Sunday 12 August 2012

Dance With Me, Henry (1956)

It's a real shame to watch this Abbott & Costello movie and realise that it would be their last appearance together in a cinematic feature. The fact that it's their last movie is sad enough for fans but the fact that it's so poor, arguably one of their very weakest movies, makes it even harder to watch. The boys should have gone out with a bang but they instead deliver a damp squib, overflowing with horrible emotional manipulation and lacking enough great gags.

It's equally disappointing to see that the film is directed by Charles Barton (a man responsible for one of the best of the A & C films, when they got to meet Frankenstein). If everyone involved had just tried a bit harder then they may have been able to wring some more laughs out of the screenplay, by Devery Freeman, but most aspects of the film just seem a bit tired.

The heart of the story sees our comedy duo getting in some hot water with some gangster types. Bud is really the one causing the problems this time around while Lou does his best to run a fairground and look after the children in his care (children that may be taken away from him if he is deemed unfit for the role). It seems like only a matter of time until everything falls apart and lives are seriously endangered.

I won't say that this film is completely awful from start to finish. There are a few highlights here and there (Lou being interviewed by the police is one particularly enjoyable sequence) and the film isn't unwatchable, especially if you're a fan of the stars.

Sadly, nothing really rises above average though. A lot of the gags barely raise a smile, the farcical elements unfold in a pretty clumsy manner and the supporting cast - including Gigi Perreau, Rusty Hamer, Mary Wickes, Ted de Corsia, Ron Hargrave, Frank Wilcox and others - fail to add anything worthwhile, though Mary Wickes almost manages to steal the show despite her limited screentime.

Of course, you should watch this if you're trying to view the entire A & C filmography and if you're a fan of the two leads but everyone else can easily give this a miss.


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