Monday, 23 April 2012

The Noose Hangs High (1948)

Another Abbott & Costello movie directed by Charles Barton, The Noose Hangs High is pretty much a joy from start to finish. Even if you're not a big fan of the central duo this one should keep you entertained as it moves from routine to routine with the laughs coming thick and fast.

What's in the mix for this outing then? Well, there's a toothache, mistaken identity, gambling, verbal dexterity and an absolutely wonderful sequence in which the two leads try to get themselves arrested.

The one minor complaint to note is that a lot of the better gags and routines aren't new to anyone who has seen some of the A & C movies from the past but that doesn't matter when they're slotted in so nicely here and performed with such skill. The bet that is made to prove that someone present is actually "not here" is Abbott & Costello doing what they do best. Then there's the routine that sees Lou being confused as someone explains to him how a horse eats its fodder and how some male horses can make great mudders. Last, but by no means least, we have an exchange between A & C that covers a variety of topics from Lou boring holes in walls to disliking mustard and causing mass unemployment to dating a much younger woman to being in a train station with no destination in mind (just see it and all will become clear).

The cast all do great. This is focused on the leads for the majority of the runtime but Cathy Downs is a lovely lady, Joseph Calleia plays the tough guy strong-arming the main duo and Leon Errol is an eccentric with the best luck in the world.

John Grant and Howard Harris are the main writers but about five other names are attached to the process (from story to screenplay). As surprising as it is, this actually just makes the whole thing zippier and more full of gags as opposed to a big, sprawling mess. That may be in no small part due to the direction from the consistently capable Charles Barton, a man rightfully acknowledged as being able to get the best out of A & C.

If you're a fan of great comedy then this is definitely one to watch, even if you don't consider yourself necessarily a fan of those involved.


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