The “Ethiopian in the fuel supply” is Engine No. 13½ vs. The Silver Fish, a streamliner.
Porky’s out of a job, he concedes, but an insult puts the John Henry in him.
An obliging bull lands him in the cab of the latest model.
Porky at the Crocadero
He impersonates Paul Whiteman, Cab Calloway and Guy Lombardo when the real bandleaders don’t show up, being a dishwasher with a diploma who can’t afford the dinner (“$25 a plate, with food on it $25.50”).
A lecture to accompany Nabokov’s story about a little boy (Porky) who should not smoke.
Porky Pig’s Feat
He tries everything, along with his friend Daffy Duck, to avoid paying the French manager of the Broken Arms Hotel (a true skyscraper) for the use of a room with air (“for breathing”), all to no avail. But manacled to a ball-and-chain they call Bugs Bunny, who’s in the next room similarly encumbered.
Scrap Happy Daffy
Leading the war effort at home, he enrages Hitler (first pictured as a horse’s ass), who fulminates against the “non-Aryan duck” and sends a submarine armed with a torpedo containing a goat to destroy his scrap pile, which is just where the whole shebang ends up.
The Home Front
Pvt. Snafu in an Army camp where “it’s cold enough to freeze the nuts off a jeep” dreams an idle world back home and gets a rude awakening, especially when it comes to pining for his girl.
Wendy the Welder’s Percy needs a babysitter, Porky gets the job. The kid’s a homicidal maniac who thinks he’s Churchill, Mom knows how to apply her copy of Child Psychology on him.
Artists and Models
The funniest film ever made on New York publishing, and that’s saying something.
Godard indicates the seriousness of the situation in his review, Tashlin is always serious.
The basics of art, Dean’s a painter, Jerry’s a writer fixated on The Bat Lady, modeled by Shirley MacLaine for Dorothy Malone.
Jerry dreams things like missile propellant for space stations that attract the attention of East German agents (including Eva Gabor) who read the comic book (cf. Crichton’s Hue and Cry), but the FBI and the Secret Service read it too.
The Artists and Models Ball is the central occasion.
The Honest Man
General Electric Theater
Nothing wrong with Liberace’s piano, just a hundred-dollar bill stuck in the strings, the piano tuner (Jack Benny) hands it over.
The countess (Zsa Zsa Gabor) loves him, she makes his tuning fork quiver.
A doll at the strip joint stuffs her boss’s stolen jewels in his tool bag as the cops enter.
His fiancée’s brother (Charles Bronson) sees the gems and plots a shakedown.
The well-tuned audience responds to Benny like a Stradivarius. Tashlin plays right on the money down the line.
Hollywood or Bust
Money & Art, the indispensable ingredients, are portrayed by Martin & Lewis, respectively.
This gives you the whole structure and sendup on a cross-country voyage by automobile from New York.
Jerry has to fight a bull “like Rudolph Valentino in Blood and Sand”, Dean tries to seduce a chorus girl.
Dean proposes, Jerry lands in bed with Anita Ekberg on the set of her new movie.
Truffaut wrote appreciatively of the satire, Godard put it on his Ten Best list that year.
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
The average man, who certainly has a Harvard education and writes TV ads at Whiffenpoof, Crackerjack, Gewgaw, Gefoozleum & Bull’s-Pizzle, governs all not by virtue of his estate in the Manhattan business world but because he is the shmendrik they’re all seducing, ad men, starlets, candidates for political office, the works.
The realization of that is the ultimate offering, and if there are any further questions of a funnier than funny comedy, they are referred to the chicken coop, as in nobody here but.
“According to Georges Sadoul,” wrote Godard in Cahiers du Cinéma, “Frank Tashlin is a second-rank director because he has never done a remake of You Can’t Take It with You or The Awful Truth.” Tashlin put the screenplay foremost, as he wrote to Godard, and it is a perfect screenplay. The critic’s Ten Best list of the year includes this film with Nicholas Ray, Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Tashlin (Hollywood or Bust), Sacha Guitry, Charles Chaplin, Fritz Lang, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, and Otto Preminger.
The Geisha Boy
The Great Wooley, ass end of the vaudeville circuit, with his trick rabbit Harry the Hare.
