Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Road To Morocco

Cover of "Road to Morocco"

Cover of Road to Morocco

Directed by David Butler
Produced by Paul Jones
Written by Frank Butler & Don Hartman
Starring Bob Hope
Bing Crosby
Dorothy Lamour
Anthony Quinn
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography William Mellor
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date November 10, 1942
Running time 82 min
Country U.S.
Language English

Like Webster’s Dictionary we’re Morocco bound.

The Road To Morocco is perhaps the most famous of the road movies that was made featuring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. I think that younger people would perhaps recognise the famous theme song which in recent times has been parodied by Family Guy, although the song is funny enough even now. The film itself is quite amusing and silly with Bob and Bing getting in a few clever one liners, especially when they break the fourth wall and talk to the audience. The plot is quite nonsensical but it is a lot of fun.

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Busy Bodies

Cover of "Laurel & Hardy (Sons of the Des...

Cover via Amazon

Directed by Lloyd French
Produced by Hal Roach
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Charlie Hall
Tiny Sandford
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date 7 October 1933

This is another fine Laurel & Hardy short film from the early 1930s. It features lots of funny slapstick and is perhaps one of their funniest movies. A lot of the film plays out like a silent film, despite being made in 1933, with Stan in particular showing off his pantomime skills. The film gave me a few good chuckles and doesn’t seem to have dated too badly.


A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Image via Wikipedia

Created by Charles M. Schulz
Directed by Bill Melendez
Voices of Peter Robbins
Chris Shea
Tracy Stratford
Kathy Steinberg
Chris Doran
Geoffrey Ornstein
Karen Mendelson
Sally Dryer
Ann Altieri
Bill Melendez
Theme music composer Vince Guaraldi
Composer Vince Guaraldi
Country of origin USA
Language English

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday tradition in the USA but it had been ages since I had seen it on TV here in Australia. It was the Peanuts Gang’s first television special, and the best one. The story is a little preachy and the religious message is a bit strong, but it’s honest and decries the increasing commercialism of Christmas.

The  animation is a little choppy but there are some scenes, such as the one where all the kids are dancing, which cannot help but raise a smile in the viewer. It also features Vince Guaraldi’s brilliant and catchy jazzy music which became such a key with the Peanuts series.


Miracle On 34th Street

Miracle on 34th Street

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by George Seaton
Produced by William Perlberg
Screenplay by George Seaton
Story by Valentine Davies
Starring Maureen O’Hara
John Payne
Natalie Wood
Edmund Gwenn
Harry Antrim
Music by Cyril Mockridge
Cinematography Lloyd Ahern & Charles G. Clarke
Editing by Robert L. Simpson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date May 2, 1947 (US)
Running time 96 minutes
Language English

Miracle On 34th Street was a 1947 Christmas movie that was released at the start of May. Edmund Gwenn won an Academy Award for best supporting actor playing Santa Claus in this film. The film also features 9-year-old Natalie Wood and Maureen O’ Hara.

This is one of the best Christmas movies ever made, much better than the 1994 remake. It is sincere and doesn’t take itself too seriously at all. It is a sweet tale of the power of faith and that your dreams can come true if you believe. There is a lot of humour in the film and Gwenn is the quintessential Kris Kringle. Everyone puts in a good performance and the film is extremely entertaining too. It is a bit sentimental but it is not at all cynical.


The Cat And The Canary

”]Cover of "The Cat and the Canary [Region ...

Directed by Elliott Nugent
Produced by Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Written by Walter de Leon & Lynn Starling
Play Author: John Willard
Starring Bob Hope
Paulette Goddard
John Beal
Douglass Montgomery
Gale Sondergaard
Music by Ernst Toch
Cinematography Charles B. Lang
Editing by Archie Marshek
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date 1939
Running time 72 min.

The Cat and The Canary is the first of two comedy/horror films that Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard made in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The other one was The Ghostbreakers. This movie is perhaps not as polished as The Ghostbreakers but it still has a few funny and chilling moments.

The two stars are the central focus of the film. Hope is the cowardly wisecracking hero while Goddard plays the pretty damsel in distress. They make a great team although Paulette doesn’t really do all that much except look pretty and brave (unlike Bob), which is in contrast to the strong roles that Charlie Chaplin had been giving her in Modern Times and The Great Dictator.  It is still an enjoyable film if only because of the chemistry that the two had.


Lassie Come Home

Lassie Come Home

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by Fred M. Wilcox
Produced by Samuel Marx
Written by Novel:
Eric Knight
Screenplay:
Hugo Butler

Starring Pal
Roddy McDowall
Donald Crisp
Dame May Whitty
Edmund Gwenn
Elizabeth Taylor
Nigel Bruce
Elsa Lanchester
J. Patrick O’Malley

Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Editing by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date October 7, 1943
Running time 89 minutes
Language English

Lassie Come Home is the type of movie that we rarely see anymore. It is a film that is accessible to everyone, whether they are 5 years old or 95. It is a classic family film with a great storyline and some real tear-jerking moments.

The movie is set in the depression era Yorkshire and features Lassie, the rough Collie who belongs to the Carraclough family, and in particular young Joe. Unfortunately the family can no longer afford to keep Lassie and have to sell him to the Duke of Rudling. Unfortunately for the Duke Lassie seems to always find a way to escape from his kennels and find her way back to Joe. Even when the Duke takes Lassie to Scotland, she finds a way of escaping and managing to make her way back to Yorkshire. We see all the perils that Lassie faces during her travels and the friendly (and not so friendly) people she encounters along the way.

There are some terrific performances in the film. The best performance is by Pal, the collie who played Lassie. (Pal was a male Collie by the way.) It also features very early performances by Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor, who were ably supported by veterans Donald Crisp, Elsa Lanchester, Nigel Bruce and Edmund Gwen.


Love Happy

Marx Brothers by Yousuf Karsh, 1948

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by David Miller
Produced by Mary Pickford
David Miller
Written by Mac Benoff
Frank Tashlin
Harpo Marx (story)
Starring Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Groucho Marx
Ilona Massey
Vera-Ellen
Marion Hutton
Marilyn Monroe

Music by Ann Ronell

Cinematography William Mellor

Editing by Basil Wrangell

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: October 12, 1949 (San Francisco Premiere)
March 3, 1950

This film is notable for two things, 1) it is the worst of all the Marx Bros. films and 2) it features the screen debut of Marilyn Monroe.

Groucho never appears on-screen with his other two brothers, while Chico looks very old (he was 62) and tired. There are some OK jokes with Groucho and Harpo has a few good gags too, courtesy of Frank Tashlin who co-wrote the film. although Harpo’s schtick does wear thin after 30 minutes. The best scene is the 2 minutes when Marilyn is on-screen with Groucho getting in a couple of good lines, but overall it is a terrible and terribly boring film.