Thursday, July 12, 2012


PHENOMENALITY: *marvelous*
MYTHICITY: (1) *poor,* (2) *fair*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: (1) cosmological, (2) *sociological, psychological

I found almost no amusement in 1965's SERGEANT DEADHEAD, a service comedy with no real metaphenomenal content, but it seems like comedy gold after struggling through Don Taylor's Disney-esque talking-duck-in-the-Navy story.

To be as mercifully brief as possible, two schlumpy Navy-sailors, played by the chemistry-less team of Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett, are given the duty to release an experimental duck back into the wild.  They find out that the duck can talk due to the experiments performed on it, but none of the sailors' Navy superiors know about that fact.  The duck becomes friends with the two schlubs, whose first thought is to figure out how they can use it to con other sailors into betting against their prodigy's ability to speak.  Then the Navy science lab decides it wants the duck back, because it supposedly has in its head a guidance-control program.  The sailors don't want the duck to get its head chopped off.  Supposed hilarity ensues.

About the only thing that was a little bit noteworthy in this strained fantasy-comedy was the duck's accidental role in setting up both of the goofs with cute girlfriends.  In one scene, Hackett's character accidentally acquires a girl when the duck flirts with the waitress, so that the duck more or less plays Cyrano to Hackett's Christian.  In contrast to Hackett, Rooney can't get anywhere with the girl of his dreams, but the Navy forces her to be a spy and get close to Rooney.  Naturally, she grows to like the little weasel.  But this is old, old stuff, all of which was done better by Universal's agreeably silly FRANCIS pictures.  After watching this pap, I wanted to rinse out my brain with reruns of the acerbic DUCKMAN teleseries.

It's not impossible to put a little heart into even silly endeavors, as is shown by Sidney Miller's 30 FOOT BRIDE OF CANDY ROCK.  The story of a goofy scientist (Lou Costello in a rare Abbott-less role) who changes his fiancee into a giantess is nothing new, but there was some care to set up some half-interesting psychological conflicts.  For instance, it's made clear that parentless Emmy Lou (Dorothy Provine) has long been under the thumb of her uncle, the big cheese in the small town of Candy Rock, and that in rebellion she's taken up with the town doofus.  To her irritation, the doofus wants to be a big man as well, hence his wacky inventions-- but thanks to one such invention, she's the one who becomes a Really Big Show.

Compared to DUCKY, BRIDE is well-paced even if it isn't exactly a laugh-riot, and Provine's restrained rampage through Candy Rock is fun if not memorable.  And then, there's also the scene that speaks to fears of male inadequacy before the female (no further comment needed):

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