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The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Woody Allen won't equal the success of last year's surprise hit Small Time Crooks in his stylishly clever, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.  But this somewhat charming period piece has Allen conjuring up memories of His Girl Friday with Cary Grant bickering with Rosalind Russell and even draws off Play it Again, Sam, Allen's C.W. is like a bumbling cousin to Humphrey Bogart whose screen persona is idolized in a romantic screwball comedy laced with mystery.

The director and writer imparts a plaintiveness into his new farce set in Manhattan in 1940 as Allen never strays from evoking his reverence for the Big Apple's jazz era.  And his most faithful collaborator in production designer Santo Loquasto lovingly makes outdoor shots recall Allen's more nostalgic Radio Days while interiors accentuate the burnished aspects of wallpaper, brass, and wood.

C.W. Brigs is described as a wormy dinosaur by Helen Hunt's Betty Ann Fitzgerald known as "Fitz" who appears as a fascist to C.W.  She is Northcoast Insurance's new efficiency expert, the modern career woman who sees C.W. ogling secretaries like Elizabeth Berkley's droll Jill.

But she has oomph in part because she's in a liaison with the married company head Chris Magruder done by Dan Aykroyd with a nod to Fred MacMurray in The Apartment.

Jade Scorpion then goes into its "Curse" mode when a co-worker (Wallace Shawn) is taken out to a nightclub for his birthday.  A gag by their colleagues has C.W. and Fitz on stage and hypnotized by David Ogden Stiers' Voltan who mesmerizes them into a marital romantic relationship with the words "Constantinople" and "Madagascar".

An unusual, clueless mystery develops with plenty of verbal jousting between the aging rather foolish C.W. and the woman who doesn't understand the meaning of chauvinism.

Before the engaging, but un-involving caper reaches its turnabout, C.W. has found sanctuary with his passionate insurance partner and has other private eyes around him hired to get to the bottom of the seedy situation that doesn't look good for C.W.

Charlize Theron makes a catchy entrance with her vamping Laura Kensington, exuding a Veronica Lake sensual aura with wavy smooth blonde locks.

The implied vanity with designs on those of his age and personality has a less picky Woody entranced making a date movie that has unexpected benefits from the subconscious which may prompt some relationships in need of a spark to be induced by the power of the Jade Scorpion.

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

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