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

Thursday, August 6, 2015


FRANCIS IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1956). Director: Charles Lamont.

"You've been in politics twenty years and you've never heard of a talking jackass?"

After several "Francis, the Talking Mule" movies with Donald O'Connor, Mickey Rooney took over -- as another character -- for the final entry in the series. In this David Prescott (Rooney) is somehow seeing a lovely heiress named Lorna McLeod (Virginia Welles) when he gets a phone call from a "man" named Francis. Miss Welles is represented by a law firm whose partners are being murdered one by one, with Prescott as the chief suspect. Naturally no one believes him that Francis (Paul Frees of The Star) is a witness who can alibi him and can actually talk. Rooney is fine (as is Frees as the voice of Francis) but this is one dip in the well too often, and despite a couple of chuckles and a surprise ending (to the mystery plot), this is more frenetic than funny. David Janssen [Moon of the Wolf] has a supporting role as a cop. The "haunted house" of the title is McLeod Castle, where supposedly a ghost roams at night atop a horse.

Verdict: Francis should have kept his mouth shut. **.


angelman66 said...

Oh, no! Poor Mickey...his career was really on the skids at this point if he had to do this!

William said...

Luckily the talented fellow bounced back and never really became a hasbeen -- more of a kind of icon.