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Recently Watched Comedies


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#1 LawrenceA

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 04:54 PM

Feet First (1930) - Harold Lloyd comedy from Paramount and director Clyde Bruckman. Harold stars as Harold, a lowly shoe store flunky in Honolulu, Hawaii. Harold sees the beautiful Barbara (Barbara Kent) and falls for her, but when he learns that she's the daughter of the shoe store's owner (Robert McWade), Harold pretends to be a leather-goods magnate in order to impress them. Things get complicated when Harold finds himself on a trans-Pacific cruise ship with Barbara and her family and he has to continue his charade despite being broke and a stowaway! Also featuring Lillian Leighton, Henry Hall, Noah Young, Alec Francis, and Willie Best (as Sleep 'n Eat).

 

This was Lloyd's most successful sound movie, and it has a lot of good gags. An extended sequence on the cruise ship as Harold tries to destroy every copy of a magazine he can find is a highlight, as is the high-rise finale. Lloyd and company were obviously trying to one-up the clock-dangling antics from his earlier Safety Last, and while repetition renders this not as noteworthy, it's still entertaining. Kent is adorable, and I always enjoy Willie Best, even in the most degrading of roles.   7/10

 

Source: FilmStruck.

 

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#2 LawrenceA

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:22 PM

Check and Double Check (1930) - Incredibly awful attempt to bring the radio sensations Amos & Andy to the big screen, from director Melville W. Brown and RKO. The overly-convoluted and sloppy plot concerns young Richard Williams (Charles Morton), just up from down south to visit some old family friends in New York, and to see about a possible inheritance that will help set him up in life. This becomes even more important when he falls for the daughter of the family friends, Jean Blair (Sue Carol). Meanwhile, two inept Harlem taxi cab proprietors, Amos (Freeman F. Gosden) and Andy (Charles J. Correll) are sent by their social lodge to a creepy abandoned house to fulfill an annual obligation concerning the memory of their order's founder. They run afoul of a shady character (Ralf Harolde) after Richard's inheritance. Also featuring Irene Rich, Edward Martindel, Rita La Roy, Roscoe Ates, and Russ Powell as the Kingfish.

 

This is of course the infamous, original incarnation of Amos and Andy, with white actors Gosden and Correll in blackface playing the stereotypical caricatures of ignorant and shiftless black men. They aren't as mean spirited as some of the other caricatures of the time, but it's a pathetic sight, nonetheless. The decision was also made to have all other black characters with a speaking part also be white people in blackface, although extras were cast with actual black performers. The nature of Amos and Andy is enough of a drawback, but what really killed this for me was that it is just not funny in the least. Actors like Willie Best, Stepin Fetchit and Mantan Moreland could often be hilarious despite the racially insensitive nature of their characters. But the comedy here is non-existent. The "old dark house" set-up seems tacked-on and unexploited for the inherent comedy, and none of the supporting players are very good at all, either. Gosden was said to have been unhappy with how the film turned out, and there were no other Amos and Andy features. This is surprising since the film was extremely profitable, and was the biggest hit in RKO's history until King Kong.    2/10

 

Source: Mill Creek Classic Musicals box set. This movie's inclusion is dubious, but it does feature one stand-out scene of Duke Ellington's band performing some songs (even using Bing Crosby's voice for one). This scene is the only reason I gave the film a 2/10 instead of a 1/10.

 

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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted 07 September 2017 - 10:10 PM

Welcome Danger (1929) - Harold Lloyd's first talkie was this road trip/crime comedy from Paramount and director Clyde Bruckman. Harold plays Harold Bledsoe, the seemingly inept son of a famed law enforcement figure who travels to San Francisco to help on a case. On the way there he bumps into Billie (Barbara Kent) and her sick little brother who are also headed to Frisco to see a Chinese specialist to help the boy. When they arrive, Bledsoe quickly begins to irritate his co-workers at the SFPD in his overzealous efforts to unmask the Black Dragon, the mysterious figure running Chinatown's drug trade. Also featuring Charles Middleton, Noah Young, Will Walling, Douglas Haig, Blue Washington, and Edgar Kennedy.

 

This was filmed in both silent and sound versions, with much of the latter being done via dubbing, which can be a bit distracting. The film is a bit overlong at 115 minutes, and the two sections of the film seem like they're from different scripts. The first 1/3, which is the rom-com road trip with Kent and her brother, is sweet if a bit overly familiar. I thought Kent was a real knockout, though. The other 2/3, detailing Harold's attempts to solve the Chinatown crimes, is much better. Young plays a dim-witted beat cop that gets caught up in Harold's mission, and their scenes together are frequently very funny. I was also amused by Blue Washington as the bad guy's hulking butler, who takes time to take his shirt off before attacking Harold with a whip. It's a weird scene, but funny.   7/10

 

Source: FilmStruck.

 

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