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Hollywood Movie Memories » 1950’s comedy

Posts Tagged ‘1950’s comedy’

The Court Jester

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The Court Jester

Tagline – The Musical Romantic Adventure Of This Or Any Year!

Starring – Danny Kaye (Hubert Hawkins), Glynis Johns (Maid Jean), Basil Rathbone (Sir Ravenhurst), Angela Lansbury (Princess Gwendolyn).

Released – January, 1956

Directed By – Melvin Frank, Norman Panama

Produced By – Dena Enterprises

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – These are dangerous times in medieval England, as King Roderick has stolen the throne and disposed of the rightful King and his entire family. Or, so he thinks. There is one member of the family left… a baby. And that baby should be king.

A plot is underway to regain the throne. The Black Fox and his band of rebels enlist the aid of ex-carnival entertainer Hubert Hawkins. It is Hubert’s job to carry the baby across the country to safety when King Roderick’s men threaten to discover the rebels.

King Roderick, in an effort to gain the help of Sir Griswold of MacElwain in his fight against the rebels, has offered the hand of his daughter Princess Gwendolyn. The Princess refuses the marriage insisting that she will only marry for love.

Disguised as an old man, Hubert, and The Black Fox’s lieutenant, Maid Jean, who just happen to be in love, cross paths with Giacomo, the King’s new jester. Hubert and Maid Jean knock him unconscious and Hubert assumes his identity. This will gain them entrance into the castle where they hope to steal the key to a secret passage into the castle from which The Black Fox could attack.

One thing they did not count on was the fact that Giacomo was also an assassin that Sir Ravenhurst wishes to use to get rid of his enemies. Things get a little out of hand when the King’s daughter, Princess Gwendolyn, falls for Hubert, now Giacomo, and the King falls for Maid Jean. Also seriously complicating matters is a witch with some very effective spells and some poison pellets that are a threat to everybody.

And if that’s not enough, Sir Ravenhurst starts to believe that Hubert, posing as the court jester, is The Black Fox. Ravenhurst wants to eliminate Hubert, without revealing who he believes he is to the King, by having the King make Hubert a night. This would follow with a fight that would surely end with Hubert’s death.

NOTABLE: In 2004, The Court Jester was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The time setting for the film required Danny Kaye to wear tights. The films produces, unhappy with the way Kaye looked in them, insisted that he wear “leg falsies” to improve the shape of his legs.


The Ladykillers

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Ladykillers (StudioCanal Collection) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Meet “The Unholy Five”…The Most Befuddled Set of Assorted Thugs That Ever Fouled Up a Million Dollar Bank Robbery!

Starring – Alec Guinness (Professor Marcus), Cecil Parker (Major Claude Courtney), Herbert Lom (Louis Harvey), Peter Sellers (Harry Robinson), Danny Green (‘One-Round’ Lawson), Katie Johnson (Mrs. Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce).

Released – December, 1955

Directed By – Alexander Mackendrick

Produced By – The Rank Organization, Ealing Studios

Distributed By – Continental Distributing

Description – Eccentric old widow, Louisa Wilberforce, lives, with her parrots, in a large house above the entrance to a railway tunnel. To help pass her time, and best make use of her very active imagination, she frequently visits the local police station to report on those she believes to be suspicious characters.

Her accusations, along with many wild-goose chases, have caused the police to no longer give her stories any credence.

The comically sinister criminal Professor Marcus has put together a motley crew for a sophisticated heist of a security van at the railway station near Mrs. Wilberforce’s house. The gang decides to rent a room from her to act as their base for the robbery.

The Professor has convinced Mrs. Wilberforce that the group are an amateur string quintet who will use the room for rehearsals. The group carry musical instruments and play recordings during their planning of the heist in order to keep up the deception.

And quite a group they are: the Professor himself, con-man and gentleman Major Courtney, Cockney Harry Robinson, continental gangster Louis Harvey, who is the most vicious, and slow-witted, ex-boxer ‘One-Round.’

The theft goes as planned, but when the gang try to leave Mrs. Wilberforce’s home an accident results in her seeing the money and realizing the truth. She tells the Professor that she intends to inform the police.

