Ha ha!

You certainly never know what movie he'll review next!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Burl reviews Hiding Out! (1987)

Hi-hi-hiding out, it’s Burl! Ha ha, yes, I’m here to review Hiding Out, one of those many 1980s high school pictures! I didn’t ever bother seeing this one back in the day, most likely because I felt I knew exactly how it would play out in almost every detail! Well, I was almost right – there are a few minor surprises here, but not many!
The concept is pure 80s! Ha ha, a stockbroker, played by Jon Cryer from Due Date and Heads, outfitted with a fake pencil-beard, finds himself in trouble when the feds want him and two of his stockbroker buddies to testify against a shady client! When hit men perform a shooting on one of the buddies (ha ha, it’s Ned Eisenberg from The Burning and Moving Violations), Cryer is placed in witness protection, and when that goes sour he shaves his beard, insults his hair and, ha ha, “hides out”as a student in his younger cousin’s high school!
Whether or not this is a convincing development is wholly beside the point, ha ha! The point is supposed to be the laughs, such as when poor Max (as he’s named himself, after glancing at a can of Maxwell House) must hide from his aunt under a pile of his fifteen year-old cousin’s dirty laundry! Ha ha… ha? Actually that was one of the bigger laughs! There are others too, and a few unexpected elements as well! For instance, a young lady in the school falls for Max due to his relative maturity and poise, and the BMOC she throws over in Max’s favour (a character played by Tim Quill from Staying Together and Next of Kin), turns out not to be the typical 80s high school baddie, but a decent fellow who can easily be talked down from a fight!
Unusually for a stockbroker in the 1980s, Max has no respect for disgraced prexy Richard Milhous Nixon, and when a gruesome old bat of a teacher (played by Nancy Fish from Exorcist III) mounts a gravel-voiced defence of that scoundrel, Max insists on telling the truth of the matter! It’s a gratifying and mildly unexpected scene! On the other hand, there are many irritating scenes of the young cousin (Jackie “The Prey” Coogan’s grandson Keith) trying to learn how to drive from uptight instructor Richard “Ghost Dog” Portnow! These scenes were for me like the “stepping on a rake” gag in The Simpsons, only the accumulation never got any funnier!
It’s a movie of virtually no substance, which seems to be wasting its potential gags as a matter of pride! Jon Cryer’s performance is not bad, however, and the ending I expected, in which the nearly thirty year-old stockbroker gives up the girlfriend half his age to the fundamentally decent boyfriend she had before he came along, did not materialize! That’s in the movie’s favour I guess, even if it’s a bit creepy! The thriller bits of the film were not particularly thrilling, but there again the picture defied my expectations simply by it having more such bits than I expected, and a steeper body count!
In the end we’re talking about a highly inessential bit of 80s flobatussin, which I recall espying on the shelves year after year as I toiled at my video store labours, and completely ignoring! If not for my stated pledge to review all the movies, I likely would have continued to ignore it! Now that I’ve seen it, I give Hiding Out one and a half student elections!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Burl reviews Staying Together! (1989)

