Thursday, April 30, 2009



Tuesday, April 28, 2009


One of the greatest swingers of our generation is about to get married," we're told at the outset of the crack-brained 1963 classic WHO'S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED? And, indeed, trying to get studly bachelor Dean Martin to the altar comprises the film's entire plot. What's so difficult about this enterprise? Well, Martin is the star of a hit medical series on TV, and women everywhere -- especially married women -- constantly seek him out for his bedside manner. He longs to shed his wanton ways by wedding Elizabeth Montgomery, but the sex-starved wives of his closest male pals have other plans for him. When psychiatrist Martin Balsam tells his better half that he'd rather play poker with Martin and the boys than stay home with her ("I listen to my patients all day long. At night I like to listen to the sound of chips. That's therapy for me"), the hot-to-trot missus fumes, "Maybe I'll find myself a little therapy one of these nights -- about six feet of therapy!" We think six inches might do. In the home of fellow poker pal Louis Nye, wife Jill St. John rages that she wants to be taken out dancing, to which Nye replies, "Nothing's changed. You're still the same pom-pom girl from the class of '58." Whereupon St. John thrusts her formidable chest out so far you'll probably jump back from your TV screen, and snaps, "You didn't object to my pom-poms then!"

Some of the wives in question are more daring. Elliot Reed's mate, a French souffle played by Macha Meril, turns up at Martin's pad proffering homemade quiche lorraine. When Martin resists her temptation, she leers, "Wait till you taste my cherries Jubilee!" Next poker night, St. John shows up, hungry for love. Martin explains the convenient presence of his nosy houseboy by telling her, "He's in need of psychiatric help." To which St. John responds, "Aren't we all?" and promptly goes into a striptease samba to demonstrate that she is, anyway.

Nerves shattered by the unnatural strain of fighting off his pals' wives, Martin starts popping pills and tells Montgomery he wants to postpone the wedding date. She promptly runs for advice to friend Carol Burnett, who happens to be Dr. Balsam's receptionist and thus something of an amateur analyst herself. "It's an anxiety complex and psychosis known in the trade as prenuptial dropsy," Burnett explains. Then, offering the kind of useful advice you could still get from psychiatrists in the '60s, she adds, "He's got something real wild going for him on the outside. You gotta discover some way to fight it. The first thing you have to do is find out who the competition is, what they're selling, how they package it, and then hit the consumer with everything you've got."

Martin decides it's time to seek professional help from pal Balsam. In another example of how effective psychiatric care used to be, Balsam injects Martin with truth serum. Under the influence, Martin reveals that Balsam's wife has been hitting on him--which may explain why shrinks no longer use truth serum in everyday therapy -- then comes to the realization that he truly wants to be single. "I'll have the craziest harem in town," he declares.

"He'll never marry," Balsam later confides to Burnett. "It's a psychological truism that once a man gets hepped on married women, he can't kick it -- it's like a monkey on his back." The ever-helpful Burnett rushes to tell Montgomery the news: "He has a 20th century neurosis. The only way you can possibly get him interested in you again is if you're a married woman." Then, uttering a line of such screenwriting eloquence we don't know how it escaped Academy notice, she adds, "Unless the ground is broken, this boy ain't gonna build."

With the help of a male model, Montgomery fakes a wedding, at which a drunk Martin says to Burnett: "I love her, but I'm not sticking to one girl. My life's gonna be one big old happy smorgasbord." Burnett's reply? "If you ever need a piece of herring, you know where to find me."
Now that Montgomery appears to be yet another unfulfilled housewife, Martin wants her like never before. In fact, he wants to marry her. Off they go to Tijuana where (don't ask) Burnett becomes a stripper--a sight so scary it wouldn't be topped until the release of Showgirls three decades later. Though Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? is not yet available on video, we found it on TCM. Ask your psychiatrist's wife where you can find a copy.



Monday, April 27, 2009

A Public Service Announcement: POO GAS!


Many are called. Few are chosen. You've probably heard that message before, but the way it's imparted in the 1972 gem POPE JOAN, it's not about the few souls called to true Christian salvation, it's about the few foreign actresses -- those Danish pastries and Roma tomatoes -- who've ever come within emoting distance of being the "new" Greta Garbo or the "next" Ingrid Bergman. One of the least likely crossover wannabes of all time was Norwegian dish Liv Ullmann, who, after a string of fine performances for Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, flew her Scandinavian coop to demonstrate that, in English, she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. Intent on displaying a broad range of mediocrity, Ullmann failed at comedies (40 CARATS), musicals (LOST HORIZON), royal epics (THE ABDICATION), war flicks (A BRIDGE TOO FAR), Westerns (ZANDY'S BRIDE) and action movies (COLD SWEAT) -- there was nothing she could not not do. But POPE JOAN ranks as our absolute favorite Liv-And-Let-Liv trash classic.

