Movie Resolution: Week 6

February 5: The Corn is Green

The Grande Dame Guignol genre (a.k.a: Hag Horror) aside, this is my second favorite Bette Davis picture, right after Jezebel–I adore that picture!–I really don’t know why I enjoyed this one so much, it certainly wasn’t suspenseful or exciting, but it had some kind of unexpected charm. The story is about a highly-educated woman who moves to a house in rural Wales when it was left to her by one of her relations. It is a mining community and as soon as the young boys are able to, they are sent down to the mines. The young girls have no prospects whatever in life, and so they wait for somebody to marry them and start a family. Miss Moffat was having none of this and decided to start a school, much to the consternation of the community. They didn’t want any of her fancy London education spoiling their children with reading and numbers and stuff. She keeps it up, though, and discovers a remarkable brain in one of the young men. She goes out of her way to get him a scholarship to Oxford. All of his future happiness, though, is put into jeopardy when it is revealed that he got the bitchy maid pregnant. What a fool he was! Miss Moffat sacrifices even more and agrees to adopt the child so that Morgan (the smart guy) can become a great man of his nation like she thinks he can be. I don’t think I’ve done this picture justice in my writeup, but I do hope you will see it. It’s a remarkably touching film, especially near the end when the elder folks are learning to read. I love the smile on the old woman’s face and the gleam in her eye as she looks at the words and understands them. It was enough to bring a glimmer of tears to my eyes. If only the students I work with every day could understand how lucky they are to live in a time where we give them every opportunity to better themselves, maybe we could have a better world. It’s a thought, anyway. [My Rating: 8/10]

February 6: It Should Happen to You

This film really resonated with me. Gladys Glover, played by one of my newly discovered favorites, Judy Holliday, is a failed model who wants nothing more than people to know her. She doesn’t know what she wants to be famous for, all she knows is that she wants it. Just like me! I just want to be celebrated, to have people know who I am, to have my name printed everywhere. I don’t know what it would bring me, but I long for fame. Gladys comes across a billboard for rent in Columbus Circle one day and on a whim decides to rent it and have her name put up in huge letters. She does this so that other people would know her name–no ulterior motive. Another company that wants the billboard offer her many things to get the billboard from her, but she holds on to it. She isn’t interested in the money–she just wants that damn billboard. Finally, they offer her more billboards and she accepts. Now she has billboards all over the city and people are trying to figure who she is. She makes a television appearance to explain her story and people are charmed by her. Soon, she becomes the face of everything: skis, cigarettes, dieting programs, everything! She is having a fabulous time, but her love interest, Pete is not happy. He thinks she is being ridiculous and should give everything up so that she could be with him. She likes him, but doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t or couldn’t have both. And in this modern era, I can’t fathom why anybody would give up fame to be with somebody who wants to dim their star. In the end, she realizes she loves Pete more than her fame, which was getting stressful for her, and they get together. I found the ending to be a kind of a letdown. I wanted Gladys to find some kind of talent for lasting fame and for Pete to be supportive of her, but it was not to be. It was really a precursor to today’s ephemeral reality stars. They are famous for being famous and can’t really sustain a career. Madonna said just the other day on Anderson (as soon as I’m famous, I’ll be good friends with those two), “Celebrity gets you in the door, but doesn’t keep you in the room.” Well, isn’t that the truth? I really loved this picture. It’s wonderfully charming and sweet and I will watch it time and time again. I would give it a perfect score, but Pete’s insistence that Gladys give up her dreams really stuck in my craw. (I have been waiting decades to use that phrase.) [My Rating: 9.5/10]

February 7: The Prince and the Showgirl 

I think Marilyn Monroe was a fine actress, albeit an overrated one. I adored her in Niagara and Some Like it Hot, but I think her over-accepted adulation is irritating. You see her flaunting her sexuality everywhere these days, you cannot go into a store these days without seeing a Warholian portrait of her (or Audrey Hepburn, who suffers the same ignorant adulation–a fine actress, but just fine, not exceptional). Rant finished. I respect her work an awful lot. This picture is about Elsie (Marilyn) who finds herself invited to dinner with the Regent of Carpathia, played stiffly, awkwardly, and uncomfortably by Laurence Olivier. They don’t come right out and say it…this is the 1950s, after all…but I’m pretty sure he was looking for a pleasurable evening in his chambers with Elsie. Hint, hint, you know what I’m getting at. Elsie was having none of that and got herself drunk on vodka–I wasn’t entirely sure how she thought this would help her position. Then, I lost track of what was going on. There was a Queen Dowager and a King-to-be and other characters who seemed to pop on and off without reason. I guess there was a power struggle between the King-to-be and the Regent, but I didn’t pick up on that. Elsie gets into everybody’s business so she tries to reconcile these two, who are father and son. It drags on and on. I didn’t care for it. [My Rating: 2/10]