USO tour of Japan, also Korea, because he needs the money.
The rabbit’s a genius, anyway.
The magician’s rabbit, The Bridge on the River Kwai, an American bombshell and a son of Fuji-san, courtesy of MATS and the Department of Defense, strictly from hunger you should understand except it amuses an orphan overseas, that is the conceit and the entire construction (cf. Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried).
“A good Jerry Lewis comedy” with the star improving, Variety thought.
Time Out Film Guide has “this rather flaccid vehicle”, Halliwell’s Film Guide a “disconnected farce”.
“Tashlin has become sympathetically obsolete without ever becoming fashionable,” writes Andrew Sarris in The American Cinema, consciously aping an epigram by Oscar Wilde, more or less.
A very greatly mined film by other filmmakers in latter years, the surprising finale above all, starring the future author of The Total Film-Maker.
Tashlin is such a genius he’s able to satirize Marnie before Hitchcock has inked the deal.
Tom Wesselmann saw Tuesday Weld at the stove with a priapic still life behind her and invented The Great American Nude.
It’$ Only Money
The inventor of television has died, his fortune goes to a sister (Mae Questel) unless the long-lost son is found.
The butler (Jack Weston) tries to do it, on orders from a shyster (Zachary Scott) wooing the sister, but “I’m the missing money!”
Automated lawnmowers and a statue of Sophocles figure in the finale of this major variation on Nugent’s My Favorite Brunette (Weston is “the President of the Peter Lorre Fan Club”, Jesse White is the detective).
The kid (Jerry Lewis) is a TV repairman, he marries the sister’s nurse.
The Man from the Diners’ Club
He inadvertently grants a card to a notorious gangster desperate to leave the country. The beautiful straight line Tashlin follows is decorated by such ornaments as the entirely gratuitous card, the gangster’s moll had this idea, he can’t use it because it has his name on it. The man from the Diners’ Club nevertheless goes to great lengths in pursuit of it to save his job. This leads to the dumbwaiter gag with the drunken moll and a scared spinster and a beatnik party with parody verses of Eliot and so on in a comical cento punctuated by bongo drums.
And all the while the poor schnook is unaware that the gangster has plans for the man from the Diners’ Club’s Diners’ Club card and his dead body to cover an escape.
Bosley Crowther was so utterly confused he didn’t know what to say.
Danny Kaye in a performance of controlled hysteria, Telly Savalas, Cara Williams, Martha Hyer, George Kennedy, Everett Sloane, furiously conducted by Tashlin.
Who’s Minding the Store?
The cue is provided by the great department store sequence in Newmeyer & Taylor’s Safety Last!, and properly speaking there’s no better treatment of this material since Reisner’s The Big Store, except Lloyd’s Next Aisle Over.
One of the great marriage fantasies in the cinema, a sequence of stunning gags illustrating every feature of wedding jitters, all centered for convenience on a vast department store where every aspect can be covered with the maximum of ease.
There is even a central subplot on the tame owners of the firm down the ages, pickled by their wives.
And then, of course, the executive and his secretary.
Every branch of customers femininely speaking and the head of the gourmet section played by Fritz Feld come into the purview of a nebbish about to marry the daughter of the regimen, only he doesn’t know it’s her, she’s the elevator operator to fool any fortune hunters.
Flagpole-flecker, ladies’ shoe salesman, bargain sale clerk, big-game rifle salesman to a lady TV expert, vacuum-cleaner repairman, he takes every job in the store to prove his love.
The script is enough, the filming must have been a Herculean labor.
The fall guy on the ground floor is Jerry Lewis, the girl is Jill St. John, Agnes Moorehead her scheming mother, John McGiver the hubby, Ray Walston the executive in charge.
The Disorderly Orderly
Presumably Tashlin is responsible for some of the reawakened interest in silent film comedians that occurred about this time. The humility of the situation belies comparison with Newmeyer & Taylor’s Doctor Jack, but the gurney gag leaves no doubt.
The Alphabet Murders
From M.G.M. to Hastings of the Secret Service, “the little grey cells” of the little bald Anglo-French Belgian.
