Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Hole in the Head (Frank Capra, 1959) D

I'm not going to lie- I'm a huge fan of Frank Capra. For some reason, his cheesy, unashamedly uplifting "Capracorn" styles work on this little ole cynic. This, combined with the fact that this film boasts a magnificent cast including Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Thelma Ritter, Eleanor Parker and Carolyn Jones, should have assured A Hole in the Head greatness. Imagine my surprise when it didn't. A Hole in the Head tells the story of a widowed owner of a sleazy hotel (Frank Sinatra) with a son who he loves more than anything. He's behind on his mortgage payments and about to get thrown out so he tries to get money from his rich brother (Edward G. Robinson) and his wife (Thelma Ritter). They tell him that they'll give him the money if he'll settle down and marry a woman they set him up with (Eleanor Parker). A Hole in the Head is supposed to play like a comedy- the problem is that none of the jokes are even funny (I take that back, one is: Thelma Ritter's line reading at the end "I don't understand...they're so poor and so happy!"). The repeated gag of Robinson falling back on the low chair wasn't funny the first time, so why would I need to see it repeated five or six times? Frank Sinatra was never the greatest actor (even in his most acclaimed performances in From Here to Eternity and The Man With the Golden Arm something was missing), but A Hole in the Head reveals his limitations. He is the last actor I would have picked to play the father; his tough, man's man persona doesn't fit well into the role (I would have rather seen someone like Rock Hudson in the role). A Hole in the Head, in the end, completely wastes the aforementioned dream cast. The actressexual in me loves Ritter, Parker and Jones the most here, but they really aren't given much to do; it's Sinatra and that annoying kid's show unfortunately. Random rant: that "High Hopes" sequence was one of the most awkwardly handled musical scenes I've ever seen. I can suspend disbelief if the entire film is a musical, but it makes absolutely no sense when you have one musical number in a two hour movie.

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