Movies I’ve Recently Seen: Man in the White Suit | He Who Gets Slapped | A New Leaf | Bamboozled

Here are four more movies I’ve seen in the last few weeks.

A- The Man in the White Suit (1951)

I doubt no other movie is remembered for a single, recurring, and very funny sound effect. The story: Alec Guinness plays a brilliant but unrecognized scientist trying to create a cloth that repels dirt, never wears out, and can only be cut with a blowtorch. At first, he sneaks into textile mills to do his experiments. Eventually he succeeds, but that’s when all hell breaks loose. Industry executives and union workers alike realize that their jobs are at stake. Probably the funniest of the Ealing Studios comedies. By the way, I first saw this movie at a 50-hour science-fiction marathon, where the audience clapped to that wonderful sound effect.

B+ He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Lon Chaney gives another great performance, this time as a once-brilliant scientist, destroyed by the people he loved, and now working as a circus clown. Even worse, his act in the show is to get slapped over and over again. Director Victor Seastrom provides a style that manages to be both expressionist and realistic. You pretty much know how everything is going to turn out, but how that happens is very much worth watching.

B A New Leaf (1971)

Elaine May’s directorial debut starts out as very funny broad farce, but the comedy slowly dries away as May’s screenplay turns kind of serious. Walter Matthau stars as an extremely wealthy man…until he is told that he’s broke. Knowing that he has no skills except spending money, his only choice is to marry a rich woman. The director plays the very wealthy, but extremely clumsy, naïve bride – and the only decent person in the film.

D+ Bamboozled (2000)

This must be one of Spike Lee’s worst. The basic concept – a blackface minstrel show becoming the biggest entertainment on television – could only work as over-the-top farce. But Lee takes the story seriously and it doesn’t work. There are a few strong moments, especially when a mostly-white TV studio audience allow themselves to enjoy their inner racism. Damon Wayans plays the network executive who gets the idea. The movie doesn’t even look good; the movie was shot with early digital cameras that make everything look like pre-HD television.

3 thoughts on “Movies I’ve Recently Seen: Man in the White Suit | He Who Gets Slapped | A New Leaf | Bamboozled

  1. The only parts remember working for me when I saw it at the Grand Lake were the “blackface montage” and the closing credits with collectible black icons. Both were uncomfortable reminders of a time when (until recently) Hollywood and the media wanted both Black and whites to be assured that Blacks were supposed to be the horrible stereotypes we have seem portrayed almost everywhere from TV, radio, movies and from salt and pepper shakers to postcards and statues.

  2. He Who Gets Slapped sounds interesting. We might give that a try this evening. As an aside this is a link to a picture of Lon Chaney’s mountain cabin:. It’s about a two mile hike to get to it from the trail head along Big Pine Creek. One of the more interesting facts for me about the cabin is that it was designed by Paul R. Williams, probably the first black architect of note in California.

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