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Posts tagged ‘reviews’

Great Sale Mail News!

By , 7 April, 2010, No Comment

You know I prefer vintage clothing, lingerie, shoes, jewelry, and accessories; but sometimes, when rarity and/or availability prevents me from having my way, I have to count on getting some classic pieces by modern makers. (And, I’ll be honest, sometimes issues of fit and fabric care make contemporary pieces not only a more convenient purchase but a more practical one to live with — and that’s before we even get to the rest of the members of the family!)

For ease in finding my favorite brands — and in the sizes my family needs — I count on Sale Mail from Shop It To Me for alerts to sales and deals online. This probably doesn’t surprise you as I mention many of the fabulous Sale Mail finds here quite often — but I have (even more) good news!

Now there’s Shop It To Me for those in the United Kingdom — which helps not only those in the UK but all members find the deals on the hot Brit styles and British designers!

If you already have a Shop It To Me membership, you can login and select the UK brands and designers you want to receive sale alerts for — and you can upgrade to the new UK service simply by emailing support@shopittome.co.uk.

If you’re not already a member, you can sign up for your free Shop It To Me Sale Mail alerts here. (Click the US or UK flag at the top right side to specify your location.)

Shop It To Me Goes British!

Shop It To Me Goes British!

Vintage Film High-Five Friday

By , 26 March, 2010, No Comment

This week’s High-Five Friday links are all about vintage films:

1. Film Sufi writes about Arthur Robison’s Warning Shadows (Schatten – eine Nächtliche Halluzination, 1923).

2. At Allure, actress Anna Sten.

3. Slip gushes about Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966).

4. A general shout-out to the Pre Code Film Community at LJ, where I spend hours several times a month.

5. And, because I really don’t cover horror films and fans of same might feel neglected, check out The Gorgon (1964) at Ferdy On Films.

Racism In Vintage Films: It’s Not A Simple Black & White Matter

By , 5 March, 2010, 9 Comments

Cliff talks about Handling the Subject of Racism as a Classic Film Blogger — and there’s lots of interesting discussion in the comments too, including mention of a post about the film I reviewed, The Toy Wife.

I agree that too many vintage films are underappreciated — if they’re seen at all. Which is partly why I didn’t mention my queasiness about several scenes with slaves in The Toy Wife. But that wasn’t the only reason…

Along with struggling with how to balance presenting the issues of racism in films of the past, of not wanting to let the known facts of past ruin a film for potential viewers, I struggle with being a white woman discussing it. It’s one thing for me to point out gender issues (I am one, and can honestly react as one), but when it comes to racism I flounder.

It’s not simply a matter of white guilt, or of defensiveness, or even of committing a sin of omission that a person of color can call me out on; it’s about how to honestly portray my horror without co-opting the issue, of committing some sin of insensitivity… If that makes sense. (I bet that does make sense to at least a few other white folks though.)

Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt

But, like all the discussion points at Cliff’s post, we shouldn’t just ignore mentioning the subject any more than others should let being told about racist depictions in films sway themselves from watching old films; it’s avoiding the past.

Because of that, I don’t think we should sanitize the racism from vintage films (and animated works), editing out the scenes with mammy’s like cigarettes from Bogart’s hand. Racism is shameful, but like our past obsession with smoking, we can’t deny it simply by giving it the old whitewash — for whatever reason. We have to remember our past honestly, even if it’s painful.

But these are my views… My questions for you, dear readers, are:

* How does racism in film affect your viewing? Do you stop watching &/or avoid films because it’s so uncomfortable? Do you just write it off as “unfortunately, that the way things were…”?

* Do you find the racism so uncomfortable in vintage movies that you wish it was edited out of the film — or that there were edited versions available?

* If you review or blog about movies, do you mention the racism? Why or why not? And if you do, how do you do it?

Meeting Luise Rainer

By , 14 January, 2010, No Comment

I stayed up late Tuesday night, celebrating Luise Rainer‘s 100th birthday with TCM. This was my introduction to Rainer — and even though the three films I watched are neither her best known films nor those she won her two (back-to-back) Oscars for, I was smitten.

Luise Rainer

Luise Rainer

The first movie I watched was The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937), which, frankly, is often dismissed as more eye-candy than substantive film. It’s easy to do, what with such opulent settings for two wealthy spies each on opposite ends of political intrigues who manage to fall for each other. But if you listen as well as watch, there’s a sophistication and elegance to the acting too. Especially the banter between Rainer and William Powell.

William Powell & Luise Rainer in Emperor's Candlesticks

William Powell & Luise Rainer in Emperor's Candlesticks

Enjoy the lush settings, but don’t forget to focus on the faces and the dialog — if you do pay attention, it’s rather like the delight of employing the secret compartments in the antique candlesticks.

Vintage Magazine Article On The Emperor's Candlesticks

Vintage Magazine Article On The Emperor's Candlesticks

It’s not my favorite of the three Rainer films I watched, but it was good enough for me to want to watch another…

Remembering The 1980s Fashions In Valley Girl

By , 19 November, 2009, No Comment

I had spotted this fashion shopping spread in that Elle‘s Women In Hollywood Issue, and the minute I saw it I was confused.

elle-valley-girl

“Break out the jelly platforms, biker shorts, neon bouclé and juicy bangles for a totally rad ensemble,” it says — for Valley Girl?! That’s not the way I remembered the fashions in the film. So, jumping the que in our NetFlix account, I got Valley Girl (1983) to refresh my memory.

Valley Girl stars Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman in the ultimate 80’s Romeo and Juliet story — with a much better ending, as no one dies. *wink* It has sat in my memory all these years as a great film in terms of capturing and expressing the look and feel of the times presented — not just the decade, but those teen years — projecting it all onto a screen then, and preserving it for us now. (I’m not the only one who feels this way either.)

To be honest, Kleph has an excellent review of the film; I found it while Googling for photos and insist that you read it because I probably couldn’t say it better or add anything, really. Plus, this post is about other things about the film: the fashions in the film. So let’s get to it.

Like I said, I could have been wrong recalling the fashions in the film, so I watched it again to be sure… But I wasn’t wrong. Valley Girl is not full of jelly & neon.

Valley Girls Mall Shopping

Valley Girls Mall Shopping

This was a period of bright colors, but not neon; think hot pink, turquoise, and yellow, not day-glo colors. The 80’s also had a strong punk influence — black, red, and more black.

Teen House Party In Valley Girl

Teen House Party In Valley Girl

Overall, bright solids, stripes and blocks of color were predominant. Collars were ‘up’. Patterns and stripes were bold, clear & crisp, not the colorful cluttered-on-black zippered things Elle shows.

valley-girl-stripes-and-patterns

Julie and Randy in the Mall Food Court

And Julie also wore quite a bit of the that romantic lacy look that I can best describe as Gunne Sax — not just in her prom dress (or the prom dresses of others), but lacy tops with long sleeves with plenty of buttons.

Lace Blouse In Valley Girl

Lace Blouse In Valley Girl

Julie doesn’t just wear these clothes for the cinematic conveyance of her difference, her ties to her hippie parents, her romantic side, or her nervousness dressing for a party (when her friend has to help her button those buttons on her sleeves); these fashions were strong in the 80’s. I owned and wore several of these sorts of blouses — and my prom dresses were all Gunne Sax.

Posing For Prom Pictures In Valley Girl

Posing For Prom Pictures In Valley Girl

I didn’t live in Southern California, but my friends and I dressed a lot like this (the ‘trickle to the heartland’ theory of fashion); one of the reasons that this movie spoke to us all then — and is fondly remembered now.

That Elle might get the fashions wrong is sad… It’s not just that I want the staff to be old enough to remember Valley Girl (though that would be nice!), fashion was a huge part of the film. As Kleph wrote:

That’s partly because Coolidge understood the distinction was a fallacy to begin with. The valley kids define themselves through what they buy while the Hollywood kids do it by what they don’t – but they still show their allegiances via what they wear. And it’s important that, in Valley Girl, when Julie and Randy first see each other – first become interested in each other – it’s at the beach when they are not in the usual garb of their tribes. It’s also no accident the film starts inside a mall but ends outside it.

