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If anyone likes Rom-Coms, but gets annoyed by how *bad* they are, try "The Fuller Brush Man," starring the inimitable Red Skelton. This is a genuinely funny movie, and will surprise people by how not-stupid it is - you just have to prepare yourselves for ninety minutes of clean comedy. It's free on Amazon Prime (*), and would be a *perfect* first-date movie for a nervous young couple. I need to rewatch "Duck Soup" (it's been over twenty years) but I don't remember that film as being all that much better than this. That said, I should warn potential viewers about what is the longest, non-stop slapstick ending I can ever remember seeing - parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny, but for me, it's too much, so, the final fifteen minutes of "The Fuller Brush Man" are caveat emptor - some people will love it; others won't. I had the privilege of seeing Red Skelton - much to the amazement of my parents - at Clemson. Somewhere, there may even be an autographed program by him (which further amazed my parents). Anyone unfamiliar with the genius of Skelton (*not* to be confused by the corny, sometimes cringe-worthy, Red Buttons) need only watch this little film, which shows Skelton doing a stand-up show in Canada when he was probably in his 70s. (*) Trivia - A bit of blown dialogue at the 59-minute mark: The Lieutenant says, "Low on closets, eh?" Skelton replies, "No, just long on coats." (It's pretty safe to assume the question should have been spoken, "Short on closets, eh?") Trivia - At 1:04.10 in the movie, Skelton recites the same gag, almost word-for-word, as he does at 2:10 in the YouTube stand-up routine - the "I got a joke for you" line.
You have two choices when watching "The Wild One": 1) Watch it through the eyes of older people who lived through The Great Depression and World War II, and were genuinely afraid of seeing society unravel and go to hell in a handbasket, or 2) roll your eyes, and scream aloud, about fifty times, "My *God* this is dated!" "The Wild One" is so dated that it comes across as a parody of itself. The acting is so overwrought, and the dialogue is so corny that it comes across as being about as rebellious as "Rock Around the Clock." One of the leaders of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club is Jerry Paris, who played the dentist in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" - I'm sorry, but seeing Rob Petrie's next-door neighbor Jerry Helper in a black leather jacket is just not that frightening. Clocking in at just under an hour and twenty minutes, "The Wild One" seems interminable. You have to acknowledge its influence as the first-ever biker flick, and for Marlon Brando influencing both Elvis Presley and James Dean (and hence, the rebellious 1960s). This film is, at once: terrible, important, influential, dated, forward-looking, inane, and ridiculous. Marlon Brando's stunt-double was *so obvious* that it was, at times, laughable, as he didn't look anything like Brando, and the transitions between Brando and his stunt-double were very poorly done, and not edited well at all. If you want to watch a movie for a good time, take a pass on "The Wild One"; if you want to be a good film scholar and watch a historically important movie, then go for it. That's about the best I can do for you - I felt like I was watching an episode of "Route 66," and not a particularly good one, either. --- But there is this legendary quote: Kathie Bleeker: "What're you rebelling against, Johnny?" Johnny Strabler: "Whaddya got?" --- The Hollister Riot, the staged picture of which - in Life Magazine - influenced the whole biker genre.
There are currently two versions of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" available on Amazon - the original 1939 version, and the 2014 release from the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center, with damaged parts repaired. The former is $3.99 to rent; the latter is $2.99 - I decided to save a buck and leave the original version for film historians (which I would love to be, but there are only so many things you can do in a single life). The big names in this film are Jimmy Stewart (newly appointed Mississippi Senator, Jefferson Smith), Jean Arthur (Clarissa Saunders), and Claude Rains (the other Mississippi Senator, Joe Paine). I have never seen this movie before, and am about to start watching it now. If you look at the bottom of the second page of opening credits, there's someone named Baby Dumpling (it turns out he's one of Governor "Happy" Hopper's *eight* children). When Governor Hopper flipped the coin after consulting with his children, I pretty much knew what was going to happen, but it was still a fun moment to watch. There's a goof when Hopper tries to convince the Good Old Boys Club about the virtues of Jeff Smith (a boy scout leader) - he says, "He can recite Washington and Lincoln by heart" (something his children told him), but then a moment later, Senator Payne says "recites Lincoln and Jefferson ...." - it's unimportant, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't in the script, because no mention was previously made of Jefferson. When Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) first appears at the "star-spangled banquet" in front of the Mississippi citizens, while listening to his speech, I thought of two people: Brooks Robinson (see Roy Firestone's video - *now* I understand what he meant when he said "a young Jimmy Stewart"), and to a lesser degree, a certain unnamed politician from today's era who seems to be extremely anti-corruption, although the cynicism of today's politician is understandably already in place. It was very interesting to see Union Station circa 1939, equally interesting to see Smith's initial tour of Washington, DC's monuments. It was also touching to see an elderly gentleman of color remove his hat at the Lincoln Memorial; I wish they had chosen someone with darker skin, however - I guess sometimes, you have to take what you can get. At least the porters at Union Station were dark-skinned, sigh. I wonder if the first restaurant/bar scene is in the Old Ebbitt Grill (or, could it have been Mr. Smith's?) Is there a painting of a horse race in Old Ebbitt Grill? Mr. Smith's "revenge scene" against the press was hilarious* - it was perfect! As was the line, "The dopes are going to inherit the Earth." Hoo, boy, the restaurant scene with Clarissa Saunders and Diz Moore got to be drawn out, tedious, and boring - this scene was the very first part of the movie I really didn't like. However, I suppose it was necessary as a build-up for the following scene in Smith's office. It's cute in some of the scenes with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur, the score begins playing "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" - the Lincoln Memorial scene after The Betrayal is one example. The ending of this movie is incredible, and it's more timely now than it was in 1939. Is it corny? Parts of it are, but so what - every single person in this country of voting age (and even a couple of years younger than voting age) should see this film. I loved it. And I *love* that there are several, perhaps a couple dozen, movies of this caliber that I've never before seen - I have a lot to look forward to. The actors and actresses were just about perfectly selected, and Jimmy Stewart fully deserved his Best Actor Academy Award nomination - he was wonderful.