March 30, 2013

The Truthiness Of Christina Crawford

Christina Crawford is poised, honest, insightful and direct in this fascinating interview in a time bubble from 1978 that coincided with the publication of her memoir Mommie, Dearest. The audience questions about her abusive relationship with mother Joan Crawford are surprisingly spot on and somewhat sympathetic but (25 seconds into part two) one wackadoodle (who speaks her disgust over the telephone) is respectfully rebuked by Crawford, further illustrating the caller's idiocy and Crawford's truth. Interviewer Phil Donahue does less prancing around then he is wont to do in his interviews - notwithstanding a precarious leg lift (two minutes into part three) that in another dimension puts Christina almost eye level with his crotchal area!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Christina Crawford 2012

March 27, 2013

Gloria Swanson in Yentl Territory?

Photographed by Edward Steichen 1924

Gloria Swanson, born on this date in 1899, would've been 17 years old in The Danger Girl, the frenetic twenty minute comedy supervised by Mack Sennett (and embedded below). With six (count 'em, six!) lead characters, Swanson stands out as the madcap who dresses as a man to lure her girl friend's boyfriend away from the other woman who is vamping him. It's all extremely complicated for twenty minutes but Swanson gets a chaste kiss on the cheek from the vamp (while she's dressed as a man) and moves further into Yentl territory when, dressed in a tuxedo with top hat, she comes out as a woman to the man she loves (her girl friend's boyfriend, no less) and gets a kiss from him too - all in 1916!

The Danger Girl 1916

March 18, 2013

Mother's Day (2010)

Despite the horror cliches, Mother's Day, a remake of the 80s flick (which I never saw so I can't compare), has in its favor a creepy lead performance by Rebecca De Mornay - channeling her faux mother slash babysitter from 1992's The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. The acting, in general, is good (despite having to deal with some ridiculous plot points) and the film ends with a nice yet somewhat predictable twist so is passable for its genre. And yes, I had more sympathy for Ma and her kids than the people whom they are terrorizing - jeesh.

March 16, 2013

The Women (2008)

Jungle Red, the fashion show and an all female cast are still part of The Women, a remake of the 1939 film version of the Clare Booth Luce play; unfortunately, humor, catty remarks and the original cast are missing. The movie is not unwatchable - it's just dull watching stock characters play out a one note script. Writer/director Diane English's fifteen year journey to remake the classic should've ended before it began.

March 14, 2013

Harper Valley PTA (1978)

Today they'd call it stalking and bullying (and illegal to boot) but in 1978 Harper Valley PTA was just a good-ole boy redneck revenge comedy. Barbara Eden looks beautiful and does her best with the material but this is a three minute song extended into a two hour movie. Listen to the song and have dinner with a friend instead.

Barbara's 1967 solo LP

March 8, 2013

The Charms of Louise Beavers

Louise Beavers (born this date, 1902) is largely remembered as Delilah, the pancake-making business partner/companion/maid opposite Claudette Colbert in the fascinating, racially-charged tale from 1934, Imitation Of Life. She worked steadily throughout a forty year career accumulating a long list of credits playing less complex versions of the same domestic servant character but was always a delight, especially in films like The Pickup, Made For Each Other and Mae West's She Done Him Wrong.

Ms. Beavers had a luminous smile and was in a select group of actresses (including Hattie McDaniel and Ethel Waters) who portrayed the housekeeper Beulah in the long-running radio and television comedy, The Beulah Show.

The Beulah Show

as Aunt Delilah in Imitation of Life
'the face that sold 32 million pancakes'

March 7, 2013

Auntie Mame (1958)

Auntie Mame is a fantabulous comedy about a young boy raised by his quirky aunt; there is no music in this one but the film flows like a musical. Rosalind Russell is at the top of her game recreating Auntie Mame (a role she played on Broadway) and the script (adapted from the play which itself was adapted from the Patrick Dennis novel) is top-notch! Director Morton DeCosta (born this day, 1914) has created a fine film that, like its titular character, never gets old.