Sunday, March 27, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Make Mine Laughs (1949) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MAKE MINE LAUGHS (1949) is part of an RKO Varieties Triple Feature, newly released by the Warner Archive.

All three films in the set are anthologies which use footage from older RKO productions. (The MAKE MINE LAUGHS title card says it's "A new musical revue including highlights from RKO film hits.") MAKE MINE LAUGHS is hosted by Gil Lamb, while the other two films, VARIETY TIME (1948) and FOOTLIGHT VARIETIES (1951), are hosted by Jack Paar.

As a fan of both musicals and RKO, I was intrigued by these films, as I'd never heard of them before. I began with MAKE MINE LAUGHS due to my interest in Anne Shirley and Frances Langford, who are among the entertainers seen in the clips.

As it turned out, Shirley and Langford's clips were pretty much the only worthwhile thing in the movie! Langford is seen singing "Moonlight Over the Islands" in a clip from THE BAMBOO BLONDE (1946). Shirley and Dennis Day sing "Did You Happen to Find a Heart?" which a bit of Googling told me was from their film MUSIC IN MANHATTAN (1944).

There's an overlong skit which was originally a short called BEWARE OF REDHEADS (1945), in which Leon Errol tries to keep his wife (Dorothy Granger) from finding out about his girlfriend (Myrna Dell). A dance by Rosario and Antonio is unfortunately interrupted by inserts of host Lamb mugging with monkeys.

Otherwise, the segments are pretty low rent; if monkeys playing musical instruments and vaudevillians acting like hicks are your cup of tea, go for it! A short from RKO's "Flicker Flashbacks" series was especially tiresome.

I found this 63-minute film of interest mostly for historical reasons, being rather curious that it existed in the first place.

Fun to note that exactly a month ago I saw an anthology film with a very similar title, Disney's MAKE MINE MUSIC (1946). Disney's film, which consisted of unused FANTASIA animation and brand-new sequences, was much the better movie.

MAKE MINE LAUGHS was directed by Richard Fleischer, who would go on to better things such as THE NARROW MARGIN (1952), and Hal Yates. Yates also directed the other two films in the set.

The clips used in the film are of varying quality; some of it looks pretty good and other scenes are on the scratchier side. There are no extras.

I'll be reviewing the other films in the set, VARIETY TIME and FOOTLIGHT VARIETIES, at a future date.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD set. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger antoniod said...

I don't know if you've watched them yet, but I thought VARIETY TIME and FOOTLIGHT VARIETIES were a lot better than MAKE MINE LAUGHS.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you for the feedback! I haven't had time to watch them yet but expect to in the next few days.

Best wishes,

8:14 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for rhe review. From your perspective - is it even worth to buy the set?

3:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I can't say yet as I still need to review the other two films in the set (it's film festival season in So. CA so I'm a bit backlogged but will definitely get to them!). I felt this single film was of value only for historical reasons.

Best wishes,

3:06 PM  

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