Review: O. Henry’s Full House (1952)

widmark 2

“You got any wheelchairs, pal? I wanna take a friend for a little trip.”

o' henry mpNo, it has nothing to do with a misspelling of decades old candy bars still being made today or the old TV series which got a sequel show in 2016 that’s still a thing, but this one does make a fine holiday-themed movie even if it’s not really one save for the the final tale. Even though it was released in 1952, O. Henry’s Full House looks like it was made ten or so years earlier, but that’s a good thing. There’s a distinctly quaint feeling here in this anthology of five classic stories by five different directors and the film is a pretty one to cook up a bit of popcorn for, even if in some areas, its almost too wholesome. Well, save for the Howard Hawks-lensed chapter, which is just pure hilarity in that it seems no one got the humor it its tale and his chapter was excised until it was restored in TV prints years later (and remade as a few films of note).

So, five short films, five directors and about as wholesome as possible save for one chapter that goes for the jugular (in a very funny manner)? I’m in. Although I was in already, as this one’s been a favorite for decades. Toss in John Steinbeck (!) as a narrator (which is kind of like having Stephen King or even better, Neil Gaiman host an Edgar Allan Poe anthology film, I guess), and you get a pretty interesting film that’s an easy view unless you’re overly critical about a few performances.

Anyway,  here’s what’s on the plate – eat hearty!

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Debbie Reynolds: Dancing On That Smile Stage One Final Time

(thanks ozabbazo77!)

Ugh. No mas, 2016. This one’s both barrels, folks. If you’ve never seen Singin’ In The Rain, please do so ASAP as it’s not only a great introduction the classic movie musical, it’s probably going to lighten even the grimmest mood when all is said and done.

Back in a bit.


Show & Tell: On Ray Harryhausen’s Fairy Tales

Red StareIn regards to every well-worn fairy tale, “It’s not the tale, but how it’s told” is the order of the day. Parents and other creative adults well-versed in story time voices and acting have this mantra branded on their brain cells and know how to make any yarn they spin keep kids at rapt attention. Still, for many of his longtime fans, Ray Harryhausen’s incredible stop-motion versions of Mother Goose stories and five classic fairy tales are some of the most memorable versions ever created.

Save for The Tortoise and the Hare (which was incomplete until its 2002 premiere), I can recall some of these films along with his earlier Mother Goose shorts being shown during assembly hall sessions or in the occasional class where a regular teacher was out sick and the substitute called in hadn’t time to whip up a proper lesson plan. While most of these 16mm shorts were part of my childhood, I’d imagine plenty of today’s little (and more tech savvy) whippersnappers haven’t a clue who Harryhausen was or what made (and still makes him) him great and such a huge inspiration of countless filmmakers and visual effects artists to this day.

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Vitameatavegamin Could Have Been the Red Bull of the 1950’s…

(thanks, Ruthyramon!) 

Well, it it actually existed, that is… I think it’s Lucille Ball’s birthday or it just passed or something. My crystal ball is cracked and I’m too lazy to check the internet. Wait… I’m ON the internet. Hold on, blast you… Aha! It’s August 6, 1911, so I’m a day early. Good! Happy Birthday, Lucy!

“Moses Supposes” SOME of You Need A Laugh Right About Now…

How’s your Wednesday going? OK? Good. Get lost. This one’s for the gloomy crew out there suffering because they have a long weekend vacation with people they’d want to put IN a cooler or on a grill and not have to drive a few dozen to hundred miles just to get the usual yearly family feeding frenzy (one of many the holidays have devolved into). If that’s you, yeah – wash away those bad thoughts with a cold something and catch a little wordplay and fancy dancing from Kelly and O’Connor in this clip from Singin’ in the Rain. What,you were expecting something from Yankee Doodle Dandy? Well, that’s supposed to be a Random Film of the Week post one of these days (and perhaps even tomorrow if I can swing it and have the time to run it up the flagpole here). Anyway,I like this sequence because it’s just so dumb on paper, but perfect as a moving image. Enjoy and maybe drag one of those relatives you’re cranky at to watch it as well – it’s nice to share, you know…

?able Humor: Bad Day Rising? Mr. O’Connor Will Set You Straight in 4:08…

(thanks, ozabbavo77!) 

I remember when I didn’t like musicals much at all, but I’d say that was because I didn’t watch too many of them. I started to fall for them gradually by way of their sneaky as hell way of cracking me up with their precise choreography, offbeat choice of locations or just the sheer number of performers hoofing it up with broad smiles and seemingly not breaking a sweat. I know I nearly fell off a chair laughing the first time I saw Busby Berkeley’s name in a film’s credits because it sounded exactly like the name of someone who’d throw a hundred women and a handful of men into a huge studio and make them dance on a big revolving tower cake staircase a few stories tall until they were doing it in their sleep (and perhaps wanted him a little bit dead for that kind of torture)…

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As Long As YOUR Mother’s Day Wasn’t Like This, It Was An OK One…

Hey, a little Bugs Bunny goes a long, loooooong way, folks. Of course, the next time you’re at your mother’s place or she’s with you and someone orders coffee or tea, I’m hoping this clip pops into your head at some point. She’ll understand perfectly if she remembers this old gem, but if not… well, you sure have some fast explaining to do, right?