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Paramount Home Video presents
We're No Angels (1955)

"We ought to do something. But I've forgotten what."
- Jules (Peter Ustinov)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: September 28, 2005

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov
Other Stars: Joan Bennett, Basil Rathbone, Leo G. Carroll
Director: Michael Curtiz

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:45m:49s
Release Date: September 27, 2005
UPC: 097360541441
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

This isn't the first movie that comes to mind when you think of this particular actor/director tandem, and there's a reason for that: lightning didn't strike twice. Michael Curtiz re-teams with Humphrey Bogart, his leading man in Casablanca; neither of them were known particularly for their work in comedy, and if you watch this movie, you can see why. Also, Aldo Ray and Peter Ustinov put together do not equal Ingrid Bergman.

The film is based on a play, and retains a lot of the stagy feel; occasionally you can almost feel the actors waiting for the laughs from the other side of the proscenium. Anyway, we're on Devil's Island, 1895, and the three names above the title play escaped convicts, on the lam; they glom on to a local shopkeeper, at first looking to empty his cash register and leave with a few haberdashery items, but soon become enmeshed in the drama unfolding before them. Bogart plays Joseph, the ringleader; Ray is Albert, the mandatory big lug; Ustinov gets the lion's share of the punchlines as Jules, allowing him to show off his trademark deadpan delivery. Leo G. Carroll plays Felix, the shopkeeper who unwisely allows this merry trio to fix his leaking roof; but he's got more pressing domestic concerns. His wife, Amelie (Joan Bennett), is despondent that their daughter Isabelle is all of 18 and unmarried; why, a few more months will go by, and she'll be an old maid. That's because her heart is with Paul, with whom she had a romance back in Paris; conveniently enough, Paul has become a sailor, and lo and behold, his ship has just pulled into port.

To get the mechanics of the plot working, we spend a disproportionate amount of time setting things up for the young lovers; John Baer and Gloria Talbott are adequate in the roles, but you may start to get a little antsy, especially if you thought you'd be watching a Humphrey Bogart picture. It's necessary to keep the cons around for plot purposes, especially when Basil Rathbone shows up as snooty cousin Andre; but one of the things you can't help but notice is that the escapees don't seem particularly motivated to get out of town, nor do the authorities seem to care much that these allegedly dangerous characters are on the loose.

The well-made-play aspect of things structure the events around the upcoming year-end holidays, so our boys become the impromptu Three Wise Men, and are invited to Christmas dinner. Bogart is game, especially when he takes the reins as salesman on the shop floor, moving merchandise that had been gathering dust for years; but don't wait around for the punch lines, and most of the movie doesn't even rise to the level of droll.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The print looks faded and flat; the transfer, adequate at best.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: A good amount of static, pointed up by the fact that there's a minimal amount of musical scoring, so the audio imperfections get almost no masking.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Only English-language subtitles and chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A pretty rickety bit of work, sure to disappoint if you're looking forward to the Curtiz/Bogart tandem moving from Morocco to Devil's Island.


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