Friday, December 21, 2007

THE JUDY GARLAND CHRISTMAS SHOW

THE JUDY GARLAND CHRISTMAS SHOW (1963) is actually an special episode of Judy's short-lived CBS variety series. When a Christmas episode starts out with snow in Los Angeles you know you're in for a treat. When it's sponsored by Contac time-release capsules - you are in "huh?" TV heaven!

Well, things get off to a nice start as Judy sings her official holiday tune - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which she introduced in the film MEET ME IN ST LOUIS. As she sings she cuddles with her young son Joe, constantly touching him and even rubbing noses with him all the while poor big sister Lorna stands by attentively and must settle for a slight tap on the hand. Judy then welcomes the viewers to her "home" and tells them that tonight she's staying home with her family (i.e. - no booze and pills for Mama tonight!). She then confides in us that her eldest daughter, 17-year old Liza is out skating with her "beau".

Judy then leads the kids in a rousing rendition of "Consider Yourself at Home" from the musical OLIVER! as she takes the viewer on a tour of her living room set. This makes me wonder why CBS choose to air this series in black & white - since it was originally broadcast on Sunday nights - opposite NBC's BONANZA - which was brought to you in "living color". Go figure.

Next up is the first Contac commercial - which had a soundtrack that sounds similar to Bernard Herrmann's PSYCHO score. Speaking of psycho, after the commercial break Liza storms in the door, ignoring her little sister Lorna and pretending to not know that she's on Mama's TV show. So they finish up the OLIVER song and hoist little Joe up on the piano where he bravely struggles his way through another song from OLIVER as Judy proudly looks on. Lorna sits quitely and pretends that she is loved.

After Joe's solo number, Liza's "beau" - choreographer Tracy Everitt - arrives wearing a sweater borrowed from LOST IN SPACE and black pants that are tighter than Liza's Capezios. I surmise that Tracy is the first in a string of painfully sexy and marginally talented young men that will break Liza's heart over the years. Today, Mr. Everitt teaches dance classes in Hoboken, NJ. For real. Google him.

Liza convinces the family to watch as she and Tracy perform "Steam Heat" as a pitch for Judy's stage act. The Fosse-like dance steps overwhelm Judy who jokingly asks them how long it took them to learn their little routine. When Tracy delivers his "two and a half years" punchline, you can hear crickets in the studio. So Tracy and Liza take little Joe over to the Christmas tree so Judy can warble a tune from her animated film GAY PURR-EE. No one even wonders where Lorna is - I think she's in her room crying at this point.

Next up is another great Contac commercial featuring characters from THE WIZARD OF OZ in stop-motion animation, complaining of flu and cold symptoms. Amazing.

After the ad, handsome family friend and LOVE BOAT theme crooner Jack Jones shows up singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from MY FAIR LADY and another song called "Lollipops and Roses". He looks at Lorna as if to say "How did the neighbor's kid get in here? Don't you people have locks on your doors?" Afterwards, Lorna tries to get attention from Mr. Jones by convincing him to let her sit on his lap and sing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Didn't this happen in LOLITA too? Meanwhile, Liza seems slightly annoyed that Lorna is getting any airtime at all, but decides to let this one slide.

Next up is an ad from Judy's "alternate sponsor" Pall Mall cigarettes! First pills, now ciggies - what's next Jack Daniels? Oddly, the announcer pronounces the brand as "Pell Mell".
After the 'cancer sticks' ad, Liza sings a boring song as Tracy fiddles with a small package he has placed near his crotch. Huh?

After her solo number, Liza steals more camera time by getting under a blanket with Jack and Judy for a medley of snow songs - but they are rudely interrupted by a gang of Charleston-dancing Santas who crash the party - no doubt looking for pills and cigarettes! This is followed by an ad for Thrill dish soap - "it's like getting a new pair of hands in just 14 days!". Wow - what a tagline. There needs to be an episode of MAD MEN about that campaign!

After the dish soap commercial, the caroler's arrive - led by Judy's backstage nemesis Mel Torme (who I think she calls "Mort") - aka the Velvet Fog - aka the bastard who was hired to fix Judy's show. As scripted by Mel, Judy has to convince him to sing "The Christmas Song" (which he wrote) - and he invites her to sing along. Judy looks as if she's up to something. Mel begins to scat and Judy takes over the song - changing the lyrics right in front of the guy who wrote them! Judy rules.

The real lyrics:
"They know that Santa's on his way, 
He's loaded lots of toys
, And goodies on his sleigh
, And every mother's child is gonna spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly"

Judy's lyrics:
"They know that Santa's on his way
, He's loaded lots of GIFTS, 
And TOYS on his sleigh
, And every mother's child is gonna spy
,To see if RAINBOWS really know how to fly"

You can tell that Mel is seething inside and Judy's loving it. Mel later got revenge by writing a tell-all about Judy and the show after her death. Next up is another stop-motion commercial - this time for a free Betty Crocker and Gold Medal flour holiday cookbook! It's incredible!
After the ad, Judy's house is now full of freeloaders. Tracy brings out a bowl of eggnog and then they begin an endless medley of sacred carols. The self-important ham known as Mel Torme leads the choir. Then Lorna and Joe sing "Silent Night" - followed by an ad for Head and Shoulders! This ad features a woman well into her 30s worrying about having dandruff in her graduation photo. Honey, that's the least of your problems!
After the dandruff clears up, Judy boots everyone out of her house. Liza and Tracy dash off caroling - but the dancing Santas return to perform a crazy Rockettes-style dance with Judy. Damn - I wish this was in color!!!

So, then Judy shuts off all the lights - but Lorna and Joe come out calling "Mama..." to which she replies, as if annoyed - "WHAT???!!!". Well, it turns out she forgot to sing "Over the Rainbow". Which she then does - and it is a beautiful arrangement! Then Judy says goodnight for good and the camera pulls back to show it's still snowing in L.A.. All is well with the world, until CBS cancels her show...but that's another story. This show is a total 10 outta 10. Just for kicks, here's a recent pic of Judy's kids. Awww...Lorna.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

THE DONNY & MARIE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

For our next Holiday-themed review - our very angry friend Danny brings us back to 1978 - when DONNY & MARIE were all the rage. Donny was all over magazine covers and Marie was on TV constantly. 29 years later - and some things haven't changed. WARNING: The opinions expressed in the following review are all DANNY'S...not DOUG'S, so any nasty emails I get will be forwarded directly to DANNY. It was really scary watching this crappy old TV special. (Editor's note: Actually it was really just an episode of their weekly ABC series). First of all, my friends and I got into the holiday spirit by trying to figure out which Osmond boy was deaf or possibly retarded.  It was REALLY hard to tell.  Most of us settled on Tom Osmond because his tongue did look a little over-sized, but I thought, "Maybe he's just a bad lip syncher..."  (Editor's note: No, actually the bad lip-syncher was Marie.)
Another scary thing was Jimmy Osmond.  We couldn't decide which lesbian he looked like most, I thought he was quite Rosie O'Donnell-ish, while some others said he looked more like Chastity Bono, but someone else nominated him "the retarded one"... I might tend to agree after seeing this pic...yeah -he's retarded alright.
 
Jimmy had a memorable solo moment when he sang "What If Jesus Came" ..."on __ ____" was added by some anonymous member of our viewing party... okay it was me! (Editor's note: DANNY not DOUG). Jimmy just walked in the snow singing.  Boring!! Until, at the end, Jesus actually came!... on __ ____! (For those of you saying I'm gonna burn in hell... I'll grab you a cappaccino on the way down!)

