World Premiere (1941)

Approved   |    |  Comedy


World Premiere (1941) Poster

A producer devises an elaborate gala premiere for his latest anti-Nazi propaganda epic.


6.6/10
62

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28 July 2013 | jemkat
8
| Very enjoyable comedy if you like this sort of thing.
Like a previous reviewer I have also only ever seen this film surface once. This was on TV here in Australia, possibly in the early 80s or a little earlier. My memory of it is that it was a satire come comedy come espionage thriller which I enjoyed immensely, despite the low one and a half star rating that I remember seeing in the current edition of Maltin at the time. I have wanted to see it again ever since, but have not had much luck in tracking a copy down. It was advertised for sale as a DVD item from a now defunct (or so I believe) internet vendor, but when I actually received the DVD it was some kind of rap music video with the same title! But I digress.

This was John Barrymore's next to last feature. (His last was Playmates in support of Kay Kyser!) It was during this period that Barrymore's career was in decline, and his roles were inclined to humorous self parody. While his performance here does not plumb the depths of self- caricature the way his role in Playmates does for example, my memory of the performance here is nevertheless along similar lines. Unlike many who find these and other similar roles towards the end of his career a demeaning waste of his talents, I actually enjoy THIS John Barrymore more than the posturing ham of his earlier years. Don't get me wrong folks...I appreciate the earlier works more than somewhat...it's just that I enjoy all of Barrymore's roles from the last few years of his career a lot more. (Am still waiting to see Hold That Co-ed by the way, which seems to be a starting point of sorts for these kind of Barrymore flicks).

Paramount had apparently lost interest in Frances Farmer by this time in her career, as they appear to have been relegating her to their B features or loaning her out to other studios. Her last two Paramount pics appear to be this and Among the Living, the latter being yet another film I am also waiting to see again after close to 40 years, a very fine dramatic thriller containing one of Albert Dekker's finest early performances. In any event Miss Farmer, who could be a very effective actress, was certainly not put to much worthwhile use in World Premiere as I have very little memory of her at all from this film.

Which brings me to the real stars of World Premiere and the main reason for watching it, Fritz Feld and Sig Rumann. Though nominally only supporting players they really do steal the film, and it is such a pleasure seeing them with far more sizeable roles than the mere walk-ons in which they were frequently cast. It has always been my contention that what gave the Golden Years of Hollywood their gold was the large reservoir of wonderful supporting character players which could always be drawn upon, and these two guys are among my favourites.

Hoping whoever owns the MCA library now will make this available again some time, but given the track record of MCA and Universal titles that seem to have sunk into oblivion, I am not holding my breath.

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