Tag Archives: Paramount Pictures

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.

Advertisements

Metropolis

Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Thea von Harbou
Fritz Lang (uncredited)
Starring Alfred Abel
Brigitte Helm
Gustav Fröhlich
Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Music by Gottfried Huppertz (original version)
Cinematography Karl Freund, Günther Rittau &Walter Ruttmann
Distributed by UFA (Germany)
Paramount Pictures (US)
Release date 10 January 1927 (Germany) [1]
6 March 1927 (US)
Running time 153 minutes/24 frame/s
(German premiere cut)
114 minutes/25 frame/s
(1927 US cut version)
Country Germany
Language Silent film
German intertitles

Metropolis is a film that features some incredible visuals. The art-deco inspired backgrounds look very stunning as well. As for the content of the film itself, well I am not so sure. A lot of the time I wasn’t exactly sure of what was going on, and a lot of the characters seemed to be really quite stupid, especially Joh Frederson the industrialist/dictator. I did enjoy some of the facia; expressions shown by the actress Brigitte Helm when she was the Machine Man, intent on causing chaos and destrucion and the scenes of her dancing as well. One thing that helps make these sort of scenes look amusing is the fact that silent films run at a different speed to talkies, so the action goes a little faster


The Ghost Breakers

Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Written by Walter DeLeon
Starring Bob Hope
Paulette Goddard
Richard Carlson
Paul Lukas
Music by Ernst Toch
Cinematography Charles B. Lang
Editing by Ellsworth Hoagland
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date June 21, 1940
Running time 83 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Ghost Breakers is another one of the 1940s comedy/horror films that were made during that time. (I realise that this sentence sounds awkward) This one starred Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard and is a sequel of sorts to the haunted house comedy The Cat And The Canary from a year earlier.

While it probably wasn’t as funny as Abbott & Costello’s similar type film Hold That Ghost, this film did have a few more scary scenes in it. Hope has a few good lines and is quite funny but I found Goddard’s performance to be a little disappointing, especially when compared to her other big role from 1940 in The Great Dictator. My favourite role of Goddard’s so far is in Modern Times. In The Ghost Breakers she has a few good scenes but doesn’t really do anything funny. I guess you could stereotype her role as standard damsel in distress.

The Ghost Breakers was still quite an enjoyable film to watch and one that I enjoyed a lot.


Monkey Business

Directed by Norman Z. McLeod
Produced by Herman J. Mankiewicz (uncredited)
Written by S. J. Perelman & Will B. Johnstone
Starring Groucho Marx
Harpo Marx
Chico Marx
Zeppo Marx
Thelma Todd
Music by John Leipold (uncredited)
Cinematography Arthur L. Todd
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date 19 September 1931
Running time 77 minutes
Country United States
Language English

This is the third film that the Marx Bros. made, the one that features them as stowaways on a ship. The film is perhaps a bit more chaotic that the later Marx films but it still has some funny moments. Perhaps the most well known scene in this film is this one…

The only real downer in the film comes in the last fifteen minutes when Chico has his obligatory piano recital and Harpo plucks the harp. Then again these things happen in all Marx Bros. films and one can always press the fast forward button. You can at least be thankful that there is no lame crooner taking up screen time from the Brothers’ antics, which would happen when they went to MGM.

It is a great film although not quite as funny as Duck Soup.

It’s currently available from Target for less than $10 and has just been re-released by Universal as part of their Studio Classics range.


She Done Him Wrong

Directed by Lowell Sherman
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Mae West (play Diamond Lil)
Harvey F. Thew & John Bright
Starring Mae West
Cary Grant
Owen Moore
Gilbert Roland
Noah Beery
Music by John Leipold (uncredited)
Cinematography Charles Lang
Editing by Alexander Hall
Studio Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date January 27, 1933
Running time 66 min
Country United States

I’ve always wanted to see this film for a couple of reasons. Firstly I do like Mae West’s double entendres and one liners and secondly we get to see a young Cary Grant. Here he is the one who is being lusted after by West, which is strange since in years to come it would be Grant who was the older man lusting after and getting the younger woman. It’s odd to see the roles reversed.

Whilst I admit that I enjoy West’s wit I must also admit that she is a bit of a one trick pony in that he sly one liners are the only things she can really do. Worse still she hogs the spotlight so that nothing of interest occurs when she is on the screen.

