Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Nothing But the Truth" about Old Movies - by Robert Steven Mack

What can you say in defense of old movies? Is it only that they bring back the entertaining but worthless memories of yesteryear? Perhaps not!

An amazing part of our culture has come from “old-fashioned” Hollywood. From madcap political farces like Duck Soup (with the four Marx bros.) to George Lucas “Star Wars.” From Billy Wilder's “Some Like It Hot” to the swooning heavenly magic of Elvis Presley. Believe it or not, these are all films that have greatly influenced our present culture.

Sadly, some treasures from the old age, however, are rare. Some are lost treasures that we are unable to find. Buried in an urban vault somewhere, untouched, unknown, and unappreciated! Luckily however, with the emergence of home entertainment, we can for the first time see some of these rarities. And I found a precious morsel at...Best Buy! My birthday had come and gone but I still had my best friend’s gift card to spend. I had read about Bob Hope movies. So, naturally, when I first set my eyes on that “Bob Hope –Thanks for the Memories" collection, (plus bonus features), I knew right away that it was mine.

The first movie I watched -and for an obvious reason - was a romp that paired him up with honored actress Paulette Goddard. The title was “Nothing But The Truth,” and was about a man who for 24 hours could not tell a lie. Sounds familiar? In 1997 the film was remade into “Liar, Liar” with Jim Carrey. As I have now seen both versions I can say that Jim Carrey is hilarious… after getting used to him was really able to enjoy the film. The Bob Hope film, however, (Bob Hope could be considered Jim Carrey's counter part back in the 40's) does not involve a problem with his son as he is not married. Instead, he made a bet with his colleagues that he could go 24 hours without telling a lie. He bets money that he unwittingly does not have. Yet, the situations he gets in are relatively similar. I don’t want to spoil it, but it's a fast-talking witty romp that you don't want to miss a moment of!

"The Cat and the Canary" was the second movie I watched in that beloved collection – albeit more suited for the Halloween season - is a horror/murder mystery with the added element of comedy. The comic element, that would be Bob Hope! Once again the girl he gets is Paulette Goddard , providing the element of romance. Deep in the Louisiana bog lies the mansion of the deceased, and there a group of six heirs and a reverend gather for the reading of the will. Caveat: in order to inherit the mansion they must all spend the night there with no transportation until the next day. Horror and inner monsters crawling out of the Louisiana swamps… So, they decide to take it easy and make the best of it. But with a man falling dead, they know one of them must be a murderer. With a ghost roaming the house, a spooky maid who can contact the spirits, and a legend of a priceless necklace - who knows what to expect!

The film wasn’t just a Bob Hope comedy but one of the best films I've ever seen! Nevertheless, it wasn't just the film itself that got me excited. It was its similarity with the world-renowned Parkers Game, “Clue:” The concept of a group of ''guests'' staying at an old mansion. One of them a murderer is the very concept shown in the film and the board game - and the 1985 movie “Clue.”

In conclusion, these are just a few examples of how the ingenuity of old Hollywood has introduced many memorable concepts and ideas that continue to shape our stories and our very lives.

Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

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