Mr. Arkadin wrote:Mickey Rooney might be unloved at the TCM forum, but I've really enjoyed his turn as star of the month.
This week we're getting three of his best works with Drive a Crooked Road (1954), a crime flick that seems to have had some influence on the 1964 remake of The Killers, the hilarious detective comedy Pulp (1972), where he plays a washed up movie star (with a final performance by Liz Scott and score by George Martin), and possibly his best dramatic role as a boxing cut-man in Ralph Nelson’s Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962).
Are these films noir? I guess that depends upon what you see in them, but I highly recommend all three.
I don't know if they are really film noir, but one oddball Mickey Rooney movie I enjoyed earlier this month and that is being re-broadcast on Thursday at 8pm ET is The Strip
(1951). Mickey is a jazz drummer, (and proves he really could play superbly). His character is just out of the VA hospital (for some vague reasons) who runs into (literally) gangster (and former MGM colleague) James Craig and his moll. Rooney becomes an enforcer for Craig, a job he describes as being "in insurance," but the drummer finds it hard to move on to a more creatively stimulating position after proving himself adept at leg-breaking and twisting arms. There are oodles of street scenes shot in LA with glimpses of the Sunset Strip, clubs like Ciro's and in a remarkable coincidence, all the girls are shorter than Mickey, the star. Go figure, huh?
There is alot of great music from Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden (which is good) and less wonderful but strangely interesting numbers from Vic Damone and others.
Two unlikely actors ought to get the blue ribbon for acting in this one: Tommy Rettig and William Demarest. Demarest actually gets to play a character instead of an attitude in this movie. In a nice, generous gesture from Mick (who is frankly a bit of a camera hog usually), the little dynamo lets Demarest go in each of their scenes together.
Rettig is an excellent manic brat who is probably a neglected tyke since his Mom is running after a Hollywood dream while he turns into The Bad Seed. Tommy inspires a key scene later in the film as well.
I find Mickey Rooney a fascinating performer despite all the weird movies he was in. Every time I think that Rooney is just a creature of Hollywood and a real ham, I come across the man confounding me and my assumptions about him with a remarkable bit of acting--even in a small part such as his role as bombastic, crazy "Gus" in Night at the Museum
(2006) in recent years.
I am curious to see what The Last Mile
(1959) which is on TCM on Thursday at 9am ET is going to be like. This was the John Wexley play that helped to launch both Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable's movie careers when they were each spotted in different productions of the show on different coasts in the same role that Mick plays in this movie--"Killer" Mears! Those are pretty big boots for Mickey to fill, thirty years after those actors were in them.
I'd love to read what others thought of The Comedian
(1957), a television drama from Ernest Lehman and Rod Serling that is harrowingly good and was supposedly based on Sid Caesar. Rooney is relentless, and a monster but fascinating.
Btw, did anyone see how fantastic he was in Young Tom Edison
, especially in his scenes with Virginia Weidler as his little sister? No, I know it is not a noir either, but what a remarkable performance he and Weidler gave!