Hi, Burl here to review a movie that doesn’t get talked about as much as it once did, and that was never much at all! Ha ha! The movie’s called Staying Together, and it’s a familydrama-slash-familycomedy that was directed by the interesting and well-known performer Lee “Visiting Hours” Grant!
She herself is interesting, but the movie, regrettably, is about as interesting as its title! Still, ol’ Burl is a positive sort of fellow who always likes to find the good in these things, so that is just what I shall attempt to do! It’s a picture about three brothers whose parents own and operate a small-town chicken restaurant! Ha ha, buck-buck-buck!
Dermot “Stoker” Mulroney, Tim Quill from Hiding Out and Next of Kin, and Sean Astin of The Goonies star as the brothers! Their dad is Jim Haynie of The Fog, and their mom is the lady from Close Encounters! Ha ha! One of them is in love with Daphne Zuniga from The Initiation, and another is making l*ve to Rizzo! Or maybe that was the same one – ha ha, I wasn’t always clear who was who in the picture!
The main conflict comes when Dad decides he’s had enough of cluck and sells off the restaurant! Ha ha, he neglects to tell his sons about this beforehand, and one of them in particular is upset about this! He storms off, ha ha, and the movie goes on! I wonder if it would be telling too much to say that someone dies and the remaining family is brought back together in the aftermath? Ha ha, probably! Anyway all that does happen, and also the littlest brother is kind of a l*sh; and eventually Levon Helm shows up! Ha ha, one of my all-time favourite drummers!
Well, I guess this is a “life goes on” sort of movie, really just documenting the things that go on to the McWhatever Brothers as they grow and mature and c. and c.! It ends on the happy note most appropriate to as laid-back a tale as this! Ha ha, I was watching the picture in pleasant circumstances, so perhaps I was more willing to buy into that particular vibe than I might have been otherwise, or you might be! Ha ha, so take what I say with a pepperpill!
Well, while it was on I felt it was a bit of a soap opera, competently made but no better, and not a movie likely to live long in my memory! All of that is true, and yet, against all the odds, I kind of enjoyed it! As I say, my circumstances contributed a great deal to that, so you may just find it a plodding little family-life drama featuring a bunch of jerks! And, make no McSteak™, these three brothers are for the most part jerks! The shout and carry on and overreact and fight! But sometimes their fighting turns to wrestling, so ha ha, everything’s fine! You know the sort of movie I’m talking about!
This obscure little drama has its good points (including photography from the amusingly named Dick Bush, ha ha), and I can’t say I hated watching it! I give Staying Together one and a half chicken restaurant demolitions! Ha ha!

Monday, 27 July 2015

Burl reviews The Editor! (2014)

Well hello, it’s Burl here, with a review of a neo-giallo called The Editor! Ha ha, here we have a movie clearly made by fellows who’ve watched a lot of movies, and while that’s a common enough situation, these particular fellows have made something oddball and loonytune enough to be interesting! Not wholly successful, mind you, but interesting and compelling!
There are tributes to the obvious suspects, namely Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, and also to filmmakers you might not expect, like for instance David Cronenberg! Yes, they squeeze a breathing Beta tape in there, and while this might cause a few readers to exclaim “Beta?!?,” please note that the mere presence of this wheezing cassette, whichever format it might have been, is as incongruous as it might sound! Ha ha!
Because, yes, again, this is a tribute to the giallo form; but its brief is broad enough to include the crazy supernatural aspects found in the more fanciful works of Argento, Fulci, Bava, so forth! So within its putative story, that of Rey, a wooden-fingered film editor (at one time one of the greats, but now working for an abusive producer on schlock pictures) who is caught in the middle of a series of murders at his studio while in production on yet another nonsensical, violent drama, we get increasingly bizarre instances of quasi-Surrealist pingo-pango, with characters disappearing into netherworlds, or surviving clearly fatal injuries, or maybe never existing at all! Ha ha! And of course there is a never-ending series of call-outs to giallos both great and not-so-great! Ha ha! While at least we don’t have any killers talking in Donald Duck voices,  I do have a feeling the idea was considered!
The picture, which was made on a pretty tight budget I’m sure, looks pretty good, and the music, which includes a contribution from Goblin’s own Claudio Simonetti, is effective enough, and the acting, particularly that of Rey and of his devoted assistant, is surprisingly strong; and we do get a cameo appearance from the great Udo Kier; but, speaking critically for just a moment, I do think the editing is one of the picture’s weakest points, ironically enough! Scenes end abruptly, transitions are awkward, and nothing holds together as well as it should, even for a parody-pastiche like this!
Moreover, the picture lacks the formal elegance one may reasonably expect from one of the better giallos! There are many scenes of spectacular (though frequently rubbery) gore, but nothing which earnes the name of “setpiece;” whereas something by Argento is composed almost entirely of setpieces! Think of the killer’s demise in Deep Red! Here the murderer is dispatched by, I think, fire – ha ha, big deal!
There’s a lot of slapping of ladies in the movie, which is played for laughs but sat a bit ill with me! Far better are the moustaches, which seem real, and are perhaps in the end the most genuine things the picture has to offer! Though I don’t doubt for a moment that the lads of Astron-6, who made the movie (and who brought us the great Cool Guys), have a true, deep and heartfelt love of the genre they’re playing fiddlesticks with here! Anyone with a similar admiration will find a lot to enjoy in The Editor, and I give the picture two Steenbecks and a hearty tousle on the top of the head! Ha ha!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Burl reviews Return to Boggy Creek! (1977)