Then there was the usual Osmond crap, like the "men" trashing the kitchen singing a horrible medley about knowin' how to cook grub.  The worst of it came when they announced,  "...the Osmond wives will sing!"   Someone needed to explain to them there's a difference between "WILL" and "CAN". 
My favorite part was at the end of the wives' song, they throw pillows at their husbands. Well, some of the husbands have their small children in their lap and one of them wives beans the kids pretty good, possibly causing more brain damage in the Osmond clan.  I'm pretty sure we saw tears. By the end of the show we all agreed, Marie was a total c*nt. (Editor's note: Not sure what provoked this, but remember I told you that Danny was very angry!)

Well, Merry Christmas from Provo, Utah - home of retarded Osmonds, boy-child lesbians, kitchen-trashing menfolk and marginally talented wives. If I've offended anyone, I've done my job.

Editor's final note: Donny and Marie as Luke and Leia - awesome!

The HUH? Hall of Fame: FAYE DUNAWAY


The fabulous Faye Dunaway is an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winning actress. She has starred in such contemporary classics as BONNIE AND CLYDE, CHINATOWN and NETWORK. She has an incredible screen presence and is a true class act no matter what she is in. The camera always seems to love her - even if the films she's in are ones that make you say "Huh?".

Even before MOMMIE DEAREST, the notorious "movie that ruined her career" there was THE EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978) in which Faye played a fashion photographer named Laura Mars whose photos depict images of murder and death. Laura also experiences visions of the murders of her friends and coworkers, through the eyes of the killer. Teaming with a cop played by Tommy Lee Jones, she soon she realizes she will be the next victim! This film is stylish and a hoot to watch. Faye's performance stands out despite the cliched script (by John Carpenter!) and the extra cheesy theme song by Barbra Streisand (who the project was originally developed for).

During an interview in the early 1970s, the outspoken Miss Joan Crawford said that of the current crop of young actresses only Faye Dunaway had "what it takes" to be a true star. This was after Joan had just starred in a movie called TROG. Then came MOMMIE DEAREST (1981) - "I was too good at Crawford," Faye has been quoted as saying. I agree and that's what makes the film a absolute pleasure to watch. I feel that Faye's performance is more like she was possessed by Joan. Faye has also said that during the filming, she felt Joan's presence on the set. Too bad Joan's ghost didn't throw her weight around and force the production to be a more accurate portrayal of her life story, rather than, as John Waters has called it "a comedy about child abuse".

In her autobiography, on the topic of MOMMIE DEAREST, Dunaway stated that she wished the director had enough experience to see when actors needed to rein in their performances. Too bad Faye didn't know that Frank Perry had been directing acclaimed films like DAVID AND LISA, THE SWIMMER, LAST SUMMER and DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE since the early 1960s. Nice try, Faye.

More recently, during an interview on Bravo's INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO, Faye revealed that she and the make-up artist labored trying to get the "Crawford look". Faye had to train herself to hold her facial muscles just like Joan did. Faye says "It was chilling." Agreed.
The movie, as we all know, was savaged by film critics. Roger Ebert said "I can't imagine who would want to subject themselves to this movie." The critic for Variety said "Dunaway does not chew scenery. Dunaway starts neatly at each corner of the set in every scene and swallows it whole, costars and all." In an widely-circulated 2006 voice mail message to the producer of a documentary of her life, Dunaway said she wanted to "really trim down everything to do with that MOMMIE DEAREST. I'm not going to talk about it; maybe one thing I'm going to say about it and that's all." And that's where the problem lies, I believe if Faye would only embrace it for what it is, I think people would appreciate her over-the-top performance even more - and they would respect the fact that Faye might even have a sense of humor about herself and the film. But no...not our Ms. Dunaway.

Soon after playing Crawford, Faye turned up on NBC in a four-hour 1981 TV movie called EVITA PERON produced by Gary Coleman's production company! This non-musical biography was made to cash in on the sudden popularity of the late first lady of Argentina. This was all due to the success of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical EVITA– which was eventually filmed starring some non-actress named Madonna in the lead role. Imagine if Faye had nabbed THAT role! The show did pretty well in the ratings and the NY Times had to say this about EVITA PERON: "From an impoverished little girl who was spat upon by an arrogant aristocracy to the international celebrity obsessed with power and personal revenge, Evita was extraordinary in her passion to succeed and to be remembered. If she didn't exist, she would have had to be invented by Joan Crawford." Hmmm...

In 1984, Faye, hoping to overcome the damage that MOMMIE DEAREST wrought upon her, she turned to SUPERGIRL. I can only guess she was banking on that the film would do for her what SUPERMAN did for Gene Hackman. Faye received top billing, playing the newly-created villain, Selena. Selena was no Lex Luthor. Despite her spirited performance, the movie bombed. Realizing that the franchise was now dead and the character outdated, DC Comics killed off Supergirl two years later. A coincidence? Perhaps.

Maybe the ghost of Joan Crawford was still lurking around Faye, because in 1986, Faye returned to TV for a prestigious production called, er... BEVERLY HILLS MADAM. This time, Faye was playing a very Joan-like woman who runs a high-class brothel catering to rich and famous clients in Beverly Hills, with hookers played by TV actresses like Donna Dixon and Robin Givens. Faye's character experiences a series of crises as one her girl ends up pregnant, and another dead. Not exactly CHINATOWN or even TROG for that matter.

In 1994, Faye was determined to comeback and take to the stage in the LA production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit stage musical adaptation of the film noir classic SUNSET BOULEVARD. Faye was all set to replace Glenn Close, but she proved unable to meet the vocal demands of the score and was let go, publicly humiliating the star. In her infamous 2006 voicemail tirade, Faye insisted that references to "the Lloyd Webber stupidity" be taken out of the documentary about her. She apparently wants to accentuate the positive, by eliminating ALL the negative. She has truly become Joan Crawford. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see this documentary about her life!So these are some of the many reasons why Faye is now officially inducted into my "Huh?" Hall of Fame. Though I kinda suspect she would not show up for the induction ceremony, if there was one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The HUH? Hall of Fame: LIZ TAYLOR


Well, you just gotta love Liz Taylor. She's a friggin' legend - living a glamourous public life and starring in some of cinema's greatest films like GIANT, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?– not to mention cherished classics like LASSIE COME HOME, NATIONAL VELVET and FATHER OF THE BRIDE. Outside of film, Dame Elizabeth's devotion to ending the AIDS epidemic is truly inspiring and she really is a INTERnational treasure.

Then there's the other Ms. Taylor, the Liz that makes me say "Huh?". This is the Liz Taylor that's friends with Michael Jackson, markets crappy perfume...and the one that married Larry Fortensky. This is the Liz that starred (or appeared in) some of the worst films ever made. The Liz that played Pearl Slaghoople in THE FLINTSTONES movie. A casting choice so bizarre and inept, that 13 years later and it still makes me say "Huh?" I mean look at the evidence: I rest my case.

But the craziness did not start in Bedrock in 1994. Let's turn the clocks back a bit to 1960 and BUTTERFIELD 8. Liz actually won an Oscar for this film in which she plays a slutty, drunken " fashion model" (aka prostitute) who falls in love an alcoholic son of a working class family who has married into money. Liz made the film to get out of her contract with MGM, so she could jump over to 20th-Century Fox to star in the epic CLEOPATRA (more on this one later). Taylor's conditions for agreeing to make BUTTERFIELD 8 included shooting the film in New York, having control over costumes, hair and giving husband Eddie Fisher (freshly divorced from America's sweetheart Debbie Reynolds) a supporting role. She publicly campaigned against the film: "I hate the girl I play, " she told the press, "This is the most pornographic script I have ever read!" The public, titillated by Taylor and the provocative subject matter, made the film a hit. "I still say it stinks" recanted Liz. After finishing production on BUTTERFIELD 8, Taylor, and freed from MGM's clutches, shew flew to London to begin work on CLEOPATRA, the biggest budgeted film up till that time.

In 1963, Liz also became the highest paid movie star AND worked with future husband Richard Burton (who was cast as Mark Antony) for the first time. The press had a field day when Taylor and Burton began an torrid and scandalous affair during filming – both stars were married to other people at the time!!! The Vatican even accused her of "erotic vagrancy"!!! That's pretty damn cool The production itself was plagued by many problems, and director Joe Mankiewicz' original cut was six hours long. Fox demanded that two hours be cut, which they were, thankfully. When the film was released historians criticized it's inaccuracies, critics attacked the disjointed script and the over-the-top acting was laughed at universally, causing filmgoers to wonder how a film maker could get such great actors to act so badly.

After a string of better films in the mid-60s, Liz and Dick returned to Huh?-ville in 1968 with a little something we like to call BOOM! Freely adapted from Tennessee Williams' play "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore", BOOM! is the oddest, most pretentious "art film" ever made. It's almost indescribable. But if you EVER get the chance to see it - Run!!!

Liz spent much of the 1970s making mediocre films for theaters and TV, appearing on talks shows, Bob Hope specials and playing herself on HERE'S LUCY. In 1978, she showed up in - of all places - a musical! In A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Liz delivers a poorly dubbed rendition of "Send in the Clowns". Isn't it rich?

In 1981, during the peak of the daytime soap opera fad, Liz showed up for a short stint on GENERAL HOSPITAL, playing Helena Cassadine. The character has lived on, though Liz has never revisited the role. After THE FLINTSTONES debacle, Liz participated in an ill-concieved ABC TV-movie aimed at gay men who missed THE GOLDEN GIRLS. Entitled THESE OLD BROADS, this "event" gathered together for the first (and LAST!) time: Liz Taylor, Debbie Reynolds (Liz's longtime nemesis) , Shirley MacLaine (who had played Debbie in POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE) and Joan Collins (who took over the role of Pearl Slaghoople in THE FLINTSTONES sequel). I can recall this being among the two of the most painful hours ever spent in front of the TV - rivaling the infamous MARY & RHODA reunion movie. To top it all off, poor Liz delivered all her scenes from a sickbed!!!

Well, in spite of it all - we still love her and are proud to have Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor as our first inductee into the "Huh?" Hall of Fame! Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The "Huh?" Hall of Fame

As other blogs announce their year-end lists - The Best of 2007, The Worst of 2007, The Same as Other People's Lists 2007, etc. - I've decided to end the year with "The "Huh?" Hall of Fame" dedicated to individuals (or perhaps groups) who have achieved fame and/or acclaim despite their continued involvement in films, TV shows and other entertainment enterprises that make me go "Huh?".

In no particular order I will unveil my choices over the next few weeks in between a steady flow of movie reviews. Check back soon (and often) for the ten lucky winners!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK


Time for another family-friendly holiday treat from Barry Mahon - the genius filmmaker who brought us THE WONDERFUL LAND OF OZ (previously reviewed by Danny). This time we have a wonderfully inept retelling of the storybook classic, JACK AND THE BEANSTALK from 1970.

The movie opens as we meet Jack and his poor white trash family: his mother who looks like a cross between Nannette Fabray and Jean Stapleton and dresses like an orange pilgrim and his greedy and trampy-looking sister Rosemary – who is complaining that no one will EVER want to marry her because she has no dowry. Mom reassures Rosemary that since she's pretty good at doing housework that eventually someone will want her. Thanks for the positive re-inforcement, Mom. Really, thanks.

Jack, meanwhile is a teenage gay-in-training, much like UGLY BETTY's nephew Justin - and he dresses in a plethora of snazzy outfits featuring wide brown stripes and suede with fringes. He's really working the "Peter Brady during puberty" look. The family is distraught cause Papa is dead and they've apparently squandered everything that he left them. Oh, not everything. There were some things that Jack's dad invented like a mechanical goose that can lay golden eggs, a talking golden harp and some other golden crap - but somehow someone stole these things, depriving Rosemary of her oft-mentioned dowry.

Mom then announces it's time to sell the family cow because it gives very little milk these days. So, rather than doing it herself, she enlists Jack to take the cow to town to sell it. Jack then sings a wretched song, looking as if he's as bored as I was.

In a town where the backdrop looks like it was painted by a junior high theater class, we meet Honest John - Used Cow Salesman. Honestly. For some reason Honest John (to be hereafter referred to as "HoJo") dresses like Little Lord Fauntleroy while all the townsfolk got their duds from the 1970 JC Penney catalog. Then HoJo "sings" some terrible song and gets Jack to accept a handful of "magic" beans instead of cash for the cow. HoJo then proceeds sells the cow to Cat Stevens for $30.

Meanwhile, back home, Rosemary is still complaining about NEVER getting married. Oh shut the FUCK up already! When Jack returns home he tells them about his great magic bean deal with HoJo and Mom and Rosemary basically call him a stupid asshole - which he is.

Next we see HoJo walking around some cave trying to decide where to hide his "Used Cow" sign. This goes on for about five minutes until Jack and his sister, obviously spelunking, come across the cave and his sign. Then they go home. Huh?

A cuckoo clock on fast-forward tells us that time has passed. Mom - still in her orange gown from yesterday - opens up the dining room shudders to reveal a bad oil-painting of a landscape! Rosemary then shows up in her same clothes from yesterday...eww. Mom's so pissed at Jack and the whole bean situation that she chucks them out the window- where they instantly sprout into a big vine made up of fake ivy from Joann's Fabrics. Jack of course decides to climb it while singing another dreadful song - not even noticing the painting of a castle behind him. Then he turns, sees it and decides to head towards it - in a manner that could be described as "a spastic shuffle". Was it a long distance to travel or was the cloud-cover ground all sticky? We'll never know. He repeats this odd way of "walking" several times throughout the movie. Making me scream "Huh?"!

Meanwhile, Mom beats herself up for scolding Jack and letting him go up the beanstalk. Too late, Mom.

So Jack makes his way to the castle, opens the door and sees a kindly woman cleaning up. Then we see the "giant" - who's really just a Silver Lake Bear - a chubby, hairy guy who shouts a lot to get attention. The giant (to be hereafter referred to as "The Bear") sits in an oversized chair, and uses oversize utensils - making him seem rather small. Wait... shouldn't his hand props be SMALL to make him look BIG? Oh never mind. Another big "Huh?" Oh then he sings a horrendous version of "Fee Fi Fo Fum" for the first of three times.

So after he eats his meal, his "wife" brings The Bear his golden goose (a papier-mâché blob about the size of a chicken). It then lays him a golden egg! Jack decides this must be his father's invention and steals it as The Bear takes a nap. When Jack carries the goose it's suddenly a turkey-size papier-mâché blob, meaning that the giant isn't really that much bigger than Jack. Jack slowly climbs down the stalk in the first of several long uncomfortable shots that seem to linger on his very tight, form-fitting trousers. When The Bear awakes he announces that "if I find him - I'll crush his balls" - or at least that's what I heard.

The family welcomes Jack home and the goose lays a golden egg for them. Yippee! It's like winning Lotto...with a stolen ticket. Meanwhile, HoJo tells Rosemary he's starting a new business - selling Magic Beans. She tells him to get lost cause she's now engaged to be married. Huh? Then a couple who look like Joan Collins and Sonny Bono refuse to buy HoJo's beans. We then learn that HoJo gets his beans cheaply and upsells 'em! Boo! Hiss!

We next meet Rosemary's hunky boyfriend, who first tells her that her lack of a dowry doesn't matter - but it would help if she were rich because then they could buy an inn and run it together. So they send Jack back up to steal more gold shit from The Bear.

