What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Sergeant York (1941)

Now we’ve got a movie I’ve been looking forward to seeing again for a long time, that classic 1941 movie Sergeant York, starring Gary Cooper! Of course, we’ve got a pair of theatrical shorts to start with (both of which are included as extras on the recent Blu-ray release from Warner Archive Collection), and then we can get right to the movie itself!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Lions For Sale (1941)

(Length: 9 minutes)

This short shows how lions used to be trained for circuses. It’s interesting stuff to watch the lions go from being cubs to full grown within the types of training they undergo. The commentary by Knox Manning manages to be quite amusing, as he describes some of the action going on. Like I said, an interesting short, although one I probably won’t be revisiting much.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Porky’s Preview (1941)

(Length: 6 minutes, 50 seconds)

Porky hosts a showing of a cartoon that he drew himself. This was a fun little black-and-white cartoon, with a brief appearance from Porky himself (shorter than one would think, considering the cartoon’s title). Still, I enjoyed the gags, and the drawings for Porky’s “cartoon” certainly look like what one might expect a little child to draw. A very fun cartoon, although it does have one very dated moment, where part of Porky’s “cartoon” is fairly obviously making a reference to Al Jolson, with the character wearing blackface. But, that is the only drawback, and I enjoyed seeing an unfamiliar (to me) Looney Tunes short!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Our story starts in the state of Tennessee, in the year 1916. In the Valley of the Three Forks, Alvin York (Gary Cooper) works hard on his family’s farm, but he is also prone to drinking and getting into fights. One day, while out hunting with his brother George (Dickie Moore), Alvin meets and falls for Gracie Williams (Joan Leslie). While she is interested in him, she is less than thrilled with his fighting habit, particularly when he chases off a rival suitor, Zeb Andrews (Robert Porterfield). Alvin believes she turns down his proposal because he is poor, and sets out to buy a better piece of land. He makes a deal with Nate Tompkins (Erville Alderson) for some land, and promises to pay him the full price within sixty days. He works hard, but comes just short at the deadline. He convinces Nate to give him an extension of a few days so that he can win a turkey shoot to get the rest of the money. Alvin is successful at the turkey shoot, but Nate had already sold the land to Zeb, which makes Alvin angry. After doing a bit of drinking with his buddies, Alvin sets out to kill Nate and Zeb, but is stopped by a bolt of lightning. He finds himself near a church, and comes in, where he is received with great rejoicing by his friend, Pastor Rosier Pile (Walter Brennan). Now a Christian believer, Alvin sets out to make things right and apologize to Nate and Zeb.

Then, war arrives (World War I, that is), and with it, the draft. Alvin, who believes that the Bible is against killing, hopes to get an exemption as a conscientious objector. However, Alvin’s request for exemption is denied, on the basis that his denomination has no formal creed against its members going to war, so he is drafted. Alvin’s shooting skills impress some of his superior officers, but he is wary about a possible promotion, still worried about having to kill. Major Buxton (Stanley Ridges) tells him briefly about the history of the United States, and of the sacrifices required of his fellow countrymen to maintain their freedom. Alvin is given a ten day furlough to think the matter over, and comes back declaring he is willing to stay in the army. Once training is over, he is sent over to Europe, where he is part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. But, will he survive and be able to put his skills to good use?

Sergeant York is based on the life of the real Alvin York, a man who (spoiler alert!) lived to the age of 76, dying in 1964. Upon his return from war, he was immediately hit with many offers from Hollywood to have his story told on the big screen, but he turned them down. Producer Jesse Lasky tried to make an offer multiple times over the years (and was rejected), but with the threat of another war in Europe, he tried again to convince Alvin to allow a movie to be made about him. Alvin finally consented, with some conditions. Among those conditions, Alvin wanted Gary Cooper (and only Gary Cooper) to portray him, he wanted somebody who wasn’t a cigarette smoking actress to portray his wife Gracie, and he wanted his share of the profits to go towards a Bible School he was trying to build. With those conditions met, the movie was made, with great care taken to portray everything accurately (outside of a few changes here and there). The movie would prove to be very popular at the box office, and was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, winning two (including Gary Cooper’s first win as Best Actor).

I was introduced to Sergeant York most of a decade ago. I think I caught it on the Turner Classic Movies channel and recorded it. The main thing I do remember for sure is that the movie had my attention the entire time, and I really enjoyed watching it! So getting to see it again via the recent Blu-ray (more on that in a moment) was a real treat! For me, this IS Gary Cooper’s best movie (at least, from those I’ve seen so far). I like his portrayal of the real Sergeant York’s journey from his wilder lifestyle through his conversion and his wartime dilemma. Of course, the rest of the cast is no slouch either, with Margaret Wycherly as Mother York, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias as his army buddy “Pusher” Ross or the many others who helped make this a great movie! The wartime scenes are impressive, and it’s fun seeing Alvin use his skills from back home to help out in wartime. For some, the religious element may turn them off from the movie, but, to the best of my knowledge about the real Alvin York, that was very much a part of him, and the movie really wouldn’t be complete without it. But for my money, this movie is absolutely fantastic, and well worth seeing!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection sporting a 4K scan of the best surviving nitrate elements, which in this case is a second generation nitrate fine grain made off the camera negative, since, according to the Warner Archive podcast, the original camera negative was gone by the time that Warner sold their pre-1949 library back in 1956. A lot of work was put into restoring this film, and it looks fantastic! But don’t take my word for it! They’ve got a video up on YouTube to show their restoration compared to what it looked like before, as I have linked at the bottom of this page! Again, this movie looks fantastic, and this new Blu-ray release IS the best way to see this absolutely wonderful classic!

Film Length: 2 hours, 14 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #3 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) – Gary Cooper – Casanova Brown (1944)

Nice Girl? (1941) – Walter Brennan – To Have And Have Not (1944)

Joan Leslie – Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Music In My Heart (1940) – George Tobias – Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Down Three Dark Streets (1954)

As we continue to celebrate the month of “Noir-vember,” we now come to the 1954 film Down Three Dark Streets, starring Broderick Crawford and Ruth Roman.

