Mr. Robinson Crusoe

A Park Avenue boiled shirt bets a thousand dollars he can land on a jungle island and live in a penthouse with hot and cold running water within a couple of months. The other guy bets he’ll be tied to a stake by cannibals.

The material was put to good use in Byron Paul’s Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., but here the opulence of imagination is the long suit.

Sutherland’s slow dolly shot right along the implements whittled and assembled out of “Dan Beard’s Handy Book” culminates in a floor plan of the penthouse.

Friday comes and goes, Saturday is a native girl from another island fleeing an unwelcome marriage.

The opposition tries to add a little sporting challenge, but the boiled shirt (Douglas Fairbanks) is so resourceful, industrious, jovial and brilliant that he calls one of his handcrafted pieces of furniture “Early Grand Rapids” (the opposition cracks a good joke, marveling at the dexterity of his inventions, “the man’s Mussolini!”).


The Flying Deuces

The great student of Laurel and Hardy is of course Samuel Beckett, who may be imagined watching this in late ’39 or early ’40, in Paris, with his heroes calmly and unavailingly attempting suicide.

The famous finale certainly inspired another one, that of Edward F. Cline’s Never Give a Sucker an Even Break a few years later.

The frame of reference is Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, with a touch of Chaplin (the Bohemian café from The Immigrant, and Mr. Laurel’s caricature at the end), from the Lilliputian Parisian garret to the last transfiguration of the Houyhnhnm, with surprising results in Jaws and Goldfinger, and gags that reach the zenith of the sneezing wardrobe.


The Invisible Woman

A very pretty gag and a poetic idea of genius.

The one you don’t see, as a rule.

She trounces a tyrant and levels a gang of crooks and conquers a “fishless fisherman” playboy.

For this, a unique cast of characters, precisely deployed.

John Barrymore as Professor Gibbs.

Virginia Bruce the model volunteer.

John Howard the playboy, Charlie Ruggles his valet.

Donald MacBride, Edward Brophy, Shemp Howard the gang, Oskar Homolka its leader.

Margaret Hamilton the professor’s housekeeper, Charles Lane the bad boss.

T.S. of the New York Times thought it “trash” but noted Barrymore as Lionel, Halliwell’s Film Guide deprecates it as “generally very laboured.”