Tashlin superfine, miraculously finding the right angle, “h’elementary” said our ‘olmes, greatly disguised. Modern London, delightful place, a girl whose name is Amanda Beatrice Cross climbs right up a crane and into the Thames, off the deep end on a most rudimentary series of murders.
Quite the effect of a fortnight in London on holiday. Quite the bonniest film, the funniest, even. Like Dieterle in Satan Met a Lady, Tashlin gives his inspiration free rein with unexpected, thrice-happy results. Poirot’s opposite number is Japp of Scotland Yard, and they say the authoress had no sense of humor, “clues appertain to mysteries, Mr. Purrow, there is no mystery here.” Poirot meets Jane Marple, they exchange puzzled looks.
“Women and their mental processes are my work,” says the trick cyclist. Absolutely the chef-d’œuvre of Tashlin’s or anybody’s catalogue raisonnée. The camera at a gaming club is a croupier’s rake. “I must say you’re taking this extremely well, just like an Englishman.”
“Oh, you flatter me!”
“Not at all, I mean it.”
“Not at all.”
“Thank you.” A.A. is a drunken clown on the highest board (Godard’s Alphaville is practically simultaneous), B.B. a bowling instructress (cf. Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces), C.C. a shipowner remembered in Polanski’s Chinatown, D.D. the student of femininity...
It was not “inventive, comical or charming enough” for A.H. Weiler of the New York Times. Variety couldn’t have agreed more, “insufficiently clever to be outstanding.” TV Guide, “unbelievably unfunny”. Time Out Film Guide notes Tashlin’s “eye for the grotesque”. Britmovie, “incoherent, painfully unfunny and loses much of the suspense.” Catholic News Service Media Review Office, “badly mangles... falls flat... badly hurts...” Hal Erickson (All Movie Guide), “ends up a wildly uneven experience.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “ruination... misguided... terrible...”
The Glass Bottom Boat
The still center of this storming satire is Dick Martin’s unerringly accurate rendition of a second-rate playboy, and Tashlin plays on this as a ground bass amidst his other paradoxes to prepare a good finish, although technically the role is merely a foil to Rod Taylor’s A-1 playboy, who is also an inventor and aerospace mogul. Everett Freeman’s script builds up complications akin to those of David Swift’s Good Neighbor Sam (the leading lady’s house looks very like the one in Cassavetes’ Big Trouble), given a very intensive surreal treatment by Tashlin (the automated house of Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons is notably reprised with offhand acuity), whose main interest (apart from Doris Day) is nonetheless the development of his theme as delicately as possible. This he accomplishes by apparent inattention, so that nothing is really confronted, though all his material is at least on the face of it visible to the camera (nothing is up his sleeve), and he is able to find in a welter of space age and military hardware at the height of the Cold War something like inspiration (Arthur Godfrey on the beach at Avalon serves a crucial turn) in a film that belongs on a double bill with Robert Altman’s Countdown to be appreciated.
The secret of Caprice is Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, which, in the very dim light of the reviews, confirms the trepidation one must feel at approaching the late works of a master. Polanski on the set of Chinatown plucked a hair from Faye Dunaway’s head in his foreground to perfect the shot, her rage was fitting.
Add Sherman’s Mr. Skeffington and you have a pretty good basis of the entire proceeding, a satire of the cosmetics industry.
Pieter de Hooch supplies the theme with a very handy illustration in his Woman Drinking with Two Men, and a Maidservant (not to mention an Education of the Virgin over the fireplace), reproduced at the center of a two-shot of the leads.
Across the Pacific and North by Northwest are conspicuous in a cultivated style after Donen’s Hitchcock. Sam Taylor’s The Taming of the Shrew gets a wink in return.
The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell
An entirely correct analysis of John Ford’s World War II meditation, Donovan’s Reef, where the critics had failed.
“The champagne of the common man” (Paul Newman), Beckett’s “grandeur nature”, beer.
Army-Navy rivalry is the framework of the fun, “we’ll teach you to drink deep” in a sublime comedy from Pearl Harbor to Victory at Sea.
Variety analyzed it as “crudely plotted” and “routinely directed” with an “awkward screenplay”.
Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times admired Mako’s performance as Calvin Coolidge Ishimura.