13 May 2006 | itsbarrie
two words: Vincent Price
Why this movie is not considered up there with the great comedies of the 1950's is beyond me - I mean, Some Like It Hot is funny for two viewings, tops. There are scenes in this movie that never ever fail to make me laugh, and I've seen the film six or seven times by now. All of these are scenes with Vincent Price, who gives what is probably among the top five comedic performances in the history of American film here -- at least if you consider those by non-comedians. It's no surprise that Price could go over the top, as he did in all those Roger Corman horror movies, but here, it's expressly for comic effect (rather than camp effect -- not the same thing). He was at a transitional point in his career: he was through playing hunky-but-wimpy second male leads and tormented romantic heroes, and was soon to embark on his second career as Mr. Drive-In Horror Movie Star. So this is really his only true comedy performance, and he is brilliant as corporate nutjob Burnbridge Waters.
Everybody else here is great*: Ronald Colman is simply perfect as Beauregard Bottomley, an unemployable with a genius range IQ. (I am of the opinion that Alex Trebek wanted to grow up to be Ronald Colman -- not necessarily as this character, just in general). Celeste Holm is great as always as temptress Flame O'Neill, hired by Waters to rattle Colman's character to the point where he starts losing on the quiz show. She's very much in the tradition of Carole Lombard: beautiful and a super actress in anything, very adept at comedy and always intensely likable. Barbara Britton as Bottomley's sister Gwenn is another charmer, cute as a bug's ear.
*Then there's Art Linkletter: OK, he's great as the quiz show host -- he did that for a living in real life. But there's something kinda creepy about him, plus he's no matinée idol, and I always feel a little skeeved at his scenes romancing Barbara Britton. It's taken as gospel that no unattached lead character remain unattached at the end of a movie, but couldn't they have paired her off with one of Waters' employees, a cab driver, ANYBODY? OR could they have hired some second-tier pretty boy to play Linkletter's role? This is my only quibble with the film, and it's why I rate it a 9 rather than a 10.