Monday, April 28, 2008

Monkey Business

To be honest, I was not expecting this movie to be good. I’m typically a little leery of movies that feature actual monkeys, but Cary Grant was in it, so I figured something good had to come out of it. Turns out it’s fabulous!

The story centers around Dr. Barnaby Fulton played by Cary Grant and his wife, Edwina, played by Ginger Rogers. Barnaby is a chemist in the process of creating a magic potion that will make everyone young again and Edwina is his obedient wife who selflessly supports him at the expense of all her wants and needs. Despite the fact that Marilyn Monroe’s picture is plastered all over the case and DVD, she only plays Barbaby’s boss’s completely idiotic secretary ... barely a supporting part, but whatever. Her random one-liners are hilarious.

Anyway, Barnaby has begun to test his magic potion on monkeys who are caged in his lab. One night when the lab is empty, one of the apparently brilliant monkeys breaks out of her cage and begins mixing her own version of the potion. I was shocked at how well trained this monkey was. Then, for some inexplicable reason, she takes her potion and dumps it into the water cooler. Needless to say, insanity ensues when pretty much everyone takes a drink from the water cooler of youth and, depending on how much they drank, goes back to a different stage in their lives. Apparently they were all completely insane in their younger years.

The movie was made in 1952 when Cary Grant was mostly playing the classy, debonair type, but in this film he goes back to his slapstick comedy days. He and Ginger were completely hilarious especially when they drink a few cups of coffee made with water from the water cooler of youth, and turn into ten-year-olds who wreak havoc on everyone they come into contact with.

Watching it reminded me of my absolute favorite movie what was ever featured on Mystery Science Theater, The Leech Woman, about a woman desperate enough to be young again that she kills pretty much every man she sees. That one has darker theme, obviously ... and no monkeys, but the main idea is still there. Plus, the woman in it ends up looking like a monkey, so that’s something.

Monday, April 14, 2008


The next installment in my Bette Davis phase is Now, Voyager, an excellent film about an incredibly ugly spinster named Charlotte who goes to the loony bin, gets a makeover (thank heavens!), falls in love with a married man on a cruise, defies her overbearing mother, and eventually becomes the confident, lovely woman she was meant to be (cue inspirational music)! It’s quite the uplifting story without being too corny, though I’m not really sure the ending left me completely satisfied. But nevertheless, you’re pulling for poor Charlotte throughout the film, and she doesn’t disappoint.
This is considered one of Bette Davis’s best movies, and I have to say it’s probably my favorite so far. She was nominated for a best actress Oscar, but lost to Greer Garson for Mrs. Miniver. I’m a little disappointed that Bette didn’t win anything for this movie considering how terribly ugly she had to look in the beginning of the film. Now let’s be honest, Bette is a little strange looking to begin with. So intentionally uglifying her is near painful. She had some guts. The eyebrows. They haunt me.

In other movies where Bette Davis plays a character named Charlotte, last month I watched Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte. This provided many jokes while watching Now, Voyager, given the same name thing. Anyway, in Sweet Charlotte, Bette again plays a crazy person who falls in love with a married man, but this time she’s old and lives with her crazy maid in a huge old house that is going to be torn down to make room for a new highway.
Many years earlier (when she was young and not as crazy), Charlotte had plans to run off with her married boyfriend. Shortly after discussing their plans he was brutally murdered, sending Charlotte into a black hole of insanity. The movie picks up years later when she’s old and crazy (and screams a lot!), and is wondering, along with the rest of the town, who killed her former married boyfriend. In the meantime, she refuses to move out of her house and causes much trouble for the local government types who are trying to tear it down, so they bring in Charlotte’s younger cousin, Miriam, to take care of things. Craziness ensues as Miriam has other plans that don’t so much involve getting Charlotte to move out of the house as they do making Charlotte just go completely crazy. It’s basically an insane movie and Bette Davis is a little weird in it, to say the least. I’m not sure I’ll watch it again, but it had some interesting twists and some disturbing moments if you like that kind of thing.

