The Perils of Pauline (1967)

Article 2610 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-28-2008
Posting Date: 10-5-2008
Directed by Herbert B. Leonard and Joshua Shelley
Featuring Pat Boone, Terry-Thomas, Pamela Austin
Country: USA

When two orphans who are in love are separated, the male promises to come back for the female after he’s made his fortune. He returns as the richest man in the world, only to find that his beloved has been sent to Africa where a ten-year old Prince plans to use her to start his harem. He then sets out to look for her, but her troubles are just starting…

All it takes is one look at the year of this movie and you’ll have a good idea of what approach it’s going to take. So it should be no surprise that this movie is a wild slapstick parody of the serial form, though, in truth, it owes a lot more to antiquated melodrama, silent slapstick comedy (at least as invisioned during a time when most silent comedy was still being run at the wrong projection speed), and cartoons. It’s extremely silly, and rather stupid, but I think it’s a monumental tribute to the movie that it never really becomes painful in the way movies like THE FAT SPY or THE NASTY RABBIT did. For one thing, the parade of familiar faces helps a little; on top of Pat Boone, we have Terry-Thomas (as one of the villains), eighty-one year old Edward Everett Horton (as the ninety-nine year old second richest man in the world), Leon (General Burkhalter) Askin, and, in uncredited cameos, Billy Barty and Angelo Rossitto (as white pygmies), William Christopher (as a doctor) and Bruno VeSota (as a Russian). June Foray’s voice also pops up as the voice of the Prince. The movie also benefits from a lightness of touch, a wealth of bizarre situations (Pauline not only has to deal with the ten-year old prince, but also pygmies, a plot to get her to marry a one-year-old, cryogenic freezing, a cynical foreign film-maker, raging hippos, a wolfish cosmonaut, an attempt to get over the Berlin wall, a gorilla, and Terry-Thomas), and the fact that the occasional line strikes home. My favorite lines include one in which Terry-Thomas proclaims the type of love he has for Pauline, the explanation of how Pat Boone’s male secretary was able to find the whereabouts of Pauline after she falls in the sewer, and a line about “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”. Believe me, this movie could have been a lot worse. The thing I would most like to know is something IMDB doesn’t tell me; namely, who’s in the gorilla suit?



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