13 November 2001 | telegonus
Mock Turtle Soup
Sometimes mock turtle soup is better than none, and Tall, Dark and Handsome, while not Damon Runyon, is close enough to the Master to be pretty satisfying in its own right. Cesar Romero plays a kind-hearted gangster who has cultivated a reputation for ruthlessness, but is in reality so nice a guy he won't even execute his rival's henchmen, so he keeps them in the basement of his lakeside mansion. Sheldon Leonard made his first big splash as Romero's rival, and is quite funny. Milton Berle has a small role in this as well. Charlotte Greenwood is also on hand, and does an elaborate dance number. Director Bruce Humberstone keep things moving at a brisk pace. This is at times a quite funny film if one has a taste for old-time gangster movies, of which this is a parody. Cesar Romero handles the lead role beautifully, and gives what may be his best star performance. I'm amazed that his studio didn't capitalize on his work here, and produce a series for him. Always an amiable player, he often seemed oddly cast at times. His mix of outward guile and inner softness has never been so well-used, and he is a delight in this film.