Not knowing her credibility issues with the police, the gang decides that they must do away with her. The gang members draw matchsticks to see who will carry out the deed. Comical deception and double-cross become the order of the day, and soon there are bodies everywhere.

NOTABLE: In 2006, Premiere Magazine voted The Ladykillers as one of “The Fifty Greatest Comedies of All Time.”

Originally, the producers felt that actress Katie Johnson might be too frail for the role and cast a younger actress for the part. Ironically, the younger actress died before the filming.

The parrots owned by Mrs. Wilberforce were voiced by actor Peter Sellers.

Writer William Rose stated that his idea for the story came from a dream he had and all he needed to do was fill in the details.



Mister Roberts

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Mister Roberts

Tagline – All the Uproarious Fun of the Smash Broadway Play!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Lt. JG Douglas A. ‘Doug’ Roberts), James Cagney (Capt. Morton), William Powell (Lt. ‘Doc’), Jack Lemmon (Ens. Frank Thurlowe Pulver), Betsy Palmer (Lt. Ann Girard).

Released – July, 1955

Directed By – John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Orange

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Cargo officer Lt. JG Roberts is serving aboard the re-supply ship the USS Reluctant, in the Pacific, near the end of World War II. While the Germans have surrendered, and the war in Europe has ended, there is still a great deal of fighting in the Pacific.

Lt. Roberts has repeatedly requested a transfer in order to join the action, but Capt. Morton knows he has the best supply officer in the service and refuses to sign Robert’s transfer orders. While Roberts relationship with the captain is testy, he has an excellent relationship with the zany crew of the Reluctant.

Capt. Morgan has refused, for the past year, to allow his crew any shore leave, and Roberts in order to get some leave for the crew, agrees to never again request a transfer. It seems that Lt. Roberts excellent performance just may play a role in a promotion for the Captain.

While Roberts is all about hard-work and efficiency, there is another side to this crew. Take Ensign Pulver for example, who avoids work at every opportunity and runs a very successful black-market buying and selling operation.

The shore leave for the men looks like it may be a big mistake. Once on shore the men are off and running, getting drunk, starting fights, crashing an embassy party, and more often than not, having to be returned to the ship by the Army’s military police.

This is only the beginning as the theft of a motorcycle, the ship’s secretary, and even a goat belonging to the Admiral come into play. Why all the bad behavior by the crew? They think Lt. Roberts has been a little too friendly to their tyrant of a captain and this is a betrayal of their trust.

After Capt. Morgan is given a good tongue-lashing by the Admiral for the trouble and embarrassment to the Navy caused by the crews behavior, the Capt. is furious at Roberts and has him sent to the captains quarters.

While there Capt. Morgan angrily berates Roberts without realizing that a microphone is on and the entire crew can hear the conversation. The crew now realize that Lt. Roberts acted in their behalf in order to get them some shore leave…and comic revenge on the captain is now the order of the day.

NOTABLE: Mister Roberts won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Lemmon), and was also nominated for Best Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

Henry Fonda was the choice of director John Ford for the role of Lt. JG ‘Doug’ Roberts. Warner Brothers originally wanted William Holden or Marlon Brando for the role believing Fonda to have been on stage and off the screen for too long to provide much box office appeal. But, it was Fonda who won a Tony Award for playing the role on stage.

John Ford, who could be a very difficult director, was replaced with Mervyn LeRoy after reportedly clashing with Henry Fonda and punching him in the jaw.

The filming of Mister Roberts was the beginning of a long-time friendship between James Cagney and Jack Lemmon which lasted until Cagney’s death.

Mister Roberts was the final film for popular actor William Powell who had begun to develop health issues that caused him great difficulty remembering his lines. The part of Doc was originally offered to Spencer Tracy who declined the role.

Personal Note: This is a very entertaining comedy-drama  with a sparkling performance by Jack Lemmon. One which would lead him on the road to stardom.

The Seven Year Itch

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

The Seven Year Itch [Blu-ray]

Tagline – It TICKLES and TANTALIZES! – The funniest comedy since laughter began!

