March 25: I Could Go on Singing
This was a really good movie, it wasn’t the greatest movie, but it was good. In my childhood, I’d watch as many Judy Garland pictures as I could. My favorite, that I can remember, was Meet Me in St. Louis. There was another that I was fond of, but I can’t recall it anymore. Judy was in the West doing something. There was a song about corn. It’ll come to me in time. In this picture, Judy plays Jenny Bowman, a famous singer who is in London for a few nights on her tour. While here, she meets up with her old lover, David, with whom she had a son, Matt. Maternal longings come flooding over her and she convinces David to let her meet him. Matt- doesn’t know who his mother is, he had been told since he was very young that he had been adopted, he didn’t suspect that his father was actually his biological father. When Jenny meets him, she falls head over heels in love with him, she wants to be with him and spend time with him and be his mother. So she kind of kidnaps him for a while and they have a marvelous time. David isn’t happy about this because he is settled in his life without her and doesn’t want to have anything change in his relationship with his son. Jenny isn’t having this at all, but once she’s back onstage during the final scene singing, she realizes that she can’t change her life. Her life is her music. She can love her son all she wants but she would just hinder him if she took him with her. It’s for the best that they remain distant. It’s a sad, but triumphant film. Judy looked haggard, but it fit the role and her unique voice was just wonderful in the musical numbers. I enjoyed it quite a lot. [My Rating: 7/10]
March 26: Black Narcissus
I always look forward to a good nun movie, and sadly there are no mediocre nun films. Either they’re amazing or they’re utter crap. This one wasn’t complete crap, but it was so close that I’m putting it in the crap nun category. I had been looking forward to this one for days, I kept putting it off for shorter films because I’ve been so busy–my life is my full time job. There was something wonderfully alluring about the title–maybe it suggested a deadly flower or the name of a serial killer or something otherwise sinister. And the poster for the picture, oh that poster! It is magnificent.
Sadly, my original thoughts were nothing like what happened in the film, the title was referring to cologne…such a letdown. The story is about a group of nuns starting a new convent in the Himalayas. I had never really thought about nuns in Asia for some reason, so I was intrigued by this idea. Their new convent was to be in an abandoned palace high above a village loaded of heathens. This palace was the old home of the Rajah’s women–a harem, if you will. Once there, they established their convent, fixed the place up, began offering services, the usual things you’d expect in a nunnery. All is going fine and unfortunately, quite boring. It’s a shame, really, as there are good number of interesting characters, but they aren’t given much of a story. The dull head sister, Sister Clodagh is the one that the story revolves around. I’m going to glide over the majority of the film and tell you about the conclusion, which really was quite good and was a redeeming factor. One of the sisters, Sister Ruth, was ill, and she was driven mad by her new surroundings and she becomes filled with lust for Mr. Dean, an Englishman in the village who is an aid to them. She buys herself a fancy red dress, puts on lipstick and flees the convent to look for him. I don’t understand what she sees in him, he’s unattractive, rude, and has the most ridiculous fashion sense. I wear short shorts, but his version of them barely cover his junk. I don’t get it. I’ve never seen anybody wear anything like that. Exhibit A:
Anyway, Sister Ruth goes mad, literally insane, and tries to push the Sister Clodagh off the ledge to her death. She fails and instead plunges hundreds of feet to the village below. Dead. Quite dramatic and rather good. And the makeup! Gurl!
The film was really a disappointment to me, though. The ending and a scene where the head sister was lost in a happy moment and then remembers what her life had become were both memorable scenes and well acted. You could feel the anguish that she was consumed with when she realizes what she had and what she had lost and what her life would never be. If only that poignancy had carried on throughout the film. [My Rating: 3/10]
March 27: Despicable Me
I have resisted this film for ages, because as you remember, I used to tell myself that I am too cultured for children’s cinema, but as I’ve learned, I’m not. I love these movies! I’m still never going to watch Cars unless there is absolutely nothing else to do. I don’t like cars and I don’t like hillbillies, so I’m fairly sure that I would dislike that one, too. I’m not going to talk much about the plot of Despicable Me as I’m nearly certain that most of you have seen it. Basically it is about a super villain who wants to pull the greatest heist ever and decides to steal the moon. Along the way, his criminal behavior softens when had adopts three children and he learns that love is more important than a life of crime. Sounds sappy, and it would be if it weren’t for the sharp humor. This is one funny movie! I really related to Gru’s method of parenting. He doesn’t play with the children, tells them all the things they can’t do, doesn’t read to them, doesn’t want to touch them, etc., it’s just like me! Over time, he comes to love the children, just like I do, but will never admit out loud. And he reads this book:
I’m nearly convinced that I named the children in some kind of subliminal theft by Pixar. Margo, Edith, and Agnes? Seriously, Pixar? Those are three of my favorite female names, only Helena is missing. It’s bizarre that these three gorgeously old-fashioned names should come up in one spot, but they did. It’s surely too late to sue. I laughed the entire time, you will too. I’d watch this one again, and I don’t do that often. I’d watch the whole thing just for the tea party scenes. Clink! [My Rating: 10/10]
March 28: What Price Hollywood?
