Movie Resolution: Week 36

September 1: Fifth Avenue Girl

This picture was described as a screwball comedy, so I set it to record. I don’t know what kind of humor the people who write those little blurbs have, but this was not funny. (On an aside, wouldn’t it be so hard to write those little summaries? How do you condense two hours of film into a sentence? Takes creativity. I read once for Dracula: Immigrant clashes with natives. Isn’t that just brilliant?) Mr. Borden is a rich businessman that feels under appreciated by his wife who is always out on the town with a rich young playboy. It’s his birthday, and he’s feeling blue, so he goes to the park and sits himself on a bench next to a young woman. It turns out that she is homeless, unemployed, and planning on sleeping in the park. Mr. Borden takes pity on her and invites to a nightclub to celebrate his birthday. She has nothing better to do, so along she goes. They get smashingly drunk and when he wakes up at home the next morning, it’s discovered that Mary Grey is still there. I love her name! When I’m famous, I think I’ll change my name to something Grey. Now that we have those annoying porn “books” littering the literary world and minds of innocent people nationwide with things like vaginal clamps, I may not use the last name for obvious reasons. Mrs. Borden is not at all amused that her husband has been partying it up with a younger lady–she fails to see the hypocrisy, and starts paying more attention to her husband. Mr. Borden likes this, so he decides to play a sneaky trick and hires Mary to stay in the house and pretend to be his mistress. Dream job–am I right? Mary’s presence seems to do a lot of good for the family and they’re better off for her being there. The movie didn’t make me laugh, not any, but it was sweet in a melancholy kind of way. [My Rating: 3/10]

September 2: The Haunted Palace

Vincent Price movies are wonderfully campy and that is why I watch them. As I’ve written about before, camp can either be horrid or horridly wonderful. This was pretty horrid, but engaging for some reason. I didn’t enjoy it, but wanted to get to the ending. Vincent price stars dually as Joseph Curwen and his future relative Charles Dexter Ward. Joseph is an evil warlock who was burned at the stake by the angry villagers. As his flesh is roasted, he vows to returns and wreak vengeance on the villagers. So, one hundred years later, Charles Dexter Ward returns to inherit the familial palace. The moment he arrives in town, the villagers are quite hostile to him and they want him to leave town. He and his wife Ann don’t really understand their unpleasant welcome, but once the story is told of Charles’ ancestor, they begin to understand, but don’t want to leave quite yet. Very soon after their arrival, Charles begins to be possessed by the spirit of his ancestor, Joseph. He is intent on taking full possession of Charles’ body and begin his revenge on the village. Bodies are dug up and people are scared and so they decide to stop the evil version of Charles before he ruins their lives. They must hurry, because, of course, Charles/Joseph is going to call up the Devil and start a whole bunch of evil. Ann and a doctor discover the secret dungeon where the ceremony is taking place and as they are close to being sacrificed, the villagers above set fire to the mansion. I can never understand how a stone building burns, but I guess they do. As the portrait of Joseph is burnt, the curse is broken and Charles returns to his body. It’s a bunch of nonsense, but I didn’t mind watching it. Don’t want to watch it again, though. [My Rating: 4/10]