So if you’re trying to decide between the two, Now, Voyager is certainly the more legit, quality film. But if you’re up for some screaming, crazy, old Bette Davis action (who isn’t now and then?), you might want to check out Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Charlton Heston

Well this is weird. Charlton Heston died tonight at 84 ... the night after I watched my very first Charlton Heston movie! Now I feel a little bad about making so much fun of of the movie, but I still say it deserves it.

Anyway, the reason this is freaking me out is because a very similar thing happened when Katherine Hepburn died. PBS happened to be showing Pat and Mike one night and though I'd heard of it and had seen parts, I'd never bothered to sit down and watch the whole thing. But that night I decided to watch it, and the next day Katherine Hepburn died. I was a little weirded out because I really don't watch Katherine Hepburn movies on a regular basis. It all seemed very odd.

So now I'm a little wary of watching any movies starring people who are near death. But tonight I'm watching a Bette Davis movie, so I think I'm safe.

Damn Dirty Apes!

Last night AMC showed Planet of the Apes. I'd never seen it before, and for some inexplicable reason I felt the need to watch it. At least to get the jokes.

All I can say is:

I really didn't quite know what I was in for when I committed to watching it. I'd probably seen a couple clips and heard lots of people making fun of it ... and rightly so, but I didn't really know the story or the ending.

In addition to being really, really strange, I thought the story was a little uncreative. Ok, so apes and humans switched places. Basically everything that was an issue for the apes in the movie has at one time been an issue for humans in real life. Every debate we've had concerning religion/science/evolution was the exact same debate for the apes. They even called Charlton Heston the "missing link." Couldn't they come up with a new phrase?? Plus they spoke English. I was a little disappointed that they couldn't produce something more original! Pretty much any 5 year old could come up with the same concept.

And why, why did the apes ride horses?? Couldn't they come up with some other animal that real life humans don't ride? Just for something more interesting. Maybe a buffalo.

And why can't the humans speak? If they really lived long before these apes as we do now, did they like devolve and loose the ability to speak? Doesn't make sense.

I'm also not quite sure what the point of the movie was. Are we supposed to feel bad for the animals in the zoo? Do they want to convince us that evolution is true and someday a talking ape is going to show up and be the missing link? Is it supposed to prepare us for the day that apes inevitably take over the world?

Ok, there are a lot of unanswered questions here. Perhaps if I bothered to find answers to them, I'd have much more respect for the movie. But I don't plan on taking the time for that. I'm pretty sure it's one of those movies only men can understand. And I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No Wire Hangers!!

The other evening I watched an interesting Joan Crawford movie, Sudden Fear, with Jack Palance. The only other thing I'd seen him in was City Slickers where he was quite old, and let me tell you, as a young man he's very, very strange looking! That worked for this movie, however, as he played Joan's husband whom she suspects is trying to kill her. It wasn't a bad movie. There were definitely some very corny moments, but overall I enjoyed it.

This movie came as part of my sort of Joan Crawford phase that started last month when TCM showed this amazing documentary, and a marathon of Joan films. The documentary was great and I learned that she was basically nuts. She embodied pretty much every crazy Hollywood stereotype, and that is why I love her!

Her daughter was interviewed in the documentary and let me tell you, that girl doesn't sugar coat anything! It was fascinating and made me wanted to watch Mommie Dearest since I hadn't seen it in many years. All I have to say is, that movie is weird!

First of all, Faye Dunnaway just looks creepy through the whole movie. Joan didn't always look that creepy!

If you don't know, Mommie Dearest is based on the book by Joan's daughter, Christina, who is ridiculously bitter towards her mother. I have no doubt that Joan was a terrible mother, but Christina tries so hard to make sure everyone knows what an awful person she was that it just gets kind of embarrassing. It's pretty obvious that she's most bitter about being left out of Joan's will, along with the rest of Joan's kids. So Christina basically uses the movie (and book) as payback, especially at the end when she so slyly points out that Joan didn't manage to get the last word. Ok, we get it, your mother was terrible, bla bla. It was also a great way to make money off her mother, since Joan didn't actually leave her anything. Brilliant!

Anyway, all this to say that this did not change my view of Joan Crawford. In fact, I may like her more. I intend to watch many more Joan Crawford movies.