Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Amazon Prime Video to the rescue again. Always a good source when I need a bad movie to review. This is Streamline Express from 1935, before many of us were born. It was during a time Hollywood was making some very bad movies on the scale of a major industry. It stars Victor Jory as playwright – director Jimmy Hart. The production company is not identified. Details are from Wikipedia.

Jimmy is having problems with his current Broadway production. The run is due to start in a few days, and dress rehearsals are going badly, because leading lady Patricia Wallace (Evelyn Venable) is a no-show. Back in Elaine’s dressing room Jimmy earholes maid Fawn (Libby Taylor), who tells him the reluctant Patricia has absconded aboard the Streamline Express, hence the title.

The Streamline Express is a train 20 years ahead of its time. Besides not being an actual train (only one car), it’s a 120 miles per hour monorail and is scheduled that day to start its maiden run from New York to Santa Barbara, California, non-stop. Much ado is made about it, but Jimmy manages to sneak aboard the train, whose maiden  run is sold out.

Jimmy confronts Patricia, who rings for the steward and has him tossed from the train, luckily still at the station. But Jimmy is not to be denied. He pays the steward to switch places with him, and he spends most of the trip to California working to win Patricia back to the theater. She is eloping with her new fiancée, Fred Arnold (Ralph Forbes), fabulously wealthy and promising to keep Patricia sedentary in Santa Barbara. I almost wrote sedimentary.

There are others on the train, of course. There is husband John Bradley (Clay Clement) and his mistress, the blonde Elaine Vincent (Esther Ralston). Rejected wife Mary Bradley (Erin O’Brien-Moore) sneaks aboard after she learns her husband is leaving her for a hussy.

Also aboard is the balding Mr. Jones (Vince Barnett). Mr. Jones must get his pregnant wife to California, and quickly. If the baby is born in California, said baby will inherit $10,000, a lot of money in 1935.

The plot is a mangle of intrigue and double dealing, and everybody gets justice. The troubled marriage gets patched up. Two Jones children are born, one in Arizona and one in California. Jimmy realizes he is madly in love with Patricia, and Patricia has loved Jimmy from the beginning. They will be married in Santa Barbara and hurry back to New York for the opening of their new play.

Yes, and the performances barely register. This one runs for slightly more than an hour, but I kept looking at my watch all the time. You don’t have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to watch it. It’s available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74Z18UELYs8. Enjoy.

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Bad Movie of the Week

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You don’t get past the title to know this is not Oscar material. From MGM in 1945 it’s Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. But first let me tell you about the plot. There is no plot. OK, if you insist on a plot, there is a story line, but it’s just a device to hang the zany antics of Abbott and Costello on. It goes like this. They’re in Hollywood. And Abercrombie (Costello) has again fallen for one of Buzz Curtis’ (Abbott) schemes.

Buzz is running a phony barber school, and he’s soaking Abercrombie for as much as he can for tuition while pretending to teach Abercrombie how to be a professional barber. The opening gag involves the time-honored barber training method of shaving a balloon. If you can shave the lather off a balloon without popping it you can shave the whiskers off a real face without drawing blood.

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Come on. You knew how this was going to turn out.

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Barbering does not seem to be all that profitable. The two learn that talent agents make thousands at a whack (10%) for landing contracts for their clients. They decide to break into the talent agent racket by representing a smooth crooner from the Midlands. As things begin to go haywire their scheme turns to crashing the studio that’s about to start production. It gets to the point that Buzz gives Abercrombie a boost over a brick wall.

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The gag is that it’s a phony wall, and as soon as Abercrombie gets across some studio hands haul it away.

Next the pair land on a set where a period piece is being filmed. And there, for all to see, is Lucille Ball, one of the best looking women in the business, playing herself as an actress in the movie. This is about the high point of this flick.

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Still trying to elude the studio cops, Abercrombie plays dead and gets mistaken for a prop dummy and carried onto the set of a barroom fight scene, where he gets thrown off a balcony a couple of times before making his getaway.

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Things get desperate. Buzz and Abercrombie need to get their client a part in the upcoming movie. To do so they need to eliminate the snidely actor who’s weaseled his way into the part. A staged fight with the weasel actor leads to false accusations of Abercrombie’s murder. Now the weasel needs to hide out from the police, and the movie role goes to Buzz and Abercrombie’s client. But only if they can keep the weasel on the run until after a critical scene in the movie is shot.

The critical scene involves blowing up a carnival, which scene cannot be re-shot. While the director is preparing to shoot the scene, the weasel uncovers the hoax and starts chasing Abercrombie on a roller coaster on the set. A fight on the roller coaster leaves Abercrombie hanging from a broken flagpole.

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Next he’s on a runaway roller coaster car that begins to disintegrate, leaving Abercrombie riding on nothing but two wheels and an axle. Then one of the wheels comes off. This was the 1940s idea of jumping the shark.

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But everything comes out all right, and Buzz and Abercrombie become rich and successful talent agents. It’s enough to warm your heart.