This time The Bear is eating fried "Creepy Crawlers". After his meal, his poor wife brings him his magic harp, which sings to him as he counts his gold. What the heck does he spend his gold on anyway? Are there any other people up in giant land? Where does his wife shop? Costco? Big Lots? Giant Depot?

Jack makes it back home with The Bear's gold in time for a party - Mom's gone all Martha - serving finger sandwiches, punch and a Red Velvet wedding cake. Everyone is dressed in fancy pajamas and nightgowns, as all the townsfolk dance to accordian music. It's like THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW meets the birthday party scene from PINK FLAMINGOS. Meanwhile, The Bear is rigging a trap for Jack, in case he ever comes back to steal something else!

Time passes and Rosemary and her husband (?) are discussing whether or not to serve liquor at their bar. Huh? Meanwhile, HoJo continues to piss off the townsfolk - so they decide to have a meeting about getting rid of him. It's about time, people. More time passes, and we learn that the Inn isn't doing well because there's no "live entertainment". So Rosemary and this other girl get a plastic cup and fill it with - oh wait. Wrong video.

So, finally Jack decides to grab the damn singing harp to help out his miserable thankless bitch of a sister once more. Then HoJo gives a boring soliloquy about something and that's the last we see of him. Jack manages to grab the harp, but The Bear wakes up and starts climbing down the vine...oh no!!! Will the townfolks meet The Bear face-to-face?

No way - cause Jack runs out, chops the vine down and The Bear falls to his death. Then the entire cast crawls out of the woodwork for a song about "happy endings"...and Jack mentions that he fells bad for the wife because she happened to "hook up with the wrong guy". Huh?

Wow - did I mention this was only 63 minutes long? Worth watching if only to see how misguided an attempt at modernizing a classic fairy tale with no budget, painfully bad songs and first-time non-actors could turn out. It's THAT bad. 5 out of 10 "Huhs?"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

HE-MAN & SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Today we bend the rules a bit here as my friend Danny reviews one of the worst (or best) Christmas specials ever - HE-MAN & SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL - Originally broadcast in syndication in 1985. Presenting for your holiday pleasure Danny's review...Funny thing is, when I watched HE-MAN & SHE-RA: A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL with a group of drunken, rowdy friends, we suddenly became peaceful and quieter than usual - and I didn't fast forward through this one at all!  It is a Christmas miracle!!!

The story goes something like this: "Orgazmo" went into a cockpit and accidentally launched He-Man's rocket into space. I think. So somehow, Orgazmo in the rocket ends up on the planet Earth. Once on our planet, he runs into two earth children who are about to get crushed in an avalanche, so he uses a spell to rescue them.  These two kids are named Miguel and Alicia. Two Latino children. At least, I suppose they're Latino, based on their names.  Let's see what their parents look like...(Click on photos to enlarge)How the hell did those two end up with those two kids??? Adoption? One thing I'll say for them, at least they kept their natural hair color.  Everyone else in this "movie" dyes their hair!  You can tell 'cause no one dyes their brows.  Anyway, He-Man's friend, "Sidekick Man", brings back Orgazmo and the two wetback kids. (I can say that - cause I'm Mexican!) But they get captured by Skeletor, who I thought was supposed to be a bad ass, but he turns all gay when a puppy licks his face - yeah, GAY! I can say that -cause I'm gay! 

Anyway, He-Man tries to save the kids, but then he's distracted by some sort of sex toy fair and spends some time trying out the equipment he's considering buying. Unfortunately, it's not strong enough to hold him, so he moves on. 

Meanwhile She-Ra (whom I had NO IDEA was He-Man's sister) spends a lot of time fighting a "Beast Monster", very imaginatively named, no?  So Then He-Man and She-Ra team up and save the day! They're really brother and sister?  But he's so much more tan and his hair is orangey-er... But they DO have the same brows. (Click on photos to enlarge)

Anyway, then every one in He-Man/Sha-Ra "world" gets together and celebrates Christmas  which we learn is about presents!!!...and something else too, but mostly PRESENTS!!!My favorites are the two gay guys on the left looking like they'ere just coming home from the Folsom Street Fair 2025.  I wonder what's in their Christmas packages...?

But, I wonder, do the people in the He Man Universe even have any concept who the baby Jesus is or anything of the sort?  Does it really matter? No!! Anyway, the "film" ends with the moral of the story, brought to us by Orgazmo and He Man's alter ego, Adam... "Your brows don't HAVE to match your hair. Am I gay, or what?"

Doug adds - this is beyond the "Huh?" scale - only watch it if you are stoned or Mexican or Gay or like TV shows based on crappy toys from the 1980s. Enjoy!

THE SINGING NUN

Maybe it's because I attended 13 years of Catholic school (that includes kindergarten), and got to know so many nuns on a personal level, but I've always been fascinated by movies about "brides of christ". And what better time than Christmastime to watch one of these habit-forming films?

THE SOUND OF MUSIC, AGNES OF GOD, NASTY HABITS, CHANGE OF HABIT, THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS...just to name a few - are always required viewing in my house. As a child, THE FLYING NUN was one of my favorite shows, and I can recall asking several of my nun teachers if they could secretly fly. None of them could - but some could really SING!

Now, the true story of THE SINGING NUN is something that would make a fascinating film. The real Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile), who wrote and sang the worldwide hit song "Dominique" lived a very much different life than what Hollywood would have led us to believe.

Born Jeanne Deckers in Belgium in 1933, she joined a Dominican convent, taking the name Sister Luc-Gabrielle. She became popular among the other nuns for her beautiful songs and was encouraged by to record an album in 1963. The song "Dominique," (about an evangelist and saint who figured prominently in Belgian history) made her an international celebrity, and she adopted the stage name of Soeur Sourire . She performed in concerts and even appeared on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW in 1964. Imagine if a nun appeared on AMERICAN IDOL today!"Dominique" sold more than 1.5 million copies, and following the success of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, a movie about her starring Debbie Reynolds, was made. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't cover the later years of her life. Around the same time as the film's release, Jeanne stopped performing, Soon after, in 1967 she left the convent and recorded her second album, titled "I Am Not a Star in Heaven". Though she was deeply religious, she grew increasingly vocal and critical of the conservatism of the Roman Catholic Church and she became an advocate of birth control (and reportedly gay rights as well). She even recorded a song entitled "Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill ." Wow.

She later opened a school for autistic children in Belgium with a "friend", Annie Pescher. By the early 1980s the Belgian government began claiming that she owed back taxes almost $50,000. Desperate to raise money, she released an updated dance music version of 'Dominique' in 1983 (need to find it on iTunes) but it failed to set the charts on fire. In 1985, she and Pescher committed suicide together by overdosing on barbiturates and alcohol, and were buried together in consecrated ground. There is a recent Italian film called SUOR SORRISO which delves into these details. I look forward to seeing it one day.Meanwhile, getting back to the movie at hand - I'd been curious about the film for years - I mean a "true story" about nuns starring Jewish-convert Debbie Reynolds her "best friend" Agnes Moorehead and everyone's favorite sexy 1970s MD - Chad Everett!!! Plus pre-FANTASY ISLAND and WRATH OF KHAN Ricardo Montalban and a cameo by Ed Sullivan himself! How could things go wrong?

Directed by war movie veteran Henry Koster , things do go terribly wrong. Well, Debbie does as well as she can as the unsinkable Sister Ann, the spunky nun who who can sing like an angel, but has a lot to learn about doing good things and butting in where she doesn't belong. She is always riding around on her motor scooter with her guitar ("Sister Adelle"), playing soccer with the boys and trying to stop peasant girls from becoming strippers - what a scamp! Moorehead is effectively bitchy as "Mother Endora" - a senior nun, who is not amused by Sister Ann's frolics.Sister Ann's real dream is to move to the African Congo to work with children, but in the meantime she befriends a lonely local little boy, Dominic, whose mother has died and whose father is an alcoholic. I think his sister (Katherine Ross) is kinda whore-ish too. Sister Ann doesn't care about the saint like the real Sister Smile, so decides to write a song about the little boy instead. Go figure.

