Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

Comin’ Round the Mountain, 1951

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Talk about your mixed bag. There are moments here that rank right up with almost any routine Abbott and Costello ever did. ((Nothing is as good as “Who’s On First?”. Nothing. )) And there are interminable stretches of deadly dullness, punctuated by deadly dull songs. Seven (!) of them.

But all in all, certainly worth watching.

After Comin’ Round the Mountain opens a Manhattan nightclub, which introduces the female lead, who sings all seven (!) of the songs in this not especially long movie, as well as Bud as her manager, and Lou as an escape artist, we learn that Lou is the descendent of hillbillies from Kentucky, where the female lead is from (they’re cousins, turns out), and is heir to a fortune. ((Yes, a hillbilly fortune. Don’t sweat it, it’s just the setup for one of the most groaningly obvious gags in the history of cinema, which they save for the very end. It’s so obvious that I seriously did not believe they were going to do it until they did. Which is kind of admirable, in its way. ))

So they pack up and take the lady to Kentucky to meet the family, get involved in the McCoy-Wakefield feud ((why they kept the McCoy, but changed the “Hatfield” part, I don’t understand, but oh well. )), make some creaky (but still funny) hillbilly jokes and, oh yes, meet up with a hillbilly witch, played by Margaret Hamilton — the Wicked Witch of the West, herself.

That meeting is definitely the best part of the movie. In order to prove to Bud and Lou that she really does have supernatural power, she makes a voodoo doll of Lou and keeps poking it with a needle. She keeps it up in order to make them pay for what they want, too. Then, while she’s getting it, Lou fashions a doll of her, and they get into a very, very funny standoff against each other, using the effigies.

All in all, if this had been a two-reeler, or a bit longer, it would be classic. At feature length, it goes on too long, puts A&C in the background too much, and has way too many songs. Apart from those weaknesses, though, it’s great fun.

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