Splash (1984, Directed by Ron Howard) English 6

Starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Jeff Doucette, Howard Morris, Richard B. Shull

Splash (1984) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

(6-Good Film)

Silly. Appealing. Light.

Allen: I don’t understand. All my life I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s… she’s a fish.

A hopeless romantic, Allen Bauer (Hanks), meets the girl of his dreams, later named Madison (Hannah), but he doesn’t know that she’s a mermaid. In my opinion, this may be the dumbest good movie ever made. The director, Ron Howard, the writers, and his cast that includes John Candy and Eugene Levy somehow pull it off. They took this lightweight, silly material and made a hit comedy (a classic in many people’s eyes). I like Splash and I certainly like the actors. It’s an interesting twist on The Little Mermaid. Instead of the female perspective, it’s The Little Mermaid turned into a male fantasy. However, I’ve never been able to get past the ending. Spoiler alert: Tom Hanks becomes a merman. The film cuts out but how long do you think he’s down there before he regrets everything. How boring? What is there to do? Nothing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Merrily We Live (1938, Directed by Norman Z. McLeod) English 7

Starring Constance Bennett, Brian Aherne, Billie Burke, Alan Mowbray, Patsy Kelly, Ann Dvorak, Tom Brown, Clarence Kolb, Bonita Granville, Marjorie Rambeau

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(7-Very Good Film)

Zany. Irreverant. Charming.

Mrs. Emily Kilbourne: Shakespeare was right when he said… oh, I don’t know what he said, but Shakespeare was right!

The 1930’s screwball comedy period gave us so many wonderful classics. Merrily We Live may not be in the same class as, say, My Man Godfrey which it was clearly inspired by, but it is still very good. The wealthy Kilbourne’s have suffered for some time from the eccentric matriarch, Emily’s (Burke), commitment to hiring homeless men to be the family valet. One unqualified valet after the other has stolen goods and left in the middle of the night. Then one day, E. Wade Rawlins (Aherne), rolls in, looking destitute and is hired on the spot. While the family waits for him to do what every valet before him has done, they slowly find themselves growing attached to him; especially the eldest daughter, Geraldine (Bennett). Terrific cast with Billie Burke as the mother stealing the show, Merrily We Live, I expect, will improve on further viewings, once I stop comparing it to my favorite film, My Man Godfrey.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Avanti! (1972, Directed by Billy Wilder) English 8

Starring Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills, Clive Revill, Edward Andrews, Gianfranco Barra, Giacomo Rizzo

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Long. Charming. Romantic.

Carlo Carlucci: Here, we take our time. We cook our pasta, we sprinkle our Parmigiano, we drink our wine, we make our love…

Wendell Armbruster: What do you do in the evening?

Carlo Carlucci: In the evening, we go home to our wives.

Wendell Armbruster (Lemmon) is as stiff and tightly wound as can be; an American in Italy, not for pleasure but for business of a sort. His father died while on his annual “therapeutic trip” to Italy and Wendell is charged with bringing the body back to Baltimore for the funeral. Wendell finds out that his father was actually, once a year, shacked up with his mistress at the local hotel run by the worldly Carlo Carlucci (Revill). While struggling to get his father back home in time, Wendell meets and slowly falls for Pamela (Mills), the sweet but insecure daughter of his father’s mistress. Life is complicated but Billy Wilder makes it seem worth it. He’s obviously one of the best and he can make the messiest of scenarios charming and sometimes funny. Avanti!, however, is not a wild romp or as comedy-driven as you might expect based on its poster. This is more often a serious romance with bouts of humor and wit. Lemmon and Mills are fantastic. Mills, in particular, is very sweet, and Revill, whom I learn is actually from New Zealand, is convincing and charming as the Italian hotel manager. Avanti! may be too long but I personally don’t think so. I don’t mind long films so long as they’re not boring. Avanti! isn’t boring. It slowly becomes one of the great romances.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Hi Diddle Diddle (1943, Directed by Andrew L. Stone) English 6

Starring Adolph Menjou, Pola Negri, Billie Burke, Martha Scott, Dennis O’Keefe, June Havoc

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(6-Good Film)

Inventive. Madcap. Enjoyable.