Valley Girl is an iconic film which preserves fashions of the time as much as it uses them for a point, yet in pushing the return of such retro 80s fashions, Elle gets it all wrong. For the fashion mag to get the fashions so wrong isn’t ironic; it’s a tragedy.

Josie Cotton Performing In Valley Girl

Josie Cotton Performing In Valley Girl

Fall In Love With The Goddess

By , 9 October, 2009, 2 Comments

The Goddess (1934) is a black & white silent film made in Shanghai, China, under the original Chinese title Shennü — and it stars one of my favorite actresses of all-time: the incredible Ruan Lingyu. That alone should be enough to convince you to see the film, to own it, but I suspect that even should my word carry that much weight with you, you still want to know more. *wink*

The word shennü has two meanings; literally, it means “divine woman,” and figuratively, it’s a colloquial euphemism for street prostitute. But even if we didn’t know this, the opening of the restored film tells us this is a story of a prostitute — a prostitute and a mother.

Opening Of The Goddess

Opening Of The Goddess

In a way it’s rather unfortunate that the film begins this way, the text used to tell the story rather than just trusting the images, trusting the artistry of Ruan… But the more modern restoration can hardly be blamed or seen as slighting Ruan’s performance; the original Chinese film used intertitles, seemingly having felt the need to spoon-feed an audience too:

The prostitute struggles in the whirlpool of life. In the streets of the night, she is a lowly prostitute. When she holds her child up, she is a saintly mother. Between these two lives, she has shown her formidable character.

I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s obvious when she waits on the dirty neon-lit street for a man, disappears into a building with him while we are left to watch the sunrise, then see our exhausted heroine head home, that our divine woman sells herself to men on the streets of Shanghai.

Don’t believe me? Watch and see:

One night, in an attempt to avoid a police raid on that section of town, The Goddess ducks into the wrong doorway and finds herself face to face with the local crime boss. He offers her protection from the police, at a price, of course. It is an undesirable situation, but better than being busted and losing her son.

The Goddess and The Crime Boss

The Goddess and The Crime Boss

Now the crime boss is her pimp, expecting physical pleasures along with his cut of the cash. He and his cronies drop by her home whenever they wish. She tries to hide money from him, to better her son’s life, but the crime boss finds it — and she knows the price she’ll pay in the future if she tries again.

Desperate, she & her son escape in the middle of the night to a new city, only to end up with the same old problems — including the crime boss. He’s tracked her down, taken the boy, and waits for her return. To get her son back, she must go along with the crime boss.

She’s back in his clutches & control.

As the boy grows, we see him teased and ostracized, both for his mother’s work and his status as an illegitimate child. Realizing her son’s best future lies in an education, The Goddess squirrels away money for his tuition. This time she finds a better hiding place, but the crime boss is suspicious and misses his money. He is violent and abusive but she is unwavering, suffering the abuse and the prostitution for the sake of her son.

It would seem a miserable life, but much like real life, there are little moments of brightness which pierce the gloom. For a mother, it is the joy of her child.

Ruan As The Goddess Adoring Her Son

Ruan As The Goddess Adoring Her Son

She revels in his studies — and Ruan radiates just looking at the boy. When the school has a talent show and her son performs, Ruan glows with a happiness which transcends even her physical beauty. But such a bright light is shut off when the gossipy mothers in the audience begin whispering about her profession and pointing out her son to one another.

The gossip spreads, and eventually the school receives letters of complaint that a boy of such a mother should attend there. The principal, who seems impressed with the boy’s diligence & behavior, investigates, making a trip to the boy’s home.

Unhappy to learn that the mother is a prostitute, he tells her that under the circumstances he’ll have to expel the child. The Goddess pleads her case, admitting her shame, she says, “Even though I am a degenerate woman, don’t I have the right as a mother to raise him as a good boy?”

