Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Impossibly young Three Stooges in a party scene
TURN BACK THE CLOCK (1933). Director: Edgar Selwyn.

Joe Gimlet (Lee Tracy of Dinner at Eight) owns a drug store with his wife, Mary (Mae Clarke of Waterloo Bridge), and the two are getting by, but Joe reviews his status in life when he meets up with old friend, Ted (Otto Kruger), who married wealthy Elvina (Peggy Shannon). Ted wants to invest the Gimlets' life savings for them, but Mary is understandably wary. Getting drunk, Joe wanders off, gets hit by a car, and wakes up twenty years in the past. Now he can do his life over and marry Elvina instead of Mary, giving him all of Ted's wealth and power. Nice guy, huh? The fact that Joe is a jerk (although he does do some nice things) is one of the movie's main problems, as is the fact that Joe is played by borderline shrill Lee Tracy, who gives a good performance but is also as slick and somehow irritating as ever. Turn Back the Clock has a great idea but it becomes increasingly ridiculous, with a predictable wind-up. The Three Stooges appear as wedding singers in one scene and almost look like children. Clarke, Shannon and Kruger give very good performances, and the film is fast-paced and has a few directorial flourishes as well. Because of a similar time travel element, Repeat Performance has always been seen as a remake of this picture, but the plots are so different that that really isn't the case. Oddly, when Turn Back the Clock was remade as a telefilm with Connie Selleca, it used the plot of Repeat Performance instead.

Verdict: Nice idea; mediocre execution. **1/2.

No comments: