Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's in the Bag!

The fun of being in an actual video store (especially an excellent one) is that you can roam around, looking at boxes and grabbing things at random. NetFlix is convenient for getting the movies you want, but it makes it hard to get the serendipitous discoveries.

In this case, I was poking aimlessly through the "Classic Comedy" section, and I ran across It's in the Bag!, a 1945 movie starring Fred Allen and featuring Jack Benny, Robert Benchley, William Bendix, Rudy Vallee, Don Ameche, Jerry Colonna, John Carradine, and several more people who were popular on radio. I'd never heard of it, but I took it home and watched it. And I loved it!

I mean, it's not a technically "good" movie. It tends to stop dead so Jerry Colonna can be a wacky psychiatrist for awhile, or so Robert Benchley can explain a convoluted mousetrap. But those interruptions are fun, especially the extended scene with Fred Allen and Jack Benny playing off the "feud" their radio shows had. The plot involves a fortune that Fred Allen has to find and which he knows is hidden in one of five chairs. It's based on a satirical Russian novel that Mel Brooks also made into a movie (The Twelve Chairs), but the plot is pretty much incidental to the movie. If you're lounging around on a hot Sunday afternoon and want a movie that will entertain you without requiring much effort, this is a fine choice. Especially if you enjoy old-timey radio comedy from the forties.

Oh! And the title appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the movie whatsoever. There was a period in which comedies tended to just get titled with punchy phrases, ideally with exclamation point.

No comments: