Charles Lederer

Charles Lederer

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Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) Review


Weak
They don't make films like Mutiny on the Bounty anymore. The road show spectacular is a lost art that has disappeared along with 70mm cameras. But in 1962, MGM's remake of the Gable-Laughton Mutiny of the Bounty was the most breathtaking of all the big super-productions coming out of Hollywood. Exciting, colorful, no expense spared (the studio even constructed its own exact copy of the H.M.S. Bounty with craftsmen laboring at wooden hull construction), a cast of thousands (when that really meant a cast of thousands), the pageantry of real Tahitian locations, Mutiny on the Bounty was a massive, awesome extravaganza.

With veteran director Lewis Milestone at the helm (this was to be his final feature), Bounty shoves off in impressive form. As in the 1935 version, the film chronicles the repressive and sadistic Captain Bligh's (Trevor Howard) attempts to corner the market in breadfruit for England by traveling to the South Seas and First Lt. Fletcher Christian's (Marlon Brando) mutiny, casting Bligh to sea in a rickety boat with a handful of allies as the mutineers set sail back to Tahiti.

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Monkey Business Review


Good
Mr. Oxley's been complaining about her "punctuation," so she makes sure she's at her desk by nine. That's about the sum of Marilyn Monroe's contribution to Monkey Business, a screwball comedy (made about 10 years after the real end of the screwball era) featuring a kooky scientist, his patient wife, a brazen and dippy secretary, and of course a chimpanzee who's really calling the shots.

The plot involves the hunt for a youth formula by Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant), which he thinks he has discovered when a self-administered sample drives him to do such crazy things as buy a new car and crash it into a chain link fence with his boss's secretary (Monroe) riding shotgun. The only problem is that the sample hasn't done anything; it's the water, spiked by the chimp when no one was looking.

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Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review


OK
Implausible yet wholly unforgettable, Ocean's Eleven is as much fun as it is a misogynistic relic of a bygone era. Essentially, the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford are playing themselves as ex-military playboy buddies who decide to pull off a daring heist on New Year's Eve, robbing five Las Vegas casinos in one fell swoop. As it turns out, the heist itself is kind of a forgettable letdown, as is the aftermath involving an investigation into the matter by Lawford's character's future stepfather (Cesar Romero). Even the setup takes close to an hour, as Billy Ocean (Sinatra) woos his lady and slowly gathers his crew -- all while Martin and Davis provide musical accompaniment. The end result is more than two hours of heist work that would make David Mamet cringe.

So why watch Sinatra and his 10 (not 11) ex-military buddies romp through their kinda town? Ocean's Eleven is the kind of movie you turn on and just hang out to, just like the Rat Pack would have done, as you enjoy a scotch and soda on a Saturday afternoon while Dean Martin croons "Ain't that a kick in the head..." in the background. Then you'd go bowling in an orange sweater to talk about the job. When it's over, you won't feel like you've bettered yourself in any way, but you might feel just an inch of kinship with a bygone era when Vegas was black tie-only and when a woman's place was in a distant, supporting role. (Just kidding, dames.)

Continue reading: Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review

Charles Lederer

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