Speak Easily (1931) * Worst Hits *
Directed By: Edward Sedgwick (The Cameraman)
Overview: An uptight penny-pinching professor is tricked into believing that he has a $750,000 inheritance waiting for him in New York. On his way to pick up the money, he encounters a down on their luck troupe of troubadours, and decides to help with the finances, managing the upcoming show.
Acting: If you put a gun to my head I'd tell you this was the best this movie has to offer. Jimmy Durante acts like a total imbecile, which I guess is what he was going for. Keaton did a total brainiac moron so well that it became laughable, and the female leads were caricatures of Archie's Betty and Veronica, either completely saccharine sweet or deep in the mire filthy. Worst of all, they weren't anywhere near overboard about it, it was just bad acting.
Cinematography: I think that my favorite parts were when the camera chopped off the heads of the actors in about 25% of the scenes, and not just a little, I'm talking down to the chin. I will chalk it up to the fact that screen ratios were more square back then, and the lack of crop editing when this was released on tape. That having been said, the big show at the end was also an effin' disaster, and I could not suffer my guest to endure any more of it.
Script: Jimmy Durante is known for his one-liners and his big nose. That I knew. What I did NOT know was this: He isn't funny. Period. "Saturday Night Live" must have gotten their 'let's make fun of how funny we AREN'T' ideas from this mastermind of banality. That's not even the worst of it, which is being forced to endure, for the sake of pigeon-holing a two-dimentional professor, a constant barrage of declarations of literal jokes like saying "I am familiar with domestic insects", when others ask him about the flies of a stage. Buster is not a writer, and should never open his mouth.
Plot: As run of the mill three-act films, this takes the cake. You have a character who goes out of his way to leave his happy little world, then he finds people in need, then he helps them. Everything is wrapped up in this ridiculous little package where all the conflicts escalate at the same time and everything ends all resolved, happy, nice and polished. If you thought you knew the definition of the word 'contrived', seeing this might just make it perfectly clear. Obviously the formula of the Romantic Comedy, if not invented here, sure had one hell of a champion in this film.
Mood: About as wrong as a child pornographer handing out business cards. From the very first scene, and especially the last, the delivery of lines, the movement of the actors, the sets, the story, everything about this film waffled between 'this scene might just not be doodie' and 'get me a barf-bag'.
Overall Rating: 30% (Don't Speak At ALL!)
Aftertaste: Why in God's name do people make this fecal matter? Better still, why do they put it in a huge book called 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die? This 69th on my list was terrible! Here's my lesson of the day: Do NOT trust Silent Era Comics when they transition over to talkies. I'm going to give it one more chance with Chaplin's The Great Dictator, but that might just end up being the exception that proves the rule.
Mother of God save me from this explosive toilet-spray of a film.