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This is kind of awful and even Vincent Price can't save it
Usually, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas are supposed to be light, funny, witty, ironic, and entertaining. But this production is none of those things. Even Vincent Price can't save it. There's a lot of bad singing, heavy-footed dancing, and people sort of standing around doing nothing. The costumes are uninteresting. The sets are dull. Characters that should be fun and silly and memorable are flat and tired.
There's a lack of joy and fun. Plodding, that's the word. Plodding. I couldn't wait for it to be over. If you showed this DVD to someone unfamiliar with Gilbert & Sullivan, they would never go see another operetta during the whole rest of their lives.
Summer Theatre: Dream Job (1953)
Enjoyable performance by Vincent Price
Dream Job is a pleasant little show. Vincent Price is charming and does a slight southern accent that makes you just sort of want to curl up with him. He's so charming that he makes the rather unbelievable plot believable. I loved the premise that Joan Leslie is an annoyance to her temp agency for giving up jobs because she's got the notion that there's a perfect job out there with easy hours, perks, and a charming boss (wedding bells someday?). And then he shows up. I enjoyed Dream Job. It's a fluff, but Vincent Price always is so good you don't notice the plot holes until later, and then you don't care. I saw it on youtube.com.
Service de Luxe (1938)
Fun to see Vincent Price before he was Vincent Price; Mischa Auer a hoot
Fun comedy. A bit labored in parts, but enjoyable. Mischa Auer as a Russian chef who talks to his spirit guide and threatens at a crisis moment to return to his job at the Sara Goode Waffle Shop is a hoot. Constance Bennett is rather bland and forgettable, but it's fun to see Vincent Price six years before the classic "Laura". He looks much you would expect a young Vincent Price to look, but he sounds quite different. It's before he started doing the "Mid-Atlantic" accent that many actors affected in the 1930s and 1940s. Unfortunately, the great Helen Broderick isn't given enough to do in this film and the bland Constance Bennett is given too much.
Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)
Oh, what a lame film
Bad acting, bad writing, bad lighting, bad camera work, and lots of fake humping moments. Ugh! I think this is, perhaps, the worst film I've ever seen and that's saying a lot considering that I am a big Roddy McDowall fan which means that I have sat through a lot of schlock in my time waiting him to show up in the many, many bad movies he made during his later career. I wish McDowall had been in this film, at least I would have some excuse for having sat through it besides the fact that the dog was snoozing on my arm so I didn't like to disturb him by searching in the cushions of the couch for the remote control. Can you tell that I'm just typing away trying to get to the 10, (wait, spell it out, that's more characters) ten required lines for an IMDb review when I really said all I had to say about this film in the first two sentences of this review?
The Road to Hong Kong (1962)
Road to Hong Kong is my favorite of the Crosby/Hope Road films.
I love The Road to Hong Kong. It's my favorite Road picture. I don't know why so many people dislike it. So Bing and Bob are older than they used to be. Who isn't?
My favorite scene is the boys' Fly-It-Yourself scam. The "native pilot" is a no-show (can't blame him) so, of course, Bing bamboozles Bob into taking over and nearly getting himself killed. I love the bit of dialogue when Bing is helping Bob into his ridiculous flying gear. It goes something like:
Bob: Why do I always have to do the dangerous stuff?
Bing: It's the nature of the relationship. Just like one of us is brawn and the other is flab.
Bob: Have you got a program? So far I don't recognize anyone.
Bing: Well, don't get sore at me. It's just a plot point.
I've always been a Bing Crosby fan, but I've never thought he was particularly attractive. However, I think he's really quite cute in his silly love scene with Joan Collins. He could warble a love song at me, anytime.
Although I enjoyed the earlier Road films, The Road to Hong Kong is the only one I've bought on DVD. It was that good. I've watched it umpteen times and it always makes me laugh.
Oh, and yeah, and then there's Bob Hope's perfectly timed line after Robert Morley delivers an impassioned I'll-take-over-the-world-speech: "I think he rolls his own."
Mister Roberts (1955)
William Powell is great; otherwise, this is a very flawed movie
William Powell is, as always, wonderful. His acting is beautifully understated. I wish you could say the same for Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon. Such overacting and theatrics. And they don't seem to know how to talk in a normal tone of voice. Perhaps they could have shut up for a few moments and listened to how William Powell does it. There are so many boo-boos and ridiculous set-ups in this film. For example, everyone gathers around to hear Mr. Roberts' letter to Pulver. But they continue to crouch around when he moves on to read a letter from his friend. Why would they care? Well, because the letter from the friend contains big dramatic news, so they have to be all clustered around so we can see them look shocked and grieved. So phony.
And Navy enlisted personnel who break into the colonial governor's mansion and damage property would not just be escorted back to their ship. That's just silly.
On Golden Pond (2001)
Okay, but not great. Somehow the weaknesses of the story show in this version.
Christopher Plummer is always worth watching, so I sat through this whole production Not for the first time, I kept wishing that "On Golden Pond" was less of a glossed over, wishy-washy, happy-ending sort of show. Both the play and the film, and this version, too, gloss over the fact that Norman Thayer is truly a cruel person who was deliberately unkind to his daughter all her life. He seems to have been unkind, sarcastic, and verbally abusive to a great many people. I wouldn't want to be his daughter and I wouldn't want to be his wife. He's embittered and negative, and there seems to be no reason for his embitteredness as his life, as we are shown it, seems to have been a fortunate one. He and his wife appear to have no money troubles, he was successful in his career, his wife sticks by him and loves him -- what the he** is his problem? Every version of On Golden Pond presents Norman as a sort of curmudgeon, an old "poop." But he's not just an old curmudgeon. He's nasty. He hurt Chelsea. There's no reason to believe he won't continue to hurt Chelsea, even after their little confrontation/reconciliation. Consider how he refuses to tell her on the phone that he and Ethel will visit Chelsea and Bill in January? He later says it to the boy. But not to Chelsea. No, he's got to leave her hanging. He can't say they'll come. He can't give her that satisfaction or even allow her to plan. It's creepy.
I've never understood why On Golden Pond is considered a sweet, love story. I just don't get it.
This TV version is okay. Just okay. Plummer and Andrews turn in professional performances. They have chemistry together, that's obvious. Headly, playing the daughter, is less believable and seems nervous even when Norman isn't in the room. Sam Robards as Bill seems twitchy, too. The boy's role is downplayed in this version and he doesn't really get a chance to register. The set is excellent. There's some strikingly bad camera work here and there, more than I think is acceptable, even in a live production.
The best part of the whole production is the promo at the beginning when the camera zooms in on Plummer and Andrews in a private room. They're supposedly rehearsing, but are actually playing Go Fish. It was cute. If you listen, you can hear the difference between Plummer's actual, strong voice in that promo, and his strained, weaker voice as Norman.
I also love the bit when Plummer is on the phone with the boy, and says that Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, is not pronounced Dumb-A**. Whenever I see Alexandre Dumas' name from now on, I'm going to think of that :-).
Triple Cross (1966)
Christopher Plummer is sooooo attractive in Triple Cross
I enjoyed this movie. It's got all the right moves. Humor, drama, action scenes, unexpected twists, charming actors. There probably are holes in the story, but it's such a fun, fast-acting movie that I was too busy enjoying it to care. Christopher Plummer is the lead in this film, and he gets a chance to be more than charming. He's downright sexy. And then there's Yul Brynner in breeches and jack boots. Yowwwww! I had a good time watching this film. I have no idea if the uniforms, the planes, the story, or any of it, is accurate to the period. And I don't care. Christopher Plummer with his shirt undone. Demolition experts demonstrating how to detonate things with a mixture of sugar and saltpeter. The great Trevor Howard wearing the world's worst beard. Yul Brynner in jackboots. Just what a war movie ought to be. Triple Cross is available in a Region 2 DVD, but not, as of 1/21/12, in a Region 1. If it were available in Region 1 format, I would snap up a copy so I could watch it often. I hope Christopher Plummer's recent Golden Globe and possible Oscar nomination for "Beginners" might stimulate folks to put out more of his films on DVDs, especially on Region 1 DVDs.
A Bill of Divorcement (1940)
Not one of Adolphe Menjou's best
I'm a big Adolphe Menjou family, but I didn't find this Never to Love/A Bill of Divorcement an interesting film. Everyone is so terribly overwrought and exaggerated. I lose interest in them. They don't seem like real people. I don't care anything about them. When blank-faced, monotone Herbert Marshall shows up as the lover and he seems to practically vibrate with suppressed emotion...well, I could barely watch the rest. I feel the same about the 1932 Katharine Hepburn/John Barrymore version, although, thankfully, Maureen O'Hara as the daughter does not have the awful, strident, harsh voice in this version that makes listening to the 1932 film so painful.
Christopher Plummer is very attractive in this TV movie
Okay, it's not the best show you'll ever see. The lead actress is mannered and phony. The supporting cast is pretty bad, especially the actress and the blue jean ad guy. The script is bland. However, I suggest you fast forward past all that to get to the Christopher Plummer scenes. As always, he turns in a solid performance. And he's very attractive in this film. Very. I mean very. Yum. Who cares about the supporting actor who is said to be so attractive in his blue jean ad. I didn't even notice him, except how bad his acting was. It was Christopher Plummer I noticed. I did a screen capture of him from the DVD and I have it as my desktop wallpaper. Yum.