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Two Abbott and Costello Comedies from MGM

Dance With Me, Henry (June 28/05)

Dance With Me, Henry features the last screen appearance by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and it's clear that the two should have quit long before this debacle ever got made. The film casts Costello as Lou Henry, a moronic carnival owner who is in danger of losing his two foster kids thanks to a stern social worker named Miss Mayberry (Mary Wickes). Meanwhile, Lou's best friend (played by Abbott) is being squeezed for the $20,000 in gambling debts he owes to the mob - a situation that certainly isn't helping Lou prove that he's capable of providing a stable and safe environment. Dance With Me, Henry is packed with the sort of banter that made Abbott and Costello household names, but the problem is that none of it is even remotely funny. Storywise, there's a lot going on here, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the frenetic vibe exists only as a distraction from the tired, extremely hackneyed screenplay. That Abbott and Costello are essentially riffing on their previously established personas doesn't even make sense, something that's particularly true of Costello's character - a buffoon that's so inept and clumsy, it's hard not to root for Miss Mayberry to take those poor kids away from him. Consequently, there's virtually nothing here worth recommending to non-fans of the comedy duo (die-hard followers might also have a tough time embracing this disaster).

out of


The Noose Hangs High (June 28/05)

The Noose Hangs High casts Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as Ted Higgins and Homer Hunchcliffe, a pair of bumbling window washers who are mistaken for delivery men and soon find themselves caught up in a gambling scheme involving vicious mobsters. Also thrown into the mix are an entirely unconvincing love interest for Costello (she's half his age!) and a wealthy nutcase named Julius Caesar (Leon Errol). The Noose Hangs High is typical Abbott and Costello fare, and though it's generally not all that funny, the film remains somewhat interesting thanks to a storyline that doesn't rely entirely on their hijinks to move the plot forward. While there are a couple of humorous moments (Costello turns down a c-note because he's already been promised $50), the film generally emphasizes juvenile, incredibly broad instances of comedy that seem to have been crafted to appeal solely to small children. Finally, there's a long, tedious sequence towards the end featuring Abbott and Costello engaged in a variety of hypothetical arguments that's undoubtedly been included to pad out the run-time (which, even at 76-minutes, feels unnecessarily overlong).

out of

About the DVDs: MGM Home Entertainment presents both films with sharp transfers, although extras are non-existent (Dance With Me, Henry does come with a trailer, though).
© David Nusair