We first see Ullmann done up in hideous Pippi Longstocking pigtails, presumably the look du jour for ninth-century teen messengers of God. When both her parents die, orphaned Ullmann announces her intention to go to a nunnery. Her father's randy monk pals won't hear of it, however. As one of them puts it, "You weren't meant for a nunnery, Joan!" And to prove the point, they all gang-rape her. In a response that would suggest she has more than a passing fancy for medieval religious practice, Ullmann likes it.

Sticking with her plan, Ullmann enters the convent Our Lady of Deceptively Meek Overactors. Things heat up quickly when the emperor Charlemagne stops by one night for dinner, bringing along his grandson, Franco Nero. Nero instantly lusts after Sister Liv, but still unfamiliar with how the church hierarchy operates, she refuses him. She does, however, watch Nero have sex with Sister Lesley-Anne Down, after which she hurries off to her room to masturbate.

Ullmann's next religious experience occurs when the convent is deemed in need of redecorating -- it's SO eighth century -- and the emperor sends over painter Maximilian Schell, a studmonk of the first order. "Why are you a monk?" Ullmann asks, to which he responds leeringly, "It's the only way I could get myself into a nunnery." Sister Liv sees the light and succumbs to this inspired member of the clergy. "Do you think it surprises our Maker that we have sinned?" Brother Schell asks rhetorically afterward. "It's the only thing that separates us from the angels."

While Sister Liv is still, no doubt, digesting that bit of theological wisdom, the emperor dies, prompting barbarian Saxons to rape the nuns. Schell spirits Ullmann away and, in the interests of her future safety, gives her a boyish haircut and a new identity -- Friar John. Her butch makeover wins Ullmann twice as much attention as she got before -- from men. Soon-to-be-emperor Nero, for example, likes the looks of this "lad" so much he ordains him/her a priest.

Pope Trevor Howard is attracted too, and anoints him/her a cardinal. When Cardinal Ullmann calls on the Pope in his spa and finds His Holiness wearing nothing but a towel, the Holy Father vamps, "You look splendid," before plunging buck-naked into the pool, shouting, "Shed those magic robes!" Ullmann demurs, but the Pope carries a torch for his special servant of God right to his own deathbed, on which, eyeing Ullmann-in-drag hungrily, he designates him/her as the next Pope.

When Schell sees Pope Ullmann in full papal drag, he's moved to hit on him/her all over again (is this what's meant by catholic tastes?). Schell's charms don't work, because Nero is on the scene ready to be made emperor. After Ullmann crowns him, he recognizes her and says, "Odd if the Pope should be a woman. There are those who would say it showed the hand of the Devil. I've always had a weakness for the Devil!" Soon the emperor and the Pope are going at it in an admirable display of harmony between church and state. But then Nero goes off to fight the Holy Wars, leaving the Pope to mope about the Vatican. Months go by until one day, Pope Liv, now mysteriously swathed in enough robes to outfit the entire Jesuit and Franciscan orders, walks out amid his/her faithful in celebration. It proves an untimely show of papal authority, for suddenly the Pope collapses on the cobblestones and gives birth to his/her illegitimate love child. Appalled at the enormous deception that has been perpetrated, the crowd tears Ullmann to pieces. So did the critics.

DELICIOUS ADVICE: Girls - Do You Have One of These at Home?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

DELICIOUS! REMEMBERS: 'Golden Girl' Bea Arthur - star of Television, Stage & Screen

