Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Treat Her Rough... Please.


One of the joys of returning to the U.S. of A. is, without question, access to real, live Turner Classic Movies.

Oh, out in the Sandlands, as I once upon a time kvetched, we had something called TCM, but it was but a pale shadow of the real thing.  Now that we're home, though, I've been having a grand time.  Over the weekend it was a wallow in Imitation of Life, a film that never ceases to please, whether on the level it was intended to or on many additional layers of camp and knowingness.  Tonight - even as I type - it's Girl Crazy, and I've realized with some shock that it's one I've never seen before.

It was a terrible surprise, then, to ease into the opening number - a deluxe nightclub hoopla in fine MGM style, led by no less than Tommy Dorsey himself - and find the wailing banshee who appears in the still above taking center stage.  Her outfit is sufficiently appalling that I'm thinking Irene was having something of a private joke, and it was only once she she opened her ample mouth and the dulcet tones of a badly tuned siren came out that I realized that the harridan in question is, in fact, no less than Miss June Allyson.  Here in 1943 she's considerably livelier than she mostly was later on (virtually BettyHuttonische, even), but even without her trademark bangs no easier to take.

Fortunately, she disappears pretty quickly, and now we're launched onto the Andy-Judy-meet-cute-out-West substance of the thing and it's all much improved.  Although now that I'm getting a good look at some of Judy's getups, I'm wondering if the whole thing wasn't a bit of an inside joke, costume-wise, for Irene...

10 comments:

  1. I've been watching "Girl Crazy."

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  2. i just sat & watched most of, "the human comedy." had never seen it, loved the title & was even more intrigued when robert o. said it was l.b.mayer's favorite movie ever. it's astounding that his taste didn't destroy MGM, the movie was so sappy, stupid & sentimental (and i can take quite a lot of s, s AND s!)

    the best part of this movie is that saroyan was married to carol, twice.

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    1. LBM did have a taste for the saccharine, and I often feel like his meddling is responsible for some of the weaker bits of even the best MGM product (as well as for the complete mysteries, such as how a piece of rank excrement like Ice Follies of 1939 ever made the cut).

      As for the eventual Mrs. Mathau, she was a unique creature and whose reputaton may well outlast that of her once celebrated first husband (who was really her first two husbands, but that's another story).

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  3. I don't share your distaste for the Junester although there are times when she laid it on a bit thick. This was I think her second or third film appearance and she is even more buoyant than was her norm. It's the super caffeinated Rooney who has always irked me no end, it's only my great love for Judy that has enabled me to make it through their films together without throwing something at the screen.

    I do agree that TCM is an absolute treasure trove of delights. This being August and their annual Summer Under the Stars can be joyous if you like that day's featured star, yea Bette Davis today! or a day to skip as yesterday was but they always offer quality films.

    Another great thing is that many of those films are rarely shown, for instance during tomorrow's Gregory Peck love-in there is a screening of The Macomber Affair with Joan Bennett the first time I think it's seen the light of day in years, can't wait!

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    1. Oh, don't get me wrong - June's no Loretta Young when it comes to the all-time-loathe stakes; I just find her bafflingly, the same way I do Jane Powell or, in latter days, Sandra Bulllock. As Michael Bluth so often says - "Her?"

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  4. I find myself lurching from the room anytime anyone anywhere does anything 'virtually BettyHuttonische'.

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  5. I attribute much of the darkness and bagginess happening around my eyes to too many late nights in the company of TCM these last two decades. Ed heads to bed, and I turn the channel from HGTV to TCM and AMC (The Ancient Movie Channel as my pop calls it). More often than not, I am hooked for the next 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on what's scheduled.

    TCM has provided me endless entertainment and some truly delightful discoveries. Most recently, I was charmed to discover The Doughgirls. Who knew Eve Arden, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith, and Jane Wyman made a movie together? And Arden as a Russian guerilla sharpshooter of all things. It's not exactly one for the ages, but it's still a few feet ahead of most of what passes for movies these days.

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    1. I love The Doughgirls too! It's light and breezy and as befitted stars of the period no matter what time it is in the movie day or night or their economic situation they are dressed to the nines and dripping in eye popping jewelry. All four ladies are delightful with Eve having the really showy part but for me Jane Wyman manages to make her character, who can only be described as a borderline idiot, sweet and endearing rather than annoying or irritating which would have been easy from a less talented actress. The role is not something that was alien to her at the time, a feather headed dame, but considering her later work and persona which was so sober this comes as a pleasant reminder of the variety of her gift.

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  6. I would've treated Andy Rooney rough....in those days but I digress. A MUCH better version of this song is on a CD by Debbie Shapiro Gravitte "The MGM Album". She's a Broadway Baby and won a Tony.

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    1. I love D.S. Gravitte - I first heard back when she was still Gravitteless! But Topher - please, please reassure me of one thing: you didn't really mean that you have a longstanding, unrequited thing for Andy Rooney. It would be too great a shock to bear...

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