The song goes something like this:
"Dominique, nique, nique

I will tell of Dominique

His goodness to acclaim

And I pray the song I sing

Will some simple pleasure bring

That the world shall know his name!"

I think something got lost in the translation.

When Father Clementi (Montalban) hears Sister Ann's song, he see dollar signs and enters her in a talent contest. Before you know it, old friend Everett, apparently channeling Clark Gable, shows up and signs her to a record deal and the whole world is soon listening to her silly light-hearted songs!

The album has become a sensation, and "The Singing Nun" is soon making appearances at parties and engagements, even appearing on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW on CBS! Ironically, while preparing for the show, the nuns explain that they're forbidden to wear makeup-even though the actresses portraying them are clearly wearing lipstick and false eyelashes! Huh?

Everything seems wonderful and magical, only Sister Ann is unprepared for her new found fame-and her attraction to Everett! This is just like Sister Bertrille and Carlos - I mean what was the deal with those two?

And what of the tragedy that soon befalls Dominic and his slutty sister? Does a poor Catholic girl really need to resort to stripping to pay the rent on her cockroach infested shack?

So, if you are curious to see how sugary and fictional a Hollywood biopic can get - see THE SINGING NUN. I'll give it 6 out 10 "Huhs?" because just the thought of bawdy Debbie Reynolds (Miss Burbank 1939) and rumored lesbian Agnes Moorehead as nuns is comedy enough for me! For the record, Reynolds explicitly denied to film historian Robert Osborne that Moorehead was gay, describing her as "terribly religious." That's not what Paul Lynde had to say about her! Hmmm...

Monday, November 26, 2007

THE CHRISTMAS THAT ALMOST WASN'T

While Doug watched MAME, STONE PILLOW, BENJI and DOLLS, Danny got into the sprit of the holidays with a little charmer from across the seas:
THE CHRISTMAS THAT ALMOST WASN'T should be renamed THE DVD THAT ALMOST WASN'T!!! because I ended up fast forwarding through most of it.  This is a rare Italian family movie from 1966, with Italian actors, poorly dubbed into English that should remain rare for it's own good!

The plot goes something like this: aptly named Mr. Prune didn't like Christmas so he bought the North Pole and threatrened to evict Santa and his band of truly frightening elves. I found the one that looks like Rachel Dratch the most haunting. There was also a tall creepy guy in charge of the elves that sang (Oh yeah, did I tell you it's a musical?)  "Gooble gaggle boogle faggle toys, boys, noise!  Flit, flat, clit, blaht mysogyny rules!"  For real!
Later, in order to help save Christmas, creepy Mr. Whipple (No, not that one, the accountant one) convinces Mr. Macy of Italy to let Santa work in the department store.  So there's Santa selling roller skates.  Wait!  That was MAME.  This is LAME. So Santa's job is to sit with Mr. Whipple and play with toys while singing.   My favorite toy was the toy train that kept bumping into Santa's ass.  I suspect it was his favorite toy, too!  Soon the kids are all at the store sitting on Santa's lap, whilst Santa gives them the most frightening toys ever.  In this shot Santa gives a little girl what we called the Deer Spider!!  In close up you see what it really looked like ...
Yes, these are the sick & twisted toys Santa was handing out.  In an effort to stop Santa, Mr. Prune tried popping balloons, but they just had more.  Then he tried pouring itching powder on Santa & the kids, but he just got it on himself.  So he took the next logical step...just fucking blowing up Santa and all them damn kids with dynamite under Santa's chair!!! He must REALLY hate Christmas to blow up Santa!

Fortunately, a very stern looking boy child caught Mr. Prune's eye and wiggled his finger as if to say, "nah uh, not cool."  That one simple finger wiggle was enough to stop Mr. Prune from blowing up the shit out of that place.  So, Mr. Prune finally buys Italian Macy's and fires Santa and Auntie Mame!!!

Then in the throes of desperation, Santa sits on a park bench in a dimly lit park.  Now, I was still fast forwarding, but if I got it right, it went like this...  this very adult looking 9 year old boy comes to Santa carrying a tree, (you see...he's got wood for Santa) Then, he and Santa look longingly into each other's eyes.  Then, Santa takes the boy's hand and the boy gets on his knees.  I figure the kid was all, "Hey, Santa, I can help you get your rent money by turning a few tricks.  I'll show you how I do it..."  then he starts blowing into a horn-like thing and all the kids in Italian world bring their piggy banks and give them to Santa and he pays his rent.

Wow! Christmas has been saved! Therefore it's THE CHRISTMAS THAT WAS AFTER ALL! Next year, I'm watching MAME instead.

On Doug's scale - lotsa "Huhs?", but no hugs - 4 out of 10 from Danny.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

DOLLS


Another Holiday weekend treat - bridging the ever-shrinking gap between Halloween and Christmas. Stuart Gordon's DOLLS (1987) opens with two slutty punk rock chicks hitchhiking by the side of the road somewhere in Europe…as a car carrying a family speeds by. The family turns out to be a high-strung dude named David Bower who is on a very ill-concieved vacation with his selfish new wife (and possible transexual) Rosemary (aka Cruela Devil) and his whiny young daughter Judy. They are driving through the country when a sudden freak rainstorm traps their car in the mud. When they have to leave the car, Rosemary, tosses little Judy's teddy bear into the woods so it won't slow them down. Huh? Judy then imagines her teddy bear coming to life and ripping her stepmother's to pieces! If only.



The happy family stumbles upon the only mansion around, and are startled by a kind, but creepy old couple named Gabriel and Hilary Hartwicke who live there with their collection of dolls. Are they Satantists? Are they witches? Or are they just old old and crazy? The elderly duo invite the family to join them for dinner and to spend the night. Precocious little Judy quickly makes friends with the old folks, who turn out to be accomplished (and extremely prolific) toymakers! Just like Santa Claus! Before too long a loveable manboy named Ralph arrives at the house along with the two annoyingly rude punk chicks (named Enid and Isabel) who turn out to be British - so they ARE authentic punks - despite the fact that they look like Madonna and Sheena Easton.

Little Judy takes a liking to Ralph, turns out they both like to play with dolls. Gabriel takes Ralph and Judy on a tour of the mansion, and we begin to notice odd camaraderie between the three. The old man gives Judy a Punch doll to play with because her teddy bear is gone. The punk girls make themselves at home by blasting terrible music and hatching a plan to steal some dolls after Hilary tells them that some of the dolls are antiques.

Cruela is relieved that she doesn't have to share a room with her stepdaughter Judy. We can't figure out what bug has crawled up Cruela's ass, but whatever it was causes her to always wear some sort of turban on her manly head.

Later, we learn Judy seems to think that the dolls or "little people" can come to life and nobody seems to believe her- except for her "friend" Ralph. The Madonna wannabee sets out to explore the house (looking for things to steal) while Sheena hangs out in the room dancing and putting on more makeup. Judy decides she needs a glass of water, and eventually the dolls do decide to come to life!!! As the night progresses, Judy convinces Ralph that something's up in the house and soon they discover blood in the hallway. While exploring the attic we see that the Madonna chick has been murdered. One down, one to go.

Sheena then accuses Ralph of raping and killing Madonna and suddenly Judy's father is aware that his prepubescent daughter has been wandering around the spooky house with a grown man - and accuses Ralph of molesting Judy. Are you following this?

