Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE starring Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey (1930)

The first in the Wheeler-Woolsey RKO Comedy Classics Collection,  HALF SHOT AT SUNRISE was actually the duo's second feature length film* for those of you who are sticklers about such things. But whatever it is, boy is it a doozy! Well, not quite---I mean, the musical numbers tend to bore while some of the scenes are bigger misfires than the time I started rattling off Adolf Hitler jokes at that B'nai B'rith banquet, but thankfully the humor of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey saves this 'un from being another insomnia fighter that used to run on the late movie slot back when television mattered.

Set in France during World War I, the comedy team play a couple of AWOL soldiers who manage to stay one step ahead of not only a couple of thuggish MPs but their Colonel, a typically lifeless form who happens to be married to old time moom pitcher shrew Edna May Oliver. He's also the father to two ample ladies which just might prove that genetics might skip a generation or two when it comes to producing tasty-looking wenches. The younger of the two, Dorothy Lee, does a believable Helen Kane impersonation and gets to show off a lot of her legs as well as some panties even. Definitely one of the film's saving graces outside of the witty banter 'n repartee that W/W exude which was sure to get 'em the hurrahs at the Algonquin Round Table and maybe around less-intelligent life forms such as ourselves.

True the gags are uneven and some of the scenes just don't spark, but overall the movie is saved if only by Wheeler's cranky and whiny personality and Woolsey's neo-Groucho mannerisms and asides. HALF SHOT did make for a good Sunday afternoon of viewing even if it did induce that sad feeling inside of me that these kind of films, as well as the people who made 'em and those who watched, are pretty much long gone and have been replaced by a hideous megalomaniac monster I surely don't want to have anything to do with as long as I live!

*why their entire filmography couldn't've been slapped onto this box set I'll never know---I mean if Polydor could get the rights to the Atlantic Velvet Underground material for their collection why couldn't Warner Brothers wrangle in their Columbia feature? But then again, why didn't Warners stick what is available of the team's debut feature RIO RITA on here as well? Whatever, stay attuned for more Wheeler and Woolsey film reviews comin' your way.

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