Scene From 1934's The Goddess

Scene From 1934's The Goddess

It is heartbreaking. Neither the audience nor the principal can remain unmoved by the depth of her love, her willingness to sacrifice for the sake of her son.

Knowing that education is the key to this child’s future, the principal says he will spare the boy. (But he does encourage her to leave prostitution, of course — as if she hasn’t been trying!) At the school, he argues the case before the school board. His argument, even seen on an old silent movie, is the stuff that will get a progressive up on her feet. It is both a passionate and intelligent speech where we see the filmmakers’ views on poverty, class struggle, and Shanghai society.

However, the school board members fear action by concerned & upset parents and so want the boy expelled. The principal responds that if they expel the boy, they will not have only failed the child but failed as educators in general — and he will not remain at the school if they do. But they do expel the boy and the principal leaves his job at the school.

Not knowing the strong stand the principal took, The Goddess feels betrayed yet again. In fight-or-flight mode, she readies to flee with her son yet again. But when she goes to get her hidden savings she discovers that the crime boss has already found her stash and taken it. The flight option removed, The Goddess now heads off to fight — the crime boss.

To tell you what happens next would be a disservice to you and the film. Enigmatically, I will say that in the battle between The Goddess and the crime boss, the victor is not victorious. She may have won the fight but she loses the war and pays the price — a steep price. For even though he is a low-life criminal, a man is still worth more than a woman. And a whore? Even less so.

Women, especially whorish women, must be punished (in films and in real life).

True, China didn’t need to adhere to the Hollywood Code but the operating feudal system morality in 1930’s China was akin to such thinking, so while the story dared to be told via film, in the end, our heroine must pay the price.

Or maybe the price is simply more of the film’s statement on the unfairness of poverty and class.

In any case, Ruan’s goddess pays the kind of price that leaves you crying — tears of sorrow, tears of rage.

The Goddess could be called, simplistically, just another Madonna-Whore film; but given that worldwide the schism still exists, who can argue against such such a timeless, even if vintage, exploration of it?

And Ruan Lingyu’s poignant performance is worth watching for its own sake.

You can watch & download the entire film for free at The Internet Archive as The Goddess is now in the public domain, and watch it on TCM, as I did — but do yourself a favor and buy a DVD; your sale will be support for the restoration and distribution of great old films. Ruan Ling-Yu: The Goddess of Shanghai, the actress’ biography, also contains a DVD of The Goddess.

Chinese Film Poster For The Goddess

Chinese Film Poster For The Goddess

Monday Movie Meme: Film Fathers

By , 5 October, 2009, No Comment

This week’s Monday Movie Meme theme is movies featuring Dads and it brought one name immediately to mind: Spencer Tracy.

Spencer Tracy may not have been the world’s best father or family man, but perhaps it’s his personal feelings about such personal failures which provided him with the ability to act the part of complicated fathers with such divine grace. Naturally Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) leaps to mind — but I think the role which best captures Tracy’s ability to portray a film father is Father’s Little Dividend (1951).

Both films focus on parental reaction to the situations of their adult children, but in Father’s Little Dividend Tracy’s role as father Stanley Banks is the focus on the film. This focus on a common man’s response to the traditional life cycle change from father to grandfather makes for portrayal of full, complex person — a character rather than a caricature. But I don’t think anyone can watch Tracy and not give his acting ability its due.

It may be dutiful and doting dad Stanley Banks who struggles with his new relationship with his “modern” daughter and his disconnected and distanced relationship with a grandson who begrudges him that magic moment of bonding by crying whenever grandpa is near; but it’s Spencer Tracy who delivers those scenes and the emotions beneath them.

(Spoilers follow — Stop reading if you don’t want to know!)

It is because of Tracy’s superb acting that we understand — not just because “things were different back then” — just how useless grandpa feels around his grandson. So we understand how easy it would be for grandpa to step too far away from the sleeping-safely-in-his-carriage baby at the park and go feel useful and connected by helping a group of boys with their soccer game… And just how devastated, guilty, and frightened he would feel when he returns to the park bench to find the carriage and baby missing!