February 8: Dear Murderer

Jessica said this was the dullest movie she’d ever seen, and I agree that the picture was rather boring. I was rather jealous that this was the most uninteresting for her. I have sat through some garbage–that mutant starfish thing I told you about a couple of weeks ago. That was shit. I’d tell you the title, but I worry that you’d try to suffocate yourself while you were watching. It’s that bad. This is an old British B-movie with a pretty standard plot. Lee is a business man who goes off to America for work and leaves his wife Vivien behind. Vivien cheats on Lee with Richard and so Lee murders Richard because that’s totally logical and what anybody would dod. Lee is convinced that he has committed the perfect crime and the dim-witted police find themselves unable to pin the murder on him though they’re sure he did it. Then, in a spectacular move that we all could have seen from space, Vivien gives Lee a nightcap with twenty (20!) sleeping tablets. He dies and she doesn’t get away with it, so, she is led away into custody with a fabulous wicked bitch cackle. It wasn’t a great picture, it reminded me of something that would be on Elvira’s Movie Macabre. (I’d love to host a show like that! Picture it: me, Elvira, and Sharon Needles–it would be insane! It’d be on late at night on Bravo, we’d have hilarious guests, fantastic sets and outfits, and cheesy writers. It would be fabulous! Excuse me while I write a pitch for this show!) [My Rating: 4/10]

February 9: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

I don’t know when I’m going to learn that animated movies are great. I have some kind of mental aversion to them so I rarely bother with them, but when I do, I love them. For instance, The Emperor’s New Groove is one of my favorite movies of all time. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was hilarious. It is based on a 1970s children book that we read in my reading class. I didn’t much care for the book, so I didn’t much plan on caring much for the movie, but it had nothing to do with the book! It was about a wannabe inventor named Flint Lockwood who makes things that don’t work out or make no sense. Because he lives on an island where they only eat sardines, he decides to create a device that will convert water to any kind of food he wants. His machine is successful and the community that despised him now adores him. The meteorologist from New York, Sam, begins to fall in love with him, too, and everything is going along swimmingly. Unfortunately, the machine is going out of control and starts creating bigger and bigger food. Soon gargantuan hotdogs, slices of bread, and donuts are falling from the sky and becoming a serious danger to the people of his city. Flint has to stop the machine before it kills everybody, so he creates a flying car to go into the machine and kill it. He succeeds, with tons of hilarity, and a happy ending for all. The plot itself does not let you in on how funny this movie is–it is hysterical and I hope you see it. I didn’t expect to enjoy myself quite so much, but I loved it! [My Rating: 9/10]

February 10: The Indiscretion of an American Wife

I wanted to love this picture–I absolutely planned on adoring it. In fact, I held off on watching because I wanted to savor it. It’s written by Truman Capote, stars Montgomery Clift, is set in a Roman train station, and has a marital affair! I should have been enraptured. It’s everything I love! But…I was so disappointed. The story has no poignancy, no substance, no plot at all, really. This story revolves around an American wife on vacation who falls in love with a handsome Italian man played by Montgomery. Good set up, but completely unbelievable because I saw no chemistry whatsoever between the two leads. I could not understand what drew them together or what kept them together. Maybe it’s more of a carnal relationship, and that’s understandable, but that wasn’t really evinced either. Montgomery’s character was a complete creep! He made me uncomfortable. He was clingy, unromantic and violent. He slapped poor Mary in the middle of the terminal! Her assumed adulation of him was incomprehensible to me and I’m sure to most audiences. The first half of the picture was about them being unwilling to separate at the station and then the next half dealt with an altercation with the police. Lots of silent bits and underwhelming plot developments led to the inevitable and melodramatic ending where mary boards the train to Paris and eventually home. Tedious and dull. No redeeming qualities. I’ve read that there is a longer version and the edit I saw is an almost abridged version of the original. Maybe if I had seen the full story I would have enjoyed it much more. Foolish move, if true, film studios! [My Rating: 1/10] 

February 11: Adam’s Rib

I’ve seen an awful lot of Katharine Hepburn pictures and I really enjoy them, but strangely, I’ve never seen one where she costars with Spencer Tracy. They were one of cinema’s most celebrated duos. We don’t seem to do this anymore–well, aside from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton films. I rather like the idea of seeing familiar faces in new roles. Maybe today’s audience doesn’t feel the same, I don’t know. I don’t seem to agree with much of today’s audience, though. This picture is about those two who play a married couple who are both lawyers. They both take on the same case, but on opposite sides. The case is about a woman who shoots her husband for cheating on her with another woman. Spencer is on the man’s side and says that nobody has the right to shoot anybody. Katherine is on the woman’s side and says that she has the right to defend her home and family. She makes a much more convincing argument in the film and I’m on her side, because she’s Katherine. Some highlights of the film are the Cole Porter song, Farewell Amanda, Judy Holliday’s portrayal of the other women, a hilarious massage scene, and a most shocking conclusion. Throughout the entire film, Katherine fights for equal rights for women, and I hear her and I support her, but then we realize Katherine isn’t fighting for equal rights, she is fighting for superiority. When she realizes this, it is just so beautiful. Spencer makes a clear point (with a chocolate gun) that we are all equal, none of us is above the other, and that we all must suffer the same consequences irregardless of what junk we have in our pants. That was an inelegant thing to say, but Katherine had a good sense of humor, I hear. I really enjoyed this film. [My Rating: 8/10]

Film of the Week: It Should Happen to You This film is basically the story of how I want my life to be, well, aside from the ending, because I wouldn’t ever give up on my fame or my fans. A funny, charming, and highly recommended picture!

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