I would like to reminder everyone that the winners of the 2nd Annual Gold Sally Awards have been announced! You can discover who won at this link:
Before I signed up for The Great Ziegfeld Blogathon, I had no idea who Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld Jr. was. But during my two years of blogging, I’ve learned that the most important aspect of blogathon participation is having something interesting to say. For me, my contribution is talking about the 1953 film, The Clown. This was the first film I saw when I looked through Zoe’s list of film recommendations. What caused me to choose this movie was discovering Red Skelton was the lead actor. I am familiar with who Red is as an entertainer. However, this is the first film of his I’ve ever seen. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally watch one of Red’s comedic performances!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Over the years, I’ve noticed how comedic actors have had a successful experience transitioning to dramatic acting. This is certainly the case for Red Skelton. Even though this is the first movie of Red Skelton’s I’ve seen, I know he is known for his comedic work. But I think Red did a good job with the dramatic material he was given! His portrayal of Dodo was so effective, there were times where I felt like I could empathize with him. One example was when Dodo was upset by the idea of his son leaving his custody. Speaking of Dodo’s son, I really liked Tim Considine’s portrayal of Dink, as he did such a good job for an actor so young! Because of the quality of Tim’s performance, the audience was able to see how Dodo’s choices affected Dink without completely breaking his spirit. In the scene where Dodo promises another fishing trip, you can see that Dink is disappointed. However, he never stopped loving his father and wanting the best for him. Despite having a limited on-screen presence, Jane Greer’s performance was memorable! She effectively portrayed the mannerisms and behaviors you’d expect from a mother. A great example is whenever Jane’s character, Paula, tried to give Dink a hug. Even though she barely knew Dink, she still put his best interests before her own.
The messages and themes: An overarching theme in The Clown is how everyone is prone to experience troubles in their life. While some people’s issues are greater than others, an individual’s personal situation has the ability to affect the people around them. In this movie, Dodo struggles with alcoholism and a gambling addiction. These struggles not only affect Dodo’s ability to hold a job, but it also affects Dink’s life. No matter how hard he tried to turn his life around and despite all the chances he was given, Dodo had difficulty escaping his demons. Dodo’s story shows viewers how we still have to deal with the darkness in our lives, even when we finally find a light. His story also shows viewers how important it is to put family first. In one scene, Dink visits the office of Dodo’s agent, Goldie. Dink makes this choice because he cares about his father’s well-being and wants to see him succeed.
The ballet lesson: In a flashback, Dodo is shown attending a ballet lesson because he lost a bet. Out of all the comedic scenes, I found this one to be the funniest! It wonderfully showcases Red’s comedic talents, which fall in line with the slap-stick style. What’s also great about this scene is how the dancers at the studio contributed to the comedy. During the lesson, various dancers pass along a sticky candy wrapper in an attempt to get rid of it. As someone who appreciates dance, I liked how Red’s comedy was paired with something that I’m interested in.
What I didn’t like about the film:
An emphasis on drama: Prior to watching this film, I knew it would contain some dramatic elements. However, because this film is called The Clown and because Red Skelton is the film’s lead, I expected the picture to have more comedy than it did. The movie put more emphasis on drama, with some comedic elements added to the script. This means that moments with comedy were used sparingly. While this creative choice prevented the story from becoming too light-hearted, it did a disservice to Red’s comedic talents. He wasn’t given as much creative freedom to do the kind of performances he is known for.
The “tell, don’t show” approach: Throughout the movie, various characters praised Dodo for being a Ziegfeld performer. Goldie, Dodo’s agent, recalls what caused Dodo’s down-fall. A local store-owner treats Dodo’s watch, that he received from Ziegfeld, better than any military medal. But we, the audience, never get to see Dodo during his hey-day. No flashbacks are dedicated to this time period and we never truly get to witness the start of Dodo’s downward spiral. Everything that was said about Dodo’s time in Ziegfeld’s performing company feels like hear-say.
A misleading title: As I’ve said before, this film is called The Clown. The film’s poster also features Red Skelton wearing clown makeup. While Red’s character, Dodo, performs comedy sketches, he doesn’t really adopt a clown persona or dress up as a clown. Yes, Dodo portrayed a clownish character in the movie’s first scene. But that was the only scene where this was the case. It causes the title to seem kind of misleading.
My overall impression:
During this film, Dodo says that fame can go up and down faster than an elevator. There is truth to what he said, especially in an age where social media exists. Movie reviewing can also go up or down. Sometimes, you find a winner. Other times, the film just misses the mark. When it comes to The Clown, I thought it was fine. There were elements within the film that I liked. However, the overall project was more dramatic and sadder than I expected it to be. Because of Red Skelton’s involvement, I thought there would be more comedy in the story. I feel the limited use of comedy held Red back from pulling off the types of performances that made him well-known in the first place. He did a good job with the film’s dramatic material, but Red is not a dramatic actor. If you are a fan of Red Skelton’s comedy, don’t go into this movie expecting Red’s comedic work to be heavily emphasized.
Overall score: 7.4 out of 10
Have you seen any of Red Skelton’s acting work? If so, which piece is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!