Balls of fire! (or, the Smokies vs. the Ozarks)
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 12/11/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The best thing about Eddie Cline's comedic misfire, PRIVATE SNUFFY SMITH is three Jimmie Dodd songs. The youthful future Head Mouseketeer demonstrates guitar mastery as he sings most pleasantly. "Time's a-Wastin'" was penned by vaudevillians Olsen & Johnson. Lyrics to "The Yard Bird" incorporate Snuffy Smithisms and references, while "I Don't Know What To Do Blues" is quite nice.
Cline was steeped in directing comedies, all the way back to silent era collaborations with Buster Keaton, and the actors involved were also skilled, so fault for an unhumorous script may lie in its creation by a committee of four.
The cinematic career of star Bud Duncan, who stood well-under 5 feet, began and ended in the funny pages. From 1911 on, he was Jeff in a series of silent Mutt & Jeff shorts. Duncan's last movies were two early-40s Snuffy Smith programmers. This one is totally undistinguished, dumb in fact.
I'M FROM ARKANSAS features another silent movie vet, the underfed and over-height Slim Summerville. Also here is Al St. John. An early association wth Mack Sennett may have helped bring St. John's uncle, Fatty Arbuckle to Sennett's Keystone Cops (Summerville was also a member of this bunch). In the sound era, St. John was western film sidekick to many stars, both 'A' and 'B' grade.
"Arkansas" is short on laughs and very long on music. Performers include Jimmy Wakeley ("You Are My Sunshine") and the Pied Pipers ("Stay Away From My Heart"). Some lesser-knowns do such classics as "Pitchfork Polka," "I Love to Yodel" and "Pass the Biscuits, Mirandy." Oh, yah.
ALPHA VIDEO offers bargain priced, often hard-to-find vintage movies that are ideal for those willing to skip DVD extras. Their transfers show no evidence of restoration, so quality varies from one title to the next, with "fair to good" being the average.
Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll ratings.
(6.2) I'm From Arkansas (1944) - Slim Summerville/El Brendel/Iris Adrian/Bruce Bennett/Cliff Nazarro/Al St. John/Arthur Q. Bryan/John Hamilton
(5.1) Private Snuffy Smith (1942) Bud Duncan/Edgar Kennedy/Sarah Padden/J. Farrell MacDonald/Jimmie Dodd"