Friday, February 26, 2010

The Reviews

The double-feature in question was actually The Manchurian Candidate and The Court Jester. Go figure.

The Manchurian Candidate is not what I would generally consider my "type" of movie, being a black-and-white thriller. But when I keep having to pause it so I don't miss anything when Matt starts talking to me and continually yell at the screen "No! Don't do it!" there has got to be something going on. It is pretty impossible to review without spoiling everything left and right so I will just leave it at this: Frank Sinatra pulls off a totally respectable dramatic performance (I'd say great, but I kept being distracted by the fact that it was Sinatra and all the other movies I've ever seen him in were musicals), and Angela Lansbury is AMAZING. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role but was beaten out by Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker. If you, like myself, rarely watch thrillers but enjoy a really good one every once in a while, see this movie. They remade it recently with Denzel Washington in the Sinatra role but I just don't see it working the same way without the looming threat of Communism being seen in every corner like it was back then.
Image from here.

The Court Jester is totally my kind of movie. Yet again, kind of a convoluted plot but much lighter in tone. Danny Kaye is a member of a group of rebels trying to overthrow a wicked king. They live in the forest, a la Robin Hood, and he came to them from a circus, so he doesn't get to do the macho fight-y stuff so much as he gets to entertain the troops, such as they are, and keep an eye on the kiddo rightful heir to the throne. Only (of course) there is a mix-up and he ends up in the castle, masquerading as the court jester, hypnotized into trying to romance the snotty king's daughter (A. Lansbury again) and assassinating the king's men at the behest of one of the local lords (played entertainingly by Basil Rathbone). Of course there are songs and D.K. gets to do lots of physical comedy as well as some of his trademark tongue-twisty stuff. He is hilarious, A.L. is great as the snotty princess and the lovely Glynis Johns is wonderful as the real love interest (her voice may be familiar as the suffragette mother from Mary Poppins, although she looks very different here). There is even a good swordfight scene with Kaye and Rathbone. The songs are charming and hummable and the whole thing is good silly fun. Also, wherever the hell they shot this, it is GORGEOUS. The castle etc. isn't bad but they regularly cut to armies or whatever approaching on the coast road and you can tell that VistaVision was new at the time because they really want to show it off. There is a reason I own this one. And I'd buy it again.
If you only have time to watch the first couple of minutes it's still worth it. The pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle...

3 comments:

scb said...

The vessel with the pestle is one of my favorite sketches in all of moviedom! Thank you for brightening my day with it today (I just loved Danny Kaye!)

Interesting double feature...

Mella DP said...

Ah, so that's it. I got the first one, of course (which is my kind of movie). Would indeed make for an interesting evening.

Anne (in Reno) said...

Yeah I kind of needed the Court Jester to perk me up after the Manchurian Candidate. Both movies have aged very well though, I must say.

"They broke the chalice from the palace! The flagon with the dragon has the brew that is true!"