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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_feher_isten_ver2

White God

Imagine an "R" rated "Lassie" by way of "Spartacus." That's Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," a brutal but stirring fantasy about street dogs rising up against…

Thumb_1xhk6o9re7godwsywy9dokwtkjx

Get Hard

In this exuberant but ultimately simpleminded comedy, a car wash owner (Kevin Hart) helps a wimpy hedge fund manager (Will Ferrell) get ready for prison…

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

Skidoo

  |  

Otto Preminger's "Skidoo" fails mostly because it lacks spirit.

It has everything else: An expensive production, a lot of good comedians, fetching music by Nilsson, even Groucho Marx. But the whole dead weight sits there; Preminger seems unable to invest his film with any lightness or spontaneity.

The story is almost ferocious in its attempt to be contemporary. Jackie Gleason plays a retired syndicate mobster who's recruited to break into Alcatraz and bump off Mickey Rooney. Meanwhile, Frankie Avalon (of the mob) runs afoul of Gleason's wife (Carol Channing) and a carload of hippies. They want Avalon to lead them to the mob boss (Groucho Marx) so he'll spring Gleason. Meanwhile, in prison, Gleason takes LSD by accident and that provides an excuse for the psychedelic photography that seems obligatory in every other movie these days.

Directed with a certain abandon, this might have worked. But Preminger marches his actors through their paces, and even Groucho seems curiously passive. There are a lot of scenes of hippie body-painting, and Carol Channing takes another of those guided tours into deepest groovy life style, but somebody ought to tell Preminger and everybody else in Hollywood that the Haight is dead, flower children are into speed, and who paints bodies anymore?

As always, Preminger has produced a technically superb film. The well-designed shots and the carefully planned scenes are there, but this style of directing seems more suited to weighty subject matter. The new style in comedy, for better or worse is toward a looser camera style, quicker cuts and a certain amount of improvisation. I have a feeling that it chills Preminger's very soul to imagine he might ever ask an actor to improvise.

But comedy is a fragile item and wilts quickly. You can't do it by the book, no matter how hard you try.

Popular Blog Posts

“The Breakfast Club”, 30 Years Later: A Conversation Across Generations

A film teacher looks back on "The Breakfast Club," partly through the eyes of her students.

The Melodrama Of Woody Allen’s Critical Reputation

The conversation about Woody Allen's personal and professional lives intertwining continues, but to what end?

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all

As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...

No Animals Were Harmed: The Unique Perspective of “White God”

A piece on the use of animals in film in light of "White God".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus