July 15: A Chump at Oxford
I had never before seen a Laurel and Hardy film before. I don’t expect to seek them out, they aren’t my kind of humor. This picture started off well enough with Stan (Laurel) in drag to procure a job as a maid. You know how I love a man in drag. Ollie (Hardy) and Stan were absolute failures, so they were once again out of work. They decide to become street sweepers–they didn’t so much decide, it was the only thing available–and somehow manage to catch a bank robber. The president of the bank (If I buy an old bank, can I call myself the president of the bank even if it hasn’t been functional in decades?) is so delighted that he offers them jobs. They admit that they’re too poorly educated to take advantage of this opportunity and decide to go to school instead. The President decides that they will have the best education possible and sends them to Oxford! What a coup! I’ve always dreamed of going to Oxford, just to say I’ve been to Oxford. Studying is so demode, you know? Isn’t it amazing how I can turn all these reviews into a short story about myself? The other students pull pranks on Stan and Ollie and I wasn’t laughing much, but whatever. Then Stan gets hit in the head and suddenly believes that he is Lord Paddington, one of the greats that went through Oxford. It is never fully explained if he is or not, but unfortunately he gets another knock to the head and goes back to being boring old Stan. It’s only 60 minutes, but unfortunately it drags. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. Forgettable. [My Rating: 4/10]
July 16: Summer Stock
I know that it is my own responsibility to search out things for myself, but why was I not notified of Gene Kelly? Swoon alert. The only great male dancer I really knew about was Fred Astaire, but he had all the sexual charms of a leper. Gene Kelly was young and handsome and had great steps. He made this film even better than it would have been with Judy alone. The picture starts with Judy Garland’s character, Jane, singing what should be my anthem, “If You Feel Like Singing, Sing.” Wonderful song! Jane’s farm is a mess, the hired hands have left her and she is going into debt to keep the place afloat. To add to her long list of inconveniences, her sister, Abigail, and her acting troupe take over the farm to put on a show. They all really take advantage of Jane and it was just awful, but she was a strong lady and demanded that they work and help about the farm if they want to use her barn. This leads to any number amusing scenes of city folk trying to milk cows and the like. Of course there are lots of delightful songs and romance. Jane can’t help but fall in love with Joe, played by Gene Kelly, and who can blame her? Abigail is a real bitch and drops out of the play to run off to a different theater leaving her troupe in a sorry state. Thankfully, Jane is talented and takes the role. This leads to more fireworks between Jane and Joe, which is unfortunate for her fiancé, Orville, whom she wasn’t much in love with anyway. In the end we get to the show and it is marvelous. Jane’s performance of “Get Happy” steals the entire picture. IT IS MARVELOUS–I WANT TO DO IT EVERYWHERE! I’ve been singing it all day, every day. See this one.
[My Rating: 9/10]
July 17: City Lights
This was a week of firsts. Not only did I see my first Laurel and Hardy feature, but my first Charlie Chaplin feature, as well. I’ve been meaning to see The Great Dictator for absolute ages, but I haven’t managed it yet. It’s on my Netflix queue, it will arrive eventually, but that list is at least two and a half miles long now. Literally, it’s that long. City Lights is a very serious comedy, which is a contrast in terms. It’s humorous, but Charlie is much more dramatic than I thought he would be. He plays his iconic role of The Tramp. Here, he’s in love with a blind girl who sells flowers. The tramp meets a rich man who is his friend when he’s drunk and kicks him out when he sobers up. This happens repeatedly. But, when they were friendly, the rich man is happy to help the Tramp become the benefactor of the blind girl. There is a surgery that will allow her to see again and so he raises the money. He is thrown in jail after a misunderstanding with the Rich man and several months go by before he is released. Once out, he goes to seek the blind girl. We see that she is doing well for herself and opened up a flower shop of her own. The blind girl goes to give the Tramp a flower, and when she touches his hand, she recognizes him by touch. “You?” she asks, in one of the most touching moments of the film and in many films. “You can see now?” the Tramp asks back. “Yes, I can see now,” she responds and they smile at each other. Quite charming. Not as wonderful as all the critics claim it to be, but it’s worth seeing. [My Rating: 7/10]
July 18: Easter Parade
For some reason, I don’t think I have ever seen this picture before this viewing. Odd, as I thought I had seen all of Judy Garland’s famed features in my youth. I was wrong. This one was definitely not my favorite, but it was by no means unpleasant. How can a musical be unpleasant? I’ve yet to see a musical that doesn’t have good qualities. I’d watch a film about the Holocaust, and as long as there was good music, I’d love it. Bad taste, but whatever. I’ve never had taste when it comes to what I enjoy. Or perhaps, everybody else has poor taste by not agreeing with me? Hmmmm? Think on that. This film costars Fred Astaire, whom I’m just lukewarm about, as you know from above, he fails to charm me with his dancing and old man face. He always looks the same, too. I liked him in Ghost Story, but he was like ninety then–still looked the same. Judy plays Hannah, a dancer that has no real aspirations for her career. Luckily, she meets Don Hewes (Astaire), a famed dancer who has made a bet with himself. He thinks that he can turn anybody into a great dancer and is determined to prove it to his old partner, who has left him after an opportunity with the Ziegfeld Follies. Who wouldn’t? I would. Do we still have the Follies? Probably not, nothing wonderful exists anymore. Broadways is surely littered with shows like, Sex! Sex! Sex!, See How Often We Curse!, Murder & Rape!, Prostitutes on Parade!, and Boring Drama About Abused Youth!. Nothing is the same as it was, I should have been born long ago and spent the prime of my life in the 30s and 40s. Do you think they’ll ever come back? I hope so. If a time machine is ever invented, I will be first in line to go back. I love the Internet and the technology of the modern world, but it’s so bleak. There’s so little chance of prosperity. Back then, you could start a chain of grocery stores on Wednesday and be a millionaire by Sunday. I’m probably exaggerating, but whatever, I’ll surely never get back, so I can daydream. When you think about it, though, if we ever do invent a time machine, people from the future are literally here right now. Cue creepy music. Back to the story. Don and Hannah do quite well, but their business dealings are on thin ice after Hannah falls in love with him. I don’t get how, but whatever. Everything is made up in the end and off they go to the Easter Parade. [My Rating: 5/10]
July 19: Every Girl Should Be Married
Have you ever seen those adorable pictures of Cary Grant and his roommate, Randolph Scott? They’re so cute. Obviously lovers.
