May 20: When Ladies Meet
The Joan Crawford version of this picture is much better. Maybe that’s just my bias due to my complete adulation of Joan, but the later version that she starred in felt much more thorough. This version from 1933 stars Myrna Loy, which, of course, delights me. Did you know that Debra Messing still hasn’t sent me a thank you note for my comments to Entertainment Weekly? Bold, colored print and everything. A starring role next to Johnny Depp! Whatever, maybe she doesn’t read magazines?
This film is about a writer named Mary (Myrna) who is hard at work on her latest novel about a love triangle involving a married couple and the husband’s new romantic interest. The wife in the novel demurely lets her husband go, and the publisher thinks this is quite silly, he doesn’t think it would actually happen that way. I think he’s right. Mary may be overly hopeful, though, she is currently in a similar situation herself with her publisher. Drama! She and her publisher, Rogers, are madly in love. Maybe Mary more than Rogers, but that’s beside the point. Mary also has a suitor named Jimmie. He spends most of his time proposing to her and she constantly rejects him. So, to show her up, he “accidentally,” yet completely purposefully, randomly shows up at the house where Mary is staying to work on her book with the publisher’s wife, Claire. He doesn’t tell Mary who Claire is, nor Claire who Mary is. They become fast friends. Mary asks for Claire’s opinion on her book, whether she thinks the wife would really give up her husband. It’s a violent reaction and it is not what Mary wanted to hear. And then, at that pivotal moment, Rogers comes in. The truth is revealed! Some of the acting is complete crap, but Myrna Loy is enough for me to give it a viewing. If you’re more interested in good storytelling, though, look for the Joan Crawford version. [My Rating: 5/10]
May 21: The Cay
Holy crapballs. This was a stinker. The Cay is based on the novel, The Cay, and follows the storyline almost completely…but…the character of Timothy was so dumbed down and poorly acted by James Earl Jones that it was almost an insult and borderline uncomfortable. The plot is about a young boy named Philip and a black man name Timothy that survive a boat crash and float off to a little island where they must survive. This is more difficult than it would normally be because Timothy is rather old and Philip has gone temporarily blind because of the sun. This in itself is a clever plot device. The novel speaks about tolerance without ever bringing it up. Had Philip been able to see, he would not have been nearly so cooperative or friendly towards Timothy. He was just a racist little boy. But because he was blind and relied on Timothy to keep him alive, he learned to “see” past color. (Drum kick and applause!) They come up with all sorts of clever ways to make their lives on the island easier and they have struggles and sadnesses and moments of joy. Then, all of a sudden, Timothy is dead and Philip is alone. He remembers all of the lessons that Timothy had taught him and manages to survive and is finally rescued. The message of the film is lovely, but the acting is atrocious. A cat named Stewcat is also on the island with them, and he really steals the show. When a cat steals James Earl Jones’ thunder, you know something isn’t quite right. [My Rating: 3/10]
May 22: Chicken Run
I hated this movie when I first saw it. I hate it still. I don’t like stop-motion animation very much. I also don’t care for chickens. I don’t like them dead. I don’t like them alive. I don’t like them anyway. This movie is about chickens who are created through stop-motion animation. You see why I might look down upon it. I should love it by association, some of my favorite British talents are voice actors in it: Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, and Jane Horrocks. But, I simply cannot! The story is about a bunch of bitchy chickens trying to escape from an egg farm. They aren’t treated well, and their unhappiness is understood. But, they were so annoying that I hoped they would get caught and turned into chicken noodle soup. This is a tremendous statement considering that I am a vegetarian. The villain, Mrs. Tweedy, (the only interesting character) discovers that she can make more money from chicken pot pies than she can from selling eggs. So, she begins to fatten her chickens up so that she can turn them into delicious pies. Annoyingly, the chickens succeed in thwarting her plans and escaping to a happy home. Everybody loves this movie for some reason. I just don’t get it. [My Rating: 1/10]
May 23: Trouble for Two
This was a strange movie. I never decided if it was a thriller or a comedy or a romance. It didn’t follow the stereotypical qualities of any of those genres, so the whole thing felt disorientated and dysfunctional to me. It starts off in an imaginary European country where the free-spirited Crown Prince Florizel is due to marry Princess Brenda of Irania. He wants to do no such thing and goes off to London with his friend and bodyguard, the Colonel. He also plays the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. And, oh my God! I just realized he played Rogers in When Ladies Meet! What a grand coincidence! Anyway the movie starts off wonderfully, I was completely drawn into the action and story. Rosalind Russell’s character, Miss Vandeleur, appears and is mysterious and well done and I’m following along happily, and then the whole thing goes to shit. For no reasons other than to serve as a plot device, the Colonel and Prince Florizel are drawn into a suicide club. Florizel thinks it is a trick or a gag, and he’s wrong. It’s quite real. They really do kill people. Florizel is passionately in love with Vandeleur and that is why they go to the club, she is often there. Then, in a shocking twist, it is revealed that Vandeleur is actually the Princess Brenda that he was contracted to marry! Drama! They both fall in love with each other equally and then have to protect each other from the terrorists that are trying to off the Prince. A happy ending, but my Lord, this one was strange. [My Rating: 4/10]
May 24: Island in the Sun
NOOOOOO! It wouldn’t end. It just kept dragging on and and on and on and on until they finally wrapped up. I’ve rarely been less intrigued in a film and had my dear Joan Fontaine not been in it, I would have shouted several expletives and deleted it at once. Even after reading the plot synopsis online I don’t understand this movie. It’s set on a beautiful Caribbean island and follows a rich family that has lived there for years. There’s an interracial romance, lovely shots of the local people, good acting by Joan Fontaine and bad acting by everybody else, and that’s about it. So many dreadful things! If I could have watched only the twenty minutes that Joan was in it, maybe I would have approved, but I still couldn’t. It was bad. To be avoided. Harry Belafonte is one of the leads, but he doesn’t sing “Jump in the Line” so I didn’t care. [My Rating: 1/10]
May 25: A Thousand and One Nights
I watched this movie with this face on the entire time.