FBI agent Zack Stewart (Kenneth Tobey) finds himself trying to work on three different cases: 1) the hunt for a killer, Joe Walpo (Joe Bassett); 2) interstate car thefts, with Vince Angelino (Gene Reynolds) involved and unwilling to tell what he knows; and 3) somebody trying to extort money from Kate Martell (Ruth Roman) by threatening her daughter.  Zack does what he can with those three cases before he is called by another woman, Brenda Ralles (Suzanne Alexander), who claims she needs to see him that night about one of his cases.  However, when he goes to her home, he is shot by somebody else.  Fellow agent John “Rip” Ripley (Broderick Crawford), who had gone along with him on that call, is assigned Zack’s three cases, in the hope that, by solving them, the FBI can find his murderer.  To go after Joe Walpo, Rip tries to get a rise out of Walpo’s girlfriend, Connie Anderson (Martha Hyer).  As for the car thieves, Rip believes Vince to be innocent, and tries to ask Vince’s wife, Julie (Marisa Pavan), to help out.  As for Kate Martell, he tries to learn from her who could possibly try to extort money from her, and tries to help protect her and her daughter.  Of course, none of them know anything about Brenda Ralles (who is soon murdered herself), and so all Rip can do is try to help everybody out.

Down Three Dark Streets was based on the novel Case Files: FBI, written by the husband and wife team of Gordon and Mildred Gordon.  Gordon Gordon was himself a former FBI agent, which certainly lends a bit of authenticity to  the story.  They actually ended up being the screenwriters for the movie, with the original plan being to retain the novel’s title. However, at the time, most screenplays that dealt with the FBI were submitted to the FBI itself to be approved, and J. Edgar Hoover himself objected, claiming that the movie could help criminals, not only by showing what extortionists could do, but also what the FBI would do to combat them.  I’m not sure what else was changed, but the film’s title switched from Case Files: FBI to the film’s current title.

I’ll admit, this one is more police procedural than noir, but I still like it.  It’s interesting watching them trying to solve three cases at once.  Admittedly, this is also part of the movie’s failing, as it FEELS like the three cases don’t get equal screen time, and the one that seems to get more, well, you can guess it’s importance to the overall story. Not to mention, in some respects the billing gives it away. Still, I enjoyed it, with a familiar face or two, plus characters that you want to cheer for, characters that creep you out, and everything in between. It’s not the best police procedural I’ve seen, as I easily think He Walked By Night surpasses it (and maybe T-Men as well), but it’s worth trying. If you get a chance to see it, give it a shot!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix.  It’s a typical transfer from them (which means it looks pretty good)!  There are some specks and dust here and there, but they’re almost not worth mentioning.  If you want to see this movie, then the Classicflix release is the way to go!

Film Length: 1 hour, 26 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ruth Roman – Great Day In The Morning (1956)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Puppet Love (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 32 seconds)

Bluto creates a life-size puppet that looks like Popeye, and uses it to make Popeye look bad with Olive. A fun little cartoon with the Popeye puppet and Popeye using Bluto as a puppet. Yes, it’s still Popeye vs. Bluto, but it still feels a lot more fresh than later cartoons. This is one I’ve seen a number of times over the years, and I still enjoy the various gags. Of course, I also enjoy seeing this short restored and looking better than it has in a long time!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Love Me Tonight (1932)

This time around, we’ve got some great pre-Code musical fun with the classic 1932 film Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier, as well as Jeanette MacDonald! But first, we need a theatrical short to get us started, and we’ve got another one from the Ant And The Aardvark series, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber! After that, we’ll get straight into the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Never Bug An Ant (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)

The aardvark tries to catch the ant using various methods (particularly using the attraction of sugar). Very formulaic cartoon here, which doesn’t stray from the “hunter vs. prey” formula. In spite of that, there are a few fun gags here, and the dialogue itself provides as much of the laughter as the physical comedy. Not the series’ best, but it still manages to entertain when I watch it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): Ah, it’s Paris in the early morning. Everybody is waking up. The rhythm of the city coming to life. But, of course, “That’s The Song Of Paris!” Or so sings the tailor Maurice Courtelin (Maurice Chevalier) as he gets started for the day. Not long after opening up for the day, one of his customers, Vicomte Gilbert de Vareze (Charles Ruggles), comes running in to the store in his underwear (since he had to run away from a jealous husband), and asks for one of his suits. He is unable to pay at the moment, but promises to get the money from the Duke and pay his bill.

(Host): Oh, if it was only that simple.

(Narrator): Indeed, but we have to have SOME conflict for the story to happen here, don’t we? But, back to our tale. After the Vicomte leaves, Maurice finishes dealing with another customer who had bought a wedding suit, and Maurice remarks about how his abilities as a tailor are helping out others with their romances, and dreams of enjoying romance himself.

(Host): “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): You would bring that earworm up! For that is indeed what it is, the way the song catches on in the movie! The customer finds it to be a catchy tune, and starts humming it as he leaves the shop. A cabby takes it up, and his passenger, a composer starts working on the tune. Then a group of soldiers, who sing it as they march, on to some gypsy musicians, and all the way to the Chateau d’Artelines, where the princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) starts singing it as well.

(Host): (Sighs) “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): The needle is getting stuck in a crack. But, no matter. At the castle, the Duke d’Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith) argues with his niece, the Countess Valentine (Myrna Loy), who wants some money, but he refuses to give her any. The Vicomte arrives, with plans to ask his uncle for the money he owes Maurice. However, the Duke is angry, and refuses to give him the money (and forbids him from leaving). Not long after, Maurice and some of the other merchants are infuriated when they find out that the Vicomte is not known for paying his bills. Maurice vows to the others that he will storm the castle himself and get their money. They send him off in a car with all the stuff that the Vicomte had ordered, although it breaks down in the countryside. While the driver tries to repair it, Jeanette comes along driving a horse-drawn buggy, which goes off the road when trying to pass the car. Maurice is instantly infatuated with her, and helps her get the buggy back on the road.

(Host): Ah, his “Mimi.”

(Narrator): “Mimi, you funny little good for nothing, Mimi. Am I the guy? Mi -” (muttering under his breath) Darn it, now he’s got that stuck in there, too! (Back to normal) Although slightly flattered, Jeanette leaves him in a huff. Once back at the castle, she drops in a faint. A doctor is called, as she has been having fainting spells for a while. After examining her, the doctor suggests either marriage or exercise to help her out. Not too much later, Maurice arrives at the castle. He runs through the castle, but doesn’t find anybody as he climbs the stairs. Returning to the main floor, he finally sees some people. As he searches for the Vicomte, he meets the Duke (but assumes he is a servant, since he is cleaning a suit of armor). When the Vicomte walks in, he tries to keep Maurice quiet about his reason for being there. The Vicomte introduces Maurice to everyone as a baron, and they all start to insist he stay. He is reluctant, until Jeanette walks through, and agrees to stay.