Starring – Marilyn Monroe (The Girl), Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman), Evelyn Keyes (Helen Sherman), Sonny Tufts (Tom MacKenzie).

Released – June, 1955

Directed By – Billy Wilder

Produced By – Charles K. Feldman Group, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – Richard Sherman’s wife and son have gone to Maine in order to escape the summer heat of Manhattan. Richard has the apartment to himself and is enjoying his temporary lifestyle freedom, but he has made up his mind not to carouse and do anything he would regret.

After all, Richard is a prime candidate for what psychologists refer to as the “Seven Year Itch,” a reference to declining interest in a monogamous relationship after seven years of marriage.

That is until the apartment upstairs is rented to a model who is in town to do a commercial for a toothpaste. That evening, while proofing a book written by a psychologist regarding the fact that many men have the temptation for an extra-marital affair after seven years of marriage, Richard’s imagination begins to run wild regarding the beautiful women upstairs.

When she accidentally knocks a plant off of her deck down onto his, she apologizes and he invites her down for a drink. She accepts and tells him she will be right down after she gets dressed. This includes putting on her underwear that she keeps in the refrigerator to help with the hot weather.

The mental picture of this sets Richard off on a number of overactive, over-vivid fantasy’s of the delightful, voluptuous woman upstairs. As the pair grow friendlier over the next few days, Richard begins to doubt his restraint and seeks out Dr. Brubaker, the author of the book he is proofing, for help.

But, it may be too little too late as Richard seems ready to succumb to the “Seven Year Itch.”

NOTABLE: The Seven Year Itch contains one of the most iconic film images of the 20th Century with Marilyn Monroe standing on a subway grate with her dress being blown up above her knees.

The short 9 month marriage of Marilyn Monroe to Joe DiMaggio ended during filming.

Marilyn Monroe’s bouts with depression and self-destruction, frequent tardiness, and behavioral problems, caused considerable difficulty during filming with some scenes taking up to forty takes.

Actor Walter Matthau had tested for the part of Richard Sherman and was approved by director Billy Wilder. However, 20th Century Fox was unwilling to try the then newcomer and gave the role to Tom Ewell who had played the part on stage.

The film premiered on Marilyn Monroe’s 29th birthday.

The poster for The Seven Year Itch was ranked #22 on “The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever” list by Premiere Magazine.




Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Sabrina (1954) (BD) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – …the chauffeurs daughter who learned her stuff in Paris!

Starring – Humphrey Bogart (Linus Larrabee), Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina Fairchild), William Holden (David Larrabee).

Released – October, 1954

Directed By – Billy Wilder

Produced By – Paramount Pictures

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – Linus and David Larrabee are two sons of a wealthy family and that may be the only thing they have in common. Both are employed by the family business with Linus being all work and no play, while David is no work and all play.

Sabrina Fairchild is the somewhat awkward daughter of the family chauffeur and has been smitten with David all of her life. However, the three timed divorced womanizing playboy has barely noticed that she exists.

Sabrina goes away to school in Paris, returning after two years a changed woman. She has blossomed into a beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated woman who now shows up on David’s radar screen.

His new interest is obvious and threatens to cause a problem. David is engaged to be married to a very wealthy woman and there are fears that the wedding may be in danger.

Why fear? The impending marriage brings with it a very lucrative corporate deal that will greatly benefit the Larrabee family business. It is this fear that springs Linus into action. His plan is to deflect Sabrina’s interest away from David before both the marriage and the deal fall through.

His actions cause additional problems that the business-minded Linus could not have anticipated. It seems as though Sabrina is actually growing increasingly attracted to Linus and he to her.

NOTABLE: Sabrina received the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, and was also nominated for Best Director (Billy Wilder), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Audrey Hepburn), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

In 2002, Sabrina was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

There was considerable tension on the set as it has been noted that Humphrey Bogart and William Holden didn’t like each other and Bogart disapproved of Hepburn and wanted his wife Lauren Bacall for the role.

William Holden and Audrey Hepburn fell in love during filming, but Hepburn broke off the relationship upon learning that Holden could not father children.