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Just watched this Robert Benchley short as an extra on the My Favorite Wife DVD. He's at a desk surrounded by discarded film discussing the way to make and show home movies. Then we segue to his house where he's showing guests what he and his wife and child did on vacation. The shown film has some scenes running backwards, the child always blocked by either adults, some undercranking, and a shadow of an audience member walking out! All this I found hilarious and when Benchley is back in present with all those discarded film and he's smoking...well, watch this if you want to find out what happens. So on that note, I recommend Home Movies.
1940 marked a last for some Our Gang members. Besides Tommy "Butch" Bond, Darwood "Waldo" Kaye, and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer leaving the series that year, early silent OG member Mary Kornman made her last movie as well, this one. She plays the girlfriend of Frankie Darro who works at her father's drug store as a soda jerk though he has ambitions of being a scientist so he also experiments occasionally there. Mantan Moreland plays his buddy who reluctantly is roped into some of his plans when a couple of gangsters get shot in the store...Okay, Ms. Kornman plays the kind of leading lady role that has her either getting upset when Frankie doesn't pay enough attention to her or showing concern for him when he's down or in a little danger. Still, it was nice seeing her in her last role here. Mantan plays the stereotypical role of the scared black man though he only mentions being scared since there isn't any scene that calls for him to scream or act really petrified. I did like his wisecrack about a skeleton's teeth and similar comments and when he's called to do something he goes through with it despite his reluctance, so there's that. All in all, On the Spot was a nice time-filler and is worth a look for any Our Gang fans wanting to see some of their members outside of the series.
Last year, after James Garner died, I watched quite of few of his movies like Move Over, Darling which he did with Doris Day. I enjoyed that one. Now I just watched the movie that one was based on, this one starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Much of the same plot but this one was much funnier especially when Ms. Dunne did a Southern accent! Grant was also funny with his reactions and his lying to try to not make anyone mad at him. Gail Patrick wasn't so funny as the new wife but I guess she wasn't supposed to be but Randolph Scott was quite enjoyably hilarious as the "Adam" to Irene's "Eve"! So on that note, My Favorite Wife is highly recommended. P.S. The main reason I watched this just now was because since I've been reviewing the Our Gang comedies-and individual members doing films outside the series-in chronological order, this was next on the list since one of the players was former member Scotty Beckett who's one of two children of Grant and Dunne.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Saw this on the DVD of Best Foot Forward of which one of that movie's players, June Allyson, is also in this musical short starring Hal Le Roy-a now forgotten tap dancer. June talks to the billboards that Hal paints. He has to paint over the one she really liked-of a knight with his face covered. I might as well tell you that before the short began, there was a disclaimer warning of something racist happening and sure enough, the knight was revealed to have been modeled by a black person which startled June to the point of her not enamored of him anymore! Otherwise, this was a trifle with some nice singing by Ms. Allyson and another female singer who was never put on film again. And, oh yes, Mr. Le Roy does some nice steps as well. So on that note, The Knight Is Young is worth a look.
Even though I was born in the late '60s, I recognized the Jr. pig as the Mean Widdle Kid character of Red Skelton based on what I remember hearing of him on the radio as depicted in a late Our Gang short. This Jr. is the son of the Third Little Pig-the one who made a house of bricks-and his wife. Yes, the Wolf is here, too, in once again trying to terrorize them during the Christmas season. With the parents asleep, the kid is waiting for Santa but guess who arrives. This being a Tex Avery cartoon, I'm sure you won't be surprised to see the mayhem that ensues during most of the short. So on that note, One Ham's Family is highly recommended.
This M-G-M comedy short, Kiddie Kure, is the one hundred ninety-fifth entry in the "Our Gang" series and the one hundred seventh talkie. The gang inadvertently break the window of rich hypochondriac Mr. Morton (Thurston Hall) while playing baseball. After the doctor gives him his "prescription", Mr. Morton overhears the doc tell his wife about adoption children to cure him. So when the gang arrive to talk about compensation, Mr. Morton tells his butler about doing crazy things to discourage his wife after she comes back from shopping as well as scare the gang...This was perhaps the funniest of the M-G-M entries, so refreshing in not having any lessons to teach or any seriously dramatic moments! So on that note, Kiddie Kure is highly recommended. P.S. This was Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer's final appearance in the series. He'd continue to appear in both major-like my favorite one, It's a Wonderful Life-and minor movies throughout his life with his final one being The Defiant Ones. But, offscreen, he'd continue to have troubles culminating in that fateful night on January 21, 1959 when someone he once worked with shot him after he allegedly threatened him with a pocketknife. To best sum up Alf's appeal, here's the line he gave Spanky in Sprucin' Up when Spank asked how he managed to get in the same house they both were in in order to charm the girl that resided in it: "Personality, boy, personality."