(Host): “Mimi -“

(Narrator): Don’t. You. Dare. Anyways, Maurice wins everyone over as a baron (well, not quite everyone, as Jeanette is still trying to resist his charms). They have a stag hunt, and Jeanette puts him on the roughest horse, which takes off with him for parts unknown. The rest of the hunt commences, with the hunting dogs chasing down the stag. Jeanette follows some of the dogs to a cottage, where she finds Maurice feeding the stag some oats. In doing so, Maurice effectively calls off the hunt. Upon their return, one of Jeanette’s potential suitors, Count de Savignac (Charles Butterworth), reveals to the Duke that Maurice is not the Baron Courtelin. However, the Vicomte hints that Maurice might be royalty traveling under a false name. Later, a costume party is given for the baron. During the party, the Countess Valentine continually flirts with Maurice, which results in Jeanette leaving. Maurice follows her, and finds her when she faints. He kisses her, which wakes her back up. After she slaps him a few times, she becomes more receptive to his advances, and says that she will love him no matter what. The next day, Maurice comes in when Jeanette is having a new riding habit designed by her seamstress. He dislikes it, which insults the seamstress. Everyone else responds to the seamstress being insulted, and they come in on Jeanette being measured by Maurice in a slight state of undress. To get himself out of trouble, Maurice promises to put together a riding habit for her in two hours, which everybody else scoffs at.

(Host): Well, obviously, we all know he’s a tailor, so he should be able to do it. But, will the princess still love him when she realizes that he is a tailor?

(Narrator): Indeed, that is the question, and there we end our description of the story.

(Host): Love Me Tonight was the third of four films that Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald made together. At the time, they were two of the biggest stars at Paramount Studios. However, they were both drawing big salaries, and hadn’t been assigned any new films. Ernst Lubitsch, who had directed them in two earlier films, was being difficult as a result of contract negotiations, so director Rouben Mamoulian was hired. Mamoulian brought in the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart to write the music. He went for a bold move in having them write the music first, before putting the script together, making Love Me Tonight the first integrated film musical, in which the songs actually served to help further the plot and develop the characters.

Love Me Tonight was a movie I had kind of heard of. I’ve seen the 1934 Merry Widow with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald previously (mostly because I’m a fan of Jeanette MacDonald), and because of that, I at least knew that the two of them had made four films together (but I couldn’t have told you the names of the first three). Love Me Tonight caught my attention a year or so back when it was revealed as a title that had been licensed by Kino Lorber through Universal Studios for release on Blu-ray. Upon looking it up, I was thrilled to see that it was one of Jeanette MacDonald’s films, and eagerly looked forward to seeing it! Of course, that was just a reveal that it was coming, and not a release announcement (with a date attached), so I’d been patiently waiting for news on when it would come out. Of course, I was thrilled when it was said that it would be getting a new 4K remaster, which no doubt slowed down the release (particularly when the pandemic hit).

Of course, now that it’s available (and I’ve got a copy in my hands), you’re all wondering what I think of it. Well, first off, the movie looks FANTASTIC!! The picture looks great here, certainly better than I could have hoped for! It’s not absolutely pristine, but it’s close enough that few should have many complaints! And as to the movie itself, I was expecting a good movie, but it was better than I expected! The music was fun (and obviously some songs were more memorable than others 😉 ), the cast was fun (including Myrna Loy as the man-hungry Countess, before The Thin Man really revealed her comedic talents on a bigger scale), and the pre-Code elements certainly made for some fun and *slightly* more adult humor. The film was far better than I could have imagined for a movie still so early in the sound era. Honestly, it’s a great movie, and one I would DEFINITELY recommend seeing, especially through the new Blu-ray!

(Host): “Mimi, you funny little -“

(Narrator covers up host’s mouth with rag)

(Narrator): Wouldn’t you know it, folks, we had to end with the best gag in the whole post!

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #6 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Maurice Chevalier – Love In The Afternoon (1957)

Monte Carlo (1930)Jeanette MacDonaldThe Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

Myrna Loy – The Thin Man (1934)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Five Steps To Danger (1957)

Starting off the month of “Noir-vember,” we have the 1957 film Five Steps To Danger, starring Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pickled Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

A drunk invites the Pink Panther into his home, but they have to avoid his wife, who threatens to throw any of her husband’s “friends” out of the house. Not as original a cartoon, with the drunk and his wife having speaking roles. The gags seem a little too familiar, taking away from the fun. Definitely a lesser Pink Panther cartoon, but, considering it was early on, with them still trying to figure out what to do, it can be forgiven.

And Now For The Main Feature…

John Emmett (Sterling Hayden) is on his vacation when his car breaks down. When towed to a garage, he finds out that it will take too long to repair, and sells the car. There, he meets another traveler, Ann Nicholson (Ruth Roman), who offers him a ride if he will help her drive to Santa Fe, to which he agrees. However, at a diner, he meets Helen Bethke (Jeanne Cooper), a nurse who claims that Ann has had a mental breakdown. She says Ann is being encouraged to take a trip by her psychiatrist, Dr. Simmons (Werner Klemperer), and asks John to go with her, which he still agrees to do. The trip becomes more interesting, however, when two sheriffs pull John and Ann over and try to arrest them for a murder in Los Angeles supposedly committed by Ann. They get away, but John becomes suspicious of Ann and her rush to get to Santa Fe. So she tells him she had been sent by a friend of her brother’s to bring some information about guided missiles to an old family friend, Dr. Reinhardt Kissel, and she had discovered he was in Santa Fe. John decides to come along with her anyway, although when they come to a college that they had heard that Dr. Kissel was teaching at, they learn from Dean Brant (Richard Gaines) that he wasn’t there at all! So John takes Ann to a hotel, where he leaves her with Dr. Simmons and her nurse before moving on to the fishing lodge he had a reservation at. However, Dr. Simmons believes Ann needs to be put in a sanitarium, and makes arrangements to do so (although Ann escapes before she can be taken there). Meanwhile, CIA agent Kirk Patrick (Charles Davis) comes to John and tells him that Dr. Kissel is working for them at a nearby government testing facility. After the CIA agent leaves, Ann shows up. Figuring out that they love each other, they decide to get married and then go to the government facility to see Dr. Kissel. However, Ann determines that the man working there as Dr. Kissel is an imposter, and she tells CIA agent Kirk Patrick. But can they catch all the undercover Soviet agents?

