Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Vault of Forgotten Movies: Champagne for Caesar

champagne for caesar

And the vault creaks open.....

Ah! Champagne for Caesar. This is one of those gems that has gone unfairly noticed for too long. Directed by Richard Whorf in 1950 and Oscar nominated for its screenplay, it's a satire on the early days of television, specifically Game Shows and their sponsors. Yes, in the first hey-day of game shows (before the scandals), most shows were produced by a sponsor who provided the cash prizes for the winners. Ronald Colman (in one of his last roles) plays Beauregard Bottomley, an unemployed scholar who lives with his sister. He attempts to get a job at the Milady Soap company, but is turned down by the boss Burnbridge Waters (Vincent Price). Discovering that the company produces a game show, Bottomley has the idea to go on the show and win enough money to put the company out of business. Whether or not he will succeed is the rest of the film.

Simply put, I was amazed when I first sat down to watch the film. I never had associated Vincent Price with comedy before, and I'm still sad his talent for it wasn't used more often. He is absolutely hilarious as the company head, going off into a daze at a moment's notice and throwing a hissy fit as Bottomley keeps racking up money. Colman is fantastic as the world weary scholar, tossing of bon mots as if it was second nature. Celeste Holm is a scream as a vamp who works for Waters and is used to try to distract Bottomley from his goal. Even Mel Blanc is in the film, providing the voice for, of all things, Bottomley's alcoholic parrot Caesar. The film didn't do too well upon it's initial release, Television was still relatively new, so a satire of it probably went over a lot of people's heads. It 2008 now, and this film should languish any longer. It's been released on DVD, so go out and rent it today!

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