Reviews (104)

  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film ultimately contains everything I could want in a horror film-excellent atmosphere, subtlety, and above all, a standout performance by Mark Redfield in the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Though working with a limited budget, the film borrows excellently from the stage adaptation to give it the perfect combination of cinema and theater. This is the most thoughtful adaptation of the book I have yet seen (including the John Barrymore and Fredric March versions). The performances by the leads all contributed much to this version of the story as well. Special mention should go to the excellent makeup work by Robert Yoho in creating the Mr. Hyde transformation. This version of the classic story is both respectful to its source material and very atmospheric, which makes for an excellent film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What is amazing in the history of the cinema is those works of art that get produced under less-than-ideal circumstances. CITIZEN KANE could fit into this category, so could GREED, even CASABLANCA. But perhaps one of the most significant is Buster Keaton's masterwork, THE CAMERAMAN.

    Due to the inflated rental costs and poor distribution that Keaton's previous three films had through United Artists, Buster Keaton Productions was forced to close down, and Keaton lost all creative control and took a job as performer only at MGM, Hollywood's largest studio. Reluctant to take direction and perform material written by others, he fought the studio tooth and nail to get the film made his way. His first film there also became, interestingly enough, perhaps his most all-round most satisfying motion picture of his career.

    In watching THE CAMERAMAN, I was struck particularly by the brilliance and sheer number of gags. In addition, Keaton was supported by a very talented cast, not least of all former Mack Sennett clown Harry Gribbon. The film is filled with memorable set-pieces (the entire scene at the pool, especially in the bathhouse, is my favorite).

    This film is highly recommended to fans of film comedy, and the lost art of gag structure and payoff.
  • Clearly influenced by the German musical comedies of the time, William Dieterle's first American film is a delightful pre-code musical comedy starring Marilyn Miller, of the Ziegfeld Follies. The real treat is the fun performances by such early comic legends of the stage and screen like W.C. Fields, Leon Errol, Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin. Songs add to the atmosphere of the story. The most notable aspect of this film is the technical brilliance of the cinematography and editing. Filmed with a much more fluid camera than the average film of 1931, with many scenes transitioned by brilliant dissolves. Worth the watch if you can find it.
  • I saw Robbie Chafitz's FLICKERS on a double bill with the Buster Keaton film THE CAMERAMAN and a live vaudeville performance. This film was thoroughly enjoyable. Chafitz, in addition to writing and directing, stars as Eddie, an inept movie projectionist who through some circumstances ends up having to pose as a homeless person to be close to the girl he loves. Many funny gags and routines. This film was made as a homage to the silent comics, and the film itself is silent with a piano musical accompaniment on the soundtrack.
  • DESPERATE LIVING is something of a transitional film for director Waters. It is a departure from his earlier works because it was the first of his films not to be produced by his Dreamland company, but by a limited partnership called Charm City Productions. It was also the first feature he made without his usual star, Divine, and therefore represents a departure from his usual story lines (which had previously served as vehicles for Divine). In this sense, it is a film that is more Waters' vision. The story and the execution of the film is far too grim, however. Waters' films work because the characters seem to enjoy themselves very much. But DESPERATE LIVING presents us with characters that simply seem miserable, and nothing else. The opening scenes are quite funny, though. Jean Hill's performance is particularly funny. From a moviegoers' standpoint, I prefer FEMALE TROUBLE highly over this film. I am somewhat baffled at the statement that DESPERATE LIVING is Waters' best film. I can see that it is his most technically advanced up to the time it was made, but surely FEMALE TROUBLE contains the funniest dialogue and performances. All in all, DESPERATE LIVING represents a pre-mainstream John Waters which is always an interesting experience. However, I would not reccomend it as highly as I would some of his other works.
