"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ... Bogart, Shakespeare, The Maltese Falcon, Those Great Movies

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I'm Just A Glutton For Punishment -- And I've Got The Link That Will Prove It

I wanted to put something new on my site until my next BrainFood article is finished, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and provide a link to my new post on the Classic Film and TV Cafe.  Even though I state in the prologue that I might lose friends over this post, I'm taking another chance on losing my non-CMBA friends as well.  Thus, the title I chose for this shout-out to my post at the Cafe.  Besides, the Cafe is a great movie blog, and if you haven't visited it, this is your chance.

This month's theme at the Cafe is "The Five Best", and you can fill in whatever you want.  We've had The Five Best TV Sidekicks, The Five Best Movie Death Scenes (that's me), The Five Best Summer Movies -- you get the point.  These have been such fun and are really good.  My post today is titled "The Five Best TV Comedies I Didn't Like At All".  Talking trash about classic TV comedy is a very dangerous undertaking considering the rabid readership for such topics.  But, I am woman, hear me roar -- and perhaps whimper when people start commenting.

Just click on the link and find out if you like me anymore:


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Apiphobia and Spheksophobia -- Everybody Has A Phobia -- I Have Two!

Spheksophobia - fear of wasps
Apiphobia - Fear of bees

I watched a movie last night called The Swarm.  It was released in 1978 by Irwin Allen as the disaster movie of the year, and it was a disaster.  The cast consisted of - wait for it -Michael Caine, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, Jose Ferrer,  Richard Chamberlain, and Olivia deHavilland.  It is my guess that all of them had gambling debts to pay off, and didn't want a visit from Rocko and Luca late some night.  I can't think of any other reason these actors would be in this movie, especially Olivia!  I also can't think of any sane reason why I would watch it.  However, I was tired and lazy last night, and just watched what was on because the remote was on my desk, all the way across the room.

I have a paralyzing fear of bees and wasps.  It's so bad that all I have to hear is hummm and bzzzzz and my heart starts racing, perspiration breaks out on my forehead and I can hardly move.  I don't know where it came from -- I was stung a few times as a kid, like any other kid, no big deal.  But there it is nonetheless.  I'm too scared to even swat at them, so I keep a can of sticky hair spray around.  Aqua Net is best -- use that stuff on your hair and you have an impenetrable helmet.  If you spray the buzzing thing with it, their wings get stuck and they fall like a stone.  Then you can use a big book (I use my Complete Works of William Shakespeare) and squash them.  One time, though, a particularly large wasp took refuge in the runners of my sliding glass door.  So I sprayed him right there, probably using the last of my Aqua Net.  I don't think he died of sticky wings -- I think he drowned.  If I were a Buddhist, I'd be excommunicated, or whatever Buddhists do.

I guess my honey-scented shampoo
wasn't such a good idea

The story of The Swarm is very complicated - African bees make their way to Houston and try to kill everybody.  The End.  Actually, the key characters finally figure out how to get rid of the little buzzers, at least the characters that were left after various disgusting bee deaths.  I won't ruin the ending for you in case you want to see a really terrible movie for yourself.

I think I'm allergic
to this facial mask!
In 1967, moviegoers were treated to The Deadly Bees.  I never heard of anybody in it, except Frank Finlay, who is an excellent actor.  Maybe he had an unexpectedly high electric bill when he took the role.  I've never seen it, don't know what method was used to kill the bees, and actually don't really care.  If the writer took a cue from a lot of monster movies, he may have used electricity to do it.  I've always wondered why the military doesn't just electrocute all movie monsters, considering how many times it has been proved to be the only solution.


Come on over here, big boy!
Such a pretty little thing!
Now we turn to wasps.  I don't know of many wasp movies, although I'm sure they are out there somewhere.  The main movie I know of is actually one of my favorite cheesy Roger Corman movies, The Wasp Woman (1959).  Maybe I like it in spite of my phobia is because it is so unrealistic, except for the few parts that show real wasps.  Susan Cabot is unintentionally hilarious as the woman who wants to look young by taking some mad scientist's wasp serum.  She should have just stuck with Oil of Olay.  The poster is completely misleading.  Our wasp woman is Susan Cabot with a wasp head stuck over her own.  It's pretty funny.  But, I just love this movie!

A very disturbing thing happened in 1995.  Somebody actually did a remake of The Wasp Woman.  The filmmaker strikes me as a rather odd guy.  I never saw it, don't know where to find it, and sincerely doubt that it could possibly be better than Corman's movie.  I will say, however, that the wasp costume is pretty cool:
This is the maker of the film.  He decided to play the wasp
woman himself, and thought that modern audiences would
enjoy a more ample bosom with some serious cleavage. 

