Thursday, October 21, 2010
THE GREAT RUPERT
THE GREAT RUPERT (1950). Director: Irving Pichel.
Now here's a weird one. A down-on-his-luck entertainer, Joe Mahoney (Jimmy Conlin), with a trained squirrel act, reluctantly lets the squirrel, Rupert, go off on his own when he finds he can't get them bookings. Louie Amendola (Jimmy Durante), another entertainer who can't find work, moves into the apartment vacated by Mahoney with his family, but is unaware that the squirrel has moved back in. When Mrs. Amendola (Queenie Smith) prays for money, it drops from the ceiling into her hands! She is unaware that the landlord, who doesn't believe in banks, stashes his loot in a hole behind his bed, from whence the squirrel promptly throws it out. Despite the title, and the pivotal role that Rupert plays in the fortunes of the Amendola family, the squirrel -- animated through stop-motion -- hasn't much to do in the movie [although he isn't entirely forgotten either], which is decidedly bizarre, utterly original, and even strangely touching. The cast, including Durante, Sara Haden [as the landlord's wife], Chick Chandler [as an agent] and Terry Moore [Durante's daughter] are all fine, although love interest Tom Drake is devoid of charm.
Verdict: Really not as bad as you might expect, but certainly not for everyone. ***.