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Brass Monkey 1948
Description: Carroll Levis, a radio tons host, gets involved in murder and theft.
Released: 11 Oct 1951 Director: Thornton Freeland Writers: Robert Buckland (additional dialogue), Alec Coppel (screenplay), Alec Coppel (story), Thornton Freeland (screenplay), Denis Freeman (dialogue supervisor), William Freshman (additional dialogue), Vernon Sylvaine (additional dialogue) Actors: Carroll Levis, Carole Landis, Herbert Lom, Avril Angers Genres: Crime, Drama
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Brass Monkey Reviews:

"The Brass Monkey" is a low-budget comedy-thriller-cum-variety present of tiny artistic merit but maybe some slight curiosity value. It is most likely to appeal to viewers with a nostalgic interest in 1940s famous culture. It does have a story, concerning the efforts of Mr Ryder-Harris, a British convert to Buddhism, to recover three very precious and sacred brass figurines of the wise monkeys - hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil - originally made for a Japanese temple. With the involvement of a crooked art dealer and his underworld associates, the quest for the stolen third monkey turns nasty and a couple of folks are shot dead. But viewers will probably care no more about the features of all this than the writers and performers appear to have done. It is not a compelling tale. Made in England by an American director, "The Brass Monkey" is an uneasy transatlantic mish-mash in respect of both style and casting. The plot-line and production values resemble those of American murder-mystery potboilers of the time, such as the Charlie Chan and Falcon series. The leading lady, Carole Landis, performs in full Hollywood glamour mode in modest British settings (Southampton and London) with a helping cast of British hero actors and light comedians. The central figure of the film, however - I hesitate to call him 'the star' - is Carroll Levis, testing himself. This prompts the question: who was Carroll Levis? To anyone watching the film, it is unnecessary to mission out that he certainly wasn't an actor. Levis presented a famous radio tons present and was - we are said - "Britain's favorite Canadian". Ah, such fleeting fame! He may be envisaged as a precursor of Hughie Green, compère of "Opportunity Knocks", the old British tv talent contest. At his side is Avril Angers, trying difficult to receive laughs in the guise of a silly secretary. Her patter is a low imitation of American 'wise-cracking'.The last third of the movie is largely turned over to a succession of tons acts performed on the Carroll Levis radio show. Terry Thomas makes-up as an elderly boy to sing "Somebody blew my bluebird egg" in a Swiss-German accent. Avril Angers delivers an energetic comic number about the housing shortage. Mr Fred Cross from London gives a rendition on the musical saw of "Believe me if all those endearing young charms". Winnie from Halifax plays "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" on her piano accordion. Meanwhile, the police inspector swiftly winds up the unengaging mystery. Occasional bursts of portentous melody add unintended humour to this awkward confection of light entertainment.


Minor mystery notable mostly as the final movie of Carole Landis before her suicide. The mystery is average but what makes this stand out is that approximately the final third of the picture shoves the main plot aside to show a tons present since the main male lead Carroll Levis, a well known radio personality of the time, should not act and to spare him and the audience they had him emcee this concoction containing some nice musical performances and some low comedy bits. Avril Angers, a noted comedienne, is saddled with a hero that is supposed to be charmingly daffy but comes across as idiotic. As for Carole Landis the Ping Woman performs her part professionally although its obvious that the quality of her movies was declining if this cheapie was the greatest that was being offered. If you aren't familiar with her she looks well, slim and well place together but once you realize that she was only 29 years old when this was made her appearance becomes shocking. She is dangerously thin and looks at least five to ten years older at times, plagued by the aftereffects of malaria and another diseases she had incurred while entertaining the units during WWII plus a very messy personal life the strain was obviously beginning to take its toll.


The two previous perfect reviews show a fair, balanced, and accurate view of this movie. It is of interest actually primarily as a period piece---actually an English period piece: trust me when I say you that in 1948 there wasn't one American in 500,000 who had ever heard of Carroll Levis, "England's favourite Canadian." There is, however, a second and far more necessary reason for this movie's value. It captures the luminous Carole Landis at the height of her beauty (and very shortly before her tragic suicide at 29). If ever there was a film actress who was not only breathtakingly pretty and amazingly talented, but also underused, unappreciated, and relegated (for the most part, as here) to roles far beneath her, it was Carole Landis. She lost what should have been her greatest Hollywood years by her unselfish, indefatigable, tireless entertainment of American units throughout the globe in Globe Fight II, surpassing even Bob Hope and Martha Raye in miles traveled and military outposts visited. As above noted, she was in a class by herself for beauty, absolutely nonpareil in face and figure---Betty Grable and Alice Faye were just cute made-up dolls in comparison. What a shame that, in the end, she ended up in fare such as this.



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