Next, Cruela gets attacked by a bunch of dolls with little mini-weapons, and she looks down to see that one of the dolls is sawing off her arm, while two other dolls are trying to saw off her leg! They even yank off her turban! After showering, David gets into bed with Cruela, unaware that she's been killed. The white sheet she's under starts to have this spreading blood stain on it, and then her doll-mangled corpse is revealed. Ewww...

More chaos ensues as Ralph realizes that Judy's right about the living dolls. At first he starts stomping on them, and they launch a full-scale attack on him, but Judy convinces them that he's really a big kid and after a quick meeting, the dolls decide he's okay by them. Whew - that was a close one!

After discovering Cruela's corpse, David is now on the warpath and we see that many of those dolls had little tiny skulls underneath their porcelin heads, possibly indicating that they began their existence as human beings!!! What exactly is Hartwicke up to???

There's a big, final confrontation between all parties involved, which I will not spoil - but I will say that there is a clever twist ending involving Judy, her dad, Ralph and her real mother (who lives in Boston). The next morning, Gabriel and Hilary have lots of cleaning up to do, especially since another car has broken down outside their house...

I loved this movie. The doll effects were cheesy, but effective. The acting, while not great, was always enjoyable. Even little Judy wasn't as annoying as horror movie kids usually are. At times it felt like all the actors were not taking any of this too seriously, and that helped make the whole affair quite fun. I give this one a 9 outta 10 "Huhs?". See it!

BENJI

Continuing my holiday movie weekend, and battling a bad cold - I choose to revisit a childhood favorite. I was ten years old when I first saw Joe Camp's kiddie classic BENJI (1974), and I remember loving it because it didn't look or feel like a kid's movie. Watching it again 33 years later (on Turner Movie Classics no less!), I can see why I thought that. The film is shot mainly from the dog's point of view, and most of the human characters are "grown up", making it feel like a movie for big people.

The movie opens as we see what looks like a haunted house - only it's not haunted (too bad) - it's Benji's house! Next we witness what appears to be the little dog's daily activities - as gets his breakfast from a friendly, but guarded, housekeeper named Mary and receives affection from two annoying kids named Paul and Cindy. The kids love Benji, but their MD dad has a problem with dogs be cause his brother was bit by one - once. After hiding Benji and his food bowl under the table (and on her lap) - Mary sends the dog off for his daily scuffle with THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW's Aunt Bea and her cat. After that he stops by the park for some romantic advice from a cop and finally swings by Bill's Café to wake up Bill (slow Uncle Joe from PETTICOAT JUNCTION) for his daily bone. So to speak. Each day apparently ends with a trip back to his house- which is abandoned and filled with antiques! We see Benji go through the routine at least four times - I think even as a kid I thought that was too much.

So Benji has it pretty damn good. Until one day, when things begin to change. A foursome of dopey troublemakers named Riley, Henry, Linda and Mitch break into his house with two bags of groceries (including pudding cups!) and declare it as a base of operations for their planned evildoings. Two of the guys think the house is haunted cause their pudding cups keep disappearing. Meanwhile, Benji meets up with a little white bitch named Tiffany, who becomes his domestic partner. Tiffany soon joins him on all is daily visits and is welcomed by the townsfolk as well. Mary even gives Tiffany a little makeover!

Meanwhile, back at the house: the plan is that the four villains are gonna kidnap Paul and Cindy and hold them for ransom. It's up to Benji to foil the plan, which is not easy considering he can't talk and Cesar Milan is not around to translate his constant barking. When Benji tries to help out, one of the bad guys kicks Tiffany - and we are thought to believe that she's dead. Of course, Benji eventually figures out how to communicate to the cops and townsfolk who close in on the bad guys and rescue the young hostages. There's a great scene near the climax between Mary and bad girl Linda (Deborah Walley of GIDGET and THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW fame). In the end, Tiffany just has a broken leg and the kids' dad changes his tune and lets Benji AND Tiffany move in with the family. Yay!

As a film, the story is simple and very slow-moving. The acting is mostly subpar, with Benji delivering the best performance. The music ranges from cute, to great to really, really annoying. On my "Huh?" scale, I'll give it a 6 just for old-times sake, but only watch it if you've had your proper daily caffeine intake. There are 3 sequels and numerous TV productions starring Benji as well. I think I'll pass on them, for now.

As social commentary, the parallels between BENJI and the recently reviewed STONE PILLOW are staggering. Sure, Benji is a cute, sweet little doggie that works his way into the lives and hearts of a bunch of lazy Texans, much like Lucy's Flora character. They give him plenty of food (remember even Lucy gets old sandwiches, rotten veggies and cat food) and attention whenever the stops by their homes or workplaces, but they never address the bigger issue here - this dog is HOMELESS!!! Getting on my soapbox for a minute: Just call me Bob Barker, but I think BENJI should now be re-purposed to help enforce mandatory spaying and neutering, micro-chipping and leash laws to help keep the stray animal population down and give homes to the millions of pound puppies in this country. Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2007

STONE PILLOW


The second film in my Lucille Ball Double Feature is STONE PILLOW, which I like to call WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNTIE MAME?

This 1985 CBS TV-movie was Lucy's big attempt at being taken seriously. Following in the fottsteps of Carol Burnett in FRIENDLY FIRE and Farah Fawcett in THE BURNING BED, America's sweetheart decided to play a cranky bag lady in a "gritty" (for network TV) expose of the homeless problem in America.

The story opens on the mean streets of New York City, where we see a pile of black garbage bags. Under that pile is Lucy! Baggy eyed and dressed in many layers of tattered clothes, this is a far cry from the soft-focus of MAME. But yet, as soon as she speaks - it's the same old Lucy we've seen everywhere else, only this time there's no Ethel Mertz or Mr. Mooney to bail her out. We learn that her name is Flora, and she's the neighborhood's favorite lovable bag lady - like a stray dog that everybody pets and feeds but doesn't want to take in because she may have fleas.

After crawling out of the garbage, Flora parks her shopping cart and proceeds to wash her face with a hose. For some reason I'm reminded of the old Harpo Marx mirror gag.

Next we meet, Carrie played by Daphne Zuniga, after THE SURE THING but before SPACEBALLS and MELROSE PLACE. Carrie works at a women's shelter where someone has broken in and stolen supplies. I think it was Carrie's fault. Her boss tells her that she needs to see what it like out there on the streets. I don't think he means literally. I could be wrong.

Meanwhile, Lucy brushes her teeth and hair (good grooming never hurt anyone!) and a beat cop brings her an old sandwich. He also tells her about some drugged up kids who killed another old lady. She ain't scared of no kids!

Lucy settles down on her cardboard box to read yesterday's paper. Then a fruit truck shows up and Lucy helps herself to some damaged veggies - and in an obvious homage to ROCKY and possibly Edith Massey - eats a raw egg. Ewwww!

Meanwhile, Carrie tries to chat with a homeless guy who offers her a sip from his bottle of booze. Some teen-age toughs try to steal Lucy's crap - then she crosses the street with her cart and almost gets hit by a car because she spots Carrie feeding pigeons with a discarded bun that she had her eye on. The tough guys then mug Carrie in broad daylight and steal some crap from Lucy's cart. Where's that damn cop now that we need him?

Lucy thinks Carrie is a runaway - she tells her to get herself to a shelter-pronto! Lucy then yammers on about somebody named "Sonny" - possibly her son? I'm just guessing.

Next the guy who played the fake "Michael Garrison/Hudson" on ANOTHER WORLD attempts to buy Lucy some coffee while she attempts to take a poop in a stairwell. While trying to pinch one out, another homeless woman tries to steal her shopping cart - but Carrie steps in and foils the robbery. What a team these two make!

