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Caught in a Cabaret (1914)
Mabel & Charlie in their Keystone heyday !
I recently had the pleasure of finding two DVDs of Charlie Chaplin shorts in one of those "Dollar Stores". And this film was just one of many gems in the set.
Written and directed by Mabel Normand, the film showcases her talent in both fields. But, of course, the spotlight shines on Chaplin. In the guise of his well known Little Tramp character Charlie plays a waiter who takes an hour off for lunch and ends up rescuing Mabel from a masher.
She invites him to lunch with her, and a comical case of mistaken identity leads to a slapstick free-for-all when Mabel and her high-class entourage wind up dining at the same Cabaret where Charlie works as a waiter.
A classic example of Keystone wackiness ! Watch for Roscoe Arbuckle's wife, Minta Durfee, in a supporting role as a wild socialite !
A good movie. One disappointing point, tho !
I saw Sunset, recently, during a middle-of-the-night channel surf that ended up on a cable channel running the film at about 4:00am. I had never seen the film before, but had always been interested because of the two leads, and the era in which the film is set (the late 1920s).
I enjoyed the film, quite a bit, actually. I thought the story was very good, and well written, and Garner and Willis made a great team. I especially enjoyed Willis' characterization of Tom Mix. He brought just the right amount of cowboy style to the silen movie hero. And, of course, Garner is always good. But he really excelled as Wyatt Earp.
I thought the premise was very original, and that the whole film was a lot of fun.
With one exception.
Why is the villain of this piece so obviously supposed to remind us of Charley Chaplin ? Alvy Alperin ? Formerly known as The Happy Hobo ? A clear reference to Chaplin, and his little tramp. And yet the character is an abuseive rapist, and murderer who beats his own wife to death.
Why Edwards chose to virtually villify one of the most talented and entertaining comedians of the silent era, who was also a fairly nice bloke in real life, if a bit of a womanizer, I do not know.
The other original characters in the film- that is character who are fictional, rather than historical, like Earp, and Mix, are very well-crafted, believable, and completely original. No single character seems to be a rip on any single individual in Hollywood at the time, except for Malcolm McDowall's Alperin.
As a fan of Chaplin, Normand, Arbuckle, and the great silent clowns I found this to be a strong defect in the overall film. I can definitely believe Tom Mix as a hero. But I simply cannot reconcile even a thinly renamed Chaplin with a bully and a rapist.
I wonder why Edwards didn't go the extra mile to make the Alperin character more original.
Aside from this point, which is a big one, really, the film is a lot of fun for fans of the period, and the leads.
Remember WENN (1996)
A Nostalgic Look Back at a Bygone Time
The golden age of radio, captured on the small screen, and masterfully done.
Conceived and written by 70s pop-balladeer Rupert Holmes, Remember WENN is a stylish and funny tribute to a lost era. One I was not privileged to actually experience, but that I have become very fond of, via old films on cable television.
The 1930s- and, in WENN's case, specifically the radio industry of the day. With wonderfully crafted, and beautifully acted characters set against the backdrop of a small radio station in Pittsburgh, Remember WENN is poised to bring back memories for those who were there, and serve as a doorway to the past for those who were not.
Remember WENN is a blend of comedy and drama that can't be beat for a savory taste of the long-gone days of radio.
Canceled, by AMC after five seasons, and with several unresolved cliffhangers left hanging, WENN is one show ripe for a reunion movie; maybe even a theatrical venture.
And a video, or DVD release would not be a bad idea. Then all of this wonderful show's adoring fans could fondly Remember WENN...
I always enjoyed the original Commish television series. I liked the characters, and the stories. And I enjoyed the latter because they did not follow the standard pattern of other crime/mystery series on television around the same time. Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder- they all use the same plot device ad nausium. If you watch any of these shows, and they have a sexy female guest character in the cast of an episode you can rest assured that *she* did it (though she will be written and portrayed as the *only* likeable character in the guest cast until she is unmasked).
The Commish never followed this pattern; instead, the "bad guys" were known to the audience from the get-go, and the meat of the story, if you will, came in watching Tony catch them, not in trying to guess who did it. Sadly, this Commish TV movie, aired after the series ended, did away with the style of the original show, and opted for the wornout plot device used on those other shows, including making the murderer the only likeable guest character in the production.
The result is a plodding and predictable story that makes the Tony Scali character seem out-of-place, as the surrounding events play out like a poorly written soap-opera. It ruined the Commish experience for me. Thankfully, the *very* talented Mr. Chiklis has moved on to bigger and better things, with The Sheild.
Not Holmes... necessarily.... but good
As a fan of the Novel, and all of Doyle's Holmes stories I was initially put off by the casting of a blonde Aussie as Sherlock. And I still feel that the characters would have been closer to Doyle's original descriptions had Roxburgh and Richard E. Grant switched roles. But, having said that, I found this treatment of the novel highly entertaining, and a lot of fun. The differences from the novel served to seperate it from the book, and give me a good bit of TV that stands on it's own, as it's own story. Holmes in an alternate reality for those of you out there that follow Science Fiction, if you will. And Hart did a masterful job as Dr. John H. Watson. What was my most lasting impression of this movie ? That Richard Roxburgh, though not in his element as Holmes, gave his all. And the way he played Holmes made me think... maybe Roxburgh is the best candidate to take over the role of Doctor Who when the series returns in 2005...