Recently Rated Movies #66: Lost in Two Different Jungles

Five Came Back (1939)
Director: John Farrow
Cinema 4 Rating: 7
Notes: I've heard this film mentioned in a highly positive vein so many times over the years, both in books and from the lips of film fanatics of my acquaintance. So, I just had to jump at the next chance I had to see it. Luckily, TCM is around to fulfill this need. A surprisingly tough little thriller, with an even dozen victims, er, passengers on a small plane getting lost in the Amazon jungle, who then have to hash it out for several weeks until they can, hopefully, get their plane fixed enough to hightail it out of there. And when they tell you that five will come back in the title, you had better believe it. How they arrive at this number can still prove a little shocking to audiences, even of today's jaded nature. Absolutely worth seeing for an economical (perhaps a little too, at times) script by future blacklister Dalton Trumbo and for an early, layered supporting role by future queen of comedy Lucille Ball (playing some combination of reformed gun moll or hooker, still not sure which). According to Robert Osborne, lead actor Chester Morris had his slimy hands all over Ball, and seeing her in this film, it's not hard to wonder why. With a fantastic supporting cast (John Carradine, C. Aubrey Smith, Wendy Barrie, Allen Jenkins, etc.), top marks still go to Joseph Calleia as the doomed anarchist who gets to decide who lives and who dies. While perhaps not as fantastic as I had been led to believe, still vital for anyone who loves pure thrills in glorious old black and white.
Replay/Purchase Meter: Oh, yes... when this finally hits DVD, it will go into my RKO collection. I'd like to see them put it back-to-back with Farrow's own 1956 remake, Back from Eternity (which I still have not seen), for comparison's sake.

Zack Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion (2006)
Director: Michael Blieden
Cinema 4 Rating: 6
Notes: I hope Mr. Zack would not take it as a slight if I said that finally there is a performer for whom I would gladly pay money not to go see. This is not a knock. I find Galifianakis more hilarious than just about any other comedian out there today, barring his fellow Comedians of Comedy Patton Oswalt, David Cross and Maria Bamford (we will throw in Lewis Black, as well). But there is -- and I hate to actually use the term "Kaufman-esque" even if I just did -- something so nerve-wracking watching Zack engage (or disengage) with an audience that makes me almost hate to have to be there when it happens. He is not a smooth one to intake, and as many pure belly laughs as he produces, there are almost an equal amount where you want to say "Nice try, buddy." Of course, the ones that land flat are often setting up something that does pay off big far, far down the line, so it's also hard to figure out when a normal comedian would start producing flop sweat in this act. There is a sense when watching Galifianakis that somewhere within in him is pure, undiscovered genius, as if the next thing he does is going to be something that will turn the world on its ear. However, there is also the sense that he could just as well go off his nut, and he just might take everyone in the place out with him. It certainly makes him almost doubly more intriguing than about 90 percent of the comics out there today, but it also makes me not want to be there to see it... even though I less than secretly do.
Replay/Purchase Meter: Probably won't buy this one -- it's just a little too uneven, and I really didn't think much of the bits with his "brother" -- but I will certainly watch it again in the future.

Comments

Ditto on the Zach-love(don't feel like trying to spell that name right now). I know him mainly as a talk-show guest, or odd character actor, but I've seen snippets of his standup and couldn't agree with your perception more. Although, I did find his 'brother' amusing when he cohosted Kimmell's show for a week and had nothing nice to say about him(his brother, that is).

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