Beatrice Arthur, the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows "Maude" and "The Golden Girls" and who won a Tony Award for the musical Mame, died Saturday. She was 86.
Arthur first appeared in the landmark comedy series "All in the Family" as Edith Bunker's loudly outspoken, liberal cousin, Maude Finley. She proved a perfect foil for blue-collar bigot Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), and their blistering exchanges were so entertaining that producer Norman Lear fashioned Arthur's own series "Maude".
The groundbreaking "Maude" scored with television viewers immediately on its CBS debut in September 1972, and Arthur won an Emmy Award for the role in 1977. The comedy flowed from Maude's efforts to cast off the traditional restraints that women faced, but the series often had a serious base. Her husband Walter (Bill Macy) became an alcoholic, and she underwent an abortion, which drew a torrent of viewer protests. Maude became a standard bearer for the growing feminist movement in America.
Arthur was born Bernice Frankel in New York City in 1922. When she was 11, her family moved to Cambridge, Md., where her father opened a clothing store. At 12 she had grown to full height, and she dreamed of being a petite blond movie star like June Allyson. There was one advantage of being tall and deep-voiced: She was chosen for the male roles in school plays.
After two years at a junior college in Virginia, she earned a degree as a medical lab technician, but she "loathed" doing lab work at a hospital. Acting held more appeal, and she enrolled in a drama course at the New School of Social Research in New York City. To support herself, she sang in a night spot that required her to push drinks on customers. Then, in 1964, Harold Prince cast her as Yente the Matchmaker in the original company of Fiddler on the Roof.
Arthur's biggest Broadway triumph came in 1966 as Vera Charles, Angela Lansbury's acerbic friend in the musical Mame, directed by her then-husband Gene Saks. Richard Watts of the New York Post called her performance "a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman." She won the Tony as best supporting actress and repeated the role in the film version starring Lucille Ball as Mame.
"There was no one else like Bea," said "Mame" composer Jerry Herman. "She would make us laugh during `Mame' rehearsals with a look or with a word. She didn't need dialogue. I don't know if I can say that about any other person I ever worked with."
"Golden Girls" (1985-1992) was the other of Arthur's groundbreaking TV comedies, finding surprising success in a television market increasingly skewed toward a younger, product-buying audience. The series concerned three retirees — Dorothy (Arthur), Rose (Betty White) and Blanche (Rue McClanahan) — and Dorothy's wise and witty mother Sophia, (played masterfully by the late Estelle Getty), who lived together in a lovely Miami home. In contrast to the violent "Miami Vice," the comedy was nicknamed "Miami Nice." The interplay among the four women and their relations with men fueled the comedy, and the show amassed a big audience and 10 Emmys, including two as best comedy series and individual awards for each of the stars.
Between her two TV series, Arthur remained active in both films and theater. One of her best performances was the Mother of the Groom in the hilarious 1970 film Lovers And Other Strangers. Most recently, during 2001 and 2002 she toured the country in a one-woman show of songs and stories, "...And Then There's Bea."
Estelle Getty went on to that "Shady Pines" in the sky in July of last year - now her daughter Dorothy has gone on to join her. We will miss you Bea. Our world will somehow now make a little less sense.
Click this link to see a delightful clip of Bea and Rock Hudson singing "Everybody today is Turning On" from the broadway musical I Love My Wife.
Click here to watch Bea and Angela recreate their glorious Tony-winning roles from Mame.

Friday, April 24, 2009


The scariest thing about FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, is that the novel by V. C. Andrews has sold billions of copies. For anyone who somehow missed the book, this is a story of four very blond children - a couple of strapping teens named Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and Chris (Jeb Adams), who like to sleep in the same bed and keep the bathroom door open. And then there's the little twinsies, Carrie (Lindsay Parker) and Cory (Ben Ganger). Their mother's name is Corinne (Victoria Tennant). If they have a cat, it is most likely named ‘Cat’.

This cute clan is disrupted by the death of father, whereupon Tennant takes them back to the family manse, from whence she was kicked out 17 years ago, after marrying her own uncle! She plans to regain the love of her dying father and inherit his fortune. (Apparently applying for a job and joining the workforce just never entered into the equation).The kids are locked in a spacious bedroom and treated with extreme cruelty by their grandmother Louise Fletcher, who must have studied Piper Laurie's every move in Brian DePalma's Carrie. (It's a shame she didn't notice the subtleties in that performance as well. Her acting is so over-the-top, if she had a black moustache, she would twirl it.) She calls them ''devil's spawn'' and goes so far as to trim Cathy's long blonde locks. (the horror!)

The children spend most of their time in the attic - which they get to through a secret door in their room. It is here that their eyes grow cavernous - apparently from too much makeup. But what really gets to the kids is the realization that mother Tennant has been sprinkling arsenic on their cookies. (This makes Tennant a hero in our opinion as these children are so annoying and stupid, poisoning falls into the category of mercy killing.) But enough of this, lest, as little Cory, who eats more cookies than is good for him, puts it, ''We'll have to thwow up.''

Incestuous desires run rampant in the original novel, but the movie,written and directed for minimum impact by Jeffrey Bloom, only offers soft-focus innuendo. Stripped of its metaphorical trimmings, the sublimely ridiculous plot reduces the viewer to laughter more than tears.