Senator Simpson [Looking at hat check girl]: You know, I’ve seen that girl somewhere before.

Liza Prescott: She’s a very particular friend of the director who’s making this picture. He sticks her in every scene he can.

It’s kind of wild seeing a movie from the 1940s break the fourth wall as frequently and as cleverly as Hi Diddle Diddle does throughout its brisk runtime. Meta humor, so-called, seems like a modern invention but watching Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road To…movies and now this has taught me otherwise. Adolph Menjou stars as Hector, a loving but crooked father whose son, Sonny, is getting married to a nice, respectable girl, Janie (Scott), from a seemingly affluent family. Finding, however, that the girl and her family have suddenly been thrust into dire straights, Hector is asked to use his old tricks to make things right. There’s a lot that goes on in this picture including animated shorts, musical numbers, and plenty of witty dialogue. It’s all done to amusing if rather slight success.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003, Directed by Donald Petrie) English 5

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, Kathryn Hahn, Bebe Neuwirth, Adam Goldberg, Thomas Lennon, Robert Klein, Annie Parisse, Michael Michele

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(5-Okay Film)

Decent. Attractive. Silly.

Andie Anderson (Hudson) is a popular columnist for a fluff magazine, Composure. Her newest piece is called, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Her victim: cocky ad executive, Ben Barry (McConaughey). What she doesn’t know is Ben’s made a bet with his boss that he can make her fall in love with him by the end of two weeks. She’s trying to get him to leave, he’s determined to stay, and by the end the two fall in love. Pretty by the numbers. The film is often amusing. There’s no denying that Hudson and McConaughey are good together and get the most out of the material. Much of the runtime though is dedicated to Hudson’s character being annoying which was…annoying. It’s also not a very romantic romantic comedy.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Some Like it Hot (199, Directed by Billy Wilder) English 8

Starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Joe E. Brown, George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Mike Mazurki, Edward G. Robinson Jr.

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Risqué. Skilled. Iconic.
I wrote earlier in reviewing Tootsie that cross-dressing doesn’t hold the same taboo comical effect it once had. Watching Some Like it Hot, imagining how it must have hit in the ’50s is fun, but the film doesn’t need you to make allowances for its time. It’s still funny, bawdy, wild, and a consummately made picture viewed today. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play two down-on-their-luck musicians during American Prohibition. After witnessing a mob hit led by Spats Colombo (Raft), the two disguise themselves as women and catch a ride to Florida alongside an all-female band named Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators. There they meet Sugar, played by the unforgettable Marilyn Monroe. This is a rather long film for a comedy, but it flies by on zaniness and comic invention. There are only a few substantial characters but they’re great characters and even the minor roles are cast perfectly (just look at the faces of Colombo’s henchmen).
-Walter Tyrone Howard-

Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951, Directed by Raoul Walsh) English 5

Starring Gregory Peck, Virginia Mayo, Robert Beatty, James Robertson Justice, Terence Morgan, Denis O’Dea, Christopher Lee

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(5-Okay Film)

Serious. Dry. Well-Acted.

C.S Forrester’s famous literary hero, Horatio Hornblower, is adapted for the big screen, played by Gregory Peck with his natural austerity. English Naval Captain Horatio Hornblower guides his ship through every possible hardship during the Napoleonic Wars of the 19th century. Along the way, although married, he falls hard for Lady Barbara (Mayo). Compared to the jolly romps of Errol Flynn, this film seemed to me, overly serious. Well-crafted, well-acted, Captain Horatio Hornblower simply wasn’t much fun. Perhaps it’s an issue of expectations. This isn’t a swashbuckler. It’s a romantic drama set on a ship. Many people would welcome that. I didn’t care.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-