Ep. 48: Pocket Full of Miracles

Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Comedy, Mystery/Suspense, Podcast | 7 comments

Alastair fills in for Lucy and there is general agreement that there’s a good movie in here someplace, and that Peter Falk is a national treasure (the Academy agreed: he got an Oscar nom for his performance here as JoyBoy). Get the podcast: [Listen here at PopD] | [Go to iTunes]

Story Analysis & Ratings:

Alastair says: 3 Pops ~ Gaping flaws in the craft of this movie aren’t enough to detract from the pleasure of watching the brilliant supporting cast.

Alastair’s rating breakdown: Craft: 2, Comedy: 4, Suspense: 3

Jenny says: 3 ¬†Pops ~ See it for Peter Falk and the rest of the great supporting cast, but a caper story with a weak hero isn’t much of a caper.

Jenny’s rating breakdown: Craft: 3, Comedy: 4, Suspense: 2

Blog Poll Rating: TBD

Read the chat transcript here!

Movie Info:

Story: A mobster trying to hold onto power and his girl friend gets distracted when the beggar who sells him lucky apples needs help to con her daughter and some visiting foreigners into believing she’s a wealthy woman. Release Date: December 25, 1961. Writers: Hal Kanter and Harry Tugend from a story by Damon Runyon.

7 Comments

  1. It was refreshing to have a movie with a feel-good ending again, but the pacing and lack of focus really brought down my vote in the Pop Poll. I was wiling to attribute some of the loose pacing to the times but the lack of focus in the story was just wrong. I was so confused in the beginning trying to figure out where the movie was going that if I hadn’t been watching for educational purposes I’d have turned it off.

    I get that Capra wanted to tell Apple Annie’s story, but I don’t think he really wanted to tell Dave the Dude’s story. Great director but this isn’t his skill set.

    It almost seems to me like it’s a classic case of ‘every character should feel like the main character of their own story’ yet no one told them they weren’t supposed to be ACTING this way on the screen. I think this is why we gravitate to Apple Annie – Davis is too strong an actor for this role. Falk pulls up the mobster story. The panhandlers create a vibrancy to the street life. They have the energy of the film. Dave the Dude has some good lines but, like Jenny and Alastair mentioned, he’s not lighting up the screen.

    One aspect of the story I’d have liked to see brought out was the comparison of the way Dave the Dude handles NY and the way Annie handles the people that work the streets. We have two people who are characters we care about and in this way they are both in the same role – they are the ‘mob’ and enforcement and caretakers. We see Dave the Dude’s caretaking side and we see him negotiating with Darcey but we really only see Annie doing her collections. It might’ve been nice to see some better parallels.

  2. This is actually one of my go-to Christmas movies, which I think says it all about why I’ve never thought of this as a heist/caper film. I’ve always loved it, still do, even though I can see all the problems you guys pointed out. I do feel a slight need to defend Glen Ford, not in this movie but in general. He’s great in The Sheepman, very obscure western/comedy from the late ’50s. Now in that one, his character is everything you want Dave the Dude to be – he’s smarter than everyone else and he’s always active.

    I went to check my copy of Guys and Dolls after listening to the podcast, and found the original story. It’s “Madame La Gimp,” for those who are interested in finding it. Runyon never had the Darcy character in there; Dave the Dude’s goal was to help Madame La Gimp con the Spanish count. Honestly, I think if they’d just stuck with that Dave wouldn’t have been such a problem as a protagonist here. Oh, and in case we ever do a remakes/originals thing here, or just if anyone is curious, the story was filmed before in 1933 (by Capra) as Lady for a Day. I haven’t seen that yet, but I think I have a TCM recording lying around somewhere, so I may need to look at it and see if he got it right the first time. Here’s the IMDb link for it:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024240/

  3. Huh. Odd coincidence: Turner Classic Movies is showing Lady for a Day early this coming Sunday, for those who get TCM and want to see it.

  4. Oooh. Thank you.

  5. That’s really interesting about no Darcey. Runyon knew how to tell a story.

  6. I got Lady for a Day out from the library after we watched PoM – interestingly – it was considered Capra’s first major success (according to the back of the movie). It still seemed pretty slow to me (and I love old movies, so that usually doesn’t bother me, so slower than usual) so I ended up working on something while I was watching to help me stay awake.

    Annie was still a reactive heroine and Dave didn’t seem especially happy to be helping her. I did think it was interesting that it still felt very similar to PoM and even some scenes were dead-on – like where Annie’s daughter and the Count’s son are outside with the waterfall. That must have symbolized something – but I’m not sure what. And the hotel-I-want-my-letter thing was also played very similar.

    I love watching different versions of the same thing but I’m afraid this is not a PopD worthy comparison. If I had payed better attention to the movie instead of dividing my attention between that and the Ukrainian Egg I was making I might have more useful information to add. Or it could also be said that if the movie had been more engaging I wouldn’t have been forced to seek additional entertainment to stay awake…. either way same result….

  7. I swear it took me 3 weeks to watch this movie. I got it from Netflix a few weeks ago ahead of schedule (note I am posting on this like what, 2 weeks later?), kept zoning out and rewinding it back on attempted watches, and it felt like it took 50 years to finish. Not loving it. I kind of like the idea of a “redeeming Dave the Dude” storyline, and most of the time (aside from the attempted rape scene, and GEEZ!) he’s actually quite charismatic and charming compared to well, everyone else. Or at least I was far less impressed by everyone else. But that near-rape scene wherehe’s ripping her clothes and yelling that he’s going to get what he waited 2 years for? WTF?

    On the other hand, Annie was creeping me out during her homeless look. Maybe it’s my TV that made it look like she had some kind of creeping crud on her face to boot (thank you, HD), but mostly I just found her annoying until she was clean and sober. It also takes soooooo long to get to the plot!

    That part about Damon Runyon finally makes it make sense as to why Queenie suddenly went all Miss Adelaide. She was fine as a brunette, but awful as a blonde somehow. Also, (a) she wasn’t sleeping with/dating Dave the Dude before this? (b) where’d this cafeteria fiance come from, and isn’t she already engaged to DtheD before she comes up with him? and (c) man, I don’t get this relationship.

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