On second thought, the scariest thing about this movie is that the original novel was followed by more horticultural horror sequels, ''Petals on the Wind,'' ''If There Be Thorns'' ''Seeds of Yesterday'' and ''Garden of Shadows.'' to name but a few. Could there still be bitter fruit to come? Now
that’s the REAL horror!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

DELICIOUS! REMEMBERS: Marilyn Cooper, Tony-Winning Actress for Woman of the Year

April 23, 2009 - Marilyn Cooper, who won a Tony Award in 1981 for her droll performance in the musical Woman of the Year, died April 23 at the Actors Fund Home in New Jersey, following a long illness. She was 75. Brunette, with large eyes and a deadpan manner, Ms. Cooper excelled at comedy. It wasn't easy drawing focus away from Lauren Bacall, the star of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical (which was based on the Tracy-Hepburn film of the same name), but Ms. Cooper managed to do it as Jan Donovon, the drab second wife of Tess Harding's (Bacall) ex-husband. She stopped the show with her punchlines in "The Grass Is Always Greener," a duet with Bacall's Harding, in which the two women envy the circumstances of one another's lives. Ms. Cooper stole the number, sending the audience into gales of laughter with her nasal refrain "What's so wonderful?" Ms. Cooper also won a Drama Desk Award for her work. She would later tour with Bacall in the show, and toured again, in 1984, this time with Barbara Eden.

Born in New York City, Ms. Cooper's musical theatre chops stretched back to Mr. Wonderful in 1956, and included ensemble roles in the original production of West Side Story (as Rosalie), Gypsy (as Agnes, the leader of the Hollywood Blondes, which back up Louise) and I Can Get It for Your Wholesale. She replaced Jane Connell as Agnes Gooch in the original production of Mame and played a variety of roles in the Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Arthur Laurents musical Hallelujah, Baby!

During the 1970s, Ms. Cooper appeared in Two by Two, On the Town and Ballroom. In the 1980s, she took roles in a few straight plays, including Neil Simon's The Odd Couple and Broadway Bound. Television viewers may remember her from her marvelous turn as Dr. Lilith Sternan-Crane’s caustic mother on a particularly memorable episode of "Cheers".

One wonderful anecdote passed on to us about Marilyn (or "Coopie" as her friends called her) was a story she related about her experience as the female lead in "Wholesale". "I was the star of a Broadway show once" she said. "Oh yes, I was above the title and everything... They needed a girl to sing one song in the show... one lousy song.... Just my luck, they picked Barbra Streisand."

Coopie will be missed.

Click this link to watch Marilyn and Raquel Welch perform the show-stopping number 'The Grass is Always Greener' from WOMAN OF THE YEAR.

GOOD ADVICE: When ever my husband Jim starts to get out of line, I simply smile. And when he gets up the next morning, he finds this on our fridge.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


In the crowded field of unintentionally funny thrillers vying for the title "Best Bad Movie from Hell" -- you know, Other Woman from Hell (Fatal Attraction), Nanny/Babysitter from Hell (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, The Sitter), Nymphet/Houseguest from Hell (The Crush, Poison Ivy) -- the Secretary from Hell entry, THE TEMP, is a strong contender for the crown, thanks to a nonsensical script and a trio of awful star turns. If the prospect of two former Oscar winners -- greasy-haired Tim Hutton and lacquered-within-an-inch-of-her-life Faye Dunaway -- humiliating themselves doesn't make you race to your video store for a copy, then perhaps you'll succumb to the lure of seeing Lara Flynn Boyle crawl on the floor like Ann-Margret in Kitten With a Whip, in what seems like an attempt to prove for all time that she's the ultimate shooting starlet.

The fun begins when cookie company exec Hutton -- a recovering paranoid whose latent "Mr. Hyde" personality has already cost him his wife, son and house -- wows boss lady Dunaway with a new sales gimmick: market grandma-type cookies in old-fashioned-looking jars! Never mind that this mid-'70s concept ought to get him fired; there are far more egregious plot points to come. When Hutton's male assistant takes time off from work, the film's villainous vamp, office temp Boyle, turns up. Claiming to be a wed Stanford grad but sounding like she has marbles in her mouth, Boyle coos at Hutton, "You seem harrid," apparently meaning "harried" but making it sound enough like "horrid" to nail his performance.

Soon Boyle is flashing her legs and her bra, and though we're not amused -- Boyle's expression-free mug and calculated attempts at cool seem, to us, positively Jane Seymouresque -- Hutton desires her. Hilariously, when he asks pal Steven Weber, "Didn't you once fool around with your secretary?" Weber retorts, about Hutton's vacationing male assistant, "You thinking of boning Lance?"

