From The Warner Archive: Two Featuring Red Skelton

The Warner Archive recently released two of  the last films Red Skelton did with MGM: Half a Hero and The Great Diamond Robbery. Most of Skelton’s work I’ve seen was the Technicolor films he did with Esther Williams, so it was sort of strange to see him in black and white. Despite the lack of his trademark red hair, Skelton’s persona shines in these two films and fans will no doubt rejoice that they are no available for home viewing.

This film was kind of an interesting look at postwar America and the housing boom. It reminded me a bit of 1948’s Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, though this film is much less cynical.

Jean Hagen is wonderful as Skelton’s wife, who convinces him to move out to the suburbs of New York City when they begin to have children. I almost wish there had been a little more of her and a little more of the town, but what you do get is pure gold.

The Great Diamond Robbery is sort of an interesting twist on the heist genre, in that it’s comedy and also a bit of a con film.

Skelton is as adorable as ever. In lesser hands a role like this, naive and all-too trusting, could have been rather annoying. But Skelton always adds a likability to his characters.

For the longest time I tried to figure out where I’d seen this guy before. After I looked him up I discovered i is James Whitmore aka Brooks from The Shawshank Redemption. Whitmore also was nominated for Best Actor for 1975’s Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!, in which he is the only member of the cast, playing President Harry S. Truman.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but the rest of the cast including George Matthews, Dorothy Stickney and Cara Williams, are a delightful batch of con artists who take advantage of the simple diamond cutter Ambrose C. Park (Skelton).

Kurt Kasznar and Harry Bellaver are great as a couple of small-time mobsters who organize the con. All and all, while the film might be a bit predictable, it is a load of fun from start to finish.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a review discs given to me by the Warner Archive, though the opinions are all my own.

About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on June 13, 2012, in Classic Film, DVDs and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I remember watching Red Skelton at my grandparents cottage. Classic. There’s something wholesome about it that modern comedy seems to be missing.

  1. Pingback: June 2012 in Films: Birthdays and Jobs and Movies Galore « the diary of a film history fanatic

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