September 3: Ghosts–Italian Style

As is so often the case with the majority of things, when everybody loves something–I hate it, when everybody hates something–I love it. Don’t know why. (There’s no sun up in the sky…stormy weather. Sorry, couldn’t help it. I live for that song.) Many of the critiques online of this film are awful, and they have merit, but I really enjoyed this picture. It wasn’t perfect, very, very few films are. I’ve seen hundreds this year alone and have only found three that I consider flawless masterpieces. This movie didn’t set out to be a masterpiece, I don’t think many people have even seen it! It was good fun. I really should not have  liked it–it was made in the 60s, and you know how I feel about that. But, the plot captured the goofy comedic spirit of the 30s and 40s and I heartily approved. If you thought about the plot much, you would not have enjoyed yourself (it really makes little no sense) but if you just sat back and let yourself be amused, you’d have a good time. Sophia Loren stars as Maria, the beautiful, but neglected bride of Pasquale. They meet in the most charming way, Pasquale sees Maria on the balcony and she tells him all her secrets of making the perfect espresso. I want to recreate her recipe! I haves Bialetti stovetop brewer, but I can’t make the perfect cup, yet. I think I need different beans. I also need to not forget it on the flame. I get distracted so easily. Anyway, they get married. Later on, they need to find a place to live after Pasquale is fired from the conservatory where he sings–loudly. Wandering about the market, he sees a gypsy selling fortunes. I’ve never seen something so wonderful. You give the woman a coin and she takes her bird from its cage and the bird takes a strip of paper from a box with a fortune printed upon it. Obsessed! There is a huge abandoned palace near the market and its for rent. Pasquale inquires and he is shown inside.  It’s massive and cavernous and spooky. He is told that the rent is free as long as he keeps the place up and makes it look lived in. Nobody lives there because it is haunted! The previous tenant dropped dead after a few nights in the house. Pasquale is wary, but takes on the house, how could he turn it down? While he’s out house hunting, Maria goes to the Church to see an old friend, Alfredo, who loves her passionately. Can you imagine being named Alfredo? I would be hungry all the time. Not sure why she went to see him, but he made an almighty fool of himself when he saw Maria, whom he hasn’t seen in ages. She might leave her husband to go back to him. After this tantalizing tease, she leaves. Maria approves of the house immediately and gets  to work cleaning it up. Pasquale decides not to tell her about the ghosts so as not to scare her. The place doesn’t seem to really be haunted, but the both misconstrue events into things they think are paranormal. It’s really rather amusing. I enjoyed it. Later on, Maria and Pasquale decide to rent out some of their rooms to earn a bit of extra income. One of their first renters is a party girl (not a cup of tea, mind you, holla at the  Ab Fab reference!) who works at night, if you know what I mean. There’s an altercation between Pasquale and the woman in a latex dress and then for reasons nobody seems to understand, Maria runs away and hides in the countryside while her husband stands trial for her alleged murder. Everybody on the Internet is confused by this. We just don’t understand. Later on Maria shows back up and falls back in love with the bitter Pasquale. There’s an amusing scene in the grotto, where Alfredo has erected a memorial to Maria. Coincidentally, they both are in the grotto at the same time and hilarity ensued. It was a highly, highly flawed film, but I liked it. [My Rating: 8/10]

September 4: The Creature from the Black Lagoon

I was overwhelmed quite suddenly with desire to watch this movie. I’m sure there was some kind of stimulus to do this, but I’ve tried to remember and can come up with nothing. It’s not important, so let’s carry on. I’m sure that in my youth I’ve seen this, but as I remember only so little of my childhood, I can’t be certain. I know for certain that I watched most of the old mummy movies, and the usual horror classics, but this one may have slipped me by. I had no idea of the plot or what the monster did, I just knew that it was a man in a rubber suit. I had a flashback of the monster, though. My grandmother had a jigsaw puzzle of Frankenstein and the Creature. We would out them together in the afternoons and then make grilled cheese sandwiches. Strange how different she is now sitting in a nursing home, small and a bit unpleasant. Oh well. The magical Netflix had the film available to stream, so I settled myself down in my elegant lounge (which I still need to post about) and hit play. I really enjoyed it! Deep in the Amazon rainforest, a fossil has been discovered of a huge amphibian. The scientists are intrigued so they decide to go on an expedition to recover the rest of the fossil. David and Kay are romantically linked marine biologists who travel down with their boss, Williams, who is jealous of David as he wants Kay himself. This tension is always bubbling and you want to smack Williams. Kay obviously has no affections for him. He’s too vain, though, to see this. The fossil proves difficult to discover. David theorizes that over the millennia, perhaps it washed down the river. This particular bit of they Amazon runs into a lagoon–the Black Lagoon! The captain of the boat says that people never return, but is more than willing to drive them. Seemed off a bit. So off they go to the beautiful lagoon. In color, I can imagine it was spectacular, but there wasn’t as much lovely greenery in black and white. I still prefer black and white cinematography, though. The creature isn’t sure what to make of these invaders. He is a bizarre, prehistoric, hideous creature/man in a rubber suit. It was cheesecake, but I loved it! The creature, who is billed as Gill Man, takes an instant liking to Kay when she goes for a swim. She was basically doing a striptease for the fish, it was ridiculous. The creature attacks, attacks, attacks, and kills, kills, kills. Obviously they need to stop this, so they sprinkle poison on the surface of the water that knocks fish out. I doesn’t work so well on the creature, but after a struggle, they manage to contain him in a crate they build. He breaks free, of course. Kay is taken hostage by the monster and David has to save her from the monster. Good fun. Quite tragic. The monster is a hideous representation of the sad romantic in each of us. Ugly and misunderstood, we simply want to be loved. Great soundtrack, too, by Mancini. There’s a sequel, Revenge of the Creature, hopefully I can find a copy. [My Rating: 8/10]