This is just a picture of a totally insane person trying to break a record for how long a person can stand still with 200,000 bees covering his body -- he needs a fire hose turned on him:

After reading this article, it should not surprise you that this is my favorite movie about bees or wasps:

Environmentalists, please do not chide me.  I know how important
bees are to the natural world.  But if one gets in my house,
he will nonetheless die a horrible, sticky death

If you don't care for my little piece, just don't say anything.
I also suffer from enissophobia!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

She Wasn't Wearing That A Minute Ago, Was She?

Oh no!  Tell me it isn't so!
It is late at night, and I was struck by an interesting thought ... and please, faithful readers, no sarcastic quips about how seldom that happens...  It certainly is not a new thought, not even to me.  Just a memory. I was reading an article about the film noir Double Indemnity written by my friend Dorian.  It's a very good read, and because it inspired this little memory post, I'd like to give you the link to it -- at the end of this post.  (I don't want you to leave just yet!)  Included in the article is a Youtube clip about mistakes within the movie.  Mistakes differ from the bloopers that are always fun to watch.   Mistakes have to do with continuity of scenes -- you know, first the actress is not wearing any jewelry and two seconds later she has a necklace on -- that kind of thing.  It got me to thinking about my first realizations about how a movie is actually made.  I won't even tell you how old I was before I found out that movies are not shot in a linear fashion.  I always thought movies were shot from start to finish, like a play.  I had never even questioned that it could be otherwise.

I was still young and wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses.  I was totally shocked when I found out that an intense love scene, occurring in the middle of the movie, might be the first scene shot, between actors who had just said hello for the first time.  I almost had a heart attack when I learned the truth about the filming of my favorite scene in Jezebel, with Bette Davis on her knees in her beautiful white dress professing remorse and love to Henry Fonda.  Fonda wasn't even there?!  They were never together in that scene?!  He had shot his lines looking into thin air, then left to be with his wife, who was having a baby.  Bette was looking into thin air as well when she performed her part.  Oy, the anguish!  Then it hit me -- if they really had been standing together, looking at each other, wouldn't you see a camera behind him and a camera behind her?  Jeez Louise!  More and more such technical details began to crowd into my brain.  None of that had ever occurred to me before.  Had I stepped into the Twilight Zone?  No, I had taken that big reluctant step into reality, and I didn't like it one little bit.

Well, I got over it.  That is when I really started studying films, not just watching them.  I learned a new-found admiration for acting as a technical art, as well as an instinctual gift.  I still don't know how they do it!  Pieces shot here and there, bits of dialogue, several unrelated scenes in one day.  It's amazing that any performance turns out smoothly, much less with the kind of genius we see in so many of the best films.  Equally awe-inspiring is the work of the director, crew, everybody behind the scenes who make the mish-mosh of film snippets into a work of art.

So what was the interesting memory that struck me?  Well, at least to movie audiences, probably the least-appreciated, least-recognized member of the crew -- the person who has the job of making sure that Humphrey Bogart's cigarette is still only half-smoked in a short scene that might be shot in 3 pieces -- the one who is responsible for checking to be certain that Myrna Loy's cocktail is the same color from one second to the next  At the lower end of the pecking order in moviedom, it's the script girl.  No gender exclusion intended -- it always seems to be a girl in classic movies.  Probably because it was considered rather a secretarial position, also called script clerk or script reader.  These very important members of the crew were usually uncredited, and probably paid minimum wage.  And for the most part, they did a fantastic job.

Every movie has such mistakes -- there are any number of websites and blogs written by people who specialize in watching movies second by second and find every flaw.  That is their hobby, and they enjoy it.  For myself, I just would not want to live with my finger on the pause button, or whatever is done, to find out if Harry Potter's broken glasses were taped on the right side or the left from scene to scene.  You can also find tons of Youtube videos with mistakes and bloopers.

I would love to hear what you may have seen or learned about interesting mistakes in movies.  But before that, I want to pay special tribute to three unsung women  There were more than a few mistakes for which they were responsible in the movie they worked on -- but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.  Gone With the Wind is almost 4 hours of hypnotic movie greatness, and as for mistakes, I never noticed.  Here's to the three ladies who helped make sure that Scarlett O'Hara wore the same earrings as she walked up the stairs of Twelve Oaks -- Connie Earl, Franclein Macconel and Lydia Schiller.  A little posthumous recognition is well-deserved!

I'm so glad you stopped by to read my post.  Now you can have the link to Dorian's article -- http://doriantb.blogspot.com/2011/07/double-indemnity-secret-life-of-walter.html.