  • As everyone as heard by now, this film slipped into the Public Domain in the early 1970s when it failed to be renewed for copyright. This was both a blessing and a curse. There are many other great films like this one which deserve to be shown more often on network TV. But they never will because of the royalties involved and the fact that they would never make that money back. But when a "forgotten" film is shown regularly on TV it can trigger a positive audience response and get a fan base for the film that it would not have otherwise had, as was the case here. But what about when there are no royalties to be paid? The film can be run over and over, into the ground, until it loses all freshness. With this particular film there seems to be people who need to watch it religiously each year, and others who get frankly tired of it. My opinion is that IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a very good film. Certainly a very emotional ending. But labeling it a "Christmas" movie is nonsense and it was never intended to be shown only at the holidays. It is a motion picture, just like any other, and deserves to be watched objectively. That's what I'll do here. How does it compare to other similar films? Well, for one thing, I find that this film can convey some very strong emotions for a nearly 60 year old film. Another example is CITY LIGHTS, by Charlie Chaplin, which can still move audiences to tears 70 years after its release. I find the acting to be quite good, but it's worth noting that this shouldn't be surprising considering the first-rate cast (especially Stewart and Barrymore). I find the script to be generally rather weak, incidentally. I feel that the sheer great acting manages to overcome some fairly cliched lines and situations. Still there are also some memorably original sequences like the high school dance. The direction by Capra is excellent as always. It is not without good reason that he is considered one of America's foremost filmmakers. He definitely is not afraid to play scenes for ultimate emotional content which adds strongly to the personal and human element of his films. From a technical aspect, I find this film to be quite well made, especially given its low budget. The giant street set is quite convincing in creating a whole little "world" inhabited by the movie's characters. The location footage of the early suburban neighborhoods is an interesting record. The story itself is good but I feel that the entire concept of the angel was simply a cop-out. In earlier Capra efforts, the main character overcame adversity with effort and common sense. But this "guardian angel" device is complete fantasy. I guess it works to some extent but I found it to be an easy out. How does it rank against Capra's other films? Well, obviously nothing can touch the brilliant, landmark IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. One of the very funniest films ever made, and one of the very best. Also, I don't think IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is as successful in maintaining a theme as MR. DEEDS (1936). I would rank it after those two, earlier Capra efforts. Generally if I *have* to watch a "christmas" movie it would be Laurel and Hardy's BABES IN TOYLAND. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a very good film, and deserves to be shown. But so do many other films. I feel another release of 1946, DETOUR, by Edgar G. Ulmer, is a much better film.
  • Man, this film-noir classic blows all those classy, polished looking "noirs" out of the water. No, you won't find Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall John Huston direction...No, this is truly gritty independent film noir. The real deal. The real brilliance here is in the lighting and in the writing. This script is so tight and concise but brilliant. The cinematography (by Benjamin Kline, who shot alot of the Three Stooges shorts) is truly some of the best ever seen in film noir. This is no cheap suspense movie. This is one of the truly greatest films ever made. Edgar G. Ulmer pulled this story off perfectly. And it is *so* believable given the production values and the performers. Check this one out.
  • Certainly one of the funniest of the pre-code comedies. The premise of different bidders coming together to bid on the rights to the TV system is just an excuse to get alot of talent together, from W.C. Fields to Cab Calloway. The Burns & Allen segments are great here. That corny vaudeville shtick never worked better! Franklin Pangborn is in his element as the prissy, flustered hotel manager. God, he was hilarious! Too many great moments to try to list here. Thankfully this one is available in a great quality video and it's a shame that it isn't (yet) available on DVD (along with the other Fields Paramounts). Typical of the kinds of comedies that Hollywood (and Paramount in particular) excelled at during the Depression years. However, this one just has it all. Excellent absurd humor (Fields definitely paved the way for Monty Python and the like, believe it or not). This is not art or anything like that, don't expect a Chaplin or Keaton style film. No, this is just good, wacky fun, which is fine. If you liked INTERNATIONAL HOUSE be sure to check out the excellent Paramount comedy, MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (1932), also with W.C. Fields. This is a film with a similar vein of absurd comedy. At any rate, INTERNATIONAL HOUSE is a genuine classic comedy movie.
  • This is undeniably the great Frank Capra's best film. Any career that includes such classics as MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, MEET JOHN DOE, and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is obviously a feat by itself. But to have IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT amongst those credits is simply amazing. This film is the one that really started the screwball comedy genre, and its influence is still very strong today. Definitely one of the seminal pictures in motion picture history, a deserved 5-Oscar winner. The excellent writing and acting are pulled together under the brilliant direction of Frank Capra, undeniably the greatest film director in terms of conveying a powerful story. Hitchcock and Welles may have been the masters of detail and technique, but when it comes to absolutely selling a story to an audience, Capra is tops. What a legacy he left for future generations to enjoy! His film IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is still the most often-watched film at the holiday season, but IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is one of the *very* very few truly perfect films ever made.
  • It is hard to imagine the ideas being created that would become UN CHIEN ANDALOU. It is surely the most inventive and surreal film ever made. Its shock value was a key factor in the later films of John Waters, whose film PINK FLAMINGOS was compared to Bunuel and Dali's UN CHIEN ANDALOU. The slicing of the eyeball must surely be the single most disgusting image ever recorded.