I will admit, Five Steps To Danger, which is based on the Donald Hamilton story The Steel Mirror, barely qualifies as noir. It has hints of it, don’t get me wrong, but it also feels like more of a combination of Cold War-era spy thrillers and Gaslight. Admittedly, I wouldn’t say that the gaslighting that goes on here is anywehere near as good as what happens in that classic film, nor is it necessarily that good of a spy thriller. But, I blame that mostly on the script, which wanders around a little too much. I think the actors do a decent job with what they are given, especially Werner Klemperer (and boy, after having seen him for years on the TV series Hogan’s Heroes, it sure feels weird seeing him actually playing a competent, smart character). It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it has enough good points to it that it is a movie I would recommend giving a try!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Five Steps To Danger (1957)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. According to the disc case, this movie was restored from the original camera negative. I will definitely say that this transfer looks pretty darn good! Sure, there are a few specks and dirt here and there, but they are minor at best, and do not take away from an otherwise good-looking release. So for its transfer alone, this is the best way to see the movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Great Day In The Morning (1956) – Ruth Roman

Crime Of Passion (1957) – Sterling Hayden

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Today, we have that classic 1940 comedy The Ghost Breakers, starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard! But before we get to the movie, we have a theatrical short from the Ant And The Aardvark series. This one is available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Technology, Phooey (1970)

(Length: 6 minutes, 8 seconds)

The aardvark consults a computer for help catching the ant. The reliance on the computer adds something different here, helping keep the cartoon fresh for the series. The gags work really well, and it’s a lot of fun to watch! The only complaint I have (and I don’t know whether it’s just the Blu-ray/DVD from Kino Lorber, or whether this specific cartoon is this way usually) is the out-of-sync sound. Apart from that, it’s a fun cartoon!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): It’s a daaark and stormy night in New York City. The storm has knocked out the power throughout the city. In a hotel room, Mary Carter (Paulette Goddard) is packing for a trip to Cuba. Apparently, she has just inherited the Castillo Maldito down in Cuba. It’s a castle that is apparently on Black Island, and is rumored to be haunted –

(Long, ghostly moaning sound)

(Narrator): Yes, haunted, or so she has been warned. Yet, she still wants to go down there to see the place anyway. A lawyer, Parada (Paul Lukas), has been sent with some papers for her to sign so that the estate can be transferred to her. He has also been authorized by somebody else to offer her a lot of money for the place. Before she can make her decision, she receives a phone call from a man named Ramon Mederos (Anthony Quinn), who warns her not to accept the offer from Parada. In another part of the city, crime reporter Lawrence Lawrence Lawrence (Bob Hope), also known as Larry, is packing for his own vacation. He is given a hot tip about a murder by one of his informants, Raspy Kelly (Tom Dugan), when he pays him for a previous tip. On the radio, Larry reports on mobster Frenchy Duval (Paul Fix), but Frenchy is less than thrilled with what he hears. He calls up Larry immediately after the broadcast, and offers to help him get the story straight.

(Sounds of machine guns going off)

(Narrator): Indeed. That is likely what he intended. Anyways, as it turns out, Frenchy is at the same hotel that Mary is staying at. Larry is driven there by his valet, Alex (Willie Best) –

(Host): Hold it! We need to stop to talk about this for a moment. African-American actor Willie Best as the valet is one of the points about this movie that hasn’t aged well. The character is still a racist black stereotype, especially with the way he is so easily scared by many things here. I do admit, I laugh at his antics, but I do realize it is still a problematic depiction just the same (although that is more likely the fault of the writers than of the actor himself). Anyways, back to the movie.

(Narrator): As I was saying, Larry is driven to the hotel by his valet, who gives him a gun for protection. While Larry is nervously working his way to Frenchy’s room, Ramon Mederos also is nearby, and tries to confront Parada, but Parade shoots him. When Larry hears the gunshot, he fires off in self-defense, and assumes he has killed Ramon. He makes his way into Mary’s room to hide, and she helps keep him hidden while the police search. Larry escapes by way of her big steamer trunk, which is taken to a ship. Once on board the ship, Mary lets him out, but he has to stay hidden a moment longer while Parada is in the room with her. After they exit the room, Larry gets back out of the trunk, only to find a threatening note that had been sent to Mary. Instead of trying to get off the boat, Larry decides to come with Mary and protect her, even after Parada warns him of the dangers he may face. When the boat arrives in Cuba, Mary runs into Geoff Montgomery (Richard Carlson), a resident of Cuba whom she had met in New York a few weeks before. He offers to take Mary and Larry out to dinner, which she accepts. Larry, however, decides to sneak off to Black Island via rowboat, with Alex to help him. While out with Geoff, Mary runs into Francisco Mederos (Anthony Quinn), the identical twin brother of the late Ramon. Wanting to get away (especially after realizing that Larry had left without her), she decides to leave Geoff and find her own way out to the island.

(Darkness descends on the stage)

(Narrator): Ah, yes. Night has fallen. Larry and Alex successfully make it to the island just before midnight (much to Alex’s regret), and proceed to search the mansion. At midnight, they see a ghost rise up out of a coffin.

(Eerie music playing in background)

They’re both scared as they watch the ghost walk around and return to the coffin (and who wouldn’t be scared at that sight?). Larry is still curious and insists on continuing to search the place in order to find out what’s going on. Meanwhile, Mary arrives, but finds herself in trouble when the caretaker (Virginia Brassac) sends in her zombie son (Noble Johnson) to do away with her. Mary gets away, but Larry and Alex find themselves dealing with the zombie. Mary helps them by dressing like her ancestor, which spooks the zombie enough for them to capture him. While still searching, Larry and Mary come across a mortally wounded Parada, who tries to warn them of danger. With a nearby pump organ, they find a secret passage that brings them into a mine shaft, where everything is revealed.