Lucy finds half a roast beef sandwich and slice of melon in the trash and offers it to Carrie. Once again Lucy tells her that she needs to go to the shelter, but Carrie's just not having it. After they share a dinner, Lucy drinks vinegar "to toughen her feet" - she also spouts out some sage nutritional information about things like raw vegetables and iodine. Luckily she doesn't sing.

One of the produce store guys warns Carrie that some girl was raped in the alley, prompting Lucy to teach Carrie how to act "crazy" to defend herself. Oh that Lucy, gotta love her! I'm guessing it's about 10PM at this point. Then they have a heart-to-heart and Lucy tells Carrie all about her farm where she used to grow her own veggies. Lucy tries to leave Carrie behind in the Port Authority, but they both end up getting kicked out by a mean guard. Must be like 11PM now, right?

The long night continues as they attempt to get some money by recycling some soda cans, but the supermarket worker comes on to Carrie and she runs out without the money or the cans. Lucy calls her dumb (or was that me?) and Carrie breaks down, crying "Life is so hard, I had no idea!!!" Is it midnight yet?

Then they settle in a stairway for the night (so they think) and Lucy takes out her teddy bear. And soon a stray dog joins them. Awww...they have become a little family. But then a another mean cop wakes them all up - forcing them to head for Grand Central terminal. Once there, Lucy shows Carrie her son Sonny's baby spoon, and tells the story of how she ended up on the streets. Turns out Sonny got sick then she got sick and was hospitalized. When she got out her husband and son were gone. She tried to find them to no avail. Then she tried working as a housekeeper, but that didn't work out. After trying to live on welfare she ended up "outside" without an address to get her checks mailed. Then she gives Carrie the spoon because she kinda looks like Sonny. Huh? I'm guess it's around 1AM now. It's gotta be.

Suddenly, Carrie is sick to her stomach (from Lucy's terrible "cooking"). Lucy goes to get her medicine and while she is gone a guy named Max turns up - and he begins spouting statistics about homeless people and tells Carrie the backstories of some of the people who live in the Underground. He thinks Carrie's a reporter or something - especially when she freaks out over the lice in her hair. 2AM-ish now, you think?

Meanwhile, Lucy sips tea with Mr. B, the pharmacist, who is being evicted cause he lost his lease. What time of the night is it exactly ??? Why is Mr. B. still working at this late hour? It must be like 3AM by now...

Back in the Underground, two sleazy guys try to rape Carrie despite her lice and her telling them she's sick and contagious. A nice, helpful African American woman saves her and cleans her up while telling her tragic backstory. Lucy returns with pills for Carrie, but Max tells her that Carrie is not what she appeared to be. 4AM...I'm just guessing.

Lucy heads to the Women's Shelter in hopes of finding Carrie there - she does - only Carrie is all cleaned up (and de-liced?) and working!!! Huh? Is this REALLY all one night??? Come on...

Lucy freaks out over Carrie's manipulation and gets separated from her shopping cart and is put on a bus to Brooklyn with a bunch of other (mostly crazy) homeless women. Carrie's boss reads her the riot act as Lucy continues to freak out on the bus. The Brooklyn shelter woman gives her money for carfare back to Manhattan - but a gang of metalheads and a rat make her change her mind. She'll stay for just one night. Wait - it's still night?

Lucy showers and tries to sleep, but a cat fight erupts - and Lucy tries to intervene and is banished to the TV room where other homeless women are watching DYNASTY - at 5AM??? One of the women freaks out and smashes the TV - of course Lucy gets blamed. Oh sweet Jesus - can things get any worse for Lucy???

After Carrie calls the shelter and is treated poorly - her coworker Anna Maria Horsford (of AMEN fame) tells her that she can help Lucy get off the streets. Lucy gets her carfare and heads out of the Brooklyn shelter. She thinks she see Sonny, but it's actually a pile of rats. After yelling like Lucy Ricardo, she finds shelter in a dark, abandoned building. She then finds a toy horse, leans against a wall and slowly sinks to the floor. She then flashes back to her previous life: her husband, her home, her son and her younger self. This part was actually effective and quite moving - either that or my cough medicine kicked in.

Well, it's FINALLY morning - and after the longest night ever recorded - Lucy awakens! Carrie calls the Brooklyn shelter again - and again gets no help. She then heads to all Lucy's favorite haunts but can't find her anywhere - but one of the Underground women from last night leads her to Max! Meanwhile, Lucy eats cat food.

Max turns out to be "public accountant" who helps homeless people by doing pro bono work for them. He's also befriended them because they are just like us - except homeless. Max leads Carrie to Lucy - but it might be too late - Max declares her dead. But it's NOT her - the real Lucy then shows up and the nice cop gives her another stale sandwich! Carrie gives Lucy back her cart - then Lucy almost gets hit by a car AGAIN!

Carrie tells Lucy she wants to help her - she wants to give her a REAL home again - but Lucy says NO! Carrie has friends who will rent a guest house with a garden to Lucy (I hope it's not those Upsons!). Carrie wants to repay Lucy for taking care of her - but Lucy says NO! Then Carrie gives Lucy back the spoon.

THEN Lucy changes her mind and chases after Carrie. Over the end credits, we see Lucy driven to her new home - and the dirt patch where she can grow her vegetable garden - and fertilize it with her own poop!

This movie felt twice as long as MAME - like an entire season of 24 all at once - and had so many "Huh?" moments, my brain was numb afterwards. I guess it was a brave choice for Lucy - but torture for us viewers. To erase the image of Flora from people minds, Lucy later returned to TV comedy in LIFE WITH LUCY. Wish THAT was on dvd!

7 outta 10 "Huhs?" because Lucy poops.

MAME


This 1974 film adaptation of the 1966 Broadway smash starts with the reading of the will of Patrick Dennis' late father, by his trustee, Mr. Babcock. We see our first glimpse of Patrick in his damn short pants as well as various photographic portraits of stodgy relatives - concluding with a soft focus photo of Auntie Mame! The will states that Patrick is to be left in the care of his aunt, Mame Dennis (Lucille Ball).

Patrick and his nanny, Agnes Gooch (Jane Connell recreating her Broadway role after Madeline Kahn was fired by Lucy) take a train ride to live with Mame.The train ride gives way to a migraine-inducing montage of an art deco MAME logo super-imposed with stock footage of sex, violence and depravity from the WB film archives. Accompanying this visual assault is the song "St. Bridgette" song by Connell.

When they arrive at Beekman Place, they walk into a big cocktail party at Mame's palatial NYC apartment. Underneath a portrait of Lucy by Gustav Klimt, Mame is doing an awkward shimmy on her baby grand piano wearing a red velvet pantsuit and a giant diamond-encrusted crucifix. Lucy then proceeds to warble out a horrorific rendition of "It's Today", thus setting the tone for many musical atrocities to follow. Then Lucy does the Charleston and young Patrick introduces himself by asking if he may slide down her bannister!

Mame announces his arrival to the crowd and then offers him a martini. We soon meet Mame's buddy, stage actress and lush, Vera Charles (deliously played by Bea Arthur, creating her stage role under the direction of her husband Gene Saks). Lucy (in a soft focus close-up) reprises "It's Today" as Patrick gets to slide up and down the long bannister!

The next morning, Patrick wakes up Mame (who sleeps in full make-up) with his bugle. After learning that "Auntie Mame is hung" she tells that she is enrolling him a very non-traditional "School Of Life." Then she gives him a pad and pencil in order for him to write down words he doesn't understand like "libido," "bastard" and "vocal coach." Vera then wakes up in Mame's bath tub and for no good reason, mean-spirited Mame turns the shower on, drenching her best friend.

