In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_american_sniper

American Sniper

American Sniper proves the dictum “never count an auteur out” by proving itself as Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since 2009's underrated Invictus pretty much right…

Thumb_large_20ut2u5dmgl6szdu0adaq8u5zoc

The Interview

Opportunities at rich satire flatten out into Hangover dude-dope-doodoo jokes, where the premise is that there’s nothing funnier than watching over-privileged grown men act out…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Half a Sixpence

  |  

The sun is shining as I write this, and the birds are singing, and the cops haven't busted any hippie benefits in at least 24 hours. It is a time for mercy. My task is to review "Half a Sixpence," and there are a dozen clever ways to make fun of it, starting with Tommy Steele's teeth and radiating outward even to the ends of the earth.

But why bother? "Half a Sixpence" was apparently designed from the first as a simpleminded, square, old-fashioned musical. It is. Perhaps there should be old-fashioned musicals occasionally. Nothing is more fun than going to the Clark when "Singin' in the Rain" is revived.

The trouble with "Half a Sixpence," however, is that it's a good deal more old-fashioned than "Singin' in the Rain." It is already a revival, and when it is brought back 10 years from now it may by then look older than Busby Berkeley's early work.

The songs are ferociously standard, and judging from the foggy mist they are photographed through, I would judge at least three assistant cameramen were employed at all times to smear Vaseline on the camera lens. As beautifully smiling faces waver gently in and out of focus, the sound track drips honey and molasses and horehound drops. Oh love, oh life, ah happy fate, that we, who have split this sixpence in twain as mere youths, should meet again, etc.

Tommy Steele is just the performer for this sort of schmaltz. He is, in fact, a very good song-and-dance man, the only member of his generation who bears comparison with Gene Kelly and Dan Dailey. The photography is unfortunately not up to his level; a bit of clever twirling of his bowler hat is lost against the black background of his suit, and the camera misses most of the footwork in a spirited onstage dance number.

That is possibly the fault of George Sidney, the director, who has been making Hollywood musicals ("Anchors Aweigh," "Kiss Me Kate," "Annie Get Your Gun") for a long time. This was his first in England, and perhaps he missed the craftsmanship of the Hollywood studio crews. In any event, his timing tends to lag, his sight gags telegraph ahead, and his songs drag.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Roger Moore's Best: "The Spy Who Loved Me"

An FFC comments on Roger Moore's best James Bond film, "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Dear Angelina: Thoughts on "Cleopatra"

A letter to Angelina Jolie about the casting of her upcoming take on "Cleopatra."

The Ten Best TV Programs of 2014

The best television programs of 2014.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus