HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
Wing Commander
Look Back in Anger
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Hellzapoppin Let's Do The Show Right HereBuy this film here.
Year: 1941
Director: H.C. Potter
Stars: Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, Martha Raye, Hugh Herbert, Jane Frazee, Robert Paige, Mischa Auer, Richard Lane, Lewis Howard, Clarence Kolb, Nella Walker, Shemp Howard, Elisha Cook Jr, Frank Darien, Catherine Johnson, Angelo Rossitto, Billy Curtis
Genre: Musical, Comedy
Rating:  9 (from 3 votes)
Review: Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson are having a spot of bother with their new film. First they arrive in a taxi cab in Hell, complete with cackling demons and tortured souls, and do nothing but confuse the issue until the director of the film (Richard Lane) protests loudly. Chic and Ole walk off the set and end up behind the scenes arguing with him about the story, wandering through various scenery until they ask the scriptwriter (Elisha Cook Jr) what's to be done. He begins to talk them through his plans, but the director still isn't happy, and the constant interruptions are not helping, so eventually a compromise is reached and Ole, Chic and the director settle down in front of a moving picture to see what's what. And so the plot begins. Such as it is.

Hellzapoppin, the stage show, was an anarchic revue hosted by Olsen and Johnson that ran for almost one and a half thousand performances from 1938 to 1941, notable for the way the cast would break the fourth wall and mingle with the audience. Obviously they couldn't pull off that trick for the cinema version, but they came pretty close, still breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the projectionist (Shemp Howard) and imaginary people in the theatre instead. Scripted by, no, not Elisha Cook Jr but original writer of the play (and future Addams Family TV sitcom producer) Nat Perrin with Warren Wilson, over the years the film became an influential byword for screen craziness.

And the high spirits are infectious, with many hilarious moments to appreciate. Although they resist it as far as possible, there is a plotline there, one about a love triangle between a theatre entrepreneur, his rich, would-be girlfriend who he doesn't want to marry until he has money to support her, and the man she is supposed to be marrying soon. Like a multitude of films of the time, this was really a basic musical comedy, a "putting on a show" one at that, yet one in which the customary zaniness has apparently run away with everyone concerned.

What this means is that any conventional romantic sequences are sabotaged by the all-pervading irreverence, so when Jeff (Robert Paige) and Kitty (Jane Frazee) get their big romantic musical number, they have to interrupt it to tell audience member Stinky Miller that he has to go home because his mother is calling. The nice thing is that every character is in on the jokes, even when the laugh is on them, no one more so than the reliable Martha Raye as Chic's cousin (?) Betty who gets to do a lot of physical comedy as she is insulted and rejected, most often by the man she pursues: Mischa Auer on fine form as a Russian prince who is a phoney but isn't really.

Starting with the incredible opening in Hell, the energy levels are raised high and seemingly effortlessly sustained throughout, with the gags arriving thick and fast. Not every one is a winner, and there a more than a few corny groaners, but there are many more inspired, surreal flights of fancy making for laugh out loud business. An old man with an ever-growing pot plant wanders in shouting "Mrs Jones!", private detective Hugh Herbert proves himself to be a master of disguise if not a master of magic tricks, Ole and Chic are rendered invisible at one point, and the whole thing ends with the duo trying to sabotage Jeff's play with rollicking effect - watch for the Frankenstein Monster helping Betty back onto the stage by flinging her through the air. Like a live action Tex Avery cartoon, the music is catchy, the dancing can be spectacular and most importantly the jokes are funny. "Oscar!"
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4754 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: