Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tonight's Movie: 40 Pounds of Trouble (1962) at the Hollywood Heritage Museum

I spent a wonderful afternoon in Hollywood today at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

The museum is located on Highland Avenue immediately across the street from the Hollywood Bowl. In fact, our family enjoyed a picnic right next to the museum before a concert several years ago, but until today I'd never been inside.

The occasion was "Afternoon at the Barn: Walt Disney's Disneyland." Chris Nichols, author of the fabulous new photo book WALT DISNEY'S DISNEYLAND, gave a talk on Disneyland history, which was followed by a screening of the film 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE (1963).

Chris gave a slideshow of favorite photos from the book and shared stories about both the park and the two years he spent writing the book with his wife and coauthor, Charlene Nichols.

Chris said he was given complete access to the Disney Archives, and one of the things which makes the book unique is that it combines Disney's photos with pictures from many other sources. The book was obviously a labor of love, and I was glad to have the chance to let Chris and Charlene know today how much I've enjoyed the copy I purchased in September.

Universal Pictures produced a Blu-ray especially for today's screening. This was my first time to see a film at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, and the picture from the Blu-ray projection looked great. I particularly appreciated the excellent sound quality.

This was not only my first time to visit the museum, it was my first time to see 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE! I've had the DVD on my shelves for quite a while but since "So many movies, so little time" is the story of my life, I was glad to have this event pop up. What better way to experience a movie filmed in Disneyland than with a crowd of appreciative Disneyland fans? As I mentioned here a few days ago, 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE was "the first and only non-Disney produced theatrical film that was ever filmed at Disneyland while Walt Disney was still alive."

Tony Curtis stars as Steve McCluskey, the very precise neatnik manager of a Lake Tahoe casino. His orderly life is upset when a guest leaves behind a little girl, Penny (Claire Wilcox), and disappears.

Although initially exasperated, Steve is a nice guy at heart and when he ends up taking care of little Penny, she quickly gets under his skin. Steve and Chris (Suzanne Pleshette), a singer at the resort, enjoy getting to know one another while keeping an eye on Penny, and when Steve learns Penny's father has been killed in a car wreck he decides they'll take her to her favorite place, Disneyland, before breaking the news.

The only problem with Steve traveling to Anaheim is that once he sets foot in California he'll be targeted by a private detective and law enforcement for failing to pay money owed to his ex-wife (Mary Murphy), which results in a funny chase sequence throughout Disneyland.

The extensive scenes filmed in Disneyland were great fun to watch, although the geography was mind-boggling, particularly when the characters got off the Monorail in order to enter the park at the Main Street Train Station. Some of the other editing was equally bizarre for anyone who knows the park, but at the same time picking out those oddities also made it kind of fun.

And how fantastic to see Disneyland as it was when I was a young child, including the Rainbow Caverns Mine Train and the theater showing AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.

The movie as a whole is very visually appealing, from Curtis's blue eyes to the '60s resort decor to the bright wardrobes and, of course, Disneyland. Curtis is at his most handsome and charming and is in all but a handful of scenes, so I found it a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The deep cast includes Kevin McCarthy, Karen Steele, Larry Storch, Edward Andrews, Phil Silvers, Stubby Kaye, Ford Rainey, Gregg Palmer, and Warren Stevens. Diane Ladd pops up as a honeymooning bride, and Allyn Ann McLerie is McCarthy's secretary. Familiar faces like Richard Mulligan, Jack La Rue, Jim Bannon, Helen Kleeb, and Bess Flowers also turn up. It's a great movie for "watching faces" along with all the eye-catching visuals.

40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE was directed by Norman Jewison and filmed by Joe MacDonald. It runs 106 minutes.

I recommend 40 POUNDS OF TROUBLE as an enjoyable comedy appropriate for the entire family. It's available on DVD.

July 2020 Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray in August 2020 as part of the Tony Curtis Collection from Kino Lorber.

January 2021 Update: My review of Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release may be read here.


Blogger Seth said...

I rented this from ClassicFlix some time ago, and then was excited to see it at Walmart a couple of years ago for about $5-$7. The Disneyland sequence was the initial draw for me, but it turned out to be a fun 1960s time capsule all around. Glad you liked it. I need to share it with my extended family; I'm sure they'll enjoy it, too.

As for Nichols' Disneyland book, I was able to thumb through it at the the Walt Disney Family Museum last December, which really convinced me that I needed it for my shelf. And speaking of WDFM, did I happen to miss your long-overdue review (hint hint)?

11:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It really is a great time capsule, isn't it, Seth? I was looking forward to the Disneyland sequence but was quite pleased with how much I enjoyed the movie as a whole.

You keep hinting and eventually I'll sort through my photos and get that post up! I really can't believe it's taken this long (grin) but it seems like there's always a newer post that gets priority. The organizational work involved is a bit daunting (I took SO many photos LOL) but it needs to happen! I really appreciate your interest. :)

Best wishes,

12:12 AM  

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