Then we are treated to Lucy shrieking out "Open a New Window" as a montage shows Mame and Patrick riding a pony, going to a museum, attending a womens' rights rally, going to see a burlesque show, visiting a firehouse, parachuting, sitting on the crown of the Statue of Liberty (huh?), arriving at the clothing-optional School of Life, praying at St. Patrick's Cathedral, studying the Torah at a temple and doing the tango at a speakeasy! All seems to going well until the police arrive and it's a raid!!! Everybody gets off though because the judge is one of Mame's society pals. She is apparently very well-connected.

Mr. Babcock arrives to check on Patrick, running into vindictive Vera, who is blabbering on about Coco Chanel, and leads the trustee right to the controversial school- causing Patrick to be taken out of Mame's custody!!! At that same exact moment, Mame learns that the stock market has crashed and she's wiped out. This is not a good day to be Mame Dennis.

To make amends to Mame, Vera offers her a very small role in her new show - an extremely modern operetta about a woman astronomer. "The Man In The Moon is a Lady" (sung by Bea) climaxes with a total Lucy Ricardo moment as Mame is still backstage admiring herself in the mirror when she is supposed to be onstage delivering her one line - which she eventually flubs and causes chaos when she falls off of a crescent moon and is beaten by Vera with a telescope!! The show is a fiasco, but the audience seems to enjoy it. Mame begs Vera for her forgiveness, but Vera declares "The Man In The Moon is a Bitch" and then slaps a little old lady who is trying to help her with her costume. I wonder if Bea improvised that.

Patrick, who was in the audience, reassures Mame that she's that he still loves her by singing "My Best Girl" - Lucy responds by croaking "My Best Beau" back to him. Poor little guy. Meanwhile, back at Beekman place - the repo men are taking her piano, her artwork, etc. Mame soon gets a job working selling rollerskates in a department store, For some reason, she's wearing a nun's habit (sans veil) with a big black bow. Mame demonstrates a pair of rollerskates by for a customer named Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside the 3rd (Robert Preston). However, Mame gets herself fired because she doesn't know how to write up a cash sale. Huh? After first skating around the entire store, Mame proceeds to rollerskate all the way home.

When she gets home, Patrick is visiting and Mame decides to lift everyone's spirits by giving early Christmas gifts. The boy gets a pair damn long pants- and her servants Ito (George Chiang) and Gooch also get something. Lucy then leads the foursome in a rousing version of "We Need A Little Christmas", while they decorate Gooch up as if she was a an Xmas tree and throw fake snow at her. Lucy then dons the most horrifying Santa Claus mask ever created. Agnes and Ito surprise Mame by telling her the butcher bill has been paid up till next September! How'd they know how much meat they're gonna want all the way into the future??? Patrick then gives her a kiss "on account" whatever that means. Ewww.

Just then, Beau shows up at the front door and invites everyone to dinner!!! Christmas has come early!

Before you know it, Beau takes Mame and Patrick to to visit his peach plantation in Peckerwood, Georgia - where they meet sugary-sweet, but wicked by Sally Cato. (Joyce Van Patten). Beau's grotesque mother, a Jabba the Hut lookalike, Mother Burnside greets Patrick with a belch. Mame, newly-blonde arrives dressed as a southern belle, complete with an embarrassing accent. Sally Cato signs Mame up to ride sidesaddle in a foxhunt- riding the "mad" horse named Lightning. The following day, Lucy's stuntwoman works overtime as she rides the crazy horse, passing the other hunters, passing the dogs, passing the fox and jumping over Mother Burnside's car! Mame is thrown from the horse and catches the adorable little fox, and impresses everyone by NOT killing it. This prompts several dozens of peoplee to serenade her with the titular, rousing and bombastic theme song, "Mame".

Mame and Beau, are soon married and on world tour. Robert Preston croons "Loving You" as they slow dance on a cruise ship, in a Japanese garden, in soft focus and in front of a fountain. Meanwhile, Patrick goes through puberty, goes to college and starts dating debutantes. Bruce Davison takes over the role at this point. A ski trip to the Alps leads to an avalanche which kills Beau, leaving Mame widowed and alone again, naturally.

Mame then returns home and is reunited with Patrick, who is dating a snobby bitchy girl named Gloria Upson. A post-funeral reunion with her old friend Vera leads to the fun duet "Bosom Buddies", a song which once led a friend of mine to declare (90 minutes into the movie) that "the one on the left can't sing". It took him THAT long to notice!!!

Mame and Vera then decide to give frumpy Agnes a makeover and send her off into the world because "Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." Six months later, Agnes returns home, pregnant - just as Mame is dining with Patrick and the dreadful Gloria. Patrick sees Agnes, who's been hiding in the kitchen, and decides be a good idea for Mame to visit the Upsons at their home in Connecticut.

What follows is my favorite sequence in the whole film, as Mame visits the Upsons (Don Porter and Audrey Christie) at their home, Upson Downs. After meeting all the various Upsons, Mame learns that Patrick and Gloria are engaged! The Upsons entertain Mame in their rumpus room (a former slave quarters) and introduce her to their black maid Bertha ("so many of them are so snotty these days"). Then they serve her appetizers made of tuna, clam juice and peanut butter. They ask Mame to help pay for a piece of property next door to so that the newlyweds could live there, as opposed to "the wrong kind of people."

They Upsons then show Mame home movies of Gloria - but Mame can't be any less interested. When Mame leaves, she confronts Patrick about her dislike of the Upsons, proclaiming him a snob (which he is) after he tells her that he's ashamed of her and her "crazy" friends. She tells him that the Upsons are bigots and he tells her to forget she ever knew him. This is where my favorite part ends, because as heartbroken Mame drives back home to NYC, Lucy butchers the beautiful ballad "If He Walked Into My Life". Where is Eydie Gorme when you need her???

Apparently Mame and Patrick have patched things up off-screen because the Upsons are now visiting Beekman Place. Patrick soon meets Mame's pretty new maid, Pegeen (Bobbie Jordan). The Upsons arrive, all pissed off because the property they'd wanted had been bought thanks to "some Jew lawyer." Then Mame serves them some baked monkey and Vera makes a grand entrance into with a quintet of nameless men wearing tuxedos singing "It's Today ". Vera then toasts to the new couple, mistaking Pegeen for Gloria. At that moment, pregnant Agnes crashes the party and is invited her to sit with everyone. Suddenly, a bus full of unwed pregnant women barge in, singing "Open A New Window" as Mame reveals to the Upsons that she bought the land next door to Upson Downs in oder to build the Beauregarde Burnside Memorial Home For Single Mothers. The Upsons have total fit, exclaiming that Mame isn't "one of them," dragging Gloria with them - just as Patrick makes eye contract with Pegeen! Hmmmm....

Flash forward, Patrick and Pegeen are now married and have a son, Peter. Mame, sporting gray hair, is off on a trip to Russia, and asks if Peter could join her. Although Patrick and Pegeen resist at first, Peter tells them off and they relent. Huh? Mame and Peter wave goodbye and board the plane. No luggage - I guess they will shop for long pants in Siberia. Music soars as the plane takes off. What follows is a montage of Mame hugging Vera, Gooch, Beau, adult Patrick and finally young Patrick! The End!

Whew! What a way to start the holiday movie season! I have to say that MAME is one of my favorite films of all time. I know Lucy's singing was atrocious, her dancing wooden, her comic timing is off at times, and at age 63 she was way too old to be playing a character in her 40s - but all I know is that when I saw MAME at Radio City Musical Hall as a child - I had a great time - and that's all that mattered.

Of course, IF Angela Lansbury was allowed to star in the film version - it may have been critically acclaimed, it might won some Oscars and might also have been a box-office hit. But that never happened. What did happen was Lucille Ball as Mame - and I relish ever minute of it. 10 outta 10 "Huhs?" and worth every one of 'em.