Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Odd Couple: Senior Citizens Edition

A Movie Review

Herbert Ross's 1975 film production of Neil Simons play The Sunshine Boys is one of the funnier movies I've seen in a while. Simons dialogue is witty as usual and all the stronger for being delivered by the expert comics who appear in the film. Willy Clark (Simon favorite Walter Matthau) and Al Lewis (George Burns) were legendary vaudeville comics who as 'the Sunshine Boys' had a 43 year career together based mostly on the success of their famed 'Doctor Sketch' (though they also did a Gypsy chiropractor sketch). Now 12 years into retirement Willys nephew/agent Ben (Richard Benjamin) has a chance to re-unite the two for an ABC Network special on the history of comedy, the only problem is that each member of the famed duo hates the other. That basic premise pretty much sets you up for the whole hour and fifty-one minute movie. The pictures is quite funny and per Simon rules has more then a little bit of heart. George Burns won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role as the teams straight man, though Matthau arguably gave a more memorable performance (he however had already won an Oscar for Billy Wilders 1966 comedy The Fortune Cookie). A young Ron Rifkin and F. Murray Abraham also have small roles in the film.

  • Also seen by me lately: From the 'why did I watch this' department comes The Little Prince. Directed by Stanley Donen (Singing In The Rain) and sporting a Lerner and Loewe score (My Fair Lady), Prince is based on the beloved French children's tale by Antonie de Saint-Exupery. In the film Richard Kiley plays a never named French test-pilot during the period 'between the wars', who after his experimental plane crashes in the Sahara comes across a strange little boy. The boy or 'Little Prince' hails from Asteroid B-612 a little planet that could just about fit in my family room. While the pilot fixs his plane the prince tells him story's about his journey from his home (where he lived with a talking rose) to a number of other small planets each ruled over by an adult arch-type, king, businessman, historian, general, and his later dealings with a snake (Bob Fosse) and a fox (Gene Wilder) here on Earth. A strange story that gets rather slow once the prince arrives on our planet, the movie at least has the virtue of strongly invoking a feeling of desire for ones own lost childhood. I vaguely remember an animated Little Prince program that aired on Nickelodean in the mid-1980's, I didn't really understand that shows logic either but there always seemed to be something going on beneath its surfice worth knowing about. The Princes creator Antonie de Saint-Exupery was a fighter pilot who was killed when his plane was shot down over the Mediterranean during World War II (the aircraft was only just discovered two-or-three years ago), and became something of a national treasure, his image even appeared on now defunct French currency.


At 6:39 PM, Blogger Nate Dredge said...

Richard Kiley in additon to his many film credits was also the voice of the 'tour guide' in Jurassic Park.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Nate Dredge said...

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