  • It was in this, his first film, that Chaplin was called "a comedian of the first water" by an early, unidentified film critic. Actually, this film was considered bad at the time of its release, but Chaplin stood out in this unimaginative short as a first-class performer. Here, he appears in a silk hat and frock-coat, wearing a monocle. It is interesting to note that while American audiences would interpret this characterization as a traditional stage villain, but in England music-hall this characterization represents a man down-on-his-luck, a sort of forerunner of the Little Tramp (which Chaplin would develop in his following film). The plot, such as it is, involves Chaplin and Lehrman as rival reporters, and when Lehrman gets a photo of a car wreck, Chaplin steals it and tries to sell it to the paper as his own.
  • TRIPLE TROUBLE was made up scraps from old Essanay takes that Chaplin decided not to use. It was made up of old bits and pieces from WORK, POLICE and an unfinished feature, LIFE. Chaplin did not authorize this patchwork film. It was put together with new footage directed by Leo White. In all fairness to Chaplin, he did not even authorize this production to be made. In 1918, he was making films like A DOG'S LIFE and SHOULDER ARMS. The only difference between TRIPLE TROUBLE and the countless other patchwork compilation films mad during the "Chaplin craze" is that this film offers footage not to be found anywhere else. For that it may be worth seeing, even though it is not up to Chaplin's usual standards. Interestingly enough, though, he included this film in his filmography published in his autobiography.
  • Even though this film suffers from staginess in its filming, and even in the acting of much of the supporting cast, THE GOLF SPECIALIST can still be fun to watch. Fields is brilliant as always, finding much humor in the simplest situations. This is more or less a filmed record of his "golf routine" in which he keeps stalling so he does not have to hit the ball and prove what a bad golfer he really is. He lets every little possible thing stand in his way. This film may be more of historical interest now, as the golf routine was put on film later in YOU'RE TELLING ME, but it still manages to remain entertaining.
  • I have seen only a few of the Abbott and Costello films, and find in most of them that the films themselves are but an excuse for them to do their (hilarious) routines, with some uninteresting story added in for padding. Since they made no bones about this, and it generally worked, because they did not disguise it (unlike Laurel and Hardy). With many of A&C's pictures, their scenes are always great. I find their TV show to be the purest representation of their humor. BUCK PRIVATES must surely rank not only as the best Abbott and Costello movie, but also as one of the best comedy films of all time. On top of this, it is like an 84-minute slice of American history. The romantic sub-plot in this film is very relevant to audiences of the day and is not trivial or silly (like those in the films of the Marx Bros. and Laurel and Hardy). Lou Costello is hilarious as ever here. Abbott is in full form too. The supporting cast is perfect, especially Nat Pendleton, not to mention a brilliant series of music numbers by the great Andrews Sisters. Their main number, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," is truly a historical moment, and it's a great performance to boot. It's easy to see how this was the most popular comedy of it's day. All in all, I was very impressed by this film. I hope it gets shown more often on TV so new audiences can enjoy this rousing and hilarious movie.
  • This is a good comedy for the teenage audiences. It's not on the same level as Woody Allen or Billy Wilder, but it's still good. It reminded me more of one of the lesser Mel Brooks comedies-it's about on that level (HIGH ANXIETY, SILENT MOVIE...pretty good but not great). My only objection is the fairly shameless borrowing of successful elements from past comedies. The story is obviously ripped off from Harold Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN (there was even a lawsuit over this recently), and the Farmer Fran character, while funny, is a blatant rip-off of Claude Ennis Starrett Jr. as Gabby Johnson in Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES (and BLAZING SADDLES is the infinitely more funny film, by the way). All in all, it seems like Sandler had some good set-ups, but the humor seemed way to forced (possibly to make it more accessible to teen audiences). In other words, it cuts right to a punchline without the proper set-up. This is the same problem that I found even worse in Sandler's next picture, BIG DADDY. The best suggestion I could find for Sandler is to spend more time working on quality gags rather than just sort of jumping right into a joke, regardless of whether or not it will work. Even more manic comedies such as CADDYSHACK and ANIMAL HOUSE spend more time on quality writing. The moments of crudity do not work because they are totally unnecessary. Mel Brooks uses blatant vulgarity to actually *spoof* vulgar comedy (like the bean scene in BLAZING SADDLES, which is funny because the sheer crudity goes on for so long. It's not really vulgar comedy but a satire on vulgar comedy there). The crudity here is not even subtle as it would be in a Woody Allen or Billy Wilder comedy.(I won't even compare the writing on a film like this to something by Billy Wilder or Woody Allen, because these are two entirely different leagues.) Finally, THE WATERBOY was a good comedy, but not a great one. It lacks in the writing department, though it is better than many of today's comedies. The end of vaudeville humor in the late 40s really brought on a new form of comedy (nurtured greatly by Jerry Lewis, one of the true pioneers in contemporary comic cinema). One other problem with this film (and the lesser Mel Brooks films, for that matter) is that if a joke is not funny, they can't just skip it and move on. They feel they must keep repeating it throughout the entire film-as though it must sooner or later get a laugh. Also--most importantly--PHYSICAL SLAPSTICK is ONLY funny if it is realisitc (a la Buster Keaton) or *extremely-extremely* exaggerated (ala the 3 Stooges or Keystone cops). Semi-realistic slapstick is just not funny. And this film is filled with it. The stunts are obviously faked, and yet they are not audaciously so. Watch the ending of W.C. Fields' MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE to see some hilariously audaciously faked slapstick. Or, watch Fields' brilliant IT'S A GIFT to see some very realistic slapstick. This film totally misfired in the slapstick department. Then again, perhaps the real masters of physical comedy are all gone (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy). Anyhow, the point of all this is basically that THE WATERBOY succeeds in what it set out to do, which may not be a whole lot, but this is more than can be said for many of today's comedies, and films in general.