This statement has nothing to do with the film, I just thought I’d bring it up. I wonder if he was gay or bisexual or whatever really? I like to think that he was. This film stars Cary and one of his many wives, Betsy Drake, in a charming film that was rather well done. Betsy Drake is no great talent, believe me, she shouts all her lines and has no sense of emotional dictation, but in a way, this leant something to her role of a lunatic. Betsy plays Anabel Sims, a store clerk who is crazily obsessed with Dr. Madison Brown, played by Grant. She stalks him for weeks to know everything about him and then use this illy gained knowledge for her advantage–she wants to snatch him and hurry him down the aisle. It was rather perverse, but amusing in a way. If I found somebody that I liked that much and had the time, I might stalk them a bit. You want to know a little about them before you bluntly announce your engagement to a perfect stranger you like based on his looks. Dr. Brown isn’t really interested in getting married nor does he have much interest in Anabel, and she should have left well enough alone, but she was determined to get her way. I suppose it’s admirable, but it’s annoying to have somebody foist their affections on you when you don’t really feel like returning them. When she sees her plot failing, she decides to woo her boss, of whom she isn’t a fan, to make Dr. Brown jealous. This plan backfires a bit, because her boss, played by Franchot Tone (one of Joan Crawford’s husbands!) actually likes her and wants to marry her himself. The film moves steadily forward and Abigail announces her engagement to a young man from her hometown. Dr. Brown seems to realize that he wants her for himself and agrees to wed. It turns out that the young man she was espoused to was an actor, but by this time Dr. Brown had realized his true affections, or perhaps the ones fed to him by Abigail and it no longer matters. I liked the film, but it was rather disturbing the way she hunted for her husband. [My Rating: 7/10]
July 20: Design for Scandal
As I go to write the summary of this film, I can’t even recall what it was about, which must be a bad sign. Hold on, let me refresh myself…thank you IMDB! It was dull, now I remember, which annoyed me because it starred Rosalind Russell, an actress I’ve become increasingly fond of. She plays a judge who has decided an unlucky judgement on an important newspaper man. His gold-digging wife just divorced him and he is forced to pay $5000 in alimony every month. Can you even imagine the joy of that? $5000 a month would go quickly, but it’s still a good deal more than I currently make. Even more than I’d make if my current scheme works out the way I want it to. I want to be a real estate tycoon. The current bad market surely means a great market in the near future. So, this newspaper man sends one of his reporters to woo the judge and have her reverse judgement. Then I kind of spaced out. They fall in love, but then when she realizes what he is, she changes her mind and doesn’t love him any more, even though she does. The ending is mildly amusing, but I wouldn’t put this on your queues. [My Rating: 4/10]
July 21: The Fearless Vampire Killers
This was one of the worst films I’ve seen in a long time. I had trouble even finishing it, but I hate to only watch bits of films. So far, the only one I couldn’t finish this year was the Lifetime biopic of J.K. Rowling. It was so bad. I’ll finish it sometime. Maybe when I’m sick and dying and have nothing better to do. But then, if I were dying, I wouldn’t want to waste my remaining time on Earth with that crap, I’d rather be flying first class to Egypt to finally see the ancient monuments that I am so enraptured and enthralled by. Can you believe that I haven’t gone, yet? Neither can I. I really should rectify this sad truth. I plan on taking a ferry from Marseilles to somewhere in Morocco or Alexandria, then take the train to Cairo and just do EVERYTHING. I’ll surely be gone for months. If what I’m reading is correct, poor people in America are extravagantly wealthy in Egypt. I would love that. You all know how fancy I am. Now, on to the film. The title sold me, it sounded like great fun. I love a cheesy horror film as much as anybody, but the tragic thing about this was that it was meant to be cheesy. When something sets out to be camp, it is a great struggle to achieve that goal. This film is actually a parody of vampire films and it is so–I guess the word would be subtle, that I didn’t understand this until after the dreadful thing was over and the credits were rolling. When you watch parody, it should be obvious, the jokes should make it apparent. But, this wasn’t funny at all, it was just misery. I don’t recommend this film at all. Horrid waste of time. [My Rating: 0/10]
MOVIE of the WEEK: Summer Stock Great songs, great cast. J’adore!