THE GREAT RUPERT - A CHRISTMAS WISH (1950)

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The Great Rupert Hark the herald angels sing. Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled. If not reconciled then please be thrifty. For thy following 87-minute film was made in 1950. It was Directed by: Irving Pichel; and Starred: Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, Tom Drake, with Frank Orth.


A Christmas Wish (aka The Great Rupert)


THE STORY:
Now I know this may sound somewhat hard to believe, gentlemen. But ever since me and my family have moved into this dusky old shack, every Thursday -- between three and three-thirty -- my wife (Queenie Smith) has sat down in that chair over there, and prayed to God for some money.

And do you know what? Every Thursday -- between three and three-thirty -- my wife got money, God damn it. Over one and a half thousands dollars worth of money! Sent down from the heavens above!

What? You think I'm pulling your leg? Well, when's she not dating Pete (Tom Drake) -- the landlords son -- why don't you ask my daughter Rosalinda (Terry Moore) if I'm telling the truth or not? Or better yet, when he's not counting his cash, why not ask my landlord Frank (Frank Orth) as well?

Hmm? No answer, gentlemen? Jesus! And I thought you guys from the IRS were meant to be ruthless. Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all gets a little nutty when I say to myself, 'Come on Louie Amendola (Jimmy Durante). Lets go and have a dance'. As a money-making scheme eventually stop's - a one-sided love-triangle hits the block's - a landlord's check strangely goes astray - and at the end of the day, whilst a house goes up in smoke, Rupert the squirrel comes out to play.



THE REVIEW:
On the whole I'd say 'The Great Rupert' is a film about a family of penniless entertainers called the Amendola's -- i.e. The Durante family -- who have the good fortune to be given the gift of cash from a secret benefactor. However, little do they know the benefactor in question is actually a squirrel who steals this money from their landlord, Mister Dingle.  Plus to make matters even worse, the Amendola's daughter falls in love with the Dingles' son, whilst the world around them starts to become unsure of where they got their money from!

The Great Rupert
Yeah. That's correct, folks. This is one of those farcical films. One of those timely yet well polished farcical films that's chock full of bold characterizations, as well as a pretext which I did like and didn't like at the very same time.

You see, my only problem with this story is that its narrative structure was kind of all over the place. One part of the plot centred on the squirrel accidentally giving the Amendola family Mister Dingle's money. Another part of the plot centred on a strange love-triangle between Rosalinda and her two gentlemen callers. Where as another part of the plot centred on Pete trying to prove his worth to the Rosalinda character.

Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to imply that this flick was difficult to follow. If anything it was fairly easy for me to follow, despite taking quite a bit of time to figure out what the 'main tale' was meant to be about. And the reason why I say this, my friends, is mainly due to these three plot points taking centre stage throughout the entirety of its telling. Not always favoring one section over the other, thus making its core tale -- whatever that may have been -- stand out from the crowd.

Again. I do mean this with all due respect as I did enjoy watching this comedy. For a start I got a right kick out of Jimmy's down to earth personality whenever he was on screen, cause he has that way about him which is both charming and jovial to behold!  I also have to mention how the characters played by Terry Moore and Queenie Smith aided the plot in both tone and substance. In Terry's case she lent her character a much needed air of mystery and style. Whereas in Queenie's case she had that believability factor whenever she needed to convey emotion. Plus, to top it all off, this cast was then additionally enhanced with a sneaky stop-motion squirrel that acted as a savoir of sorts. A savoir, I might add, who was barely seen yet always visible due to his dubious actions.


The Great Rupert - A Christmas Wish - Starring Jimmy Durante


The Great Rupert Starring Terry Moore
No. I won't say anymore than that, dear reader. Because if you tell you exactly what I mean by this I might spoil the surprise ending. So I tell you what. Just to divert our attention slightly, how about we now check out the following filmic-facts? (1) 'George Pal Productions' first released this comedy in America on the exact same month Cecil B. DeMille released his biblical drama, 'Samson and Delilah'. It was on the 8th of January, 1950. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Tide of Fortune' in Portugal; 'The Magical Squirrel' in Germany; and on occasion it has used the alternate title, 'A Christmas Wish'. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at Hollywood's 'General Service Studios', located within the Californian state of Las Palmas, Los Angeles. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Christmas miracles do happen'. (5) The stop-motion dancing squirrel seen in this flick was so realistically portrayed, that its director, George Pal, once said that he received many inquiries as to where he got it from. (6) Ms Terry Moore, who played the part of Rosalinda in this picture, claimed her career was so hectic during this period; she didn't actually go and see it until Jimmy Durante's widow, Marjorie, showed it to her 35 years later. (7) For some unknown reason it took two years for this film to be released. It was made in 1948, and was distributed in 1950. (8) After this adventure dropped a Yuletide log, Jimmy Durante starred in the comedy, 'The Milkman'; Terry Moore starred in the farce, 'He's a Cockeyed Wonder'; and Tom Drake starred in the TV series, 'The Clock'.


The Great Rupert Starring Jimmy Durante, Terry Moore, and Queenie Smith


Overall I'd say 'The Great Rupert' was a really great film. It was well acted. Well produced. And even though on occasion the general story-line had a mind of its own, as push comes to shove this movie does convey a very pertinent Yuletide message that isn't as nutty as you may have thought. 

Nuff said.

THE RATING: B