  • It's definitely a non-stop parade of jokes and gags, some great, some not. It's not quite on the same level as BLAZING SADDLES, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and THE PRODUCERS. It's not a "great film" like those three are. It's just a very, very funny movie as only Mel Brooks could make it. I find it interesting that the successful MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL was inspired by the break-the-fourth-wall lunacy of Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES, but here, Brooks seems to be imitating Monty Python somewhat (especially the religious jokes a la LIFE OF BRIAN). I'm not accusing Brooks of copying, though, because he displays his usual original (and far-out!) sense of humor here. This film (like MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, interestingly) has a huge cult following, and is one of the "cool" movies to see if you're in high school or college. (Many kids in my high school have pictures from this film posted inside their lockers, and everyone owns it on DVD.) So, this film isn't designed to be "great" (although as I said, at least three of Brooks' films are great motion pictures as well as being screamingly funny). Instead, it belongs in the same category as SILENT MOVIE, HIGH ANXIETY, SPACEBALLS, and ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS-funny, light entertainment that succeeds in what it sets out to do.
  • What just made me think of this movie? I haven't seen I was two years old, on TV. At least someone else on the IMDb here remembers it. And yes, it is very odd. The strangest part is, that I remember every part of this movie very clearly, even though it's been fifteen years since I saw it. I imagine it's not available on DVD.
  • When this show first came on, it was pretty consistent as a silly comedy (even though I thought it was just too ridiculous for words.) But as it progressed over the years, it flip-flopped from being just stupid to being a teen soap opera and then back again. the inconsistency got to be way too much to ever enjoy the show. I know "it's only a TV show", but still there has to be some basis of reality. The early episodes were too far out, and the new ones were really painful to watch. The acting was downright bad and wasn't even enjoyable to watch at all. There were moments in this show's run (as there are with any show) that were enjoyable enough, but I think it's just too ridiculous to believe.
  • This must rank as one of Keaton's best. Can you think of any other comic who created such a great legacy in such a short period of time? I mean, consecutive hits like OUR HOSPITALITY, SHERLOCK JR., THE NAVIGATOR, SEVEN CHANCES, THE GENERAL, STEAMBOAT BILL JR., THE CAMERAMAN, not to mention all those great short films. Keaton did in about eight years what it took Chaplin to do in fifty. Chaplin revolutionized comedy when he worked at Essanay and Mutual, but then became stagnated in his old ways. While he was doing unfunny 2-reelers during the early 20s, Keaton was quickly becoming the big name in screen comedy. Lloyd enjoyed a similar success, if based more on entertainment value than artistic value. W.C. Fields was the last big comic to have control over his films, ending in 1940. It wasn't until 1960 that Jerry Lewis became the first comic auteur since the silent days, paving the way for Woody Allen and Mel Brooks today. But Keaton remains perhaps the master auteur of the genre.
  • I love almost all of Woody's films for different reasons. I think his first films (TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN through LOVE AND DEATH) relied more on slapstick and funny one-liners in the best comedy tradition. ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN were great romantic comedies based in reality rather than slapstick. But STARDUST MEMORIES is both a very deep and very funny picture. It has some very funny lines. One of the funniest scenes is when he comes back to his apartment late at night to find a strange woman in his bed. At any rate, this film is excellent and despite the fact that some people find it kind of self-indulgent, I think it is one of Woody Allen's best films.
