Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

It already has, says Frank Tashlin in his brilliant 1957 satire on the age of Eisenhower—even before Rockwell Hunter (Tony Randall) becomes the hottest ad executive in town by signing up a bosomy movie star (Jayne Mansfield) to promote Stay-Put Lipstick (“For those oh-so-kissable lips!”). As Ernst Lubitsch was to the 30s and Preston Sturges to the 40s, so was Tashlin to the 50s: a filmmaker gifted with an uncanny insight into the ruling delusions of his day. Loud and beautifully vulgar in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope, Rock Hunter is hilarious literally from the first frame.

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Stooge: Origins

The Three Stooges started in 1925 as part of a raucous vaudeville act called “Ted Healy and His Stooges” (also known as “Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen”, “Ted Healy and His Three Lost Souls”, “Ted Healy and His Racketeers”, and “Ted Healy and His Three Stooges”). Moe (Moses Harry Horwitz) joined Healy’s act in 1921, and his brother Shemp came aboard in 1923. In 1925, violinist-comedian Larry Fine and xylophonist-comedian Fred Sanborn also joined the group. In the act, lead comedian Healy would attempt to sing or tell jokes while his noisy assistants would keep “interrupting” him, causing Healy to retaliate with verbal and physical abuse.

Ebert at the Movies, with J. Rosenbaum

Which Best is Best?

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Les Annees 80 (1983)

Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles) made this 1983 independent work from a work-in-progress known as The Golden Eighties (the English title of which is Window Shopping). Forty minutes of videotaped auditions and rehearsals for Akerman’s shopping center musical are followed by three production numbers—in radiant 35-millimeter—from the film. The subject is first and foremost Akerman’s love of actors and the filmmaking process, and second the process itself—the intermediary steps between conception and perfection, from physical materials to cinematic illusions. If you don’t know Akerman’s work, this is an excellent place to start: it’s a very funny, very idiosyncratic piece from one of the most sympathetic of modernist filmmakers.

RIP Chantal Akerman

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: While The City Sleeps (1956)

While The City Sleeps (1956)

Fritz Lang‘s 1956 film was one of his personal favorites, a taste shared by few critics at the time, who never forgave him for leaving Germany and Die Nibelungen. A contest is announced at a New York newspaper: the reporter who catches the notorious “Lipstick Killer” will become the paper’s new editor. The story is a cynical twist on Lang’s famous M: the sex killer becomes the most sympathetic character in the film, as Lang reserves his venom for the desperately competitive reporters, including Dana Andrews, Thomas Mitchell, Ida Lupino, and George Sanders. 100 min.


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