Robert Morley

Robert Morley

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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).

Continue reading: The Loved One Review

The Great Muppet Caper Review


Good
"Great?" I'm not sure about that, but this minor kiddie classic is reasonably entertaining, if only for the chance to see Charles Grodin falling in love for a stuffed pig.

The film opens with amazing promise: Immediately dazzling us with a plethora of Hollywood in-jokes (the poking of fun begins with Kermit and Fozzie mocking the opening credits). A musical number ensures us of the myriad thrills and chills that will soon arrive.

Continue reading: The Great Muppet Caper Review

The Great Muppet Caper Review


Good
"Great?" I'm not sure about that, but this minor kiddie classic is reasonably entertaining, if only for the chance to see Charles Grodin falling in love for a stuffed pig.

The film opens with amazing promise: Immediately dazzling us with a plethora of Hollywood in-jokes (the poking of fun begins with Kermit and Fozzie mocking the opening credits). A musical number ensures us of the myriad thrills and chills that will soon arrive.

Continue reading: The Great Muppet Caper Review

Beat The Devil Review


Weak
This understated comedy is often a love-it-or-hate-it affair with viewers, a very dry satire that often flies over the heads of its target (Bogart-style mysteries) and, just as often, its audience. Which just goes to show it's really difficult to spoof yourself, as Bogart proves when he plays the lead in Beat the Devil.

Essentially a revision of a dozen or so Bogie movies, all mashed together, Beat the Devil follows a group of miscreant adventurers on a quest to secure a parcel of land in Africa which is rich in uranium. Naturally, events and foes conspire against them, culminating in their arrest.

Continue reading: Beat The Devil Review

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.

The Old Dark House Review


Weak
William Castle "horror" movies don't get much more harmless than this, a simplistic and good-natured romp starring Tom Poston (of Newhart fame). Poston stars as an American in England, invited to visit an eccentric man's mansion, where other eccentric characters quickly find themselves killed. Goofy humor and really cheap fright gags abound. You'll forget it the moment it's over, though it should go without saying that you can never have too much Robert Morley in a movie.

Around The World In Eighty Days (1956) Review


Excellent
I love movies based on bets: Around the World in 80 Days is a three-hour adventure, packed with celebrity cameos (hundreds of 'em, literally), and bearing a remarkably descriptive title. This celebrated picture gives us David Niven as the inimitable Phileas Fogg, an English gentleman who accepts a wager that bets he can't travel around the world in 80 days. Setting off by balloon, ship, and train, Fogg's travels (with manservant Passepartout (Cantinflas)) takes him on a journey that was truly epic for its era. Still, it doesn't look like he's going to make it at first: one hour into the movie, he's still in Spain, at one of the longest and least interesting bullfights put on film. The cast of thousands and absurb scenarios overcomes the overlong oddities in the movie: Producer Michael Todd won the Best Picture Oscar for this, his first feature film, before dying in a plane crash two years later. Too bad so many of the stars appearing in the film are unrecognizable by today's audiences.

Topkapi Review


Excellent
This exceptional heist film (pity the title) has influenced dozens of others, most notably Tom Cruise's dangling scene in Mission: Impossible. Peter Ustinov (who won an Oscar here) owns the show as a low-grade con man who gets caught up in a plan to steal a jeweled dagger from Istanbul's Topkapi museum. Cops on one side, masterminds (Melina Mercouri and Maximilian Schell) on the other, and one intricately planned burglary in between. A minor classic of the genre.
Robert Morley

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