Hi, Burl here with a bigfoot picture to review for you! There are a lot of bigfoot pictures out there of course, and many of them are – ha ha, how do I put this delicately – not very good! And yet most of them have their coterie of devoted fans! Ha ha, except this one, Return to Boggy Creek! Absolutely nobody likes this one!
As a bigfoot completest, I knew this was a movie I’d have to watch sooner or later! I was always kind of dreading it though, for every review takes care to mention how Return to Boggy Creek is a) a kiddie movie, and b) a mind-crushingly boring one! Yikes! And in the bargain, it’s not actually a part of the Boggy Creek series of movies, even though it shares a location (the swampy “bottoms” of Louisiana) with those movies, and a star (Miss Dawn Wells) with the work of original Boggy Creek auteur Charles Pierce!
The story places us in the middle of a swamp, where three kids, Evvie Joe, John Paul and mute little T-Fish, are pulling cod from the creek like nobody’s business! Turns out it’s part of a weekly competition, and at the fish market later that day the kids give a hearty ha-ha to their nearest competitor, Bruno! Bruno is played by someone who is at once the worst and the greatest actor in the movie, and his line readings are one of the picture’s great pleasures! It makes me sad that all the other reviews of this movie, even that of my pal Bleeding Skull, characterize Bruno as simply bad! He’s so, so much more, ha ha!
As in that fine bigfoot picture Creature From Black Lake, there are also two grumpy old coots, who spend much of the film telling stories, making up the mysterious “catfish kool-ade” the kids use as bait, or getting bonked on the head! They also spend many minutes worrying about something called “Big Bay Ti,” who is the local apeman creature, and whom one of the elderlies blames for the death of his son, who was also Evvie Joe and John Paul’s father! A portly big-city shutterbug who becomes obsessed with photographing Big Bay Ti convinces Bruno to take him deep down the Boggy Creek just as a hurricane is about to hit, and for some mysterious reason the kids, previously characterized as sensible, decide to follow along!
The rest of the film takes place during the hurricane, which means a constant wash of double-exposed wind and rain over the image! Bruno and the shutterbug are clobbered by lightning and falling branches, and then they and the kids are all saved by Big Bay Ti, who also conveniently provides proof that he didn’t kill the dad after all! Then there’s a happy ending and Big Bay Ti disappears off into the swamplands! Ha ha!
Well, there’s plenty of swampy atmosphere here, though not as authentic as we find in genuine backwoods productions like Terror in the Swamp! T-Fish has a wide array of hilarious scared faces, busting out a new one whenever the monster shows up; and there’s also some pretty nice swamp photography in the picture! On the other hand there are plenty of longueurs, a marvelously literal song that outstays its welcome, and not nearly enough Big Bay Ti action! But I’ll tell you this: I’m not sorry I watched the movie! I enjoyed its unhurried pace and its country-fried jocularity, and if you’re in the mood to hang out with some rural kids and their bigfoot pal, you may feel the same! I give Return to Boggy Creek two bottles of catfish kool-ade!  

Friday, 17 July 2015

Burl reviews Cloak & Dagger! (1984)

