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Up in the Air

USA 1940
produced by
Lindsley Parsons for Monogram
directed by Howard Bretherton
starring Frankie Darro, Mantan Moreland, Marjorie Reynolds, Lorna Gray, Gordon Jones, Tristram Coffin, Clyde Dilson, Dick Elliott, John Holland, Carleton Young, Alex Callam, Maxine Leslie, Ralph Peters, Jack Mather, Dennis Moore, Phil Kramer
written by Edmond Kelso, music by Edward J.Kay, song Doin' the Conga by Johnny Lange, Lew Porter

Frankie & Mantan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Frankie Darro & Mantan Moreland want to make it big in the radio-business  - but for now they are only working ground-floor af a big radio-company, Frankie as page, Mantan as janitor. But then a bitchy radio diva (Lorna Gray)  gets murdered during a rehearsal, & pretty much everybody who was in the movie up to that point is under suspicion, including Frankie & Mantan of course. So Frankie tries to solve the crime & at the same time court Marjorie Reynolds & sell his comedy-act with Mantan. A second murder happens of sourse not lang after, cowboy troubadour (Gordon Jones), but that gives Frankie the final clues he needed, it was all a story of love & jealousy that started at another radio-station in another state ... & in the end, Frankie has successfully sold Marjorie Reynolds singing talents to the company.

 

Many of Monogram's B's, especially their horror output, had insanely messed up scripts (sometimes working for the movies though instead of against them), but not this one, a very slick murder-mystery, one of the eight Frankie-&-Mantan-crime-comedies that were produced in the late 30's/early 40's, all very carefully shot. 

Frankie Darro, although only 23 years of age when this was released, had already a 16-year-long career behind him, mostly at smaller studios like Mascot (where he co-starred with Harry Carey in Devil Horse, dog actor Rin Tin Tin in Lightning Warrior, & with Gene Autry in that classic sci-fi-Western The Phantom Empire, among others). The Frankie-&-Mantan-series, among the actor's first adult roles, was rudely interrupted when he was drafted for duty in World War II. 

Mantan Moreland, on the other hand, was the premier black comedian of his time, & while his comedy would not be considered politically correct by today's standards, he had the undeniable talent to be funny & had the ability to carry an otherwise unremarkable movie all on his own (e.g. King of the Zombies). He was equally popular with black as with white crowds, thus playing in all-black movies as well as white movies. When the Frankie-&-Mantan-series was prematurely cancelled, Monogram found good use for Mantan in another series, Charlie Chan, with which Mantan stayed for 15 entries, playing the oriental sleuth's frightful chauffeur Birmingham Brown.

The team of Frankie & Mantan did actually work pretty well, some of their comedy skits were actually pretty funny (yet again, not politically correct by today's standards), the best in this one is when they do a sketch with Frankie in black-face, trying to fake black dialect answering to Mantan's straightspeaking man.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD