Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Inglourious Molly Freak

One of the joys of having longtime pal Miss Rheba out in our part of the world over these holidays - aside from her delightfully skewed take on much that we take for granted in this eccentric little Sultanate - has been resuming the marathon movie watching that has marked much of our friendship over the past thirty years.

In one stretch these past couple of days, for instance, we managed to take in the remarkably diverse buffet of Love Actually, Eight-Legged Freaks, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and Inglourious Basterds. Of them all, I'd only (shamefully enough, Debbie Reynolds fans) ever seen the first. The combo left me a little dazed, I have to admit.

Love Actually is a guilty pleasure, old-style Hollywood treacle repackaged en style Cool Britannia, a Grand Hotel of varied stars and all-over-the-map acting, from another of Emma Thompson's exquisitely observed portraits of discreet anguish to Bill Nighy's scenery-chomping glee as a faded rockstar. We laughed, we cried, we wished we had some of those apartments.

I really rather thought, believe it not, that Eight-Legged Freaks and Molly Brown have a couple of things in common, principally the over-the-top dedication that their stars throw into making implausible vehicles as entertaining as possible. Both sets of performers clearly know that they're not in Strindberg, but decide to ride it out by giving it their all.

Miss Rheba once worked lights for an East Coast stage production of Molly Brown and regaled us with tales of what agony the cast had in trying to replicate even a fraction of the enthusiasm that Miss Reynolds and company brought to what is, at the end of the day, pretty eighth-rate stuff. She calls the show The Unsinkable Molly Reprise, pointing out that it has just about exactly three numbers, all of which are mercilessly recycled until the audience begs for release. On the other hand, Harve Presnell is pretty easy on the eyes and gets to stride about in some truly astonishing pants.

It strikes me that the tagline from the one-sheet above - "Get out of the way... Or get hit in the heart!" is way more Tarantino than MGM, and could just as easily work for Basterds. About which I don't have a great deal to say, other than that it was in parts very effective, in others extremely silly, and overall more a perverse valentine to cinema than, in itself, a film of any distinction.

But I do kind of wish that Tarantino would team up with Debbie Reynolds. David Lynch gave Ann Miller her last role, and just think what madness Jackie Brown's creator and Molly Brown herself could bring to the the screen...


  1. i don't think i've seen "love actually" since i saw it in the theatre. syrupy...and i loved it. and WILL rewatch it.

    like you, just watched "basterds" and found it an interesting fantasy.

    debbie with quentin, hmmm.....something tells me she would be very concerned about her image and might not fancy fucking with it. i mean, wasn't ann's role in "mullholland drive" merely a high brow "baby jane"?

  2. Thank you for the wonderful blog. I enjoyed every visit in 2009.

    I am David Lynch alumni(Twin Peaks, & Fire Walk With Me) & I had forgotten the Ann Miller connection.

    The Husband & I staid in on Christmas day & we watched Fried Green Tomatoes & Far From Heaven, an odd combo for sure, but a lovely day.

    Best wishes to you & Mr. M in the new decade.

  3. Awesome blog. Magnificence be yours in 2010 and beyond Muscato.

    Happy New Year.

    Dragon and Ms Dragon

  4. Harve Presnell (RIP) was one of the actors to portray Daddy Warbucks on Broadway in Annie. I think he was in the role during the Sarah Jessica Parker As Annie era (1979), but don't quote me on that one.

    I'll see you one Love Actually and raise you one Runaway Bride. Never seen the former, but absolutely (and inexplicably) adore the latter. I guess because it is just a charming movie with a script straight out of MGM in the 1930s. Or maybe a Doris Day/Rock Hudson vehicle.