Hi everybody, Burl here, finally! Yes, I’ve been away, but I do mean to keep reviewing movies for you, ha ha! And I have one for you now, a kiddie adventure from the mid-80s called Cloak & Dagger! That’s the one with Henry Thomas, who’s still today, maybe even to his own family, known as The Kid From E.T.; and the picture also features a double helping of Dab! Yes, that’s Dabney Coleman, famed for his role in Dragnet!
The picture is a would-be Hitchcockian adventure retooled for kids, and the premise is that a little nerd boy, Davey Osborne, is so wrapped up in his fantasy world (one part D&D, two parts James Bond) that he has an ever-present imaginary buddy called Jack Flack, who advises him on strategy when things get hairy! Jack Flack is of course played by Dabney Coleman in a beret!
Naturally his widower dad disapproves, and who do you think plays the dad? Why, it’s Dabney again, ha ha! Meanwhile the adventure commences, with the McGuffin being some kind of microchip planted in an Atari cartridge (which everyone except Jack Flack refers to as a “tape” for some reason), disguised of course as the very game with which young Davey is obsessed, which, again of course, is called Cloak & Dagger! (Ha ha, I smell a failed tie-in!) Naturally nobody believes Davey for even a minute, due to his history of fantasy-based storytelling! Davey is pursued by Michael “Manhattan” Murphy and a duo of off-the-rack thugs, who are later joined by an old couple, one of whom is, shall we say, ha ha, digitally challenged, through a series of locations no doubt approved by the San Antonio Board of Tourism! Ha ha!
The ending seems less tailored to dads than to kids though, ha ha! Davey sees the brutality and futility of someone like Jack Flack is, and completely unnecessary too, since Davey has a real hero living right in the house with him: his dad! Yay, dads! Ha ha, the opening logo says Universal Pictures, but the picture seems more to have been financed by a consortium made up of Atari, the City of San Antonio and the National Council of Average-Guy Dads!
Having the old couple played by pros like John McIntire, from Psycho and Herbie Rides Again, and Jeanette Nolan, from The Manitou, should in theory result in the sort of delightful, eccentric frissons provided by Dame May Whitty in The Lady Vanishes, but somehow it does not! (It does briefly provide the picture with a mildly Joe Dante vibe, however: a good thing!)
But the attempts at suspense and action are generally flat and boring and bad! This is incredible to me, as the director is Richard Franklin, who made Road Games, a  corker as I recall; Psycho II, which I’ve always been fond of! I even enjoyed Link, at least a little bit! And Franklin met Hitch and was a lifelong student and fan, and I can’t imagine what happened here! Maybe it was just too hard to make a night picture like this with not one but two kids! (Davey has a little girl friend, played by Christine “Sword and the Sorcerer” Nigra, who shares in his adventure; he also has the requisite adult nerd friend, who is played by none other than William “Smokey Bites the Dust” Forsythe!) Even the daytime scenes are lame, like Davey’s debarkation from a slow-moving little boat almost too wide for the stream it’s floating in! Ha ha, Hitch would have told San Antonio where to go and relocated the whole thing to Niagara Falls so he could shoot that scene at the crest of the Horseshoe Cascade!
I guess the movie is for gamers, or ex-gamers, neither of which I am! I was never even sure if the game Cloak & Dagger was a sort of role-playing game, what with its many-sided dice and painted lead figures, or a video game, or some amalgam of the two! I give Cloak & Dagger one incredibly large nerd die! Two such dice appear in the picture, but I only give the movie one! Sorry, Cloak & Dagger, ha ha!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Burl reviews Jurassic World! (2015)

