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Horse waste could make him a fortune.
For a man who whistles while he collects the piles of horse manure then sells it for fertilizer, Gene wilder enjoys a job that others would turn their noses away from. He is stopped by Irish matrons tending their garden, grabs a slab, sprinkles it generously around, and collects a coin. On occasion, he even gets lucky with the lonely and over heated customers he "serves". On one of these excursions, he encounters young American Margot Kidder who wants to make amends for accidentally causing him to tip over his cart and admits her fascination with his position. A unique friendship is formed, and the viewer gets an insight in on a man who is simply happy living simply. But when he finds that the horse drawn delivery horses have been replaced by trucks, he fears his livelihood that he loves will disappear with them.
This sleeper of a light comedy/drama might be a tough decision to give a chance, but films like this end up with cult followings and subjects for film students. Don't expect Quackster to be an earlier version of Forrest Gump or "Rain Man"; he's just unspoiled and free of soul stealing ambitions, and unaffected by the judgmental world around him which is probably why he is so well liked.
Sporting just a hint of an Irish accent, Wilder shows why he was one of those unique finds as cinema began to change in a changing world. Filmed on location in Dublin, this was set apart from the truly filthy films of the time that seemed straight out of some writer's drug overdose. The only other adult story I can think of to put in the same category with is "The Sterile Cuckoo" where Liza Minnelli was singularly as innocent and free of the trappings that tear people from who they really are underneath.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Jim Carrey proves, "You are what you imitate."
...and that being fake talking buttocks. Yes, that's the humor mentality that drives this trashy comedy that took another sketch comic from TV and moved them into the big screen. Carrey's schtick can get pretty tired really fast, and while he tried to tone it down in later films, did not have a memorable start in spite of box office success. The fact that his idiocy doesn't get him punched out (or worse) is head shaking. So once teenage boys and post teenage boys who never matured got him onto the list of top box office draws. For the rest of us, we stuck with our Hope and Crosby "Road" collection.
I did laugh a few times (especially at the mincing muscle man whom Carrey for some reason checks out while using the urinal, followed by the eye roll), but I have to say, these films do not hold up with the exception of a few sequences taken out of context. I can't say if I would have laughed more when I was younger, but I really doubt it would have been much more. Ace Ventura is simply crude, idiotic and beyond annoying in every single aspect.
So for the plot...it surrounds the escapades of the moronic pet detective hired to find the Miami dolphin's mascot, kidnapped right before the super bowl. Ventura, who has a collection of some cute (and not so cute) wild creatures, and perhaps they understand him, because he's definitely not human. What moments I did laugh at were almost embarrassing to me, and as a result, I could barely make it through.
Another Fine Mess (1930)
Don't ever rent your house to these men!
Hiding from the law (whom Stanley called ma'am), Laurel and Hardy hide out in the mansion owned by the pompous James Finlayson who is going away for six months. Posing as the colonel and his servants, they attempt to rent the house to an eccentric English nobleman and his sexy wife (Thelma Todd). Laurel goes between being the twin butler and maid (born in different cities) and seemingly getting away with it until Finlayson makes a surprise return. Laurel in his wig without the maid's outfit looks like Harpo Marxx, while Hardy is as far from a Southern colonel as he can be. Another three reeler, this has a great finale where the boys end up riding a bicycle while sharing a bull costume.
The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930)
Did his mother's side lead to homicide?
A rare example of a three reel short that with less than a reel more could have been considered a "streamlined" feature. "Ollie, I'm scared" is a phrase I'm most familiar with, having remembered it from the Scooby Doo mysteries where actors pretending to be them kept the legend going when youngsters like me discovered them on T.V., an hour each day devoted to these family friendly comedies, followed by an hour of the Little Rascals, aka "Our Gang". I owe part of my love for classic cinema to these shorts, later rediscovered when AMC broadcasted a 24 hour marathon of these films.
