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Up In the Air (1940)
Topic Started: Oct 1 2005, 07:55 PM (466 Views)
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Whether or not this belongs in the comedy or mystery section probably depends on how funny you find Mantan Moreland. I find him funny, so this is where we are. UP IN THE AIR is my introduction into the series of Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland films and it was okay. The mystery aspect, involving the murder of a difficult radio star is only fair, but Mantan gets some good laughs, and the songs are average.

I was impressed at how Darro and Moreland were portrayed as buddies and equals in the film. Not something you see often.

I bought this from Alpha and found the print to be acceptable. Sometimes it's a little washed out, and the sound is occasionally muffled, but it's worth the $5.

I'd like to hear if any other entries in the series are worth watching.
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Up in the Air (1940) Dir. Howard Bretherton
A Monogram Picture
62 min. / B&W / 1.37:1

Nasty-to-everybody radio singer Lorna Gray is murdered during rehearsal; bellboy Frankie Darro has a replacement lined up for her, receptionist singer-wannabe Marjorie Reynolds, but when Marjie becomes a suspect, Frankie and his buddy, janitor Mantan Moreland, try to solve the crime. Suspects include cowboy singer Gordon "Tex" Jones, director Tristam "Rocketman" Coffin, scriptwriter Dennis "What am I doing in this picture?" Moore, and Mayor Pike of Mayberry.

These Darro-Morland Monograms are a lot of fun, and this is no exception. There are a few nondescript songs (including a conga number that everybody takes a turn singing) and Mantan's soft-shoe is a delight. Frankie puts on blackface and joins Mantan in the "finish each other's sentence" routine from Mantan's vaudeville days (and several Charlie Chan pictures), and Gordon Jones singing "Bury me Not on the Lone Prairie" shows why the Green Hornet/Cop from Abbott & Costello never pursued singing as a career.

Million-dollar Dialog:

Radio joke writer: "If those gags were good enough for my grandfather, they're good enough for me!"

Mantan, after the director discovers that it's Frankie in blackface by wiping off his makeup: "Don't touch me! I don't rub off!"

A fun li'l Monogram; the print (from Mill Creek's 50 Classic Musicals boxed set) is good.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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