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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: VHS Tape|Change
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on 4 July 2002
Was this film REALLY made 60 years ago?
When you look at the black and white production, the cheap sets and props and so on, then yes, you can really believe it.
But as you adjust your computer-generated image focus to zoom in on what real film making is (or should I say, was) all about, then you start to understand what whimsicality is all about and find yourself wondering "why can't they make films like this today?"
The story is basically a story within a story - how two bumbling heroes try to set out to demolish a theatrical performance as they believe that success will ruin its producer, whereas everyone else understands that success is vital to the producer's future love plans with the heroine of the piece.
The situations that inevitably arise are, to an audience from the year 2002, frightfully corny and you're sure you've seen them all before. And indeed you have - in films from the 1960s and 1970s when they were paraded as avant-garde and new! So now you know where all avant-garde, alternative comedy actually came from. And this is what makes this film so interesting.
This is the precursor of "Monty Python". This was the precursor of "Not the Nine O'Clock News". You find yourself wondering "how many times did Marty Feldman or Mel Brooks watch this film before starting to produce their own?"
But it's not just an interesting historical curio. It's actually quite funny - in fact it's hilarious. And it captures your attention without being violent, or without being vulgar - something no film maker can manage today (unfortunately). And the special effects, stunts, and so on, all done with the camera and the usual split-second timing but with an added sophistication that made a brief appearance at the end of the 30s and went missing again (sadly) once film producers discovered computers.
No, this counts as one of the most amazing films that has ever been made - and there has never ever been another like it.
Are you a comedy fan? A collector of film curios? Or merely someone interested in seeing a Monty Python film from 60 years ago? Well, buy this one. You won't be disappointed.
Not at all
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on 4 June 2017
So glad to see this & be able to get a copy! It was & is an all time family favourite, watched over & over when flu etc struck at home to make everyone feel better - immediately!!
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on 22 October 2013
Not even all the tampering with the script of the stage play of the same name, the stars and bit players, along with the musical tallent brings this film up to a standart you can appreciate. Although not the stage show it was based on, it hits the spirit!!
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on 19 March 2017
Hilarious, it's black and white, it very funny and innovative for the time it was made!
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on 28 June 2017
so funny go get it :)
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on 9 February 2004
Hard to find, but completely worth it, Hellzapoppin is an astonishing film. It started as a hit stage show for comics Olson and Johnson, and when it was filmed, mutated into (and I quote the movie) "a picture about a picture about Hellzapoppin". In-jokes, running gags ("Oscar!"), characters stepping out of frame, trick photography, surrealism, this is the missing link between Bugs Bunny and Naked Gun, Monty Python and Spike Milligan, and any comedy about form ever produced since. The movie is slightly hampered by a lot of show tunes (that said, you have to see the Lindyhopping sequence), but the insanity of Hellzapoppin remains. I would pay millions to to have seen this show on stage; and someone should make this film a lot more available. Oh, and special thanks to the DVD vendor for the koala-shaped chocolate that came free with my copy...
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on 24 December 2006
"An amusing musical"? That's an awful tame way to describe one of the wierdest, most imaginative, funniest films ever made. It's a film of a play within a film. The projectionist is assaulted by the usherette. The stars talk to the audience. The projector goes wrong - and the stars notice. Stinky Miller goes home. It has one of the greatest pieces of Lindyhopping ever filmed. This film does things nobody else did for thirty or forty years, and has stuff which would be wackily avant-garde today. And it's hilarious.
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on 16 September 2004
I grew up watching this film, on a video taken from late night TV. I grew up quoting it, and have always thought of it as a classic 1940's madcap film. Having since studied film and wathced many, I am surprised how little attention this fantastic, funny pastiche receives.
Hellzapoppin was originally a Broadway hit, and the film tells the story of a Hollywood studio attempting to make the film version. From here we go from film within a film to stage musical within a film within a film. With all the classic tropes of a 1940's musical - great songs, a love story, a balcony scene and even a swimming pool routine - this film fits neatly into a genre. However, Olson and Johnson have bundled up that paradigm and deliver it back to us with a very good helping of surrealist humour and genre play.
This film has been making me laugh since I was 8, and I would encourage anybody to watch and enjoy!
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on 4 April 2009
I remembered this as hysterically funny and it still is. My teenage sons, who usually won't tolerate "mum's old b & w rubbish" sat entranced all the way from the very first gag; "That's the first time a taxi driver ever went straight were I told him," to the chaotic finale.
While including some typical examples of 40s musical numbers (including a water ballet!) it also prefigures much of the anarchic/slapstick humour we now attribute to Monty Python et al.
Recommended for a really good laugh.
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on 24 November 2007
Forget everything you know about comedy - this re-wrote the book long ago! It's a release I've been waiting for since seeing a late night screening back in the 1970s, and somewhere in my collection of worn-out video tape is the only other copy I've found.
The jokes are fast, some visual, some scripted, and although some of the special effects are a little stop-start-with-joins, remember that this is some 65 years old.
It's always been chased by the Lindyhop fans, and rightly so, but a lot of the other songs and music in here are still good today. The format (film about a film about a show about a show) also spoofs the-then sainted Garland/Rooney "How ever will we save xxxxxxxxxx?" "I know! We'll put on a show!" mush of the time.
See it for the fun it is. See it for the experience. See it for Mrs. Jones and the Guinea Pigs (wherever they are....)
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