…are a part of Appendix N.
Hatari reminds one that just as pulp adventures were essentially “romances” for boys and young men, there was once such a thing as romantic comedies for men. Not sex and obscenity-filled slacker stoner comedies where fat guys get high, waste their time at dead end jobs and get girls way out of their league to sleep with them on their ‘awe-gee-shucks’ idiot charm alone, but stories about real men bonding and having adventures doing exciting and dangerous jobs and finding love in unlikely places, like the African Savanna.
Red Buttons’ character Pockets steals the show, and, for those of us who will never be as manly as John Wayne, he gives a window into this world. Yet even as the lovable doofus, he wipes the floor with rom-com protagonists of today. He’s not a cashier or a bus boy or a drug dealer; he drives the truck that John Wayne snares African big game from! Even the quirky ‘losers’ were more aspiration in those days! Red Buttons may get friendzoned by the gorgeous Elsa Martinelli, but he beats out the German and the Frenchman to win the heart of a doll-faced Michele Girardon.
Leigh Brackett really knows how to write quirky old comedy bits, and Hawks times them perfectly:
As much as I like some of the older comedies, a lot of them would let something like this go on for 3 or 4 times as long.
The only real downside is that for a movie so content to take its time, the ending feels a little rushed. Still, this is one worth watching over and over for great bits between Elsa and Red, like this one.
Ironically, I think there was probably more chemistry between these two than between Martinelli and Wayne.
Short Reviews will resume after Christmas, probably with “The Sword of Johnny Damocles”. In the meantime, I’m going to be wracking my brain for the name of the micro that I played nearly a year ago that had to have almost certainly been inspired by, if not, based on Berserker. How many times can Fred Saberhagen tell a variation on “humans outwit and defeat supermassive AI warships bent on stamping out all life in the cosmos” and keep it interesting? At least 11.