This M-G-M comedy short, Waldo's Last Stand, is the one hundred ninety-fourth entry in the "Our Gang" series and the one hundred sixth talkie. Waldo has trouble selling his lemonade so Spanky decides to produce a floor show in the nearby barn. But only one customer arrives and he's not interested in buying...This marked Billy "Froggy" Laughlin's second appearance in the series but since he's silent most of the time here, the producers probably figured the audience either hadn't seen The New Pupil or had forgotten about his appearance in that one when he finally spoke at the end. That amusing gravel voice got a positive reaction so he'd become a real member by the next short. As for the rest, well, Darla was entertaining in her one number, Alfalfa sings again but with Spanky, Buckwheat, Mickey, and Leonard accompanying him this time with the same amusing off-key results and those professional dancers and singers were pretty entertaining of which one of the last of those appearing was Janet Burston, also in her second OG appearance. So on that note, Waldo's Last Stand is worth a look. P.S. This was Darwood Kaye's last OG appearance as Waldo. After appearing in a few more films, he'd join the Army, then become a minister in the Seventh Day Adventist faith. After getting married and having three sons, he'd take his family to Thailand where he settled for seventeen years with a fourth boy born in Bangkok. Eventually, he went back to Southern California where he became a pastor at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in La Crescenta. All his sons followed in his footsteps. He died in a hit-and-run accident on May 15, 2002.
This M-G-M comedy short, Good Bad Boys, is the one hundred ninety-third entry in the "Our Gang" series and the one hundred fifth talkie. Spanky accepts Mrs. Wilson's offer to take some junk from her house for 25 cents. When he arrives at the clubhouse, Alfalfa is thinking of a life of crime because his father punished him for stealing an apple from a store even though Slicker was the real culprit who palmed it on Alf before the proprietor caught him. Spanky decides to let the gang think they're stealing Mrs. Wilson's things instead of simply refusing to play along. Then a real crime involving some adults happens at the same time...Okay, yes, this was another of those teach-a-lesson entries in the series but I managed to get a few laughs out of some of the climatic chase scenes that were undercranked and the mistaken identity that resulted from the two events converging. So on that note, I say Good Bad Boys is worth a look. P.S. That's Hugh Beaumont-the future Ward Cleaver-as a judge's aide bringing in Spanky and Mrs. Wilson in the courtroom.
This M-G-M comedy short, Going' Fishin', is the one hundred ninety-second entry in the "Our Gang" series and the one hundred fourth talkie. The gang stay overnight at the window of a sporting goods store in order to catch the early bus to go fishing. The kind of bus they're going to ride is a double decker one where they can go to the top to see the view from above. But first they have to pay their fare and only Mickey has the money but he's confused which shoe it's in. I'll stop there and just say the frustration on the part of the conductor is believable but so are the kids' ignorance of how they're the cause of it which makes it all funny the way it's presented here. Paul Hurst-who's one of the few players receiving credit in these shorts-does quite well doing his slow-burn grimace throughout. In summary, Going' Fishin' is one of the better M-G-M Our Gang shorts.
In a remarkable coincidence, this was the next film on my Netflix delivery list when Anita Ekberg died several days ago. So having just watched the movie, she was quite a presence in it though I thought Ursula Andress was more sexy with what was put on her. As for the male leads-Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin-well, Dean seemed to be more professional than Frank so was the more charismatic of the two. No wonder director Robert Aldrich wanted Sinatra sacked! Despite the long running time, I mostly enjoyed this western comedy especially when The Three Stooges-Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe-arrived. So on that note, 4 for Texas is worth a look. P.S. Since It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie, I feel the need to note of three connections here: Joseph Biroc-one of the directors of photography on that movie was one of three responsible for second unit photography here, Ellen Corby-who was the lady James Stewart kissed when she asked for less money than the other customers at the Bailey Building & Loan there-got to join in on hitting the Stooges, and the song "Buffalo Gals"-you know the song Jimmy and Donna Reed sing outside after falling in their former high school's swimming pool-is played instrumentally during the riverboat opening.
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