At the Circus

Laurel & Hardy’s two-reeler The Chimp (dir. James Parrott), magnified by Irving Brecher into a giant-size Marx Brothers analysis.

The force of Buzzell’s finale stunned the critics but laid the groundwork for their appreciation of that much at least in Go West.

Hal Roach returned the compliment at once in Road Show, while Stanley Kramer later on recalled the finale in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.


Go West

It begins with Keaton’s Go West (S. Quentin Quale “evicted” at the train station) and ends with The General, and there is much other material including perhaps The Paleface.

This is treated as a classic Western peopled by the Marx Brothers, and once again the force of Buzzell’s style proved overwhelming for the critics, though familiarity allowed them to admire Rusty’s duet with an Indian chief and laugh at the stunning Keatonian finish.


Ship Ahoy

The dictator of pulp fiction to three typists simultaneously, the hoofer transporting an Axis mine in her luggage for the U.S. Navy, as she believes, a plot picked up by the enemy from the works of a certain pulp fiction writer on the same ship by mere coincidence.

Tommy Dorsey, etc. (Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell, Bert Lahr...)

“Mr. Skelton and Mr. Lahr manage somehow to be funny now and then,” said Bosley Crowther when the fit was on him (New York Times).

Halliwell’s Film Guide, “tepid”.


Neptune’s Daughter

A hemispherical comedy, Beckett’s “sexual hemisphere” represented as a polo match.

This is so literal (N.A. vs. S.A.) as to remove all the mickey from the production. The sublimity of the water ballet, magnificent as it also is, is curtailed as well. Buzzell’s art of intimacy is not too far from David Butler and mainly anticipates Minnelli, who must have greatly admired the rendering of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in two Southern California suites with two couples, one to a chorus.

Buzzell is a great master of Technicolor, he knows exactly how to temper its subtlety of range in beautifully-modulated and exact décors, he couldn’t care less about the grand machinations of plot as described, it’s the little continuous motion of the film that interests him, a bit of rapids on the polo grounds, a fine flowing stream in the clinches, but especially (when nothing much else seems to be happening) the subtle rhythms of Beethoven’s bach.

Casa Cugat appears in glory for the cogent Buzzell treatment of Jack Donohue’s dance numbers in fluid and precise camera movements, a mobster’s grip on the club threatens the match.