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My Movie Alphabet

20 Dec

Duke Mantee over at Spoilers did one of these as part of a blogathon, so I decided I wanted to do one, too.  I guess the blogathon is put on by this person.

A:  At Long Last Love

Forcing the driver to drink champagne. Good idea, errbody.

Oft-maligned tribute to ’30s musicals.  I happen to really like this movie for the silliness it is, probably spurred on by my irrational devotion to Cybill Shepherd (not to mention Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Burt Reynolds, and Cole Porter, but one need not be irrational to be devoted to those).

B: Bad Seed, the

Look at them crazy eyes! Also, I love the mom’s blouse.

I saw this for the first time in a hotel room with my mom when I was in 6th grade.  I was pretty sure it was the creepiest.  I saw it again recently and realized it’s a pretty smart, sharp movie.

C:  Cleopatra

Watch out, Warren William. That’s Cleopatra–comin’ atcha!

Claudette Colbert, you crazy and fabulous, gurl.  I love you in pre-codes and in weepy wartime numbers equally, but this movie is so decadently and art-deco-ly delicious.

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Dueling Country Divas (And Their Diva Duel Movies That Might Have Been)

12 Dec

Backlots once again is hosting the Dueling Divas Blogathon, which highlights glamorous classic movie stars who hate each other glamorously and fight out their troubles glamorously.  I’m participating in this officially a little later on, but I want to kick things off a little early with a pre-blogathon post that doesn’t exactly fit the criteria.

I’ve chosen five classic country songs that feature ladies in varying degrees of duels.  Each song, in my opinion, would have made a great classic diva duel movie.  Therewith, I will share with you why the ladies in these songs are divas and how the movie that could’ve been made might’ve looked (and I apologize in advance for all the crappy posters).

Honorable Mention:  Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA

The Song:  A sassy widow, the bane of Harper Valley, exposes the PTA as the hypocrites they are when they have the nerve to send a note home criticizing her lifestyle choices.

Main Diva:  The sassy widow shows her divatude in the climactic confrontation with the PTA.

Supporting Diva: Shirley Thompson, PTA board member, who, if you smell her breath, “you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin.”  There are many antagonists in this story; however, I think Shirley would make the best lead because there’s a lot of inherent pathos in being an alcoholic.

The Movie:  I know there’s already a movie, and I’ve seen parts of it many years ago, but I imagine this starring Ginger Rogers–maybe as a post-Primrose Path or Kitty Foyle endeavor, where she is from the wrong side of the tracks and works her way up and marries a rich dude and then is jilted by him (and then he up and dies), and then the movie includes some flashbacks to life before Harper Valley and then some Stella Dallas-esque scenes of her embarrassing her daughter (the narratrix of the movie, like the song) and then the climactic showdown.  Meanwhile, a glamorously and furtively drunk Ann Sothern–a woman both hard and soft who delivers one-liners like an absolute champ but who can also convey deep emotions–plays Shirley Thompson, whose marriage to Mr. Thompson is on the rocks, and she has her own troubles when Ginger Rogers rolls into town.  The ladies hate each other at first, but then they come to an understanding after the showdown because Ginger’s dad was an alcoholic and ya da da.  And maybe at the happy ending they trade recipes and snicker about the gal who’s having an affair with the ice man.

Harper Valley PTA

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Dear Googlers 2: Some More Letters to Some More People I’ve Never Met (Probably)

27 Oct

Dear Googlers Who Found My Blog Using the Search Terms “who played commander janeway in battlestar galactica”:

I wonder if this crossover is intentional.  If not, your brain accidentally made something up that my brain only wishes it had come up with.

So say we all,
Alexandra

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Dear Googlers Who Found My Blog Using the Search Terms “lady macbeth i started late and forgot the dog”:

You’re right!  I should write more about Lady Macbeth!

Unsex me here,
Alexandra

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The Outsider Who Is an Insider

4 Oct

On the flip side of the insider who is an outsider, we have the outsider who is an insider:

A character from outside the constructed world who is thrust into the world, often to effect some change, who has a varying degree of cognizance about his or her setting and role within that setting.

The character who inspired this post is Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time.  She lives in the TV version of real life, but her long-lost-put-up-for-closed-adoption son shows up one day to tell her everyone in his small town is a fairy tale character, they live under a curse enacted by his adopted mother, and Emma’s the only one who can save them.  We learn through her eyes–and apart from her eyes–that all of this is true.  She is an outsider because she does not actually know anything about the citizens of Storybrooke or their plight, but she is an insider by both birth and destiny.