 September 5: How to Marry a Millionaire

This was a Marilyn Monroe picture, so I assumed I would like it. I assumed wrong. In fact, this is the first of her films that I was totally disinterested by. The cast was great and the plot was reasonable, I just could not connect to the movie no matter how hard I tried. This is illogical, it’s about gold diggers, if I could chose a profession, I would pick that, who wouldn’t? Find a wealthy person, charm them to the chapel and then wind up falling for them…and their cash. Marvelous. Marilyn stars as one of a group of girls who are hunting for millionaires. They are unlikable. In fact the only likable quality of any of them was the glasses Marilyn wore. They were really quite becoming. The ladies were invited to a dinner hosted by what they believed he be a group of rich bankers. Not so much, but it took a long time to get to that point. We spend what feels like and eternity watching them court their rich beaus and then discover that they are penniless. They are upset, but they realize they love them so they all marry each other. This seems unreasonable, how could you find your perfect mate at a banker’s dinner? And how could your perfect mate be penniless? At the end, we discover that they are really millionaires and the ladies all faint. I was rather offended, but I still can’t say why. [My Rating: 3/10]

September 6: Bed of Roses

One of my life goals is to build an absurdly chic raft and cruise the entire length of the Mississippi River. I want to begin at the little trickle that is the source and float right on down to New Orleans, which I’ll surely call home for a while. I’ve always been a bit obsessed with that town, I really need to visit it again soon. As my raft floats down, I’ll stop at all the river towns and admire the brick homes. Hopefully one will be dilapidated and affordable and I’ll be able to make an offer on it and finally have my vacation home on the river. I just love the Mississippi. I just love water, but the Mississippi holds a special draw for me–it’s primal. On my raft, I’ll have Internet, a nice camera, and a new Macbook for my voyage and the blog I’ll compose will be tremendously popular. I’ll become a cultural icon and I will stop for news interviews all the way down. When I finally make it to New Orleans, Robin Roberts will be there to greet me and interview me for a prime time special on me as we eat at Arnaud’s, nibble on beignets at the Café du Monde, and have a photo shoot at Jackson Square. God my life is marvelous in my mind. If only… This film was not so marvelous. It was dull. It was about hookers who were released from prison and hop on a steamboat bound for New Orleans. Once there, they continue their careers, and I was tremendously bored. [My Rating: 1/10]

September 7: The Bat

Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price in the same picture, how bad could that be? I suddenly sound like Ina Garten, the only Food Network personality I can stand anymore. Have you watched that channel lately? Absolutely dreadful. I used to want to host a cooking show there, and I still would in a heartbeat, only an idiot wouldn’t. Just please, my dear sweet Buddha, do not make me do promos with Bobby Flay. I’ll hang with Giada, Ina, and Paula. I’m still deeply annoyed with Paula’s diabetic debacle, but I’m more amused that she is making money from having a disease that she gave herself! That’s genius, really. I applaud her butter loving heart. The Bat was your standard 50s horror, but maybe a touch better. It was good to watch after a 50 mile bike ride. Humble brag. Agnes stars as a reclusive mystery writer who rents a manor called The Oaks. Unbeknownst to her, the manor was host a grisly murder committed by a serial killer known as…The Bat! It seems that the killer is on the prowl again and all of her staff, aside from her trusted secretary and chauffeur cum butler, has fled! Through cheesy bits of narrative, we discover that the owner of The Oaks has been killed by…The Bat! In addition to the mystery, this fellow has withdrawn huge sums of money from the bank and has allegedly hidden it in the house which is why The Bat is prowling around. Vincent plays a suspicious doctor who experiments with…bats! In the end, the killer is absolutely obvious, but it’s still good fun and nicely cheesy. I was particularly fond of the mysterious panel above the fireplace that opens up and hides a lever that leads to a secret safe! I’ve always been passionate about hidden spaces. When I restore my future historic home or build my new home, it’ll be filled with secret rooms, staircases, and hallways. It will have doors hidden behind bookshelves and handles by the fireplace will reveal a hidden entrance to my panic room. I can’t wait! [My Rating: 6/10]
MOVIE of the WEEK: The Creature from the Black Lagoon I thought it was a beautifully tragic picture. So sad.

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