For Reel

The Yellow Cab Man (1950)
July 24, 2016, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Jack Donohue
4.5 Stars
The Yellow Cab ManThe Yellow Cab Man sees Red Skelton star in what plays as a proto-Jerry Lewis vehicle—rife with intricate sets, a heavy dose of surrealism, and a slapstick sensibility that becomes increasingly anarchic. In the climax, Skelton and Gloria DeHaven are on the run from conspiratorial thugs, finding refuge in a Home Show expo that includes a revolving house. As the monstrous home spins like a carousel and a parade of taxicabs come crashing through the wall to the rescue, The Yellow Cab Man becomes something sublime, offering the types of images that very few comedic visionaries had the imagination for. It is not the only foray into the extraordinary—in what plays as a riff on Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, Skelton finds himself frequently hypnotized by an evil psychiatrist played by Walter Slezak. In one of the resulting hallucinations, Slezak dons an absurd walrus costume that would put him at home in the ill-fated 1933 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Not all of the gags work, but they’re all presented with the same loving attention to detail. A hospitalized Skelton makes the pun that the film has, “the best cast he’s ever been in!” prompting the credits written in sharpie all over his bandages. Frequent Keaton collaborator Edward Sedgwick is again credited as a consultant on the film, and fittingly the comedy plays as something unlike anything going in Hollywood at the time (that is, until Frank Tashlin hit the ground running not long after).

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