Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today, faithful readers, we revel in the DELICIOUSLY catty, musical remake of 'THE WOMEN'.

The '50s were one long stereophonic blast of Bad Musicals We Adore, as panicky studio heads -- desperate to lure audiences away from their TV sets -- thought it wise to add songs when remaking such earlier hit pictures as It Happened One Night, Ball of Fire and Midnight. The results were some of the all-time champs in the unintentionally funny sweepstakes. Perhaps the best of the worst is THE OPPOSITE SEX, the 1956 tune-up of The Women, which boasts a title tune that goes like this: "Why do men who should know better / Gape at a well-filled sweater / What's there about it That keeps them craning their necks? / The answer is the opposite sex!" Yes, the song's lyrics also rhyme "opposite sex" with "cancelled checks."

The fun begins at Sydneys beauty salon, where Manhattanite Ann Sheridan tells us, "Pounds and reputations are both lost in the steam room, and one woman's poise is another woman's poison." When Sheridan, Dolores Gray and Joan Blondell learn that the husband of their chum, June Allyson, is cheating on her, they race to dine with Allyson at "21"— where we glimpse such cutting-edge fashion accessories as a transparent plastic purse, in which one lady keeps her live pet Chihuahua! Gray drops large clues about Leslie Nielsen, Allyson's straying spouse, which pains Sheridan. Why? It seems Allyson's a real "woman," whereas Sheridan and cronies are just "females, the lost sex, substituting fashion for passion, and the analyst's couch for the double bed." In the unlikely event that we fail to understand what it is these women need, Gray and Blondell hotfoot it to a Broadway show, supposedly to catch an eyeful of Nielsen's mistress, chorus girl Joan Collins, but really to watch the film's calypso ode to bananas. Freud would've loved the lyrics: "We got banana steak, banana boats or banana stews, banana dresses and banana shoes!" 

Well, someone on this movie was certainly bananas — what else could possibly explain a later production number, reprising the title tune, in which Collins and other chorines straddle revolving psychiatrist's couches? While watching it, Allyson learns that Collins has been seen in public with her husband and child, so she storms into Collins's dressing room and snarls one of our favorite Bad Movie lines, "You've been seeing my daughter!"

Soon Allyson's off to Reno for a divorce — a sequence enlivened by Gray and Ann Miller getting into a wig-pulling cat fight — after which, Allyson resumes her career to become, like most single mothers returning to the job force, a big TV star. Your jaw will drop when this middle-aged matron, wearing a Peter Pan collar, tries her hand at a seductive vamp song, "Now! Baby, Now." Prowling around a hideous ueber-'50s set — all magenta bass fiddles against turquoise blue skies — Allyson sings to tux-clad chorus boys, "Though the future is the pleasantest tense/What I want's in the presentest tense!"

In the end, Allyson wins Nielsen back, a dubious victory at best, but not before Gray's Reno pickup, singing cowboy Jeff Richards, wows tout Manhattan by warbling a tune called---we're not making this up — "Rock and Roll Tumbleweed." At song's end, the crowd goes wild — by which time you'll be falling off your sofa with glee.

Click this link for the fabulous trailer to The Opposite Sex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivMFR9xGlpY

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