We’re here today for a slightly-delayed look at the 1955 holiday film We’re No Angels, starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Come On In! The Water’s Pink (1968)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 2 (1966-1968) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 4 seconds)
At Bicep Beach, the Pink Panther runs afoul of a muscle-bound freak with his various inflatables. This one was quite fun, with all the various inflatables that the Panther pulls out of his bag that work well for him (but not so much for the other guy)! The hunk proves to be a good foe for the Panther as he tries to regain the admiration of the girls on the beach, which certainly adds to the humor. I know I like this one, and find it worth revisiting!
And Now For The Main Feature…
It’s Christmas Eve, 1895. Three convicts (Joseph as played by Humphrey Bogart, Albert as played by Aldo Ray and Jules as played by Peter Ustinov) have escaped from Devil’s Island in French Guiana, and made it to the nearby penal colony of Cayenne. There, the three convicts are able to blend in with other criminals to avoid detection, while making plans to escape via the Paris-bound ship in the harbor. After giving directions to Medical Officer Arnaud (John Smith), they lift a letter that he was taking to store owner Felix Ducotel (Leo G. Carroll). The rather inept Felix thinks they are there to help repair his roof, which they agree to do (with plans to later kill and rob him). While they are on the roof, they overhear a conversation between Felix and his wife, Amelie (Joan Bennett) as they talk about Felix’s rich and miserly cousin, Andre Trochard (Basil Rathbone), who owns the store. They also talk about how their daughter, Isabelle (Gloria Talbott), has fallen for Andre’s nephew Paul Trochard (John Baer), even though Andre himself will never approve of the relationship. Once Felix finally opens the letter that the three convicts brought, he learns that his cousin (and Paul) are stuck quarantined on the ship in the harbor, and Andre is demanding Felix’s help getting off the boat. After Felix runs off, Isabelle reads the letter herself, and faints upon reading about Paul’s engagement (at Andre’s insistence) to the daughter of a wealthy shipbuilder. Upon seeing Isabelle faint, the three convicts come down from the roof. Albert and Jules help carry her to her room to recover, while Joseph helps drum up business in the store. Later, to thank them for their help, Felix invites the men to stay for Christmas dinner. Honored, the three help out by stealing some food and decorations to help make things better for the Ducotels. With all the kindness and generosity being shown them, the three men reconsider their plans to rob and murder this family. However, things start going downhill when cousin Andre and Paul arrive at the shop in the middle of the night, with Andre demanding their best rooms and the account books without caring about what he’s putting the Ducotels through. Will the three convicts be able to help out their new friends, or will Andre and Paul make trouble for them, too?
Humphrey Bogart and director Michael Curtiz had worked together three times before (Angels With Dirty Faces, Casablanca and Passage To Marseille). For their fourth film together, they went with the story from the 1952 French play La Cuisine Des Anges by Albert Husson (although it later came out that they borrowed a lot without permission from the 1953 English version of the play, My Three Angels by Samuel and Bella Spewack, which forced those authors to sue). The film also featured Bail Rathbone (one of a handful of movies that he had done after the end of the Sherlock Holmes series), and Joan Bennett returned to the screen (with the help and insistence of Bogart) after a scandal nearly three years earlier had effectively blackballed her from Hollywood.
As I hinted at in the start of this post, I had actually intended to review this movie as my final film in November for my Star Of The Month, Humphrey Bogart. That plan was delayed, as I had never seen the film before, and didn’t get my hands on a copy in time to review it then. Having seen it now, I can definitely say that it was a lot of fun! It’s a fun story, as we start out with the three convicts trying to evade the authorities while they wait for a Paris-bound ship, and make the decision to rob the Ducotel family (but then find themselves getting involved in helping them out). The film makes use of some dark comedy, particularly with regard to the convicts’ jokes about prison. Some of the films’ most memorable comedic moments for me involve the three men “rushing” to tell Basil Rathbone’s Andre of the poisonous snake in the container he is trying to open (that he thinks they were stealing when it was in fact theirs to begin with), or their lack of worry when SPOILER ALERT the snake also bites Paul. END SPOILER ALERT It’s a different part for Bogart, since he rarely did any screen comedies, but he is effective (and funny!) in this film, which certainly helps make it entertaining. The Christmas holiday angle really makes the film work, as we have the added spirit of the season helping to reform the three convicts (and which also helps make Rathbone’s Andre even more villainous). Speaking of which, while it is a small part, it just goes to show just how good Basil Rathbone is as a villain that he can make us hate him in such a short time, and cheer on the convicts when they hope to do something about him. For being a new (to me) Christmas film, I found this one quite entertaining, and I certainly look forward to coming back to it again and again in the future around this time of the year (so, yes, I definitely recommend it)!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… We’re No Angels (1955)
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Pictures. In my opinion, the recent Blu-ray release looks pretty good. Not having seen the movie before, my best guess is that it is probably the same transfer used for the DVD (but looking better with more space available on the Blu-ray disc). There are some minor specks here and there, and some scratches more easily visible on bigger/better screens, but nothing too distracting. For now, this is likely to be as good as this film gets, and I certainly recommend it!
Also, if you are interested in joining in on my first month-long “Screen Team Of The Month” blogathon for 2022 featuring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, please be sure to check out my Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon post to sign up!
Film Length: 1 hour, 46 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949) – Basil Rathbone
Father Of The Bride (1950) – Leo G. Carroll
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