(Host): In 1939, Bob Hope was successfully teamed up with Paulette Goddard for The Cat And the Canary. The combination of horror and comedy using an old property worked well for the duo, and Paramount Studios wanted to team them up for another. For this film, they made use of the old play The Ghost Breaker. That tale had previously been filmed twice before, once in 1914 and again in 1922 (both silent films). They made great efforts with the castle sets to help create the atmosphere here, which worked well for them. The movie was a big hit, resulting in Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard being teamed up one more time for the movie Nothing But The Truth (1941), as well as influencing other studios to try their hands at horror comedies. The story would be filmed one more time in 1953 as the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis vehicle Scared Stiff, which would bring back Bob Hope for a cameo role, alongside his Road movies co-star Bing Crosby.

(Eerie music plays as a ghostly figure comes out on stage right)

(Said sarcastically) Oh yes, very scary. (Back to normal) This is a movie I’ve seen a number of times over what is now fast approaching twenty years, and I still enjoy it. Personally, I would say that the horror aspects don’t really kick in until the last half hour of the movie, with the remaining movie more or less preparing you for what goes on at the castle. The score, especially during the segment at the mansion, really helps provide the atmosphere for the scares. I’m still impressed with the special effects for the “ghost” (of course, if you want to know whether it’s real or not in the story, then see the movie), and the zombie is equally scary (although if you’re expecting something like the more modern image of a zombie, you would likely be disappointed). Bob Hope’s humor is still quite good here (even if he is braver than his later screen persona would indicate), and he has good chemistry with Paulette Goddard. All in all, a very fun movie to watch any time of the year (but especially around Halloween), so I would definitely recommend this movie for some good laughs and a few frights!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber, with the disc case claiming it’s a brand new 2K master. From what I’ve heard, the movie, when released on DVD by Universal Studios, had two different transfers, one on the 2002 release, and a different one when the movie was released again in 2010. It sounds like most think the earlier version was actually the better transfer, for whatever reason. The impression I am getting is that Kino was working with the more recent transfer for their Blu-ray release. I can see some spots where the transfer has its issues, but I do think that it’s very likely they did the best with what is available, and they did do some clean-up here (although there are a few spots with specks and dirt remaining). Everybody will get different mileage out of it, but for me, its good enough, and I appreciate the work that was done to make it better.

(Narrator comes out on stage left while the ghost remains on stage right)

(Host): (looks first at narrator, then at ghostly figure, then back at narrator) Ummm… wasn’t that you as the ghost?

(Narrator): (Nervously) No, as you can see, I’m right here.

(Host): Well, if that’s not you, and it’s not me, then who is it?

(Both turn to look at the ghost)

(The ghost starts to laugh an evil, maniacal laugh, similar to the Headless Horseman from the Disney film The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad)

Happy Halloween everyone!

Film Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Road To Singapore (1940)Bob HopeRoad To Zanzibar (1941)

The Cat And The Canary (1939) – Paulette Goddard – Nothing But The Truth (1941)

The Cat And The Canary (1939) – Bob Hope/ Paulette Goddard (screen team) – Nothing But The Truth (1941)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Safety Last! (1923)

We’re back again, this time with another classic silent comedy featuring Harold Lloyd, the 1923 movie Safety Last!

At the train station in Great Bend, Harold (Harold Lloyd, of course) prepares to leave for the big city. He says goodbye to his mother and his fiancee, Mildred (Mildred Davis), promising to send for her when he’s made his fortune. Fast forward several months, and we find he is living in an apartment with his friend, Limpy Bill (Bill Strother). Instead of saving his money to help pay the bills like he should, Harold keeps spending it on jewelry that he sends to Mildred (along with letters bragging about how well he is doing). In reality, he is just a salesclerk at the De Vore Department Store, where he has to deal with some unruly customers, as well as the stuffy floorwalker Mr. Stubbs (Westcott B. Clarke). One day, after leaving work to meet his friend Bill, Harold runs into an old friend from Great Bend who has become a policeman. After quickly talking with him, Harold meets up with Bill, and, bragging that the police will let him get away with anything, urges Bill to help him play a prank on the policeman. However, the policeman they play a prank on is NOT Harold’s friend, but somebody else entirely! Harold is able to hide quickly before he is spotted, but Bill isn’t that lucky, and has to run away, climbing one of the nearby buildings to get away. The policeman (Noah Young) vows to arrest Bill the next time he sees him. More trouble comes for Harold with a big sale in the department store, with the unruly customers getting him in trouble with Mr. Stubbs. Then Mildred arrives to surprise him, and, boy, is he surprised! He has to find a way to both do his job while also appearing to be in a much higher position in the company. As he is trying to get her to leave, he overhears the store’s manager tell the floorwalker that he would pay a lot of money to somebody who could come up with a gimmick to get more people in the store. Remembering how his buddy climbed up a building, Harold bursts in and suggests an event in which a mystery man would climb the exterior of the department store. The manager likes the idea and decides to run with it. Harold calls Bill to tell him about it, and offers to split the money. However, the policeman they had played a prank on shows up, and it is suggested Harold should climb the first floor while Bill evades the policeman. Except that’s not so easy, as Harold has to keep climbing while the policeman chases Bill!

This movie’s most well-known scene (and possibly Harold Lloyd’s most famous from his entire career) is him climbing up the department store building (particularly when he is hanging onto the broken clock). The whole idea was inspired by Bill Strothers, who did his own “human fly” act of climbing a building and doing other stunts at the top, something that Harold Lloyd saw walking through Los Angeles. He got Bill Strothers under contract at the Hal Roach studio for this film, playing his buddy “Limpy Bill” (and obviously doing his own climbing, as well as doubling for Harold for some shots). I know I enjoy watching this whole scene unfold in the movie every time. Just because of what life is like for me, it’s rare for me to be able to watch an entire movie all in one sitting (outside of when I see it in theatres or watch movies with friends, neither of which is exactly happening now for obvious reasons). Because of that, I can guarantee that, whenever I get to this scene in the movie, I need enough time to stay for the whole climb, because I find it so gripping that I just cannot bring myself to leave until Harold is at the top of the building! The whole scene manages to make you laugh even while keeping you on the edge of your seat!

Of course, the rest of the movie is fun, too! I know I enjoy watching the whole scene where Harold is trying to do his job all while convincing his girlfriend that he’s a big man at the department store. I love the reactions of some of his coworkers, who are rendered speechless as he attempts to “demonstrate” how to do their jobs. Then the follow-up, as he tries to appear to be the general manager when Mildred makes that mistaken assumption. His methods of getting past his co-workers (and the general manager, when he returns to his office) are all hilarious! Easily a lot of fun to see!

