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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.
I'd never seen a Rat Pack movie before, and only knew of "Ocean's 11" by name (this 1960 film was remade as "Ocean's Eleven" with an ensemble cast of mega-stars in 2001. This is a "heist" film taking place in Las Vegas, where Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) reassembles his WWII 82nd Airborne Division buddies for "one more mission." The number of recognizable faces (Henry Silva, for example) in Ocean's 11 is remarkable (the same can be said for the 2001 remake, although I've never seen it - when Andy Garcia is the 5th-most famous actor/actress in a movie, you know you've spent some money on salaries). Rapid-fire dialog was extremely popular in the 40s and 50s (think: "His Girl Friday"), and there are a few wonderful examples here as well: Vince Massler (Buddy Lester) approaches Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) and Jimmy Foster (Peter Lawford), worried about the caper, and this amusing exchange takes place in less than two seconds: "I can't do it boys. I got my wife to think of." "Think of her rich." "Think of me dead." The dialog in this movie is not only "rapid-fire," but it's classic "rat-pack" - cornball gangster talk like something out of a Mickey Spillane novel: Picture Mike Hammer on speed. The drinks are fast, the women are furious, and this is classic 1950s pulp that simply cannot be replicated: Even though I haven't seen the 2001 version, there's no way George Clooney could pull this off - he just doesn't have the gangster in him. It's not even a positive trait; it just is what it is, and it's a product of its time - I'm only 45 minutes into the movie, and I'm surprised nobody has used the term "doll-face." --- Okay, I finished the movie (I even rewatched the first half, because I took a couple of days off), and my assessment is that it's really a pretty awful film, and should only be watched by Rat Pack devotees and completists. This is a 2:10 movie, and the entire first half - maybe a little longer - is devoid of anything, with the possible exception of some character development. You're basically "getting to know" Danny Ocean and his ten friends who were deployed together in WWII, and it is *slow going*, and I mean *boring*. The payoff in Ocean's 11 comes in the last ten minutes, when a genuinely great twist ending will leave your jaw hanging open, but you have to "suffer and endure" up until that point. If I had to pick a "least favorite" and "most favorite" character, respectively, it would be Akim Tamiroff (in a needless, comic-relief role as Spiros Acebos, "the big boss"), and Cesar Romero (as Duke Santos, the man who *nobody* wants to mess with - this film does a good job at making him look enormous in physical stature (he was 6'3" but seemed even taller)). I'm very curious to hear from some Rat Pack fans about why I'm wrong. I have never seen a movie with more stars in it that flopped so badly - actually, it wasn't a "flop" so much as that it was just dull, dull, dull. We were literally halfway through the movie, and didn't know anything at all about what was going to happen - people were just sitting around, chatting, drinking, and shooting pool. Recommended for historical purposes only; not recommended for anyone wanting to watch a good film. The closing shot is absolutely fantastic, with The Pack walking by the viewers. The following video shows the ending, but doesn't spoil anything about the main plot of the movie - still, since it's such a cool scene, I'll mark it as a spoiler. If you watch it, do note the *very* tongue-in-cheek, hilarious billboard in the final moments, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the film: *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** To see why I'm so anal about tagging threads, click on Richard Boone above - we're building something beautiful here.
I think there is a whole lot of myth-making involved in the story of how Ed Wynn blew everything in every rehearsal and then miraculously gave one of the most affecting performances of all time when they did "Requiem for a Heavyweight" live; the story seems unlikely, as just about anyone who ever performed in front of an audience can attest. Nonetheless, "The Man in the Funny Suit," the institutionalization of the myth that ran on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1960, with the full participation of both Wynns and Rod Serling, among others, is totally worth watching. I commend it to your attention: