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Friday, December 31, 2010

THE CROWDED SKY (1960)


Deliciously ripe. Gratifyingly awful. Deliriously inane. It’s one of the great bad films. An airplane disaster pic that draws no distinction between AIRPORT/’‘70 and AIRPLANE/’80, because it may have spawned them both.* Fourteen years before Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. & Dana Andrews busted up the sky in another unintentionally hilarious film (AIRPORT 1975/’74), they had a similar smash-up here. (Note the swapped roles.) But before this pulse-pounding climax comes a treasure-chest of God-awful acting from a ‘B’-list/all-star cast that includes Rhonda Fleming, Keenan Wynn, Patsy Kelly, Troy Donahue and other luminaries. And they only become more ham-fisted hilarious after the catastrophe. As the young lovebirds, John Kerr & Anne Francis threaten to hold on to a few shreds of thespian dignity, but then megger Joseph Pevney zooms in for a flashback of slutty Rhonda Fleming saying "I just love banana splits. Is it all the mixed up flavors . . . or is it something Freudian?’ Even this is topped by low-down comedian Patsy Kelly playing an agent with a dimwit Method actor client who's thrilled to have a near-death experience he can use in his next role.

*A previous Dana Andrews film, ZERO HOUR/’57, is usually credited as the source for AIRPLANE! But is it bad enough?

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