When the secretary returns, Boyle goes to work for Hutton's rival exec Oliver Platt, but not before she says to Hutton -- we swear! -- "Peter, Peter, cookie-eater, had a temp, but couldn't keep her." Unhappy at her new gig, Boyle arranges an accident to maim Hutton's assistant and, while she's at it, kills off Platt. That's not what's bothering Dunaway, however; she's sure someone is after her job. "If they think I'm going down without a fight, they're mistaken," she growls, out for blood. "Believe me, I've had more knives stuck into me than Julius Caesar!" Things get worse: After Boyle is made an executive, Hutton -- who opines, "I've heard of meteoric rises, but this is ridiculous" --- rebuffs her come-on, only to find that when his cookies hit the stores, the customers literally start spitting blood. Ordering a hunt for the saboteur, Dunaway snaps, "We have to stop the bleeding!" But who can stop the laughing when Boyle, at a company picnic, strips to suggest she and Hutton "f-ck underwater," as their co-workers watch from shore?

Thinking Boyle may be the killer, Hutton searches her office. When he is discovered in the act by co-worker Colleen Flynn, he begs for her help but she refuses, saying, "I'm not the one caught with my hands in the cookie jar." Then, when Hutton peeks through Boyle's bedroom window, he sees that Boyle's got her hand in the cookie jar--at this point, both Hutton and the movie take time out to watch her masturbate.

Suffice it to say, about the film's suspense-free last third, although it boasts everything -- Boyle and Hutton ride in a car careening out of control; Hutton gets tossed atop a garbage heap; Boyle, clearly a dangerous psycho, breaks into Hutton's home to (gasp!) rearrange his furniture -- none of it goes anywhere. If, however, you're in need of a good giggle, go rent The Temp right now.


Andrew and Virginia Stone (Julie, Cry Terror) are no ordinary movie realists. In 1960, when they decided to make a movie about the sinking of an ocean liner, (The Last Voyage), they hired the aged Ile de France, hauled her out into the Pacific Ocean, and then effectively scuttled her, in the interests of their art and their commerce. In an industry where big is par, the Stones think colossal. In 1970, their newest project opened at the Cinerama Theater, on a screen almost as wide as the Scandinavian peninsula. SONG OF NORWAY is a film resurrection of the 1944 Broadway operetta about Edvard Grieg, set to the Grieg music as edited and rearranged by Robert Wright and George Forrest, who also wrote those lyrics that Mr. Grieg somehow happened to overlook.

A saccharine fantasy with 45 musical numbers, 25 songs, international uvulas, and a production line of fjords, Song of Norway is no ordinary movie kitsch, but a display to turn Guy Lombardo livid with envy. The film, conceived as a kind of living postcard, is so full of waterfalls, blossoms, lambs, glaciers, folk dancers, mountains, children, suns, and churches, that, it raises kitsch to the status of art. Writer/director Andrew Stone composes every schlocky musical turn by cutting away to landscapes -- so that it becomes a visual ode to the Norwegian soul as defined by the Norwegian Tourist Office. If he sees a summit, you may rest assured that someone is romping up it, a sun is sinking behind it, or an airplane, carrying a camera, is buzzing it, while the movie's six-track stereo system pounds out still another reprise of the piano concerto. It quickly becomes exhausting as people keep breaking into impassioned warbling and frenetic hoofing every few minutes. No location is safe: a hayride, a ferry ride, a snowball fight, and a chase down winding village streets inevitably turn into cause for belting out a tune.

And the music is among the worst ever put on a soundtrack. Grieg didn't write show tunes, nor did he ever imagine people would be singing hackneyed versions of his classical compositions while throwing snowballs at each other. With tunes like "Freddie and His Fiddle," "The Life of a Wife of a Sailor," "In the Hall of the Mountain King" and the appropriately titled "Strange Music," the film simultaneously brings joy to the eyes as the lyrics lay waste to the ears!

The cast includes Toralv Maurstad, a blond Norwegian actor too elderly to play the young Grieg, Frank Porretta, a young American singer, as his best friend, and Florence Henderson, who is sometimes photographed through what looks like gauze, as his wife. If you ever paused to ask yourself: "How come we've never seen any movies starring Florence Henderson?" Well, the answer to that Zen-worthy riddle can be summarized in just three words: "Song of Norway." Yes, she can sing - but whatever charm and pleasantness she could offer for the sale of cooking oil and denture cream was nowhere to be found here. Robert Morley, Edward G. Robinson and Oscar Homolka also appear - mostly as scenic obstructions.

