3K episodes I have seen. Also included is a short: WHY STUDY THE INDUSTRIAL ARTS? The funniest parts are the skydiving scenes themselves. This is a great episode for newcomers to MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000.
Erik the Viking (1989)
Funny, more elaborate Monty Python film.
I have a hard time figuring out why Leonard Maltin qualified this movie as an "unwatchable satire." I've watched it about 3 or 4 times, so obviously it is watchable. Not only that, it is quite funny, with Terry Jones hilarious as King Arnulf of Hy-Brazil. I also thought Tim Robbins was quite good as the outcast Erik. The story, on the other hand, was pedestrian and not very engrossing, but I was laughing pretty hard most of the time so the story became just a background aspect of this very funny film anyways. John Cleese has a hilarious cameo as Halfdan the Black who runs a torture chamber in his spare time. Also, the Japanese slave driver is one of the highlights. Good entertainment. 8 out of 10 stars.