When Banks stands before the less than understanding police, confessing he lost the baby and pleading his case for his grandson to be returned to him without calling his daughter, his pain becomes our pain because Tracy is the one who inhabits it and conveys it.

When the policeman suggests the test of Banks’ claims be the baby’s reaction to him, we all flush and swallow hard lumps of fear right along with Tracy because we fear what Banks does: that the baby will cry and reject him, resulting in further embarrassment and problems. We all hold our breath while Tracy as Banks walks towards the baby who is happily preoccupied with the group of police…

And when that baby lights up with delight upon seeing his grandpa, we all feel giddy with relief — and the realization that these two finally have their magic moment and are forever bonded, their devotion sealed in this shared secret.

We wouldn’t feel any of that if it weren’t for Spencer Tracy’s ability to feel and convey all the emotions of fatherhood, including the less than flattering ones.

Spencer Tracy may not have been able to, as he himself lamented, been able to be a the best father — but he carried within himself not only such bittersweet knowledge, but teh ability to apply the bitter and the sweet to his acting roles as on-screen dads.  From watching Spencer Tracy “dads,” I’ve learned that fatherhood comes with all the expectations, mistakes, and complexity of motherhood.

While there’s certainly sadness in such things, there is also awareness — we are not alone, knowledge is power, there is hope.

Lessons In Vertigo (Hitchcock’s Vertigo, That Is!)

By , 22 September, 2009, 3 Comments

Vertigo (1958), with James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is another “classic film” you may have heard so much about that you’ve possibly avoided it — but that’s not its only problem.

Now 51 years old, Vertigo is a film which has long been playing on late night on television — a position that puts films into the easily dismissed pile, not only for its too-frequent showings, but an air time left to insomniacs and after-bar munchies-eating persons who turn TV on for some noise once back in a too-quiet house. The results are that a film that most people know is a called a classic is now either too old and junky to watch or a film they’ve seen bits & pieces of and were unimpressed.

Sadly, my previous viewings of Vertigo were of the post-bar & trying to fall asleep variety and so were admittedly hampered. While I knew I wasn’t giving the film a proper viewing, I was very bored. For this reason, when my movie club suggested Vertigo, I wrinkled my nose — but once it was suggested as a Classic Schmassic, I had no way out.

Vertigo Film Poster

Vertigo Film Poster

Vertigo is a rather stylish movie, but it moves slowly…

One one hand, you have lovely details — both for fans of vintage and character points for story lovers. (Early on I was most in love with Bel Geddes who, despite her often poorly written lines, earnestly tugs are your heartstrings; the lack of sexual tension made utterly clear as Stewart takes a look at lingerie artist/designer Bel Geddes’ work.)

Stewart Doesn't Seem To Care About Bel Geddes' Bra

Stewart Doesn't Seem To Care About Bel Geddes' Bra

But on the other, you can’t help but feel a bit impatient for the famous Hitchcock to get going. And even when Hitchcock does get going there are problems.

Novak Clutching Stewart in Vertigo

Novak Clutching Stewart in Vertigo

First, there was the fact that I knew we, as an audience, have become much more sophisticated in our mystery-suspense movie watching. No, it’s not that we wanted more special effects and higher body counts (as if!), but I figured even my 9 year old would figure out the secret identity switcher-roo and basic plot premise. I’m not boasting that my children are gifted; simply too experienced with (and perhaps even jaded by) mystery and suspense films (and books) today to not guess the plot. Maybe audiences back then were too, maybe this was Hitchcock’s intent; I don’t know and I leave such matters to film critics and the like. But I do know that once I got my kids past the slowly unfolding story to a plot they could easily guess, they’d be bored.

This leads us to the second problem.

After the slow-moving pace and the spoon-fed clues, Hitchcock suddenly jerks us like a fish in a line. Stewart is in the mental ward; then he’s out of it. Me and my film-watching friends asked, “Is he dreaming this?” “Is he out?” “Is he out of the ward or out of his mind?”

Stewart is both.

