Monday, September 12, 2011

Tijuana, We Have a Problem: "Boom in the Moon" (1946)

The great stone faced silent comedian Buster Keaton stars in the worst film of the 1940's.

He plays a sailor stranded at sea at the end of WWII. He washes up in Mexico, and turns himself in as a prisoner of war. He is mistaken for a mass murderer and sentenced to the electric chair. He and a prison buddy volunteer for a crazy professor's new invention- an atomic rocket to take them to the moon. The pair, and the professor's cute niece, get into the rocket, which flies only a few miles. They land in a field in their native Mexico, think it is the moon, and begin to try to contact the "moon men." They find their way back to the same prison they just left. If you are laughing at this description, don't, this is so bad...

Where to begin? The film came out in 1946, way past Keaton's prime. He looks old and tired here. He still manages to do some painful looking slapstick, not that the story deserved it. He just rips off stuff that was funny twenty five years earlier. The film is Mexican, with a Mexican cast dubbed into English. Keaton obviously does not speak Spanish, so he stares blankly into space during most of the other characters' dialogue. To see this great comedian look completely lost in this stupid film is absolutely criminal. He knows when to say a line when his prison buddy either points at him or slaps him on the arm.

Salvador's idea of direction is to nail the camera to the floor and let Keaton be "funny." Keaton has no idea what is going on in the story, but tries to make a scene hilarious by resorting to old tricks that do not work anymore. Even kids will be bored by the inane story that insults the collective intelligence of all who view it. The title, "Boom in the Moon," makes little sense as well.

The screenwriters make a giant plot gaffe toward the end of the film. Keaton and his buddy (sorry, none of the characters have names) are on the ship and find out they have been exonerated for the murders. They both hear the report on a radio. Later, back on Earth and in prison, they are set free and await their fate because of the murders they are falsely accused of. The police captain tells them they have been exonerated and can go...but they already knew this, they heard it on the ship! Out of nowhere, they haul in a Mexican woman as Keaton's wife and he locks himself back in the cell. Cute joke, but the wife is never mentioned before in the film. Where did she come from? This kind of sloppiness is typical throughout.

The special effects here make "Plan 9 from Outer Space" look like "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." The rest of the Mexican cast are awful, and dubbed equally badly. Count the number of times you hear the word "vamos," it really gets irritating.

The video company that released this must have won the rights to this in a fifty cent poker game. They should have saved the late Keaton some embarrassment and left it on the shelf. Also known as "A Modern Bluebeard," this is my pick for the worst, most inept film of the 1940's.

Hopefully, you will not have to see this to prove me right. (*) out of five stars.