  • I had barely ever heard of this film before I saw it at a local art house. I had not intended to see the film, but it was playing and I saw it anyhow. For 67 minutes, I was captured in this suspenseful, well-told story that is all the more amazing because it was made on a shoe-string budget in six days. Edgar G. Ulmer, who directed the film, is one of the true geniuses in film. With absolutely minimal resources, he masterfully directed what I consider to be one of the ten finest films ever made. Ulmer grips the audience with his attention to detail. The story is told tersely and to the point. On top of all this, the screenplay is exceptionally well-written and contains many of the classic lines of film noir. After leaving the screening of this film, I was compelled to buy it on video as fast as possible. It made a great impression on me. I believe it should be shown to all film students as an example of how to make a great film.
  • Granted, there are feature films such as SOME LIKE IT HOT, DR. STRANGELOVE, ANNIE HALL, TOOTSIE, DUCK SOUP and so on that are classier, more well-written, and other such qualities. But when it boils down to laughs per minute, this short has them all topped. I mean, it is simply the best comedy ever done...anytime, anywhere. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as two Christmas tree salesmen in sunny California. And James Finlayson as their potential customer. When they start to tear his house apart, I don't stop laughing for a second. I seriously believe that this film should be placed in a museum, next to any other great works of art.
  • I just got around to seeing this film on DVD. I missed the original release back in October, but I consider Spike Lee to be one of the greatest filmmakers working today (along with Coppola, Spielberg, Scorcese, and Allen.) While watching the film, I noticed a similarity to another satire on racism: Mel Brooks' THE PRODUCERS. Obviously, Brooks' film was played strictly for laughs, but parallels in the scenarios struck me as unmistakable. First, there is the main character who is mild-mannered, well-educated, and coming to get his job done (Wilder in THE PRODUCERS, Wayans here.) Then, you have the boss who ends up getting them involved in some horrible project (Mostel in PRODUCERS, Rapaport here.) There is the hope that the incredibly offensive program will flop, but then it ends up a success, much to the horror of its creator (like SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER in THE PRODUCERS.) These parallels may not seem important but they do show two people of minority groups standing up against racial intolerance through the use of satire. I thought the supporting cast was excellent, especially Michael Rapaport, who I'd only seen before in Woody Allen's MIGHTY APHRODITE and SMALL TIME CROOKS, playing a dimwitted boxer in the first and a slowwitted truck driver in the latter. Here, he plays the network executive equally brainless, but much more harmful. Rapaport was really good in this film, and it's a pity he isn't used in film more often. My only qualm was the target that Lee chose to use for his satire. Lee could have made a much more powerful statement, I believe, if instead of tackling the minstrel show, he had gone after the countless, late-nite sitcoms that are just as demeaning as anything in a minstrel show, except that they use genuine black actors instead of white actors in blackface. As a viewer, I get a mixed message being told that a comic like Mantan Moreland or the TV Amos and Andy are unacceptable, but virtually the same material played today is not. If the material is truly offensive, then it shouldn't matter when it was made-it should be taken off the air. But if people have no problem with today's comics doing the material, then talented performers of past decades should not be censored. This has never made sense to me, because the tone of "acceptability" seems completely erratic. Then again, as there are more and more positive portrayals of blacks in films, TV, etc. today, the more demeaning comedy is counter-balanced by these positive examples and giving viewers a wider view of the culture. All in all, BAMBOOZLED was a film that I enjoyed very much because it was obviously well-written by one of today's top moviemakers, but that I felt tackled an easy and obvious target and could have gotten beneath the surface of the "modern minstrel shows" in today's culture.
  • This is a good adaptation of the Poe story because it does not rely on big budget techniques. It is a short, black and white film, and the only performer of any name in the film is the excellent Sam Jaffe, best known for his roles in GUNGA DIN and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE. It is extremely suspenseful and is arguably the best film version of the story ever done. It also contains an excellent and appropriate musical score by the brilliant Elmer Bernstein, whose works range from comedies such as ANIMAL HOUSE, AIRPLANE! and WILD WILD WEST, to such incredible films as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and THE GREAT ESCAPE.
  • This show is pretty ridiculous by any standards. I don't expect much from a show obviously aimed at young children, but still I expected at least some quality (like maybe at least *one* funny sketch per show). Bynes is a pretty talented performer, and I'm sure within two years she'll be getting good roles on some network sitcoms, but for now this show is her only vehicle-unfortunately, it is not funny or original at all. Most of the sketches seem to borrow from earlier Nickelodeon shows, and they weren't funny the first time around, either. I was surprised that Rich Correll (son of Charles Correll-"Andy" from radio's "Amos and Andy" show) directs episodes o this program, as he is usually a very talented comic director. Obviously, I'm not blaming Correll for any of the show's flaws, however.
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