Song of Norway was cruelly attacked by the critics. Pauline Kael's New Yorker barbecue was the most articulate: "The movie is of an unbelievable badness; it brings back clich├ęs you didn't know you knew - they're practically from the unconscious of moviegoers" Life magazine raved: 'Godawful'. The New Yorker wondered whether it had been made by trolls. The Medved Brothers dubbed Florence Henderson, 'the female Peter Frampton for the Geritol generation'. The film's failure was swift but its leading actors suffered the most: Maurstad never made another American movie, Porretta never made another film, and Florence Henderson was never trusted to appear in a movie until her cameo role in 1992's Shakes the Clown. But Song of Norway does have some small rewards -- for critics (who can quote its inane dialogue), and for general audiences (who can feel superior to it). Will there ever be an official dvd release? We can only pray.


The good news is that SEXTETTE is one of the most frightening horror movies ever made. The bad news is that it was supposed to be a musical comedy. (Bad comedies are painful, bad musicals are worse, and combining the two, then adding in liberal sexual innuendo involving an eighty-five year old former sexpot is agony.) But Sextette is never boring. It can't be...there's virtually a new TERROR around every corner!

This unbelievably misguided project from director Ken Hughes and screenwriter Herbert Baker takes Mae West's 1926 play SEX and reimagines it as a romance between the 85-year old West and 32-year old Timothy Dalton. And while Mae and her latest hubbie (future Bond star, Dalton) lounge around their palatial honeymoon suite, Mae reminisces about her past conquests while a roster of escapees from the Hollywood Squares stumble through.There's the always-confused Ringo Starr as a Stroheim-like director; leather-skinned George Hamilton as a pinstriped gangster; Alice Cooper in a permed ‘Barry Manilow-style’ wig and tuxedo; Keith Moon as a foppy fashion designer; plus Dom DeLuise, George Raft, Regis Philbin, Rona Barrett -- the list of has-beens and never-will-be's goes on and on ...and on! Meanwhile, the viewer gets to grind their teeth at the loose excuse for a plot, in which the U.S. government begs Mae to spend a night with one of her ex's, a Russian bigwig (Tony Curtis), in order to save diplomatic relations.

But the show really belongs to its octogenarian leading lady, (who at this point in her life must have been giving her corset-maker hazard pay), in her final and most astounding screen role. The most bizarre thing about Sextette is that it pretends that its star is still in her twenties! and has her firing off racy double-entendres that will make every viewer nauseous with their quasi-necrophilic implications. The star is filmed in such soft-focus that one can barely make out her face. She shambles across the sets like she's about to fall over, and when she recites trademark zingers like, "I'm the girl who works at Paramount all day and Fox all night," (Say it out loud), she seems to have forgotten what they mean. The most horrifying exchange comes when she caresses her breasts provocatively, causing Dalton to embrace her and break into an ear-melting rendition of "Love Will Keep Us Together."

YES! Just when you think it's as cheesy as it could ever possibly get, the entire cast breaks into song and dance, and you remember it's also a freaking musical! You haven't lived until you've heard Dom DeLuise creaking out a cover of the Beatles' "Honey Pie"? Other low lights have West crooning "Happy Birthday" while pawing a 21-year-old youth in a gym full of Olympic bodybuilders and lip-synching another standard to which she appears to have forgotten the words. And we'll bet you thought At Long Last Love was interminable!...

The whole mess ends with West singing "Babyface" (astonishingly, she's referring to herself) and sneaking onto Dalton's yacht for a really sick-making seduction scene. We'd like to tell you that the movie has a happy ending, (if having sex with an eighty-five year-old woman qualifies as "happy") but the viewer's side of the experience is something far less pleasant.

Sextette is a jaw-droppingly Bad Move that separates true worshipers of heinous cinema from the fainthearted. It is defiantly one for the record books, and most certainly not recommended for viewing on an empty stomach.


Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a callow youth named Courtney Solomon had a dream. So he saved his pennies and at the tender age of 20, secured the film rights to DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, and thence pursued his Holy Grail: a big-screen version of the much-loved neo-medieval role-playing game. For 10 long years he wandered in the Holly Wood in search of the all-important Green Light, until one day he chanced upon the Lord of High Concepts (Sir Joel of the Silver). A meeting was taken and thence, "a Courtney Solomon film" was born.

Talented actors signed on for big paychecks, but now, so close to his dream, the novice filmmaker refused to allow his vision to pass into the hands of those more experienced, and he himself assumed the director's chair. Some $43 million later, he had his tale of the fair Empress of Izmer, whose rule is threatened by an evil mage (or magician.) With the help of a dwarf, an elf, an apprentice mage and two thieves, disaster was averted . . . in Izmer. Alas, the same can not be said of the tale itself, (which stinketh like the breath of a dyspeptic dragon.) But for collectors of Bad Movies, there is a happy ending.

Laboriously expository and defiantly incomprehensible, Dungeons & Dragons seems to involve the hunt for an enchanted "rod," a threat to the prevailing "fabric of magic," the fight for democracy in the kingdom of Izmer, and the ritual humiliation of actors. In ascending order of ignominy: haughty apprentice mage bland Zoe McLellan; Skywalkerish commoner Justin Whalin (the new Sean Patrick Flanery or the new Robert Sean Leonard? Discuss); his bumbling sidekick Marlon Wayans (a black character straight out of Hollywood's 1938 playbook); Glenn Close-channeling Jeremy Irons; and fair-minded empress Thora Birch, (who models a series of headpieces cribbed from '70s disco album sleeves and throughout sustains the impression of having learned her lines phonetically.)

Those schooled in the arcana of the phenomenally successful fantasy role playing game can best rule on whether Solomon's live action adaptation is a faithful depiction of its obsessive world of elves, dwarfs, and winged things, but even a babe in dungeonland can see that the leading fire breather in this malty brew of heroics and minutiae isn't a computer generated creature, but Jeremy Irons as the archvillain Profion. All goggle-eyes, exaggerated double takes and full-throated oratory, Irons howls, whispers and rages, as he struts about in Olivier's 'Hamlet' eyeliner. Luxuriously bellowing immortal lines like ''You! Are! Mine! Now!', he attacks and guzzles every shred of scenery as if he were playing King Lear at a suburban community theater. "With a dragon army at my command I can crush the empress!" he cries joyfully, bending at the waist and making little claws out of his hands. (It's Bad Movie Nirvana!)

As Irons henchman Damodar, Bruce Payne runs a close second. A bald and burly centurion, Payne goes through the movie wearing metallic blue lipstick, (an obvious but puzzling reference to Petula Clark), terrorizing heroes Whalin and Wayans, whose destiny is to save the world - or whatever.

With his long, chestnut lashes, cherubic cheeks and silky complexion, Whalen is significantly prettier than his female love interest - wholesome, magic-wielding librarian Zoe McLellan. Aided by a lissome elf and a grumpy dwarf, our heroes embarks on a quest involving glowing rubies and secret scrolls. McLellan decides to join them, and after she kisses Whalen her glasses disappear and her backswept math-girl hairdo is magically transformed into a hipper center-part. Our heroic group must battle Payne for possession of a powerful thingummy that can control red dragons, which may or may not be bigger and meaner than the regular green kind. The thingummy itself is called a "rod," but strongly resembles our poolboy's Dragon Bong. (Don't ask.) A connection to the true Dungeons & Dragons universe at last!


Heterosexual director Renny (Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea) Harlin has inexplicably slipped over to the other side with his boy-band-of-witches saga, THE COVENANT. He has taken a bunch of Aberzombies, put them in some sort of prep school and given them supernatural powers, forced them to join the swim team, and thrown a few disposable girls in for good measure. And at no point does the plot of the film or the acting interfere with the camera's view of said Aberzombies' abs.

This tale of the "Sons of Ipswitch", the gifted descendants of the founding fathers of Salem, moves along fairly briskly, with some decent effects and fun stunt work, but first and foremost, the real object of the film is to linger lasciviously upon the admirable assets of young, unironically-named Steven Strait. Seriously - the witchcraft, spiders, explosions, raves, and everything else take humble second-stage to loving shots of Strait rocking a tanktop, Strait rocking a tight v-neck t-shirt, Strait wearing a Speedo. We haven't seen male body-worship on this scale since Ryan Reynolds battled evil spirits that threatened to keep him wet and shirtless for Amityville Horror's entire running time.

Strait plays Caleb, a member of an elite band of underwear models who have gone undercover as witches at a prep school in Massachusetts. (You know, so as not to attract attention). Aside from Caleb, there's the long-haired one, the blonde one, and another one who evades description entirely, to the point that it's impossible to identify him in any group scenes. The Metrosexual trickle-down has apparently left our high schools populated by an army of pomade-enhanced, cap-sleeved man-boys who are so self-approvingly pretty that the girls in their lives can do very little to distract them from their vaguely homoerotic navel-gazing. (Whereas Dazed & Confused presented teen angst in a haze of pot smoke, here it is clouded by an overabundance of Axe Body Spray.)

