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Jane Eyre (1934)
SPOILERS: A disappointment, but of interest to film buffs
I had high hopes for this movie, and I still think it's worth seeing from a historical point of view, but it certainly could have been better.
Naturally it's tough to do the novel justice in 62 minutes, but it would have worked better had they not wasted precious time on silly or insignificant events. For example, does anyone really want to see Adele dust the banister? The 1938 version of "A Christmas Carol" manages to cover a lot of ground in 69 minutes by making every line count. Alas, this version of Jane Eyre doesn't.
The character of Jane Eyre, in my opinion, has been molded into a strapping, two-fisted gal who progresses from slugging her cousin and shouting at her aunt to an impudent governess who goes about smashing vases and smart-talking her employer's fiancée! The novel portrays Jane as a plain and intelligent young woman who possesses great dignity and the ability to stand tall, despite the trials of her surroundings. This movie's Jane Eyre would be at home with the Bowery Boys.
Colin Clive is an interesting actor, but unfortunately the moody, difficult aspects of Mr. Rochester that he might have done something with are almost entirely gone. Rochester here is seen doting on Adele (his niece, whereas the book suggests Adele is his illegitimate child) and fawning over Jane with stunning rapidity. Check out when he invites her to dance and wonders why she didn't dress up for the party! Are we to believe that the engaged and wealthy owner of an estate expects his governess to deck herself out and participate in the party as a social equal? And would an orphanage teacher/governess have a party dress?? Perhaps this movie would play better for someone who hasn't read the book. For me, I kept thinking: The novel possesses a wealth of fascinating scenes and well-drawn characters. Why don't we see them here? The revelation of Rochester's wife in the novel, for example, was suspenseful and shocking. Here, the actual Mrs. Rochester strolls casually up to say how do you do! I must say that Christy Cabanne's direction was reasonably competent, and at times I felt like he was doing a lot with a little. So, the movie's not a total loss, but it's a major disappointment in that with better, tighter scripting we might have enjoyed a small-scale yet well-crafted production. Too bad!
Hog Wild (1930)
The ending makes me laugh until I cry
Though all of "Hog Wild" is funny, it's the ending that leaves me helpless with laughter.
Since Mrs. Hardy wants to "get Japan" on her radio, Oliver and Stanley are planning to install an aerial on top of the house. You can guess the kinds of mishaps that follow.
Eventually, they decide to place the ladder on top of Stan's car. Bad idea. While Oliver is climbing the ladder, Stan mistakenly starts the car, and they go whizzing through the city streets. Stan cries, Ollie hangs on for dear life.
When they come up alongside a double decker bus, the women on the upper deck are stunned to see a man on a ladder going by. Oliver, ever the gentleman, tips his hat to them.
Well, eventually Oliver is safely on the ground, where his tearful wife informs him that she is crying not because of his horrible experience, but because the finance man has taken the radio away! Oliver squares his shoulders and resolutely marches over to the car where Stan waits.
The preceding is funny, but what's coming up is sublime. Stan can't get the car to start. He tinkers. He fidgets. He moves levers, including one that causes the car to backfire with a noise like a sonic boom. Oliver sits there expressionless, while his wife continues to cry over the loss of her radio.
Stan keeps working on getting the car to go, including blasting the horn several times. Multiple backfires ring out, to no avail.
No matter how many times I've seen this, I laugh myself silly. Stan is so willing to please but incapable, while Ollie is simply above it all as he sits wordlessly.
Eventually a streetcar bashes into them, crushing the car into a bizarre vehicle in which the front and back wheels almost touch. The streetcar conductor who has hit them doesn't ask if they are OK. Rather, in an enormous voice he roars for them to get out of the way! Ollie merely looks at him, and then silently motions for Stan to move along. And wonder of wonders -- the destroyed car starts on the first try. Stan signals that he is turning on to the road, toots the horn, and pulls out. Oliver is stoic. His necktie flaps in the breeze.
I love Laurel and Hardy, and I'm not sure I can explain why. Perhaps it's their undaunted spirit. In this case, they destroyed Oliver's house for nothing, since the radio was taken away. They now have a destroyed car, which ironically runs better now than it did when it was whole.
Stan has yet again helped to ruin everything that Oliver owned, but he is content to continue striving, even in a ravaged car that supposedly will take them back to the remnants of the Hardy house.
Meanwhile, Oliver has not a word to say. Broken, but not beaten.
The world is a better place because they lived.
The Master of Ballantrae (1953)
Not a classic, but still fun to watch
"The Master of Ballantrae" is no "Adventures of Robin Hood," but it's entertaining and fast paced.
The color photography is lovely, and Errol Flynn is still charismatic even if he's a bit older and less agile.
Roger Livesey as Flynn's sidekick is the best part of the movie as far as I'm concerned, and most of the best lines were given to him. Check out the Memorable Quotes section to see what I mean.
Had the two of them been paired in a really good vehicle, I'm sure the results would have been awesome. As it is, it's still better than average and a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.