July 22: Go Chase Yourself
Long ago, or not so long ago, I can’t really remember and I can’t be bothered to look, anyway, long ago I told you that I had never seen a Lucille Ball feature that was not I Love Lucy that I liked. Well, I’ve changed my mind. This was a great picture! It was silly and frivolous, but quite a lot of fun. Lucy plays Carol who is somehow married to bank teller and consummate loser, Wilbur Meeley. Wilbur doesn’t seem aware that he’s lame, but he doesn’t care much, he’s loving his life. He loves his job and he loves his wife and he loves to sing and he loves to enter lottery contests, he just loves everything! The general public loathes him, but he can’t be bothered with their issues, either. One day at work he bumbles and tells a group of new clients (who are actually bank robbers) that none of the bank’s money is stored in the vault. Later on in the day, he wins a trailer in one of his lottery contests. Carol is not at all amused by the trailer. They don’t have a car to pull the trailer and it’s cramped. Wilbur loves his trailer, though, and decides to sleep in it. Coincidentally, the bank robbers hitch their car to his trailer after pulling a heist. Now they’re all stuck together! Wilbur is accused of the robbery and is wanted by the police. Wilbur is just so dumb that he isn’t bothered and has a lot of fun with the robbers. Along the way, to nowhere really, he meets Julie, a copper heiress doomed to marry an unpleasant European. They get tangled up in that story and Carol gets tangled up in the story of the unpleasant European. Lots of laughs and visual gags. Great fun. [My Rating: 7/10]
July 23: His Girl Friday
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell! Two of my favorites. Just think, before this year began, I was only vaguely aware of who they were. This was the greatest resolution I ever made. His Girl Friday is in the public domain for some reason. I’m sure it’s due to some kind of clerical error, but it’s great for all of us. We can watch it for free, legally, too! I’ve linked it for you above. Allegedly it’s supposed to be a great, daring take on the madcap newspaper system of the 40s where reporters broke just as many laws as the criminals they were trying to write stories about. We have the same kind of issue with the paparazzi these days, which just goes to show you–the more things change, the more they stay the same. Cary Grant plays Walter Burns a very successful newspaper man who is always busy getting the best story and currently trying to beat all the other papers in town with the story of the century about a man who is to be hung for shooting a police officer of African descent. Rosalind plays Hildy Johnson, Walter’s ex-wife and once star reporter. Most of the film plays comically between the two of them and their obvious love for each other, they have amazing chemistry on screen and it’s quite fun. Towards the end, the picture takes on a more serious note when we start dealing with the execution. This is a wonderful film and I highly suggest you watch it for the amazing acting, the perfect timing, and the great comic bits. [My Rating: 7/10]
July 24: Scared to Death (Movie Macabre)
This movie sucked, but I’m not giving it crap ratings. “Why, Ben, why?” I’m sure you are all shouting at your screens. Well, I’ll tell you. This film was part of Elvira’s Movie Macabre. I LOVE ELVIRA! Did you ever see her gameshow, The Search for the Next Elvira? It was wonderfully awful, the very height of camp. I didn’t miss an episode. I can’t get enough of Elvira. I want her to host everything. I want her in every film. I love her. Pretty sure we’d be besties. We are in my head. In this episode of Movie Macabre, Elvira is getting ready for her Halloween party, but needs some extra help, so she kidnaps Martha Stewart and locks her in a large wooden box and then has her shipped to her place. Martha by Mail! HILARITY! As if I needed anything more! Elvira, bad horror, faux-Martha cameo…heaven! The movie was absolutely dreadful, but not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, which admittedly, isn’t saying much. It was Bela Lugosi’s only color feature, so it’s worth seeing for that, if you are into that kind of thing. Watch it for Elvira. [My Rating: 5/10]
July 25: Vampyr
TERRIBLE! I have loved vampires for ages, long before they became popular. I feel like I’m always saying this, but I’m always ahead of trend. I basically discovered Lady Gaga. I was well aware of her when she was still playing small clubs in Paris. If my taste is anything to go by, the upcoming trends are: the color salmon, coastal decorating style (vastly different from nautical), personal tailoring, Victorian books on reanimated mummies, and Judy Garland. These are all coming or coming back, just you watch and wait. Anyway, I’ve been enamored of vampires since birth, and not the sexy kind of vampires that sparkle in the daylight and want to have sex with you, that’s ridiculous. I don’t understand that. Vampires are monsters! Anne Rice did it just right, playing up the obvious sexuality of the vampire, but maintaining the horror of its existence. I love Anne. We’re going to be very close some day, she just doesn’t know it yet. My love of these evil creatures of the night compels me to watch all the old vampire movies. I wish I hadn’t seen this one. It was a silent film, but that doesn’t bother