Milton Berle

Milton Berle

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The Loved One Review


Extraordinary
Decades before Six Feet Under, The Loved One skewered the paradox of the funeral business in appearance-obsessed L.A. Wildly and unpredictably funny, The Loved One careens from scene to scene so quickly you may not be able to keep up with the jokes.

And what jokes they are! The very American Robert Morse stars as a British visitor to L.A., a wannabe poet who gets caught up in the machinations of a cemetary owner (Jonathan Winters) and his top mortician (Rod Steiger in the role of a lifetime). It's more cult than cemetary, and Morse soon becomes enchanted with one the cemetary's guide/beautician/chanteuse (a dippy Anajette Comer). The film haphazardly careens from subplot to subplot, eventually settling into a set piece about a kid obsessed with rockets, which Winters sees as the solution to the problem of running out of space for "loved ones" in the cemetary (aka corpses).

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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Review


Good
It's also long, long, long... well, you get the picture. Mad, Mad World is the brainchild of director Stanley Kramer, best known for films like Inherit the Wind and Judgment at Nuremburg, who figured he really ought to take a shot at directing a comedy, and what the hell if it's over 3 hours long (his first cut was 5 1/2 hours, actually). Kramer hired every comedian in Hollywood -- counting cameos represents Mad, Mad World's special thrill -- and sent them on a chase across southern California in search of $350,000 that a dying Jimmy Durante alludes to after a car wreck. The ensuing adventures stretch the definition of the word madcap.

Of course, this is what we owe movies like Cannonball Run to. But the original will always reign as the only two-tape comedy on the rental rack. Enjoy.

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The Muppet Movie Review


Excellent
Like most movies of its year, The Muppet Movie looks (and is) really dated. But it's worth it to willingly suspend disbelief at how dated it is --- to appreciate the good-natured humor and comedic flair of Jim Henson. Henson tried to entertain both kids and adults, and though both audiences were probably easier to please in the days before all comedy became irony-soaked, Henson was one of the first to add sly postmodern touches. And while the movie promotes the annoying myth of Hollywood as the dream factory, magic store, etc. it more than makes up for it by borrowing comedians from several generations, from then-new comics like Steve Martin and Elliott Gould to veterans like Bob Hope and Orson Welles(!), for an endless string of cameo appearances.

The plot loosely follows the odyssey of Kermit the Frog from his swamp home to Hollywood in search of celebrity. The desirability of fame and stardom is never questioned. The Hollywood worship becomes pretty maudlin at the end, thanks mainly to songwriter Paul Williams, whose songs are palatable at first ("Rainbow Connection" was a hit) but become too much before the end of the movie.

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The Loved One Review


Extraordinary
Decades before Six Feet Under, The Loved One skewered the paradox of the funeral business in appearance-obsessed L.A. Wildly and unpredictably funny, The Loved One careens from scene to scene so quickly you may not be able to keep up with the jokes. The black and white photography is stark, reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove (as is the whole film -- with Jonathan Winters in two roles), though some of the details get lost in the deep shadows. It's not out on video, so watch for it on cable. It's well worth it.
Milton Berle

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