I thought this would be alright, but I was wrong. It started off decently, but quickly floundered into another boring melodrama. I read the New York Times review of the picture from 1932 and they very succinctly reviewed it with the title, “Not Worth the Price.” I chortled to myself and became incredibly jealous that I hadn’t come up with it first. (An aside: I love that the New York Times has been digitally archived, it’s a great resource!) The story is bout Mary, a wannabe actress and Brown Derby waitress. To her great luck, a famed director, Lonny is drunk and dining and she woos her way into his life. When he sobers up the next morning, he doesn’t have any recollection of the evening before. Mary is there and he rewards her with a walk on role on his current film. Sadly, she’s nervous and comes off terribly and is succinctly fired. She practices all night long and goes back the next day and nails the scene. She becomes a sensation and a great star. As she gets better and better, Lonny begins to drink and is eventually washed up. Over the years, Mary marries Max, a famed polo star and then they are divorced. Sad. Then Lonny comes to the mansion one night, drunk out of his mind, and shoots himself. There’s a great scandal now that is connected to Mary and could ruin her reputation. She’s terrified that Max will demand custody of their daughter because of this drama, and she is horrified when he appears on her doorstep. Happily, they rekindle their romance and live happily ever after. There quick reunion left me shaking my head and scratching my head. At the same time. It could have been so much better, so much better, but wasn’t. [My Rating: 4/10]
March 29: Green Mansions
Good Lord, no. This was bad. Audrey Hepburn plays some kind of wild child of the Amazon who falls in love with some European fellow. I hated this movie and will not review it. [My Rating: 0/10]
March 30: Julie
I ignorantly believed that Doris Day only made musicals and frivolous romances that were a delight to watch. I was wrong, she was also a serious actress and a fine one, too. Thank goodness for Doris Day month on TCM. I’ve been meaning to send her a letter telling her how wonderful her album Annie Get Your Gun is. I really should get on that. I don’t have many actresses left alive to write to. I’d better hurry up–I don’t care about that ones that are popular right now. I need to find the right shade of chartreuse for my stationary first, though. Shit like that is important. Anyway, this is an odd film because it feels like three different movies. The first part is like a deleted scene from the middle of Hitchcock’s Suspicion, the middle section is like a cheap 60s horror film with Doris running for her life, and the ending is like a serious Airplane! Even though the plot was muddled it was still engaging and entertaining if you didn’t pay too close attention to the ridiculousness of the situations. Julie, Doris Day, is married to Lyle, a famed pianist. For reasons I fail to understand, Julie is a flight attendant. This doesn’t come up until the end, though, so don’t worry about it. Julie’s close friend Cliff is suspicious of Lyle because Julie’s former husband, Bob, died under curious circumstances. Lyle admits to the murder and Julie and Cliff go on the run. Good story so far, it’s super creepy when Lyle stalks them no makes threatening phone calls, the tension in the police station is real, and then…it all falls apart. Julie spends the night with a girlfriend and her evening is ruined when she is called in to work. I don’t understand why she worked with a famous husband, but that is no matter. So she goes off to the airport and boards the plane. Lyle is there in waiting and once they are in the air, Lyle shoots the pilot and the copilot and then he’s shot and we’re all like, “Huh? Where’ve I been?” Julie must land the plane to save the passengers and she does. Confusing. Reminds me of the much better History is Made at Night only with an inverted plot. [My Rating: 7/10]
March 31: Storm Warning
Doris Day and the KKK. One of these things is not like the other. This was a strange film that I couldn’t get into. It was beautifully shot–a fabulous example of film noir, but it didn’t capture my attention. It had every occasion, but the story fell short of its potential. Marsha Mitchell, played by Ginger Rogers, is a traveling model (I guess she goes around to different places and shows clothes off?) who stops in a small Southern town to visit with her sister, Lucy (Doris Day) whom she hasn’t seen in ages. As soon as she is off the bus, Marsha hears shouting and nearly confronts the KKK, but thankfully for her, she is hidden from view. In her secret place, she sees them execute a man and the faces of several of the unmasked men. She’s horrified, but doesn’t seem bothered. This is one of the first oddities of this film. I think most people would react more violently to murder by masked lunatics. She goes to see her sister and they shoot the breeze for some time before the murder comes up. Still no big deal. I was so confused. Lucy’s husband, Hank, turns out to be one of the men in the Klan and he threatens Marsha into keeping quiet. But she has to talk to the police about what she saw. Burt Rainey, played by Ronald Reagan, is intent on wiping out the Klan and so he says she must testify at an inquest. While on the stand, Marsha lies to protect Lucy and the Klan goes free. I believe my jaw was open at this point. What was Marsha’s issue? Was she so ignorant? Maybe she was retarded? Whatever. The Klan celebrates their ability to rampantly murder who they want. Then, Marsha and Burt go off to stop the Klan because she finally developed a sense of decency and the ending is just a wash. Seriously, crap. This film could have been fantastic and a classic if it had a backbone, instead, it glosses right over the evil of the Klan and the hatred and bigotry of the South. It was really just a weak picture attempting to do something bigger than it had the courage to do so. A disappointment. [My Rating: 3/10]
MOVIE of the WEEK: Despicable Me It’s absolutely charming and fantastically hysterical. I loved it!
MOVIE of the MONTH: George Washington Slept Here A great comedy with heart and good story for us antique and architecture lovers. (Not yet available on DVD, only VHS, #sadface.)