me, I can read. It was just so random, melodramatic, and confused. The plot revolves around Allen Grey (I appreciate the spelling. Would you like another example of how on trend I am? Years ago, I decided my celebrity name would be Dominic Grey…now there’s that whole 50 Shades of Grey shit polluting the minds of the public. Why do they read this crap when there is intelligent literature to be had? I fear for my dreams of publication.) who decides to explore the world and sees a whole bunch of things that were bizarre (but actually boring). They aren’t really connected, but somehow and for some reason, this means that vampires were on the prowl. The only scene worth seeing is the old man being suffocated when he is locked in the mill and is buried in flour, very creative. Oh, and there was a visible light switch in one of the scenes, which amused me because it was set in the 1700s. [My Rating: 1/10]
July 26: The Seven Year Itch
This movie should be incredibly offensive, but for some reason I was not offended. So many jokes were made about things that I hold dear that I can’t believe I laughed along. For example, stereotypes of pretty women were abundant. Just because they were lovely it meant they were stupid. Stereotypes of men abounded. Just because they were married and settled meant they were deeply unhappy and a heartbeat away from having an affair. Stereotypes of gay men abounded referring to them as interior decorators, a noble career path for anybody. It’s so important to have a lovely home, in fact, it is one of the very most important things you can do for yourself. Stereotypes of vegetarians abounded, intimating that they were all hippies, overly concerned with their diets, and strange. I’m the sexiest, least hippy vegetarian I know. I can’t argue with the strange part. But, even though the film was filled with bits like this, I did enjoy it tremendously. It’s about a New York publisher, Richard Sherman, who decides to live it up one summer when his family goes away for their summer vacation. He is going to drink and smoke and ogle women and do all the things he isn’t allowed to do when he is busy being a responsible father and husband. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a little fun, but the level he wants to go to is irresponsible. He starts off well enough and is actually so meek that he surely wouldn’t go through with his plans. But then Marilyn Monroe moves upstairs and all his plans go awry. It’s strange because she doesn’t have a name, she’s just referred to as she or her. She’s stunning and stupid. For instance, she told a story about taking a bath. Her toe became stuck in the drain and she had to call a plumber to pull it out. Later when Richard gets his finger stuck in a bottle of champagne, she says, “I could call the plumber. He’s very good at getting things out of things.” Made me laugh. He becomes very friendly with Marilyn’s character, but she thinks he’s only friendly, though he feels like a creepy old man. His overactive imagination implicates him in a wide variety of upsetting situations based on his friendship with Marilyn. It repeats itself quite often, but it was charming. Truly one of the best Marilyn Monroe pictures I’ve seen. She was an extraordinarily talented comedienne, which was something I never picked up on. I really was wrong about her. I highly recommend the film and hope that I’ll someday be able to use this quote that Marilyn said when she was drunk on champagne with Richard, “Married man, air conditioning, champagne, and potato chips. It’s just a wonderful party!” [My Rating: 8/10]
July 27: We’re Not Married
This is billed as a Marilyn Monroe feature, but that is rather an exaggeration as she is only in it for about ten minutes. The plot is a vignette, we see five married couples and their lives and how they are happy or sad, and then we see how they react when they learn they are not actually married, hence the title. The judge who officiated their weddings was doing so before he was licensed to do so and so the five weddings he performed were voided. It’s amusing to see how the sad and miserable relationships happily dissolve or are enhanced by this news. It’s quite funny and the film goes very quickly. Some of the moments are sad, some moving, others boring. The highlight for most people will be Marilyn Monroe’s scene. She is a beauty queen who has won the Mrs. Mississippi contest and is trying to win the Mrs. America contest. She is delighted when her marriage is nullified because now she is able to enter and win the Miss Mississippi contest and move on to the Miss America competition! Amusing. Another scene shows the relationship between Zsa Zsa Gabor and Louis Calhern, she is a golddigger who tries to get as much as she can when she files for divorce. Hilariously, her husband receives the notification of their false wedding and doesn’t owe her a penny! Fred Allen and Ginger Rogers hate each other, but play a very happy couple on their morning radio show, they are delighted when they find they are not married, but are miserable when they realize they need to be remarried to keep their contract, but then discover that they truly do like each other. I didn’t buy that one, but whatever. There are two other scenes, but they bored me, too sappy. [My Rating: 6/10]
July 28: Some Like It Hot
