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

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Al Lewis camps it up with John Carradine
MUNSTER, GO HOME! (1966). Director: Earl Bellamy.

"See what sandpaper skin and a touch of malnutrition can do for the complexion?"

The Munsters TV series, NBC's answer to ABC's The Addams Family, but more watchable, aired for two seasons from 1964 - 66. Its swan song was this theatrical feature which was released in 1966. In the movie, Herman Munster (Fred Gwynnne) learns that an uncle has died, making him the new Lord Munster, and heir to a British estate. Herman's English relatives, who reside in the estate, aren't too thrilled with this development. In fact, Freddie Munster (Terry-Thomas) tries to kill them off while they're still sailing across the ocean. Freddie's fellow conspirators include his mother, Lady Effigie (Hermione Gingold), and sister, Grace (Jeanne Arnold), the butler, Cruikshank (John Carradine), and a mysterious figure known only as the Griffin. Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo as his wife, and Al Lewis as Grandpa are excellent in their roles, and they get good support from classy veterans Gingold, Terry-Thomas, Arnold, and Carradine. Butch Patrick and Debbie Watson are also notable as the Munster children, Eddie and Marilyn, with Robert Pine effective as an affected fellow who falls for Marilyn but whose family strenuously objects to the Munsters from any coast. It all leads to Herman becoming a contestant in a race that is frenetic but not especially funny. There are a few amusing moments throughout the movie, and kids may find more chuckles than the rest of us, but this basically proves that when it comes to TV sitcoms, no matter how cute and charming, less is definitely more.

Verdict: For Munster fanatics. **1/2.

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