“To my credit, the dude had a Chicago dog for lunch…”

For another example, take Indiana Jones.  While he is an expert in his field, he often finds himself immersed in other cultures, fighting to fix whatever the archaeological problem is.  This is especially the case in Temple of Doom, in which he is an outsider as a westerner but an insider as the one who can figure out the curse and nullify it.  He has special skills needed in the culture he finds himself in.

This character differs from the insider/outsider in both form and function.  The insider/outsider often comes off as rather surly and introspective, whereas the outsider/insider must be, out of narrative necessity, a social butterfly.  How would he or she ever learn about his or her new world without an amount of confidence, charm, and extroversion?

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The Insider Who Is an Outsider

3 Oct

I was thinking the other day about characters in fiction because I was thinking about how when I write fiction I tend to write the same types of characters over and over, and I was thinking about why I might do this–why I’m  not very adventurous and what attracts me to them in the first place.

And I decided that the character who often appears is the insider who is an outsider.

That is to say, a character who knows about the fictional world it inhabits and is privy to vital information in this world but who is emotionally (or physically, sometimes) distanced from it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this happens all the time in fiction–not just my own.

For example, Nick from The Great Gatsby is a part of East Egg culture by birth and manners and means and education, but he emotionally connects with Gatsby and is physically distanced from the East Eggers, as well.  He is an insider to the culture he’s narrating about, but he is also, because of his sympathy for Gatsby and his current location, an outsider.

“I volunteer to be your narrator!”

For another example, Katniss from The Hunger Games knows about this Hunger Game world and participates in it, but she is an outsider for a couple reasons.  One, she’s from the least glamorous district, which distances her from the dominant culture of The Capitol and the other districts that hold The Capitol as their zenith of class.  And two, she is isolated even from the others in her district because she hunts illegally, she’s reclusive and introverted, and she volunteers for the games–something no one in her district has ever done.

But what makes the insider/outsider so attractive?  This character instantly gains the audience’s trust because we’re taken into his or her confidence.  We, the readers, are outsiders to the constructed world and need a guide.  We want an effective, reliable narrator to show us the ropes.  We get just this from Nick and Katniss–someone who can tell us the ins and outs, whom we can trust because they, too, are disenfranchised in some way.  They know the goods and the bads, and they have their own biases, but we trust them.

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Why Don’t You Come Out to the Delta Quadrant Sometime and See Me?

26 Sep

I’m always creepin’ ’round teh internetz looking for blogathons to join because, say it with me now, my blog is super lame.  Well, I was looking the other day, and came across one that seemed kind of promising, but then I couldn’t think of anything to write about because I was only half interested in the subject; however, it did lead me to a link to a different blogathon that held a tad more interest for me.  I started researching a little and realized I COULD POTENTIALLY WRITE ABOUT CLASSIC MOVIES AND/OR CAPTAIN JANEWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Word.

So, without further ado, below looms my entry for Angela and her HollywoodRevue’s Paramount Centennial Blogathon.

Here’s my train of thought (disclaimer:  history filtered through my brain):

Movie studios faced some tough times during the Depression.  They had all this sound they didn’t exactly know what to do with yet.  They had all these actors who were kinda broad and weird from silent movies.  They didn’t have a strict production code to keep them from a million extraneous scenes of Marlene Dietrich swimming naked in ponds or Barbara Stanwyck taking off her stockings.  And they were having trouble getting an audience because everybody was super poor.

So, in the early ’30s, Paramount looked to Broadway, found a gal with a hit show, and gave her a movie deal.  That movie?  She Done Him Wrong.  That gal?  Mae West.

Subsequently, Paramount’s financial troubles lessened.

Fast forward 60 years.

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How to Take Matters into Your Own Hands When Your Husband Plans to Kill You

11 Sep

Warning:  Spoilers for Sudden Fear.

So you accidentally left your dictaphone on and have overheard your husband plotting with his nasty girlfriend to kill you for your gargantuan inheritance?

What’s the next step?

Let’s go to our resident expert, Joan Crawford in Sudden Fear, who brings us this flow chart detailing your options:

Monday Night Special #3: Delving in with Diagrams (to Pride and Prejudice)

3 Sep

Dearest Reader,

I forthwith submit for your kindly eyes–I hope, at least, they will look kindly upon this most base preoccupation of mine–the following application of certain processes to which I am sure you have become quite accustomed.  Indeed, our standing agreement to meet at this time each seven-day may be satisfied only in such a manner.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen via 1995 BBC miniseries, which I watched with a middle-aged church lady friend from 9am-2pm on a Tuesday because neither of us work.  The perks of having middle-aged lady friends and being unemployed:  As Twitter would say, the limit does not exist.