Who goes to album release parties, talks regularly to foreign reporters, is a frequent commentator in Entertainment Weekly magazine, and has his photo taken at social affairs only to be published in another magazine? Stumped? You shouldn’t be. It’s me. I’m the most famous non-famous person I know. Anyway, The Art Center was hosting a twilight showing of Some Like It Hot on the Center’s lawns and a Marilyn Monroe lookalike contest. Of course my dear friend, Alison, and I had to go. A Marilyn Monroe lookalike contest implies drag queens, no? Turns out it doesn’t, which makes me very disappointed. The lookalike contest was lame. I could have won it in my casual, masculine ensemble without even opening my mouth. That was how lame the competition was. And if I sang a few bars of A Little Girl from Little Rock, the crowds would have seen past my attractively hairy legs and asked me to sing them “Happy Birthday.” It was a lovely evening, though, wonderful weather, and it was good to see Alison again. We don’t see enough of each other. The Art Center was amusing in its way. For example, I was inches from a Picasso, that was intriguing. There was also an awful lot of modern crap. I loathe modern art. It is ridiculous. There was an entire wing of styrofoam cups stacked on top of each other, plastic bottles filled with colored water, strawberry baskets in a pile, and weed whacker line knotted up. It was idiotic. If that’s art, the craftspeople at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia are all modern day Da Vincis. Their work is a hell of a lot better and more attractive. Perhaps I just don’t get it? If so, I don’t want to get it. Why spend so much money on crap? The artist is surely laughing his way to the bank. I’ve no issue with the artist, he or she is a clever fellow or a feminine fellow (there is no feminine derivative for some reason) and I appreciate clever people. I take issue with the people who pay for that shit! Imbeciles. As the sun set, a large crowd assembled on the lawns. Alison and I claimed a section and feasted on popcorn and elegant sodas. We were so fashion forward that our photo was taken for Juice Magazine, a weekly paper that shows all the cultural events and what the fashionable young folk are doing. For reasons that are beyond me, it was my first time being photographed for the periodical.
Now, onto the film. The Art Center didn’t have the sense enough to get a nice DVD, so they played some crappy scratched DVD that skipped with irritating regularity. Massively annoying. You’ve seen this movie, haven’t you? It’s a classic of American cinema, one of the truly great films our nation has created. None of that modern crap. I have decided that the French are making the good movies these days. I mean, have you seen, La Vie en Rose, or A Very Long Engagement, or Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec? If you haven’t, you are doing yourself a great disservice. I’ll give you the basics of this film. Two musicians, Joe and Jerry, are witnesses at the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Wanting to avoid getting killed by the mob, they take a job in a girl’s band on its way to Florida. They disguise themselves as Josephine and Daphne and effortlessly mingle with the ladies. I LOVE DRAG QUEENS! They weren’t really drag queens, I suppose, it wasn’t a desire to dress in drag, it was a way of preserving life, but I don’t care. Their makeup was fabulous! Sugar, played by Marilyn Monroe, is wonderful, and the boys take an immediate liking to her. Since you’ve surely seen the film, I’m going to skip over the most and talk about my favorite part. Daphne is being pursued by Osgood Fielding III, a rich womanizer who is bewitched with Daphne’s charms. The film is wonderfully refreshing, because Daphne goes along with this, accepting his affections, tangoing the night away, gushing over diamond bracelets. He completely forgets that he is a man in a dress and falls for Osgood. When he comes back to reality, he is crushed that he is going to hurt Osgood’s feelings when the truth is revealed. He can’t admit the truth and carries on the façade and Osgood proposes. In the iconic final scene, Jerry and Osgood say these iconic lines:
Jerry: Oh no you don’t! Osgood, I’m gonna level with you. We can’t get married at all.
Osgood: Why not?
Jerry: Well, in the first place, I’m not a natural blonde.
Osgood: Doesn’t matter.
Jerry: I smoke! I smoke all the time!
Osgood: I don’t care.
Jerry: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I’ve been living with a saxophone player.
Osgood: I forgive you.
Jerry: [tragically] I can never have children!
Osgood: We can adopt some.
Jerry: But you don’t understand, Osgood! Ohh…
[Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig]
Jerry: [normal voice] I’m a man!
Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody’s perfect!
Not gonna lie, I burst into spontaneous tears. I hope they get married and are happy for the rest of their lives. This is such a clever and daring scene in a film from the 50s. Billy Wilder was a genius. Marilyn was wonderful, Tony Curtis was great with his Cary Grant inspired accent, Jack Lemmon was sensational. The plot is hilarious and reasonable, the writing is tight, it’s marvelous. Every single thing about this film is perfect. I love this movie. See it. [My Rating: 10/10]
MOVIE of the WEEK: Some Like It Hot Funny and heartwarming. A triumph of American cinema.