Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Get To Know Your Rabbit (1972)

Get To Know Your Rabbit (1972)

The Metrograph in NYC is showing a Brian De Palma series, showcasing 28 out of his 29 full length films. Brian De Palma is one of my favorite directors, having directed 4 films I would rate a 9 out of 10, which include Carrie, Phantom Of The Paradise, Dressed To Kill and Body Double. He has many other very good films, including Sisters, Scarface and Hi Mom. He also has about 14 movies I have not seen yet, so this is my chance to see as many of them as I can make time for, so expect to see me reviewing all the ones I have missed or skipped due to disinterest. Nothing I like more than rounding out the catalogue of films I have yet to see of a particular director, especially one held in such high esteem.

Tonight I got to catch a 35mm print of one of the lesser known Brian De Palma films, a little film called Get To Know Your Rabbit.  I knew virtually nothing about this film going into it.  I knew it was his first studio film, and that he did not enjoy it at all.   That's about all I knew.  I have since found out that he was fired from the film and the studio recut the film, so who knows what the original looked like.  

This is a strange one indeed.  Starring Tommy Smothers of The Smothers Brothers, and John Astin of The Addams Family TV show, with supporting roles by Orson Welles and Katherine Ross, this is  lighthearted comedy which is supposed to be a satire of unhappy businessmen dropping out of society to follow their hearts.  Tom Smothers plays the businessman, who is successful, but doing all the work of his boss, John Astin.  Tom has a live in girlfriend, a nice expensive apartment, and wears suits every day.  He gives all this up to follow his dream of being a tap dancing magician.  His girlfriend threatens to leave him, and his boss keeps coming by begging him to come back to work, but to no avail.  Eventually the girlfriend leaves, and he moves into a seedy hotel and gets some comfortable almost hobo clothing and keeps up with his tap dancing magician lessons, taught by none other than Orson Welles.  Eventually things start to get a bit weird, as he decides to help John Astin, who has fallen on hard times, by hiring him as his manager.  John Astin gets right back to business, and turns the unhappy business man dropping out and becoming a tap dancing magician a huge corporation.  There is more, but the focus of this movie is not exactly the plot as much as the execution of it.

Although it is an odd film, especially in the filmography of Brian De Palma, it isn't as bad as I had read about.  It is sort of charming, sort of sweet, and very very tame.  Tom Smothers plays the movie like a subdued Steve Martin (of course Tom was famous first) and John Astin plays a different kind of crazed character in this movie.  Orson Welles is, well, Orson Welles.  Although it is not exactly a laugh riot or fast movie, it is a pleasant movie to sit through.  I am guessing that De Palma tried to make it a bit darker or more counter culture, but Warner Brothers wasn't having it.  

This film comes across more as an oddity than a film that needs to be seen, but for those of you that like to see the more obscure movies, this would be one that is worth checking out.  Near the end of the film we get an appearance by Bob Einstein, the many who played Super Dave Osbourne, a character he created and used in many a TV show on and off for 37 years.  

7 out of 10 stars.