NAZTY NUISANCE aka DOUBLE CROSSED FOOL (1943)
Running Time: 43 mins. Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Glenn Tryon
Distributor: United Artists
Cast: Bobby Watson, Joe Devlin, Johnny Arthur, Jean Porter, Ian Keith, Frank Faylen, Henry Victor, Emory Parnell
Awful picture you may be amused with enough to kill 45 min.
This is a really moronic film, but as it went along within its own context I must admit I was amused. So my warning is to dump it in the first 5 minutes if you don’t like it or you will kill another 40 minutes. As it is even low comedy has a floor and this is in the basement. The humor is that of the burlesque theater and it wouldn’t surprise me if the writers came from that discipline.
Its always interesting to see “B” movie “star” players usually consigned to feature roles in “A” pictures like Guy Kibbee. Of course this is no ordinary “B” but a cut below, one of Hal Roach’s “streamliners” or 45-minute movies that didn’t even qualify it as a feature. The lead here is Frank Faylen, who was more of a bit player in “A”s and a featured player in “B”s but here has the lead. He plays the typical American wise guy, a standard Commedia del Arte figure in films of the era. This film had its own niche at the far edge of propaganda. However well or poorly the war was going, whatever the newspaper headlines or radio reports, watching the Axis as the victims of slapstick gags was morale boost.
Set up as burlesque skits we have a submarine with 5 crewmen, a tribe with 5 members, etc. just the number of people who can fit on a stage. There is no real narrative and the logic would even frustrate W. C. Fields. Hitler wants to make a treaty with some African country which is vital to the war but we never learn why. The leader of this country will only deal with the head man so Hitler is going to sneak off in a U- Boat but Mussolini and a Japanese general find out and are going along too. Meanwhile the crew (or at least 5 of them) in a lifeboat of a torpedoed merchantman arrive on the very shore of this African country. This African country is run by an absolute dictator (Ian Keith) who dresses like an Arabian Night movie Arab but speaks with a British RP accent and acts like he’s out for a night of fun. He lives in a tent, there are a handful of people around and that’s it for the African Country.
Faylen assumes the identity of a magician (!) and sets up a number of gags, which result in maximum discomfort for the Axis. The jokes and gags sometimes pour forth at speed and sometimes they come lumbering in slo-mo. Pure slapstick action with the occasional pun thrown in like “The New Oder”. The gags can be sub-Three Stooges in concept like the pillow fight. The pillow fight was interesting because apparently they had a machine dropping feathers or feather like objects from the flies that never stops! The seamen capture the U-Boat and they all escape with Hitler & co. as prisoners.
It gave some psychological relief for audiences to laugh as Hitler was kicked in the pants by a regular American guy. BTW, Hitler was played by Bobby Watson who made a nice show business dollar playing Hitler during WW2, playing Herr Schickelgrubber in no less than 9 films.
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