It’s completely nonsensical, but in a good way. It grabs you from the beginning and never really relents–mainly because you’re waiting to understand. You never really do, because it’s completely escapist, and in the end I didn’t mind much. This film is about a(n?) hilarious thief named Abdullah, who constantly references modern innovations, even though the setting is ancient Baghdad. Abdullah’s best friend is Aladdin and he’s a determined ladies man–the entire town swoons when he sings. I felt that he was a kind of Elvis caricature. Aladdin falls in love with the Princess Armina, but because he is a peasant, that can simply never be. Of course, he finds an enchanted lamp and the Genie Babs emerges to do whatever she can to help. Babs falls in love with Aladdin, and she is not very happy about trying to help Aladdin get together with the Princess, but she is contractually obligated to grant his wishes, so she does. There’s a crappy sword fight that is so campy that it’s hysterical, the film is blindingly over saturated, the plot is nonexistent, but somehow, the entire thing works. If you suspend your disbelief, you’ll enjoy yourself. [My Rating: 7/10]
May 26: Bunny O’Hare
Oh my sweet baby Jesus, this was a fantastic movie! Almost everybody on the Internet hates it, but I simply adore it. When I first saw Bette Davis on the back of a motorcycle in a 70s comedic action movie, I didn’t believe it was real. I thought it was some gag or a joke or done with Photoshop. But, it’s completely real! I love movies made when big stars were at the end of their careers. Like Trog with Joan Crawford. It’s total crap, but Joan is still so dedicated to professionalism, that you can’t help but be touched by the story and the character. Bunny O’Hare is in that same vein. Bette must have known that it was a silly story that she never would have touched had she been younger, but she still brings so much to the screen that you can’t help but be completely bewitched by her performance. The story is about Bunny O’Hare, played by Bette, who is down on her luck. Her house is foreclosed on by the bank and it is demolished in front of her. This seemed illegal and cruel, but it’s a film, so whatever. Bill Green is an “entrepreneur” who buys toilets and sinks from demolished homes and sells them in Mexico. What a life! He feels bad for Bunny and decides to give her a ride to wherever she wants to go. Bunny takes him up on his offer and they head off to the home of one of her children. She calls her daughter at a gas station and tries to talk about her struggles, but her daughter only talks about her fiscal problems. So, she calls her son, but he only talks about all the money he needs. They’re greedy buggers, but Bunny loves them and sees past this. While she’s on the phone, Bill tries to sneak off and dump her there, but she’s too quick and she’s back in the truck. The exposition of the film shows Bill trying to dump Bunny in various places, but she finally one ups him when she finds a WANTED poster of Bill Gruenwald, who is actually Bill Green. He’s an escaped bank robber! Fabulous! She decides to use this information to blackmail Bill. She decides that since the bank stole her home from her, she has every right to steal from them. So she decides to become a bank robber with Bill’s help–it’s utter madness, but so good! They start practicing bank robbing and then finally pull a heist. Successfully, too! Bunny sends the money off to her daughter and then calls her son who begs for money. She decides she must rob again to help her son. This pattern continues until they are renowned robbers. They are unlikely to be caught, though, because they have disguised themselves as 20-something hippies! I know, I could hardly believe it, either! And you all know how I feel about hippies. Loathe them, so I totally approved of them pointing fingers at those layabouts.
Finally, the police decide they must catch them, but they’re comedically inept and never do find them. They come close to it, but Bunny and Bill escape to Mexico after she realizes that her children are just using her for money. Bunny says, “Screw ‘em,” and walks across the border. Delicious. It’s such a funny movie! I can’t understand why more people haven’t seen it, why more people don’t know of it, why it isn’t released on DVD. Thank God it’s on Netflix. Go watch it now. It’s fabulous. [My Rating: 10/10]
MOVIE of the WEEK: This honor easily goes to Bunny O’Hare. It’s so freaking good! It is a fantastic movie that I’m sure you’ve never heard of. You must get on the Netflix right now and watch it. You’re welcome.