Out of the hospital and out of his mind, Stewart can’t stop looking for the girl he believes is dead, finding Novak’s face and figure in nearly every woman he sees. When he finds her, he doesn’t seem any less crazy because while we know it’s Novak he doesn’t — yet he forces this woman to dress and look like the doomed lady he loves.

Key Players In Vertigo: Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak Times-Two

Key Players In Vertigo: Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak Times-Two

As a woman, these scenes are very uncomfortable to watch and Stewart goes from poor dupe to manipulative, controlling, and abusive boyfriend.

Like how Bel Geddes was just dropped from the film, it may all be done to swing audience favor from Stewart to Novak; but it’s not pretty. Watching Novak be transformed is not a blossoming; it is not movie magic reuniting lovers; it is disturbing and creepy and misogynistic.

And then, when Stewart realizes how he’s been duped, he doesn’t feel pity towards Novak. His anger, aggression and abuse may be the catalyst for curring the very acrophobia which led to his victimization, but it’s not healing; this too is ugly.

Perhaps Stewart would have come around, could have come around (as we the audience would have if we were clued in on a few things, such as the plot holes), but what happens next left all of us sputtering. It wasn’t mere surprise at a (finally) unexpected film twist — it just didn’t seem to make any sense.

“Did his film budget run out?”
“Did we miss something in the back story — all those spoon-fed bread-crumbs?”
“Are we dumb?”

A serious WTF? movie moment — and then the film ends.

My first thought whilst writing a review of Vertigo in my head was, “Watch it and be surprised!” but while actually writing this review, I find myself feeling cheated. And angry. Should a sudden and inexplicable WTF? ending equate to a good mystery and/or suspense? Can you call a film “classic” when the mystery and suspense are so out of character and random that it feels slapped-together?

When the film was originally released, theatre goers didn’t care for Hitchcock’s Vertigo; but since then, film critics have lauded the film classic status, placing it on Top 100 and even Top 10 lists. These film critics have said that audiences didn’t understand the film, didn’t appreciate Hitchcock’s work. But I think the original audiences had it right and that the film critics wrap Hitchcock’s status around the film and make it something it’s not.

Bel Geddes Tries To Make Herself Something She's Not

Bel Geddes Tries To Make Herself Something She's Not

Stewart did a fine job of making himself unlikable (no easy task); Novak may never have done such fine dramatic work as she beautifully did in her two complicated roles; and Bel Geddes was (surprisingly to those of us who only knew her as the aged matriarch of TV’s Dallas) simply heartbreakingly wonderful as the taken-for-granted-girl-who-is-a friend-but-not-a-girlfriend. Had Hitchcock only crafted a real ending that made sense — or left us some of those giant bread crumbs to follow into whatever madness he was thinking — Vertigo could have been good, grand even…

As it is, I suspect you’d have to be a male to look past the creepy misogyny and slapped-on ending to appreciate Vertigo; this is one classic I’m still calling a schmassic.

Ready To Get Manhandled?

By , 27 August, 2009, 2 Comments

Manhandled Film Poster (1949)

Manhandled Film Poster (1949)

Manhandled (1949) is another one of those films you’ve probably not heard much about — and if you have, you probably heard about it from one of those film critics who didn’t have anything good to say about it.

Stupid film critics. *sigh*

Thankfully I was spared such dim views from dimwits because I’d never heard of Manhandled before watching it on TCM the other night; and I missed most of Robert’s pre-film talk to boot, vaguely catching something about it being a rare Dorothy Lamour film because she was out of her usual sarong (& that it was one of her last films due to the dreaded “aging” that nixed many a beautiful woman’s Hollywood career). So overall, I had few, if any, expectations.

This was a good thing — but it also added to the confusion too. For Manhandled is one film that nearly defies categorization.

There’s intrigue and danger in this vintage who-dun-it of a psychologist’s secretary (Dorothy Lamour) who divulges too much about the patients & her work… When a man confesses his dreams of killing his wife, you might surmise who will end up dead; but from then on out, who knows?

Manhandled does everything it can to keep you on your toes.

You might be pretty sure Dan Duryea (Lamour’s supposed boyfriend) did it; he does have the murder victim’s missing jewels…

dan-duryea-in-manhandled

But what about the victim’s husband — the patient who confessed his dreams of murder?