Now, I’ll admit, when I was trying to plan when I would post this review, I had no thoughts or plans on connecting it to Halloween (which will be in less than a week). Still, on thinking it over, I can’t help but think the movie is almost appropriate. I mean, we have Harold pretending to be something he isn’t, especially with regards to his girlfriend for the entire movie. He may not be wearing a literal mask, but he’s still wearing one just the same. This idea continues for the climb up the building as well. All the press for the event keeps the identity of the climber a secret, and Harold is forced to step in when the cop looking for his buddy shows up. Harold and his buddy make plans to change outfits on a higher floor to keep up the ruse (except Bill still can’t evade the policeman). And, as for thrills, Harold’s climb up the building certainly does provide them! They may not be the same as dealing with monsters, or being stalked by serial killers (or whatever other types of Halloween movies you can think of), but I think it works well enough! Of course, regardless of what time of year you see this movie, it’s still a great classic, and one I have no trouble whatsoever recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 14 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Harold Lloyd – The Freshman (1925)

And now, for my feature on theatrical shorts, featuring the three shorts included as extras on this release!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Take A Chance (1918)

(available as an extra on the Safety Last! Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 21 seconds)

After spending his last quarter, the Sport (Harold Lloyd) tries to go on a picnic with a Hired Girl (Bebe Daniels) with unforeseen results! As usual, Harold Lloyd gets in a lot of physical comedy, as he tries to deal with another suitor for Bebe Daniel’s character’s affections. Admittedly, the story goes all over the pace, as an escaped convict changes clothes with him and the guards/policemen start chasing him! Many fun gags here, which certainly make this one a lot of fun!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Young Mr. Jazz (1919)

(available as an extra on the Safety Last! Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 50 seconds)

Harold (Harold Lloyd) takes the Girl (Bebe Daniels) to The Bowery Cafe. Many fun gags here, as we start out on the beach with the Girl and her father (played by Bud Jamison), with Harold traveling under the sand like a submarine! Once in the cafe, we also see them dealing with all the tough characters in there, particularly with one ridiculous moment where pickpockets steal from both Harold and the Girl! Even more fun as we see Harold and Bebe doing some fancy dancing! It’s Harold Lloyd, so it’s still worth a few good laughs!

Coming Up Shorts! with… His Royal Slyness (1920)

(available as an extra on the Safety Last! Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection)

(Length: 21 minutes, 46 seconds)

Harold Lloyd plays a book salesman, who resembles the Prince of Thermosa, and is paid to go back in place of the Prince, who is supposed to marry a princess (played by Mildred Davis). Slightly longer short, compared to the other two in this set, but a lot of fun, with some “Prince And The Pauper” vibes going for it (and the prince played by Harold Lloyd’s real older brother!). Of course, throw in a peasant’s revolution that also occurs, plus a princess that disguises herself to go among the common people, and it’s a lot of fun here! Maybe not quite Harold’s best short, but I enjoy seeing this one every now and then!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Spawn Of The North (1938)

For today’s movie, we have that 1938 film Spawn Of The North, starring George Raft, Henry Fonda and Dorothy Lamour! Of course, to precede that, we have an Ant And The Aardvark theatrical short, which is available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber. Once past that, we then have today’s main feature!

Coming Up Shorts! with… I’ve Got Ants In My Plans (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)

The aardvark has to contend with a green aardvark chasing after the same ant. At first, this one starts out looking like it’s going to be the usual formula, with the aardvark trying to catch and eat the ant. Then the green aardvark shows up, and everything changes. With the ant captured, we now have the two aardvarks trying to take each other out. The gags may not be the most original, but they’re still worth quite a few laughs, making this cartoon fun to watch every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Alaskan fisherman Jim Kimmerlee (Henry Fonda), who is now the owner of a salmon cannery, is reunited with his friend Tyler Dawson (George Raft), who had been off hunting seal. However, Jim is having trouble with Russian fisherman Red Skain (Akim Tamiroff), who is trying to steal fish from one of his traps. Tyler comes between them, and prevents them from fighting. Afterwards, Tyler returns to town, where he is living in a hotel owned by his girlfriend, Nicky Duval (Dorothy Lamour). While Jim and Tyler are hanging out together, Dian Turlon (Louise Platt), who is the daughter of local newspaper editor Windy Turlon (John Barrymore) and also an old friend of theirs, returns to Alaska. They both try to ask her to the local dance for the night, although she turns them down. However, at the dance, she starts warming up to Jim. Tyler wants to go in on a partnership with Jim, but Jim’s business with the cannery leaves him unable to do so. Not long after, when a bunch of fisherman (including Jim and Tyler) are getting some ice from an iceberg, they have to save somebody else when too much ice falls and destroys another ship. While they are helping the other fisherman, Jim realizes that some of the fish in Tyler’s boat must have been stolen, and he tries to warn Tyler that anybody caught stealing fish from someone else’s nets will be killed, but Tyler shrugs it off. Not much later, Jim and some of the other fishermen catch some of Red’s men stealing their fish, and they deliver their dead bodies to Red’s place (where Jim also sees Tyler hanging out). When Jim celebrates his birthday, Tyler is noticeably absent. Jim is warned by the other fishermen that Red is trying to steal more fish, and has Dian try to get Nicky to warn Tyler not to go anywhere. Unfortunately, Tyler doesn’t listen to Nicky, and her attempt to sabotage his boat doesn’t stop him, as he joins Red with another boat. Jim and the other fishermen arrive at the nets while some of Red’s crew and Tyler are taking some of the fish. Tyler starts shooting harpoons at them while his compatriots try to get away. Jim reluctantly has to shoot Tyler to get him to stop. The badly injured Tyler somehow ends up back with Red and his gang, but they leave him to die. Jim finds him, and brings him back to the hotel, where Tyler is able to receive some medical care. Red, however, soon comes to town, and tells Jim there is only room for one of them in town. Tyler overhears, and wants to find a way to help his old friend Jim.

Spawn Of The North was based on a novel of the same name by Florence Barrett Willoughsby. For this movie, Paramount Studios put together a steel and concrete tank which could hold 375,000 gallons of water, in order to do close range shots of fishing boats and power cruisers. There were also some scenes shot on location at Lake Arrowhead, Lake Tahoe, Balboa Island and on the coast of Southern California. The movie proved to be popular with audiences at the time, and Paramount Studios would make use of the property again when they remade it in 1954 as Alaska Seas.

Now, I am coming off my first time seeing Spawn Of The North, and I will readily admit that it’s a movie I saw mainly for one reason: actress Dorothy Lamour. Admittedly, I mainly know her from the seven Road films with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the handful of movies she made with Bob Hope alone, and her cameo in Here Comes The Groom. So, this being more of a non-comedic role for her was different than I’m used to, and yet still satisfying! She was wonderful here as a woman with a bit of a past, and yet, as mentioned in the story, she has reformed somewhat. She certainly has a history with George Raft’s character, which allows for some humor there in the way they interact. Yet, when all is said and done, she cares for him, and tries to do what she can to save him, even when he doesn’t want her to.

And, of course, Dorothy Lamour is hardly the only reason for the movie, either! There’s some fun to be found in the idea of this being an Alaskan western (you know, with fish pirates instead of cattle rustlers, and fisherman instead of cowboys, etc.). I wouldn’t say that this is one of Henry Fonda’s better films, but he does well enough here as something of a heroic character. But, one of the better and more fun characters is the college educated newspaper editor, as played by John Barrymore, who is prone to showing off his knowledge of words, usually simplified for everyone else by his assistant Jackson, as played by Lynne Overman. Only complaint there is that we don’t get to enjoy enough of the character’s eloquent speaking here! This was a fun movie, and one I felt was worth seeing!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The movie is using at best an HD scan of the film, and the lack of a restoration shows. I certainly wish this movie could have been treated better, but, at the same time, I’d be surprised if it was popular enough to warrant the cost of restoring it in the first place. As I said, it’s far from perfect, but, all things considered, it’s good enough for me to still enjoy the film.

Film Length: 1 hour, 50 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

George Raft – Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Jezebel (1938) – Henry Fonda – Jesse James (1939)

Dorothy LamourRoad To Singapore (1940)

Akim Tamiroff – The Great McGinty (1940)

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TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… The World Of Abbott And Costello (1965)

And to finish off today’s triple feature (not to mention, our run through of the Abbott and Costello filmography), we have the 1965 film The World Of Abbott And Costello.

Well, this one should be fairly quick and easy. The World Of Abbott And Costello is a compilation film, making use of clips from various movies that the comedy team of Abbott and Costello made for Universal Studios. Movies represented by film clips include The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap, In The Navy, Hit The Ice, Who Done It?, Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein, Mexican Hayride, Hold That Ghost, Abbott And Costello In The Foreign Legion, Little Giant, In Society, Ride ‘Em Cowboy, The Naughty Nineties, Buck Privates Come Home, Buck Privates, Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops, Lost In Alaska, Comin’ Round The Mountain, Abbott And Costello Go To Mars and Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy. The film is narrated by comedian Jack E. Leonard.

Ok,now that we are past all that, I can tell you what I think of it. As a whole, this is a very weak film. By way of the narration, it “attempts” to tell the story of Abbott and Costello (although anybody expecting this to be a documentary is looking at the wrong film, as it doesn’t come anywhere near what I’ve heard). Outside of the opening and closing credits, the entirety of the film utilizes clips from their films. The problem with that is that they use clips from the lesser films along with their better stuff. When it actually uses footage of their comedy routines, it’s good and funny (but those moments are a little too few and far between). The narration by Jack E. Leonard isn’t that great either, as he throws in his own quips, almost all of which land with a thud. And sometimes his narration rather annoyingly covers some of the (far, far better) comedy routines, most noticeably during the “Who’s On First?” routine at the end of the movie. Personally, I think there are better ways to be introduced to the Abbott and Costello films (mostly by giving their earlier films a try), so I really wouldn’t recommend this movie at all.

This movie is available as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection from Shout Factory.

Film Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes

My Rating: 3/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection

Coming Up Shorts! with… Spinach-Packin’ Popeye (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

After giving blood, Popeye loses a fight to Bluto and tries to convince Olive not to reject him. A bit of a clip show, making use of some footage from “Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor” and “Popeye The Sailor Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves.” Obviously, the animation styles between the old and the new differ, but it still works quite well here. One of the better clip shows amongst the Popeye cartoons, and one I do enjoy seeing every now and then!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

We’re sticking around for the second film of today’s triple-feature as we finish out the Universal run of the Abbott and Costello films, with their 1955 comedy Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sink Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)

The Pink Panther faces off against a hunter trying to recreate Noah’s ark so he can hunt all the animals. Fun little idea, although the cartoon mainly focuses on the hunter trying (and failing) to outwit the panther. This one actually changes things up a little, as the hunter actually talks for most of the cartoon (and the panther himself has one quick line to end the cartoon)! It’s fun, and worth seeing every now and then even if it does break with the otherwise mostly silent cartoons in this series.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Note: even though the credits list their parts as Pete Patterson (Bud Abbott) and Freddie Franklin (Lou Costello), they go by their own names within the movie, so I will stick with their own names for the synopsis.

Dr. Gustav Zoomer (Kurt Katch) has announced to a journalist that he has found the mummy of Klaris, with a clue to a big treasure. He is overheard by many parties. Among them are Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, who hope he will hire them to help take the mummy to America. However, before they can talk to him, Dr. Zoomer is murdered by members of Klaris’ cult followers. When Bud and Lou discover the body of Dr. Zoomer, they take pictures that they send to the police. The only problem is, Lou took a picture of Bud with the body, and now the police suspect him of being the murderer! While on the run from the police, they return to Dr. Zoomer’s home, where they hope to find some clues to his murderer. While they are searching, two other groups are also there, looking for a medallion that would reveal the lost tomb of the Princess Ara. Lou stumbles across it, and, when one group gives chase, they make a run for it. Unsure of the medallion’s value, they ask around, only to scare people away. In a pawnshop, they run into Madame Rontru (Marie Windsor). Unknown to them, she is a treasure hunter and the leader of one of the groups after the medallion. She offers them money for the medallion, but she wants to meet them at a cafe later that evening to pay them. While they are waiting for her, Lou accidentally eats the medallion. Madame Rontru takes him to a doctor to confirm that he ate the medallion, and it is there that they meet Semu (Richard Deacon). He is the leader of Klaris’ followers, but, to lead them into a trap and recover the medallion, he pretends to be a professor, with an ability to read heiroglyphics. Once they arrive at their destination, Madame Rontru and Semu go their separate ways, so they can each plan their betrayal of the other, while Bud and Lou are forced to start digging. Lou finds the secret passage, and encounters Klaris, who scares Lou into spitting out the medallion. Bud and Lou hope to make a deal with Semu, although Klaris keeps causing them trouble.

