For Reel


Excuse My Dust (1951)
July 28, 2016, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Roy Rowland
2.5 Stars
Excuse My DustRed Skelton had already been transitioning into television by the time Excuse My Dust was released and the film makes a good argument why that might have been a medium better suited to his talents. That’s not to say that he gives a poor performance in Excuse My Dust—he’s perfectly serviceable as the predictably overlooked eccentric—but it ignores most of his comic talents. Whereas The Yellow Cab Man treated Skelton as a first-rate, progressive comedian, using innovative sets and glimpses of surrealism to aid the comedy, this nostalgic bore affords him very few memorable lines. Fortunately, the talented Sally Forrest is on hand as the love interest, and in one set piece she delivers a particularly erotic dance brilliantly choreographed by Hermes Pan (set during another man’s fantasy in which he imagines a future in which women’s clothes weight less). Good as Forrest is, however, she’s nearly overshadowed by the delightful Monica Lewis. If her numbers are less memorable, her enthusiasm and charisma as a performer is outstanding, contrasting with Forrest’s heroine as the more risque, modern woman. Buster Keaton was again on hand to help Skelton with some of the comedic scenes, but other than a moderately amusing race at the end of the picture the laughs are few and far between.



Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945)
January 17, 2012, 1:57 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Roy Rowland

Having established himself as the prototypical screen gangster in Little Caesar, it is unusual to see Edward G. Robinson take on such a wholesome, patriarchal role, as he does in Roy Rowland’s Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. Though the picture is exceedingly mawkish, it retains its interest not only through the talent of its performers, but by Dalton Trumbo’s fascinating script. Famously among the Hollywood Ten, the picture was the last that Trumbo had written before the contemptible HUAC trials. It would be naive to suggest that the film doesn’t contain what could be perceived as being communist ideas – it is a picture entirely about communal sharing and, the one time the seemingly infallible Margaret O’Brien is punished, it is because of her selfishness. There are some further allusions to the communist party, such as a sequence in which O’Brien accidentally kills a squirrel, which, for the entirety of the picture, is referred to exclusively as a red squirrel. O’Brien’s pal quips, “Shucks, it’s only a red squirrel! They’re bad!” It is absurd to suggest that the ultra-liberal content could have had any negative effects on the well-being of the country, of course, but, as spoken by a Newspaper editor in the picture, “Funny how different the same words can sound to two people.”