The police are sure it’s Lamour. (Why her more than the psychologist himself? Duryea helps with that!) Sterling Hayden, as the insurance investigator trying to recover the missing jewels, doesn’t seem to want to believe the secretary could have done it; but maybe he’s too quick to judge…

Hayden and Lamour in Manhandled

Hayden and Lamour in Manhandled

You’ve got good cops playing the “bad cop” to Hayden’s “good cop” treatment of innocent Lamour — and Duryea, the former cop now gum-chewing gum-shoe, who’s full of artificial sweetener (if not crap). Just try to figure it out — and how the film will end!

Interrogation Scene From Manhandled

Interrogation Scene From Manhandled

A black & white film, with much of the style & moody substance of film noir, Manhandled also throws in some comedy — and not the wry, dry, sort either. Manhandled throws you oddball quirks (like when Irving Bacon as Sgt. Fayle charmingly hops into a room just before the door closes), reoccurring gags (the police car has no breaks), and even a few down-right odd situations (like when Detective Lt. Bill Dawson, played by Art Smith, nearly falls asleep on his feet, passing for a drunk). For many of the other viewer-slash-reviewers, the comedy is Manhandled‘s downfall; they want the movie to be a traditional film noir — or at least a straight-up, straight-laced suspense-filled mystery thriller. But both hubby & I found the comedy, even the unnecessarily disarming. It was part of the confusion, the slight of hand; it may have been a distraction, a deviation from formulaic film, but, like Tarantino’s work, in a way that adds to the film.

Whatever you think of the film’s blending of noir & comedy, it’s the dialog which makes & moves this sophisticated film. Some lines are arguably continuity errors, saying things that weren’t exactly told to them; but these lines serve to reinforce the complicated happenings to the viewer. Best of all are how a few lines are used to cover pages of context.

For example, when Duryea goes to get a kiss from Lamour, he asks her if she “doesn’t like him, kitten” to which she replies that she likes him fine, but she’s just not willing to make a second mistake… This clarifies the earlier scene in which Lamour is seen affectionately speaking to a photograph of a little girl; you now know that the child may be her daughter, but Lamour is no fallen woman — her poor circumstances are due to a shove from a cad. Especially important when watching a film made under Code influences.

Perhaps it’s not so odd that I would adore the film & its dialog…

Manhandled was based on a story, The Man Who Stole a Dream, by L.S. Goldsmith and the screenplay was written by Whitman Chambers, a man who authored over twenty published novels and many short stories in the mystery & crime genres. Chambers also had many screenplays to his credit — plus uncredited contributions to one of my favorite films, To Have and Have Not. (Another film I’ve had to defend from critics.)

In any case, Manhandled is an excellent film.

Dorothy Lamour Being Manhandled

Dorothy Lamour Being Manhandled

I won’t say anymore about Manhandled; you ought to enjoy it for yourself. Which will be difficult as the film apparently, sadly, is not available on DVD (other than what appears to be pirated copies) — you’ll have to keep an eye out for TCM’s next showing of Manhandled.

Swingin’ Chicks Of The 60’s

By , 31 July, 2009, No Comment
Swingin' Chicks Of The 60's

Swingin' Chicks Of The 60's

Swingin’ Chicks of the 60s, by Chris Strodder with foreword by Angie Dickinson, is “a tribute to 101 of the decade’s defining women.” A large claim, but Chris Strodder really knows his ladies!

An over-sized paperback done more in a mod magazine style than a traditionally slick coffee table format, it’s full of beach girls, blonde beauties, Elvis girls, models, television stars, singers, American, British & international movie stars, as well as cartoon chicks.

You get photos (because some of the photos were from private collections many of them were new to me), information on each chick’s reason for fame, her style and a bio. I particularly liked the ‘Bonus Swingability’ sections which share little known facts, such as who was up for what roles and the information on official websites.

Swingin’ Chicks of the 60’s is as much of a thrill for those who remember these women as it is for those who are new to them.