Groww, groww, it’s Burl here with a review of the dinosaur picture! Yes, this is the newest one in the dinosaur series we all thought had closed up shop with Jurassic Park III, but this one, they tells us, is called Jurassic World!
Ha ha, and that title raises all sorts of possibilities: have the dinosaurs upended the food chain and somehow reclaimed the world? No, they haven’t: it’s just the same island theme park from the first one! However, it’s now operational, which affords the filmmakers plenty of opportunities to give it a When Time Ran Out-style old-fashioned disaster movie build-up, which they mostly miss, and for chomping scenes, which they largely take! Ha ha, plenty of splattering pasta sauce in this picture!
The plot is a kind of suck-pit of silliness, I’m sorry to say! Ha ha! There’s a parade of highly unlikely “attraction” scenes, such as the one with the giant dino-croc thing, the people kayaking serenely past stegosaurs (after all, hippos, just as herbaceous, drown anyone who tries to swim with them!), and of course the big bird dome made apparently of spun sugar!
Chris Pratt, who was in Guardians of the Galaxy, plays the highly generic Hero In Khaki, and a complete screenplay construction is played by Bryce Dallas Howard! Have I got that name right? Ha ha, and there are a couple of kids, brothers actually, who perform their functions well! The little one especially is good at looking sad and scared! The bad guy is Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket and The First Turn-On, and his badguyness is pretty rote, I have to say, and there’s not much old Vincent can do about it! (I’d like to have seen Vincent Price in the role, frankly! Ha ha!)
I liked some of the trick effects, and also the scene in which the two kids explore the ruins of the main building from the original! That seemed like a comment on the increasing speed of, shall we say, chrono-cultural turnover: today’s kids who are looking at our detritus already qualify as archeologists, or at least feel like they do! Those kids pushing aside the spider webs in the old Jurassic Park complex and dusting off “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” banners may just as well be flipping through Dad’s old record collection, wondering what these round black things are and what “Pavement” was! Ha ha!
But this hint of subtext was brief, and then things returned to the general entertainment of dino attacks and so forth, with a few bits of humour aimed at corporate branding, the unreasonable demands of audiences, and so forth! Welcome stuff, but it’s spread pretty thin! The things about it that work do work well enough, but there’s nothing all that memorable about it! Ha ha! I’m going to give Jurassic World one and a half bird feet!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Burl reviews The Slams! (1973)

Ha ha, and clang goes the cell door, it’s Burl! Yes, I have a review of a pokey picture for you today, directed by our old pal Jonathan “White Line Fever” Kaplan! Yes, the movie is called The Slams, and, ha ha, it’s a tough little quillici of a Gene Corman production, with none other than football great Jim “Small Soldiers” Brown in top form as the lead jailbird, Curtis Hook!
The opening of the movie is a bit queasy! Hook and his associates, arrive at a gathering of mind-dr*g mobsters! They will have precious few seconds to regret their choice of a shipping container as a meeting place when they are locked in and fed cyanide-laced exhaust in place of air! Ha ha! The successful heist is quickly followed by a fatal falling-out between Hook and the others, and a wounded Hook ends up tossing away the sm*ck and hiding the million-and-a-half in ill-gotten gains!
Well, he’s soon checked into the crossbar hotel, an object of interest to all! Brutal goon Ted Cassidy, who of course fought Steve Austin in the terrifying Bigfoot episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, wants to do horrible things involving caustic liquids to him! The high-living capo, played by Frank De Kova of course, wants the money on behalf of the mob! And the round-faced Captain of the Guards, who I thought the whole time was being played by David from Sesame, silly Burl ha ha, also would like the money, and is willing to employ some pretty underhanded methods too!
On the outside, Hook’s ladyfr*end, at her man’s direction, gets in touch with a shady character who owes Hook a favor, or is his bosom chum, or some admixture of the two! (Hook’s lovely lady is played by Judy Pace from Frogs, and the buddy is Paul Harris from Kaplan’s later Truck Turner!) An escape plan is cooked up, and many punchings are laid upon one and all!
Critical to the plan is a cab ride with driver Dick Miller, that great actor whom we know from Lies, Gremlins 2, Get Crazy, Moving Violation and all sorts of other movies! Ha ha, as good as most of the other actors are, the movie really felt as though it upped its game during those Miller moments! You forget what a good actor he is unless you really pay attention, ha ha!
I’ll tell you that a cement truck provides a grisly surprise in the penultimate moments of the picture! The very last scene shows Hook and his lady enjoying the spoils of their booty, ha ha, although one thinks with regret of his old mum, whom he appears to have left behind with her believing him dead! Poor goodhearted old lady!
The pokey picture isn’t my favourite genre, I must admit, but this is a pretty entertaining one! It’s fairly nasty and brutal too, but not very realistic! The escape scene is easy enough to buy into, though some of the specifics of the outh*use hiding spot were a little mystifying to me! Ha ha! I’m going to give The Slams two and a half ladles of bleach, with almost a full one of those for the Dick Miller scene alone!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Burl reviews Creepshow! (1982)

Hi, Burl here to review a movie I’ve always kind of liked but never completely loved! Yes, it’s Creepshow, ha ha, how did you know? Or should I say Bwa-ha-ha?
Anyway, though I may feel it failed to achieve greatness, the picture nonetheless fits very well into that strong year of genre filmmaking, 1982! Whether you were the exact right age that year, as I was, or not, it must be acknowledged as something special for movie viewers! Certainly Creepshow was pushed as itself something special: this triad of terror titans, Romero, King and Savini, conspiring to petrify us in one pulse-pounding portmanteau!
So it couldn’t ever have been anything but an enjoyable if mildly underwhelming bohankie, but I nevertheless had the poster tacked with pride on my teen bedroom wall! It’s a comfort movie I suppose! And though it’s a Halloween picture through and through – it was originally released in the late fall, and of course it has the bookending scenes involving pumpkins and comic books and little badactor Joe King (who I understand has since found his true calling as a writer like his old man) and good old Tom “Halloween III” Atkins as the nasty dad – I think of it more as an early summer movie because of its first story, “Father’s Day!” Ha ha!
Yes, that’s the one with the great Viveca Lindfors, whom we know from Exorcist III and Silent Madness! It’s also got Ed Harris in there of course, and Carrie “Too Scared To Scream” Nye, and Jon Lormer from the boo-boo-Boogens, and an ambling corpse who uses corpse magic to crush Ed with a gravestone!
The next story involves Stephen “Maximum Overdrive” King himself, playing an overalled clod who finds a meteor and turns into a moss! After that is a tale of watery revenge, where we get Leslie “Four Rode Out” Nielsen planting Ted “Body Heat” Danson and Gaylen “Madman” Ross in the beach, then gibbering as they come shambling back for him! Ha ha, I’ve always liked the beach atmosphere in this one!
After that comes probably my fave of the bunch, “The Crate,” where janitor Don “The Car” Keefer finds a box with an ape monster in it, and after he and Fritz “The Big Fix” Weaver open it up, there’s a mild rampage! The janitor, a young brain wizard and the world’s most unpleasant woman, played by Adrienne “The Fog” Barbeau (who in real life is an extremely pleasant woman) are all munched down without delay! Finally we experience a nasty millionaire with a cleanliness fet*sh, played by E. G. “Christmas Vacation” Marshall, who experiences the worst sort of bug-out! Ha ha!
So there’s a lot going on, and it’s all pretty entertaining, if never very scary! Certainly, however, this is streets ahead of its poor sequel, Creepshow 2; word has it there’s even a third picture in the series, but I feel it might be wise to stay far away from that one! The original, with its funny colours and strange cast of stars, is clearly the way to go! I give Creepshow two and a half glazed hams!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Burl reviews Design for Living! (1933)

Hi, Burl here to deliver a bit more of the old Burlitsch Touch! Ha ha, I’m not sure if there really is a Burlitsch Touch, but certainly we all know there’s a Lubitsch Touch, and that came of course from good old Ernst Lubitsch, who brought us pictures like Eternal Love, The Shop Around the Corner, and Heaven Can Wait!
All fine pictures in their way, but my very favourite of them all is Design for Living, the picture I want to write about today! Ha ha, this is a pre-Code picture, based on a play by Noël Coward, and is very contemporary in its themes! (They were still making pictures on these themes in the 1990s, though considerably relieved of the wit with which Design for Living is amply supplied – remember Threesomes for example, or Three of Hearts? Ha ha, you don’t? Well don’t worry about it!)
Of course this movie’s best and most relevant antecedent is Jules et Jim, but Design for Living neglects to include the tragic ending, and more importantly omits the implication of mental disturbance as a necessary prerequisite for enjoying a non-traditional r*mantic or sexu*l situation! In fact the movie celebrates the capacity for such relationships! Most unusual for 1933, or for almost any period I can think of! Ha ha!
The story kicks off on a train, where two sleeping fellows, Tom and George, are sketched by their compartment-mate, a commercial illustrator called Gilda! (That’s pronounced “Jilda,” by the way!) Tom and George (which is to say Fredric March and Gary Cooper) are old friends and roommates who share a bohemian atelier in Paris! Tom is a playwrite, George a painter, and neither can as yet claim much success! Quickly a r*mantic triangle forms, and this is supplanted by a “gentleman’s agreement” whereby the happy-go-lucky Gilda, played by the delightful Miriam Hopkins, becomes the pair’s “art mother,” and guides them to success and acclaim!
But of course the gentleman’s agreement falls apart (“I, unfortunately, am no gentleman, ha ha!” Gilda laments), and matters are further complicated by a stuffed-shirt advertiser played by Edward Everett Horton! (He played these roles whenever a snippier version of Ralph Bellamy was required!) “Ha ha, immorality may be fun, but it isn’t fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day!” says Horton several times!
Anyway, the picture is very funny, and the script, which was by all reports, especially screenwriter Ben Hecht’s, vastly overhauled from the original Coward play, is a constant delight! All the performances are good, but I was especially taken with Coop, to tell you the truth! And can you imagine a movie featuring both Edward Everett Horton and Franklin Pangborn? Ha ha, friends, this is it!
Yes, this really is a great picture, and almost certainly my very favourite romantic comedy ever! I mean, When Harry Met Sally is fine and all, but this is the real deal! I give Design for Living four Eaglebauers, which is the highest number of Eaglebauers I have ever awarded a film! Ha ha!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Burl reviews Ridin' on a Rainbow! (1941)

