Archive for Harmon Jones

Big Top Pee-yew

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by dcairns

GORILLA AT LARGE should really have been called GORILLA IN DEPTH, shouldn’t it, to capitalise on the whole 3D thing. Except really it ought to have been called CIRCUS OF ASSHOLES, since everybody in the movie, near enough, is some variety of jerk, blowhard or swine. I’m suspicious of movies that fail to provide any interesting sympathetic characters, because it tends to suggest a filmmaker with an unappealing approach to life. The crowd of gits in front of the camera is standing in for one big git behind it.

Now, casting your eye over the subject and talent here, one would imagine that the real 3D attraction would be Raymond Burr, wouldn’t you? The prospect of his massive form heaving itself towards you in 3D is an irresistible one, isn’t it? Yet, due perhaps to director Harmon Jones’s lack of interest in, well, the film, Burr’s bulk never gets to loom in a Hank Quinlan manner, thereby allowing us to watch the movie as if through the watery eyes of a cowering twink.* A missed opportunity. Perhaps Raymond is more suited to widescreen, anyway.

Passing swiftly over Cameron Mitchell  — Me, watching WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS: “The bad gargantua looks like Cameron Mitchell. Fiona: “What does Cameron Mitchell look like?” Me: [points at gargantua] — we come to Anne Bancroft, and here we stop for a while. Although screenwriters Praskins and Slater, like the director, stopping off briefly at the movies en route to episodic TV purgatory, see fit to write Bancroft as a cheating sexpot, she still commands audience respect with her awesomeness. Rather than play for our sympathy, she just relishes her hotness, and walks off with those parts of the movie not pinned to the floor by Burr. And since her cheating tart character is cheating on Raymond, we can kind of see where she’s coming from.

But the actual element of the movie that justifies the 3D is none of these, and no, it’s not the gorilla, swing as he may into the camera with a permanent neutral expression on his ersatz face, nor even is it Lee Marvin as a skinny cop, making faces through the bars before being ape-chopped to the ground, nor is it Lee J Cobb, proof that one bulky man with a cigar is not enough for a movie as brashly obnoxious as this. The star effect of the film appears when they blast fireworks at the escaped ape. The fireworks themselves are nothing much, but the smoke trails they leave drifting in the extreme foreground are really nice.

*Have absolutely no knowledge of Burr’s bedroom activities and the above is sheer lurid imagining.