This one manages to be both chilling and funny, with down on his luck Laurel claiming to be an heir to a murdered miser's fortune, and forced to sleep in a creaky old house that appears to be haunted. Flying sheets flying around appear to be ghosts, scaring everybody including dumb detective Fred Kelsey. The supporting cast is presented to be quite creepy, adding more eerie fun into the mix. Stan and Ollie are the two least likely solvers of murder, but oh how they make it fun!
Hog Wild (1930)
How not to try home improvement.
One of the team of Laurel and Hardy's most famous shorts hasn't lost its impact. It's 14 going on 90, funny to the kids who saw it in many of its incarnations (whether in the theater back in 1930, or in the 1970's when I saw it on TV), and as timely as ever. For those of us who can't understand modern technology, we can truly understand their obsession with trying to find a way to figure out these things on our own. In the case of L&H, it's about trying to hook up a radio antenna at Ollie's wife's demand. Even when she begins to realize that the destruction of her house is imminent, the wife wisely tells them not to bother. But, where there's a will, there's a way, and Oliver will get it up regardless of the bumps and bruises that he might get. This goes from bad to worse for them, ending up with laurel driving an out of control car with Oliver stuck on the back of the ladder. How they filmed these stunts remains a mystery, and its obvious to see why they have remained as potent in comedy as they are.
Below Zero (1930)
Not a good time to be singing summer songs.
You'd think that Laurel and Hardy would get the hint when somebody pays them to go away, obviously annoyed by their concertina. Others are just annoyed by repeat refrains of "In the Good Old Summertime" and sabotage them at every chance. Then, they offer to take a kindly police officer to dinner for "three nice juicy steaks smothered in onions" and can't pay the check. It's out in the cold for them, head first, one of them ending up in truly cold water in a really zany finale. This isn't at all sensible (especially the second half) or even a story, but it's difficult not to laugh. The final shot us truly one of their most oddball.
Thirteen Hours by Air (1936)
13 Hours! I could get to and back to New York from San Francisco, and be in uptown Manhattan in 12!
O.K., so that is 2016 flying time, but it's neat to see how they used to do it. A kid with a jack knife, a mobster with a gun. No TSA in sight. Snowstorms, frantic nannies and wisecracking stewardesses. "Mayday! Mayday!", pilot Fred McMurray declares, and of course, I interject, "Why, that's the Russian new year!" A series of serious airplane disaster films and a hysterical spoof that is now a classic have added parody to the serious scripts of any film set on an airplane, and this is one of the earliest.
Seeing beautiful blonde Joan Bennett getting ready to boars a plane he'll be flying later on, MacMurray vets stewardess Ruth Donnelly he'll get Bennett to accept a date with, but it won't be easy. Also in board is bratty Benny Bartlett who causes havoc with his mischievous ways, his worried nanny Zasu Pitts, and gangster Fred Keating whom Bennett is desperately trying to prevent his having a meeting with her sister. The mixture of comedy and melodrama keeps this moving at the most furious of paces, an early example of why disaster films continued to be so popular for decades afterwards.
With air travel so completely different 80 years later, this classic (directed by rising director Mitchell Leissen) shows a simpler but rougher time. The mixture of different types if characters and a wonderfully witty script is like a perfect blend of peanut butter and jelly. At one point, Pitts claims to be scared out of her skin, and pilot MacMurray promises to make her a rug if she does. Veteran "it" girl wanna-be Marie Prevost had one of her last film roles in a rather large bit as an airport waitress. The conclusion was most likely nail biting in 1936, and remains gripping today as well.
Blonde from Brooklyn (1945)
It's an southern custom.....
This delightfully silly musical comedy is a breezy hour of good humored humbug and hogwash, filled with fiddle dee dee, memories of sprawling magnolia trees, mint julips and porch swings. All set in the music world of Manhattan, which is actually south of... Albany. Record store phone girl Lynn Merrick is fired from her job for flirting too much over the wires, and meets up with the charming Robert Stanton for an impromptu date. Their joking around about old southern customs is overheard by fake southern colonel Thurstan Hall who decides to utilize their singing talents by changing her blonde from Brooklyn background to turn her into a singing southern belle, and after achieving success, she discovers that her made up heiress is actually the beneficiary to a huge estate. What's a phony belle from across the east river to do?
This outlandish plot is ridiculous, absurd and delightful. When Stanton and Merrick get together to sing the rousing "Alabamy Bound", magic is made There's the Mary Wickes/Eve Arden like Mary Treen dropping cracks, a few songs and a silly plot that just gets more complicated, yet fun to watch unravel. Hall takes over the type of lovable old codgers that Charles Coburn usually played, and while he didn't get an Oscar, he did manage to steal every scene he's in. I just love the name they give Merrick's micro managing boss, a puckered old maid named Miss Quackenfish. I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when Hall referred to her as "Miss Silverfish". My TV would have been soaked!
Two weeks to learn everything about the largest country in the Americas.
Republic studio's attempt to produce an A musical at the height of world war 2 when MGM's reign dominated the genre, while 20th Century Fox was cherishing their domination over the Latin world in producing colorful spectacles with song. It's the story that hurts this one, not to mention the eternal stereotype of the happy Hispanic, the non- stop fiesta world and abundance of colorful characters in all age groups. It might have been a good will gesture, but it did a disservice in not taking them seriously, especially in a time that the world was turning miserably upside down.
Veteran actress Virginia Bruce plays an American author visiting Rio who expects to learn all she can about thus huge paradise as she believes in a very short span of time. She hires Tito Guizar as her guide, thinking he's just a struggling street singer, unaware that he's a popular night club performer. Guuzar further complicates things by pretending to be two people, performing for her as his real identity, all the while romancing her under the guise of the struggling guide and street singer. One of the highlights is a tram ride past the statue of Christ the Redeemer, built more than a decade before, and equally profound in black and white as it is in color.
Mixing in specialty numbers along with the Mexican born Guizar's songs, this includes the Oscar nominated "Rio De Ginaro". Edward Everett Horton provides amusing comic relief as the teller of tall tales while trying to break up Bruce and Guizar, even going as far as telling her a vicious lie about him. Robert Livingston, Republic picture's forgotten leading man, plays an American suitor of Bruce's obviously jealous of Guizar and Bruce's relationship. A cameo from Roy Rogers is really nothing but a waste of credit space, even though he does sing one song. However, a lavish carnival sequence makes up for flaws, even though it screams for color.
Four Fast Guns (1960)
With a name like Purgatory, this town obviously needs taming!
The genre of western has its share of loyal fans who couldn't get enough of the great outdoors and often bigger than life story lines that went beyond bandits, land grabbers and fights with the natives. A sub genre of the standard western brought film noir into the mix, and this late B western goes down that path semi-successfully. James Craig is a mystery man who is determined to stay one step ahead of the bounty hunters searching for him, and gets himself hired as "town tamer", that is, given the responsibility to locate the corrupt elements in a town and get rid of them. Often, town tamers were opposed by the town sheriff, but in this case, he is up against a crippled bully (Paul Richards) who simply sends for three hit men to take care of him, even being smug enough to ask Craig to mail the letters on his way out.
Similarities to "High Noon" are obvious, with Craig aware of the problems that face him. But with the people who hired him not willing to help him, he's on his own, even though Richard's beautiful wife (Martha Vickers) is obviously attracted to him. When one of the hit men (Brett Halaey) turns out to be his own brother, Craig will have some quick thinking to do.
Tossing western veteran Edgar Buchanan as as the sheriff, thus has vintage western heritage. Some unique ideas rank this far above the *1/2 stars that Leonard Maltin ranked this at, although I do agree with observations that with TV westerns already dominating the airwaves, this had little chance of being anything than just barely successful. You have to look at this deeply for its film noir aspects which are subtle yet obvious.