I must admit this was my first foray into Austen’s cinematic world.  I’ve never read the book, either, and in fact the only Austen I’ve ever read is Emma for a clunkily titled college course called something to the effect of Periods of British Literature:  19th Century Women’s British Literature. In a discussion with the professor before the class had started, I revealed to her that I’d never read any Austen, and this exchange happened:

Professor:  So, you’re a Jane Austen virgin?
Me:  I’ve never even gotten to first base with Jane Austen.  Haven’t seen the movies or anything.

Because I am the kind of prude who chooses to only intermittently trade provocative witticisms with my professors, I will not continue with this metaphor, but I will say that I am still not very experienced with Jane Austen, but I am at least familiar enough with her to be very intrigued by the concepts she brings up in her novels although my proclivities run toward the Bronte end of the spectrum–especially Anne, if we’re talking women’s roles in society.

Quick Synopsis:

Elizabeth Bennett, the second of five daughters born to a middle-class Edwardian British family, snarks her way through life and eventually falls in love with Mr. Darcy, whom she had initially believed to be an insufferable bore/cad.  Various and sundry other things happen, including Mr. Darcy being kind of chased by his BFF’s bitchy sister, his BFF falling in love with Elizabeth’s older sister, Elizabeth’s youngest sister kind of being a slut and Mr. Darcy having to force a dude to marry her to save her reputation, a pretentious clergyman cousin (who will inherit the Bennett estate) trying to get all up in Elizabeth’s grill but then marrying one of her friends who is more business-oriented than romance-oriented.

Amid all this, we have plenty of class conflict and ruminations on love, marriage, companionship, respect, appearances, pride, and prejudice.  Duh.

Important Quotation:

They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

24 Aug

John over at The Droid You’re Looking For recently did a post posing this very question, and it got me to thinkin’… I should do that post, too!

And, of course, because I can’t resist the juxtaposition, my matches will pit characters against themselves and actors against themselves.  Everybody’s oiled up, and the mud is drying, so let’s get to the ring!

Annie Oakley vs. Annie Oakley

First off, we’ve got a lady who’s been played up one side and down the other–the heroine of the musical Annie Get Your Gun.  The fighters I’ve chosen are Ethel Merman–the original–and Bernadette Peters–because why the heck not.

I didn’t see either of these productions first-hand, but I have heard the cast recordings, and I know how these gals act.  So who can do what better than whom?

Ethel Annie vs. Bernadette Annie

They’ve both got chops, and they’ve both got big ol’ voices, but if it came to a punch out, my money always must go to Ethel Merman.  Bernie’s got some toned arms, but Ethel was married to Ernest Borgnine for a while.  Plus, Bernie’s version omits a song out of political correctness.  You don’t win fights that way, Bernie.

Advantage:  Ethel Merman

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I Just Want to Be Surprised: Final Analysis Analyzed through a Hitchcock Filter

12 Jul

This post is part of The Best Hitchcock Movies (That Hitchcock Never Made) Blogathon, running from July 7th through July 13th, 2012. 

Once upon a time, Lawrence Kasdan decided to basically remake Double Indemnity except with more bathtub sex, window-breaking, and hideous moustaches and then to so subtly call this affair Body Heat.  Several other directors soon followed suit, and thus the ‘80s and ‘90s became the era of the erotic thriller.

I don’t know exactly what it was that about this particular time that made the movie soil so fertile for this sort of thing—certainly the fashion industry decided to harken back to the Golden Age for inspiration, and politics started to conservatize itself, as well.  Maybe everybody was tired of the existential cowboys and long hair and drugs that peppered the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Whatever the case, filmmakers used the tropes that Hitchcock and various and sundry noir directors had perfected to create equal parts glistening and grimy sex thrillers—perhaps thinking they were making movies the way Hitchcock would’ve if he could’ve shown more skin.

Anyway, I’ve chosen Final Analysis for this Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon–an inspired and inspiring little number cooked up by DorianTB and Becky.  However, I must admit something:  This blogathon is all about the best Hitchcock films Hitchcock didn’t make, yet this film is probably not included on any “best of” lists (certainly none of mine).  But because it strives with all its heart to be Hitchcockian, and it’s rather fun, I chose it anyway.  With that, here’s a summary to get us started.  And, of course, spoilers, subjectivity, and slight snark abound.

This screencap makes it look cheesy, but the opening credits of this movie actually set a pretty suspenseful stage (and are probably the best part of the movie).

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