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Sunday, April 22, 2007

We're No Angels (1955)

***½ We're No Angels. Comedy.

Directed by: Michael Curtiz.
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov

After watching the 1989 version, I put the original on our Netflix queue. Honestly, I have no idea why they kept the title for the newer movie, because the two are not related at all. I'm one of the minority, in that I didn't like this one as well.

Three convicts on Devil's Island escape from the prison and decide to steal some supplies from a local shop before stowing away on a ship. Instead, they end up falling for the family who owns the shop, and helping them out.

It's a very cute movie, with the three being constantly pulled between their desire for escape and their growing affection for the family. And I did enjoy it, but it was really pretty simple and light, not really something I could sink my teeth into, I guess.

I suppose I fell into the same trap as those who disliked We're No Angels (1989). I had the one I'd first seen in my mind, and expected something similar, so I was less than enthusiastic when I got something completely different. Whoever had the idea to give the second one the same title, I want to whack them over the head with my cluebat. It does both movies a disservice.

Something else that had me nonplussed:
We're No Angels is based on the play My Three Angels, which I saw in a community theater nearly 20 years ago. I kept thinking I'd seen it--it was both familiar and not. Once Carl reminded me that we'd seen the play, the stage aspects were quite apparent--the movie was very nearly a filmed version of a play. A lot of the scenes were filmed from one angle on one set, and it was... tidy, the way plays are. One person talking at a time, for example.

And once I realized I'd seen the play, I also realized that I enjoyed the play more. The movie version didn't add anything for me. Sure, it was professional actors instead of amateurs, but I'm very fond of amateur theater. Making a movie from a play should be like making a movie from a book--there's no point unless you use the unique properties of film to add something to the adaptation.


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