Sunday, January 24, 2010
Day 320: Always Leave Them Laughing (1949) - Rank 3.5/5
This tale of a comedian's struggle to make it to the top feels a little played at times, but what saves the story from being formulaic drivel is the brilliance of Milton Berle. This film was the perfect vehicle for the comedian to show his stuff, and while he was well-known prior, this seems to be the role that shot him to the household name status. As Kip Cooper, Berle has ample opportunities to not only lampoon himself, but also pay homage to countless comedians before him. Cooper is hackneyed, boorish and at many points, unoriginal. He tries to make a star of himself by taking on the stylings of others in the profession.
I found it entertaining to watch Berle tackle famous bits, like Al Jolson's "Mammy" or belt out a Cole Porter tune, as he moves from one vaudevillian act to the next in the hopes that he will strike it hot with audiences. There's something endearing about Cooper's desperation, but the darker elements to his soul as he walks over his friends and lovers alike to reach the top also fit Berle's personality as well. Ruth Roman and Bert Lahr are also fun supporting cast members, but this is definitely Berle's opportunity to shine.