After dealing with Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, of course Abbott and Costello had to meet up with the Mummy! Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy was directed by Charles Lamont, the ninth time that he would direct Bud and Lou in the movies. Of course, by this time, Bud and Lou were no longer the darlings of the studio, with their recent films not received as well by audiences. In spite of the fact that this movie was finished a day early and came in within the budget, Universal spent very little money advertising the movie. After the movie was finished, it was also time for Bud and Lou to renew their contract with Universal, but in between their films not being as successful and their demands for more money, Universal decided instead to drop them.

For me, this movie was truly a return to form for Bud and Lou (although sadly a short-lived one with Universal ending their contract). They made use of some of their comedy routines, including “Changing Room” and “Take Your Pick.” With Lou’s character eating a medallion at one point, we rather hilariously see the villains shaking him up as they try to find it in his stomach with an x-ray machine (although it is fairly obvious at one point that it is some stunt doubles throwing a dummy around instead of Lou). While Lou and his antics when scared by the Mummy are nothing new, he’s still very effective and funny when scared. This is a fun movie, very effective around Halloween, but equally good any other time of the year. I have no trouble whatsoever with recommending this movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios either individually or in the Mummy Legacy Collection, or as part of Shout Factory’s 28-film set The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 19 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello

Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionThe World Of Abbott And Costello (1965)

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops (1955)

As we get into the home stretch of the Abbott and Costello films (at least, those I have to work with), we have a triple-feature for today!  Starting us off is their 1955 film Abbott And Costello Meet The Keystone Kops!

Harry Pierce (Bud Abbott) convinces his buddy Willie Piper (Lou Costello) to use his aunt’s money to buy a movie studio, believing it to be a good investment. What they don’t know (at first) is that they have been conned by Joseph Gorman (Fred Clark) into buying one of Thomas Edison’s closed down studios. By the time Harry and Willie figure it out, Gorman and his friend Leota Van Cleet (Lynn Bari) are on a train heading towards Hollywood, where he plans to be a big director, under the pseudonym Sergei Toumanoff. On his way, Gorman (or maybe I should say “Toumanoff”) is stopped and hired by movie producer Rudolph Snavely (Frank Wilcox). Harry and Willie make their way out there, on foot and by train. At one point, they find themselves on the back of a covered wagon being chased by Native Americans, before it is revealed that the whole chase was being filmed (and by none other than Toumanoff)! Snavely likes the stunts that Harry and Willie do with the wagon, and wants them hired as stuntmen. Toumanoff and Leota recognize Harry and Willie, and make plans for some stunts that may kill them. To make sure, Toumanoff hires a thug named Hinds (Maxie Rosenbloom) to help off them. Between the two of them, they make plans to have Willie double for Leota in a plane, with another pilot being given live ammunition to shoot at them (instead of the blanks he was supposed to be using). However, things don’t go as planned, and both Harry and Willie survive. When viewing the footage they had shot, Snavely decides to hire Harry and Willie as a new comedy team, with Toumanoff as their director! At first, Toumanoff protests, but Snavely reveals that he figured out Toumanoff is Joseph Gorman. Snavely allows him to keep the job and name, providing he would reimburse his victims out of his pay (and keep Harry and Willie safe). Faced with no alternative, he goes along with it, although Harry and Willie soon find out that Toumanoff is Gorman and try to find some evidence. Gorman and Leota are forced to go on the run when Hinds demands his pay, which they can only provide by stealing the money from Snavely’s safe. Harry and Willie walk in on them taking the money, leading to a chase that quickly involves the Keystone Kops!

I admit that, going into it, I was not looking forward to seeing this movie again. I saw it once before, and at that time, I was left with the feeling that it was one of the worst Abbott and Costello films. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was better than I thought (although still far from perfect). The movie did have many fun moments. Bud and Lou do their “Oyster” routine again (except this time it’s a squirrel that keeps switching between loaves of bread), with the added fun that Bud actually sees the squirrel at the end of the routine. One of the film’s best moments is when Bud and Lou’s characters try to find evidence against Fred Clark’s Joseph Gorman. Bud goes into the house dressed as a burglar, while Lou is outside dressed as a policeman (with a mustache!). They run into trouble because there is a real thief there (dressed like Bud) and a real policeman comes (and he looks similar to Lou), and the comings and goings really drive Fred Clark’s character crazy! Then, there is the final (hilarious) chase scene with the Keystone Kops!

As I hinted at, this movie does still have its problems. For one thing, the stunt doubles for Bud and Lou are way too obvious (especially watching how Bud himself moves for his age, then seeing the double running like a much younger man). Then, there is the frequent use of rear screen projection. To be fair, there isn’t much to be done about it, but it still looks way too fake. But, ultimately, I would say the Keystone Kops are the biggest disappointment. For one thing, in spite of their prominence in the title, they really don’t appear until the very end, feeling more like a quick cameo appearance. Had the film gone with its working title of Abbott And Costello In The Stunt Men, it might not have been quite so bad (still not a great title, but at least better). Then, of course, there is the fact that the Keystone Kops are not that recognizable anymore. The Universal executives were concerned about that at the time, although at least then, the comedies featuring them were starting to show up on TV, and they were still relevant. Now, it seems like only the hardcore film fans might have any idea who they are (and beyond this film, I can’t really say as I do, yet). Still, as I said, I did enjoy this movie more than I thought I would the second time around, and I would recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory as part of the 28 film The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures Collection, and is one hour, nineteen minutes in length.

My Rating: 6/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionAbbott And Costello Meet The Mummy (1955)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Daredevil Droopy (1951)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)

Droopy and Spike compete to get a job in a circus. While it’s Droopy and Spike competing again, it’s still good fun here! Admittedly, there is one quick, not-very-PC joke here, but it’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment. Otherwise, the gags work well, the competition between Droopy and Spike continues to work, even for the one moment that Spike manages to get Droopy just a little. Admittedly, the final gag is a repeat from one of the earlier shorts, but it gets a laugh from me (as do most of the others here)!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring cartoons by Tex Avery (and the eventual post on the entire Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!