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

Thursday, May 25, 2017


Holloway, Dumbrille, Dumont and Helton
SHAKE, RATTLE & ROCK (1956). Director: Edward L. Cahn.

"Rock 'n' Roll is destroying the youth of our nation."

DJ Gary Nelson (Mike "Touch" Connors) is the host of a teen rock and roll program which inspires the ire of a group of old fogies who are offended by its alleged vulgarity. They form the Society for the Prevention of Rock and Roll and the Corruption of American Youth or SPRACAY. The most interesting thing about the movie is that the members of this group include no less than Margaret Dumont [Little Giant], Douglass Dumbrille, and Percy Helton [The Crooked Way], all of whom are marvelous (Dumbrille is especially wonderful in his comic portrayal, but the others score as well). Unfortunately, while these veterans are aware that they are in a comedy, the same cannot be said for Mike Connors and Lisa Gaye as his girlfriend, who display little skill at humor. As Connor's good right hand, Sterling Holloway [Wild Boys of the Road] is pure camp as an early "Maynard G. Krebs" type. Shake, Rattle & Roll tries to have it both ways by trying to be "serious" at times, but it certainly doesn't work in this picture. The movie displays its own prejudices when it introduces a lisping nerd as the voice of classical music (although even he ends up "rockin'" at the end). Some rock and "swing" movies (from an earlier decade) respected classical and operatic music while celebrating the new type of sounds, while others got defensive and put down classical stuff the same way others derided rock 'n' roll; this is in the latter category. Raymond Hatton is fun as Dumont's hen-pecked but eventually liberated husband, Clarence Kolb plays a judge, and Fats Domino sings a couple of numbers. Much more screen time should have been given to Dumont, who can be very, very funny.

Verdict: Very amusing at times, but the fun eventually peters out and a lot of opportunities for great comedy are muffed. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Have never seen this one, but a film made the same year, The Girl Can't Help It starring Jayne Mansfield, also captures the zeitgeist of the exciting and scary new music genre known as rock n roll. Love how these films capture and memorialize the iconic bands, songs and performers that shaped and changed our culture forever.

Would love to run across this sometime! Thanks for giving me yet another new film to add to my list!!

William said...

It's on youtube, with a lot of other fifties rock 'n roll movies, some of which are bearable while others .... ?