Stanley Donen’s Movie Movie is a clumsy attempt to spoof the kind of film fare encountered in pic houses of the 1930s and 1940s. The idea was patronizing in its conception, is a flatout embarrassment in its execution, and weak vehicle for George C. Scott and other principal talents involved.
The overlong, 105-minute feature is split into three parts: a black-and-white sendup of those boxing sagas where the slum youth fueled by earnest ambition gets catapulted to fame and riches (Dynamite Hands); a satire of a coming attractions trailer featuring a saga of World War I pilots; and finally, a shot-in-color takeoff of the making of a Flo Ziegfeld-type Broadway musical (Baxter’s Beauties of 1933).
But instead of gently twitting the conventions of old Hollywood pot-boilers, Movie Movie tries to milk the cliches by observing and scorning them simultaneously. The conception is a mess, and it shows.
Things are so muddied that Donen tacked on, after the pic was shot, a prolog by George Burns telling the audience that yes, Movie Movie is intended as fun. Too bad Burns didn’t stick around for the rest of the film.