After devoting over a year and a half to reviewing every Disney animated film, I was ready to put Disney behind me, for awhile. I recently became one-half of the Walt Sent Me podcast (available to listen to now) and our first featured film was The Reluctant Dragon. The Reluctant Dragon isn’t considered one of the 53 movies Disney considers part of their animated legacy. Odd, considering it contains an equal amount of live action to animation, on par with the later package films. The movie is gimmicky in its depiction of a happy Disney environment during a time when it was anything but, but it depicts a moment in time at the Walt Disney Studios we’ll never witness again, and that makes all the difference.
Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset to watch Life With Father; I watched it right after To Kill a Mockingbird, so I had the bar set pretty high. Or maybe it’s because I love Meet Me in St. Louis, which also deals with a turn-of-the-century family. Regardless, I found Life With Father to be a tedious affair powered by William Powell and a 14-year-old Elizabeth Taylor. There are particular moments of fun, but the rote characterization and plot never go anywhere, keeping it hard to maintain your attention for two-hours.
Classic film fans are mourning the loss of star Shirley Temple today. In her honor, I’m reposting one of my favorite movies starring her, with additional reviews of her work coming in March.
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is worth remaking today, and by the same token it’s witnessed in every film made in Hollywood currently. The tale of an older man being forced to date a teenage girl could easily slip into dark and disturbing territory, but with loveable leading man Cary Grant and perpetual ray of sunshine Shirley Temple in the roles, you’ll find yourself laughing at the predicament. This is the second pairing of Myrna Loy with Grant, and while their romance is the “acceptable” one, it doesn’t have nearly the comic effervescence of Grant and Temple, leaving the audience to wonder if this May-December romance could work out.
We’ve come to the end of our time with Danny Kaye and it’s was a pleasant experience, overall. None of the movies in Warner Archive’s two Kaye collections were terrible or unwatchable, although I did find two (The Court Jester and The Kid From Brooklyn) head and shoulders above the rest. Our final Kaye film is a remake of Howard Hawks’ 1941 comedy, Ball of Fire with Hawks taking another turn in the director’s chair to helm this. Not having the original to go off of didn’t affect my viewing, but knowing the cast of the original did color my perspective. The musical numbers make sense compared to the past Kaye movies where they’ve felt squeezed in, but Mayo is horribly miscast which causes the rest of the movie to slog to its inevitable conclusion.
The penultimate review in my Danny Kaye series sees the actor return to the comedy I enjoyed in The Court Jester. In fact, I found The Kid From Brooklyn as entertaining and engaging as Kaye’s beloved vessel with the pestle! The blend of musical and comedy remains unbalanced and jarring, but the work of Kaye and his returning cast from Wonder Man are delightful. The story of a little milkman turned boxer shows what Kaye could do when the studios realized spewing gibberish wasn’t his only forte.