The overwhelming homoeroticism of The Covenant includes a scene where Caleb and his best bud Pogue are talking on the phone, and both are shirtless, lying in bed, and drenched with sweat. We seriously expected the words "MEET LOCAL GUYS!" to flash across the top of the screen. There's also some locker room action featuring buns galore and a gay-baiting incident where another young man gets called a "fag" by a different long-haired boy (seriously, it's so hard to tell these guys apart...) and the young man beats his tormenter down - without actually denying the accusation, interestingly enough, he even makes reference to looking at the kid's manhood. At another point the an evil Aberzombie pins Caleb to the floor and kisses him on the face roughly -- In a Fear No Evil kind of way, only with far more attractive men involved.

The plot of the film was summed up well enough in the commercials (and is ultimately too mind-numbingly simplistic to get into -- the important thing is that in this teen witch story, the witches are the popular kids. Rather than your typical "supernaturally enhanced underdog" story (Carrie, The Craft), here we watch four rich, white boys who clearly dominate their school and also happen to enjoy a gift that allows them to perform magic. But, watching these kids get everything they want is not nearly as compelling as watching someone who actually NEEDS this power to get back at their enemies or overturn the status quo.

So if you are looking for a satisfying all-male companion piece to the excellent teen-witch thriller The Craft, keep waiting. This isn't it... If - however - you are looking for a warm-up to wet your guests appetites as they arrive for All-Male Porno night, look no further - Renny Harlin has done an admirable job.

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:


 Bo Derek emerged from Blake Edwards's hit 10 as a cornrow-sporting sex symbol, she and her Svengali-like mentor John Derek -- who'd been, at one time, a wooden movie pinup himself -- decided that together they'd "create" Bo's subsequent starring vehicles. This collaboration resulted in a trio of eye-rolling howlers, including the 1981 TARZAN, THE APE MAN. "Produced" by Bo and "directed and photographed" by John, Tarzan reduced Edgar Rice Burrough's far-from-classic work to the level of a magazine spread on a Playboy bunny in the, er, bush.

Richard Harris, an explorer in deepest, darkest Africa, is expecting the next boat to deliver a cannon, but instead he receives bombshell Bo, playing his long-estranged daughter. Her thespian skills had not improved one whit since her first Bad Movie with Harris, Orca, but blank-eyed Bo clearly hadn't a clue. "You first-class bastard," she says to Harris, mistakenly believing that the dreamy, "I've-just-had-the-most-fabulous-orgasm" look on her face could possibly be interpreted as anger. Bo's utter ineptitude is made all the funnier by Harris's response, which is to ham it up to the skies--and beyond. When Bo leaves his welcoming party, Harris says to his mongrels, "She didn't find me a pretty sight. Do you think I -- overdressed?" We fully expect one of the dogs to reply, "No, you -- overacted."

Bo takes command of this soft-core extravaganza by doing what she's best at: stripping off her Banana Republic-style wardrobe to swim -- well, perhaps "bob" is the more accurate term -- in that ocean surf rarely seen in films set in the middle of the Dark Continent. Bo in the buff brings around Miles O'Keeffe, a very buffed Tarzan, and just when it seems that this comely pair might turn the movie into a hard-core porn flick -- which would've been a big improvement -- Harris literally runs into the frame, screaming at his safari aide (Bad Movie vet John Phillip Law), "Make camp, make camp, make camp!" It's hard to imagine how the flick could be any campier. One night, hearing Tarzan's patented yell, Harris bellows back, "Shut up, you boring son of a bitch!" -- the very thing that the Dereks should have told Harris. Bo instead calls Harris a "bastard" again, prompting this reply: "I am. I wallow in me. I indulge myself 100 percent. Take my advice, dear, do the same thing." As if the notoriously self-indulgent Dereks weren't already way, way past the 100 percent mark!

After O'Keeffe saves Bo from a riotous slow-mo encounter with a rubber snake, his unconscious body gets carried away on the tusks of an obliging elephant as Bo, panting with lust, follows along. Grimacing while picking at her teeth (apparently to suggest that she's thinking), Bo eyes O'Keeffe's physique and says, "I've never touched a man before..." -- a howler that's topped when these two go swimming. "I feel like I'm reading this in a book," Bo exults, as if she could read. "I don't know whether to laugh or cry or just turn to the next page!" It all ends, as we'd hoped it would, with local savages forcing a nude Bo down on all fours. "They're washing me," she cries, in one of our most favorite Bad Movie lines ever, "just like a horse!" O'Keeffe rescues her--but it was too late to save her career.

Popular Posts


About Me

My photo
I'm just an ordinary housewife and mother...just like all you ordinary housewives and mothers out there.

Blog Archive