Friday, March 24, 2006

A Disorderly Diversion

I took a break from Bullitt to watch Jerry Lewis in The Disorderly Orderly, as I was feeling down and in the need of a little "Hey, Laaaadddyyyyy!!!!" You have to hand it to Lewis, he's never boring to watch onscreen. Predictably, placing him as the title character working at a sanitarium offers plenty of chances for Jerry to cause an abundance of chaos during the film's 89-minute running time. There's a few sentimental passages that don't work, but fortunately with Frank Tashlin at the helm in dual roles as screenwriter and director, the laughs come fast and frequent, as Tashlin always seems to have an inventive sight gag at the ready when the pace threatens to sag. Lewis regular Kathleen Freeman is on hand, again suffering the consequences of Jerry's shenanigans, while Glenda Farrell amazingly manages to create a warm, likable character amid the crazy proceedings, at least until the frenetic chase finale, where everything and everyone gets crazy (it's something to see). Sammy Davis, Jr. sings and swings the title tune. Definitely one of Lewis' funniest solo efforts, with Jerry, Tashlin and Farrell sharing the MVP award.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Geste Mission Completed

In my seemingly never-ending quest to work my way through my list of unwatched DVDs, I've finally finished Geste. Two of the Geste brothers (played by Gary Cooper and Ray Milland) end up in some God-forsaken desert fort (Robert Preston, as the third Geste, is sent to Hell and back with another regiment, or something). Unfortunately for Cooper and Milland, they're forced to stand by helplessly for the rest of the picture as Brian Donlevy comes on the scene to steal the film portraying Markoff, the meanest, toughest sergeant this side of a domesticated Joan Crawford. At first Markoff's behavior causes dissension among the boys, who can almost be heard to whisper, "That was no gentleman, that was my officer." However, the sergeant earns the respect of his men because, similar to Crawford at home facing a dilemma involving unnecessary wire hangers, when the chips are down and the fort is under siege, he knows how to spring into action and get things done.

Entertaining, often exciting picture (and the tempo really picks up in the film's final forty-five minutes) directed by the peerless William Wellman. My only reservations are the film could've used a little more humor, along the lines of the same year's Gunga Din, and, although the brothers are a fairly glamourous trio, the movie plays the butch card a little too often. I mean, in this bunch, Halston or Calvin Klein would've died for lack of a fashion statement- maybe Preston's little-seen troop was more stylish. Donlevy is terrific and won an Oscar nomination for his work; a very young and beautiful Susan Hayward and a very, very young Donald O'Connor can also be seen briefly.

Now I'm biting the Bullitt with Steve McQueen. Although I've only seen a few McQueen films I love his work, as he knows when to play it "cool" and keep his mouth shut. This adds immensely to my home-viewing experience, as I own a regular T.V. with so-so sound, and therefore I often find myself re-playing scenes in an effort to find out what the hell I missed, dialogue-wise (I'm convinced I may have missed a line on which the entire plot revolves, although I'm usually-no, always- wrong on this point and yes, I have dealt with Obsessive-Compulsive behavior in my life). With the action-oriented McQueen involved, the dialogue usually takes a back seat to the star's heroics, rendering this "play back" situation unnecessary. Also, Robert Vaughn, who does have a wealth of dialogue, is an excellent enunciator, a guy just made for my T.V.'s sound. As for the picture, I've enjoyed it so far and I haven't even got to the famous car chase. I think Vaughn's probably the bad guy, as he's the only actor who comes close to matching McQueen's "cool" quota, fearlessly staring down the superstar's Baby Blues in their scenes together.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

First Post

Well, that heading should give you an idea of the wealth of originality that occupies the dark recesses of my brain (there's not a hell of a lot transpiring in the lighter regions, either). In general, I don't have a lot going on right now, so I've been twiting away my time on earth perusing the internet and watching old movies. Right now I'm in the middle of Beau Geste, so I guess a better heading would've been "Surely You Geste." I've gotten to the point were our good ol' boys have finally done it and joined up with the Foreign Legion, then immediately following this career choice they go on a bender, a logical progression if you're in the Foreign Legion and you're straight.