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

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Vince Edwards struts his stuff as "Mr. Universe"
MR. UNIVERSE (aka Mister Universe/1951). Produced and directed by Joseph Lerner.

"He's young, healthy, clean -- doesn't it give you ideas?'

An honest, naive, and simple-minded man named Tommy Tomkins (Vince Edwards) easily wins a "Mr. Universe" contest for well-proportioned males just after he meets up with an old army buddy whose life he saved. Jeff Clayton (Jack Carson) is a huckster and phony who convinces Tommy he should become a wrestler, and importunes promoter Joe Pulaski (Bert Lahr) to take him on. There's also the slimy "Fingers" Maroni (Robert Alda), who wants a big piece of "Universe" for himself. When Tommy wraps up his matches in so short a time that the audiences want their money back, Jeff and Joe try to wear him out before a bout, with expected complications. What puts this cute if minor flick over is the excellent cast who are all in top form, including Janis Paige as Jeff's girlfriend, and "Slapsy" Maxie Rosenbloom [The Yanks are Coming] as the trainer, "Big Ears." Vince Edwards [Hammerhead], introduced in this film as a blond, is fine as the likable if dumb Tommy and certainly illustrates his versatility in a role entirely unlike his "Ben Casey" a few years later. The wrestlers, such as Gorilla Hogan and Delightful Dave, are played by themselves, as is announcer Dennis James. Joan Rivers is supposedly one of the teenage girls screaming for the handsome Universe. Harry Landers [Phantom from Space; Rear Window] and Joyce Matthews have little to say but still manage to make an impression as Fingers' gunsel and moll, respectively. Lahr and Carson make a great team. This picture spoofed the utter phoniness of wrestling as a "sport" but things sure aren't any different today.

Verdict: Enthusiastic cast makes this more than watchable. **1/2.
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