Irving Brecher

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Comedy Scriptwriter Brecher Dies


Irving Brecher

Comedy scriptwriter Irving Brecher has died at the age of 94.


He passed away on Monday (17Nov08) in Los Angeles after a series of heart attacks last week (beg10Nov08).


His most notable work included the vaudeville sketches he penned for Milton Berle and comedies he wrote for the Marx Brothers - including a solo credit on 1940 film Go West.


Early in his career, Brecher was an uncredited script doctor on The Wizard of Oz, leading Groucho Marx to call him The Wicked Wit of the West - the title of his autobiography, which is scheduled to hit shelves in January (09).

Continue reading: Comedy Scriptwriter Brecher Dies

Ziegfeld Follies Review


OK
Who knew they made clip shows into movies? Ziegfeld Follies is two hours of skits, songs, dances, and jokes from the dying days of vaudeville, brought to us by a who's-who of yesteryear performers. The film opens, believe it or not, with a deceased Florenz Ziegfeld, looking down from heaven, dreaming about his perfect variety show. What follows is that dream, put to film.

With a tagline like "The Greatest Production Since The Birth Of Motion Pictures," you get a little something like the unmanageable monstrosity that Follies ultimately becomes. Structured as a series of unrelated vignettes, directed by different people (not to mention that screenwriting credit list), it's ultimately just a jumble of parts that add up to less than a whole movie.

Continue reading: Ziegfeld Follies Review

Shadow Of The Thin Man Review


OK
In this fourth installment of The Thin Man, we find our heroes now with a growing Nick Jr. (who has to be kept on a leash), and somewhat less drunk than in previous installments. I suppose this would make them unfit parents, no? The story is generally fun (though, in keeping with other episodes, difficult to follow or fathom), about a murdered jockey and the machinations in ferreting out the killer. Unfortunately, the Charleses are off-cmera for much too long for my tastes, and when they are on camera, they're sober. Crikey!

Meet Me In St. Louis Review


Excellent
Released in 1944, Meet Me in St. Louis was director Vincente Minnelli's first big hit, and it showcases two of Minnelli's prime obsessions: The glittering Technicolor musical and the romantic melodrama. Set in turn-of-the-century St. Louis, it tracks a year in the life of the Smith family, which is enthusiastically anticipating the 1903 World's Fair. It's not Minnelli's best musical; The Bandwagon is more antic fun and has better songs, and the ballet of An American in Paris remains his best-choreographed, most engaging film. But the home-and-hearth feel of St. Louis has its own warm enchantments, and it's one of Judy Garland's best performance this side of A Star is Born.

It's best not to concentrate too hard on the plot itself, which mainly circles around Alonzo Smith (Leon Ames), the family patriarch, threatening to move the family from St. Louis to New York City. This causes much handwringing amongst the family members: Esther (Garland), Rose (Lucille Bremer), and Tootie, played by child star Margaret O'Brien, who pulled down an Oscar for her precocious performance. If the dialogue seems stilted and square today - Esther wonders where, oh where could Mr. Truitt's chapeau have gone off to, and those newfangled telephones are such a bother - the Technicolor style works wonderfully, particularly in the period dresses that puff and flounce through the Smith household.

Continue reading: Meet Me In St. Louis Review

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