When compared to other comedians of the 1930s West’s act isn’t as interesting. W. C. Fields, who West is often compared with, had some amazing one liners in his films too but he also was pretty good with the slapstick stuff and could share the spotlight with others who were funny too, while Groucho Marx had his brothers to play off, even if we had to endure a boring Harpo harp recital or Chico putting the audience to sleep with his piano playing. West too insists on showing off her non-comedic talent when she decides to sing… and it is excruciating. Unlike when Groucho sings West is serious and is not doing it for laughs so it makes it even more intolerable. I guess that Mae wanted to sing and no one had the guts to say no?!

The film is interesting and does feature Mae reciting he most well known line to Grant, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?”, but the film could have been better in my opinion.


Shanghai Express

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Produced by Adolph Zukor
Written by Jules Furthman
Harry Hervey (story)
Starring Marlene Dietrich
Clive Brook
Anna May Wong
Music by W. Franke Harling
Rudolph G. Kopp
Cinematography Lee Garmes
James Wong Howe
Editing by Frank Sullivan
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date February 2, 1932
Running time 80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Shanghai Express is a very interesting film from 1932. Set in civil war torn China but filmed in Paris, it stars Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lilly. The film was directed by Josef von Sternberg and according to one review that I have read of the film, is meant to be a statement about the love between the fame director and his starlet. Of course rumours have abounded about another affair that the German actress was having with her co-star Anna Mae Wong. Who knows what really was happening behind the scenes.

Dietrich plays the coaster Shanghai Lilly, who has been breaking the hearts of men between Peking and Shanghai for five years, since her heart was broken by ‘Doc’ Harvey, a British officer who she meets up with while travelling on the train. Lots of critics have raved about her performance but she really doesn’t have that much to do. She spends some time looking glamorous and smoking a cigarette and smirking her way through her scenes looking as though she is about to burst into laughter but she is out acted by her co-star Anna Mae Wong, who despite being on screen for a much shorter amount of time has a far juicier part and more screen presence than Marlene.

Then there is Warner Oland as the evil rebel leader Mr Chang, who holds the train passengers for ransom and rapes (off-screen) Wong’s character Hui Fei. Oland is best known as being a caucasian actor who played many Asian parts, especially the famed Oriental detective Charlie Chan. He is thoroughly despicable here.

Shanghai Express was nominated for best picture at the 1932 Academy Awards and while it is very watchable and a very good film, and  Wong and Oland’s performances are great, I don’t know if the film is that great. As I said Dietrich spends most of her time mugging for the camera rather than really acting, while Brook’s performance as ‘Doc’ Harvey is rather wooden.


It’s A Gift

Directed by Norman Z. McLeod
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by Jack Cunningham,
Story Charles Bogle (Fields)
Starring W. C. Fields
Kathleen Howard
Jean Rouverol
Julian Madison
Tammany Young
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date November 17, 1934
Running time 73 min.
It’s A Gift is a really funny W. C. Fields comedy from 1934, and it surprisingly holds up well when viewed with 21st century eyes. It’s A Gift is less well-known than some of Fields’ other films such as The Bank Dick, but there are still a few laughs to be had while watching the film.

In the film Fields plays Harold Bissonette (pronounced Bisonay), a grocery store owner with a nagging wife and two rotten children. After the death of his uncle he decides to sell up his store and more to California to become an orange grower. The plot however is little more than a vehicle for Fields’ gags, many of which he had honed to perfection after years spent on the vaudeville circuit.

I think that the reason why I find the film so humourous is that I can empathise with Fields in some of the situations he finds himself in. Most married men know what it’s like to be nagged by their wife at times, and would find Fields portrayal as a henpecked husband quite amusing. Similarly most of us adults know just how annoying children can be and rather than show them as sweet little angels they are seen here as being the bratty little monsters that some children really are. This is why the gags are so successful for Fields and his henpecked husband character is much funnier to me than the obnoxious, drunken wise ass that he would play in later films. As well as a few good slapstick moments there are some really great one-liners from Fields that had me laughing quite a bit.

It’s A Gift is a part of the W.C. Fields Comedy Collection with The Bank Dick, My Little Chickadee, You Can’t Cheat An Honest Man and International House . This DVD box set is available from Amazon for $46.99. You can purchase it by clicking here…