Yee-ha-ha, it’s Burl! Yes, I’ve got another oater for you, and, like Susanna Pass, it features a singin’ cowboy! Not Roy Rogers this time though, but Gene Autry, starring as himself, or rather as a guy named “Gene Autry,” in a picture called Ridin’ on a Rainbow!
Yes, Gene’s here, a-warblin’ his tunes, and his good pal Frog, played as ever by Smiley Burnette, is right thar by his side! Ha ha! Gene plays a rancher who persuades his ranching buddies to put all their money into the bank, which is then promptly robbed by two badmen and a clown! The clown escapes the bank by mixing in with the crowd, who somehow fail to notice an enormous harlequin in their midst! And of course Gene is left feeling badly for having helped lose all his friends their money!
The clown, played by prolific performer Byron Foulger from The Man They Could Not Hang, is part of a showboat ensemble which happens to be docked in town and conducting a parade! He’s not really a bad guy, just a little misguided, and his doting daughter, also a showboat performer, promises not to tell where he is! The badmen, who cold-bloodedly shot down the old bank manager, are the real bad guys!
Nevertheless, we have a clown on the run, which is a great scene because so rarely in these dime-book Westerns do we get to see a stagecoach pounding through the sagebrush with a Pierrot at the reins! He’s got the fuzzbuttons, the Elizabethan collar and everything! Ha ha! And this remarkable scene closely follows a mindbending showboat number with a holiday theme, such that, before the act is over, the stage is crowded with a clutch of Pilgrims, a cherub, a goblin, a demented Easter Bunny, and Santa! Ha ha!
Of course Gene and Smiley go undercover as entertainers as part of their campaign to catch the bandits! They seem a lot more interested in performing than in solving the crime, it must be said, but some time is also given to scenes of contrived drama wherein friction is created by having the other characters simply refuse to listen to what Gene is saying! He’s always right of course, and they should have listened to him and believed him!
Ridin’ on a Rainbow has a supporting cast of journeymen, of that there’s no doubt, with recognizable faces like Ferris Taylor from You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, Anthony Warde from Rear Window, and many others! I even liked the songs, except that holiday one and the title track, which really is a miserable ditty! Ha ha! But I enjoyed watching it, and found the relationship between Gene and Smiley to be the most compelling! Evidently is was spread through dozens of movies, and it would be interesting to watch them all and try putting their interactions into chart form, proving what I can’t say, but something noteworthy no doubt! (Ha ha, I’m not intimating something r*mantic, though!)
Anyway, Ridin’ on a Rainbow has some tapdancing, which I always love to see, and lots of great entertainment, and the showboat setting is novel for a Western, and the clown stuff is good for a chuckle! Give it a watch, why not! I give Ridin’ on a Rainbow two missing puffbuttons!