Tag Archives: unmitigated sass

Sassing, Sobbing, and Strumming a Few Chords on a Ukulele: Ginger Rogers as Tragi-Comic Heroine

29 Jun

Posted as part of the Funny Lady Blogathon put on by that talented and prolific purveyor of silent-movie gifs and other intriguing gems, Fritzi, of Movies, Silently.

I have a Top Hat poster in my room.

It’s this one.  It was given to me for maybe my 13th or 14th birthday by someone who knew I loved classic films in general, musicals specifically, and Ginger Rogers especially.

But I have a confession:

I don’t like Top Hat.  In fact, I don’t like any of the Rogers-Astaire musicals from the ’30s, and I just can’t put my finger on why.

Let me retrace my affection for Ginger Rogers.

The first classic movie I watched on my own (I mean, I spent every Christmas Eve watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and I think my mom and I had probably committed four hours to Gone with the Wind at some indistinguishable point in my childhood, but those don’t count because they weren’t my own choices although they both remain in my very-favorite-movie list) was a little number that’s not even that classic or that good.  It’s a weepy-wartime, totally ludicrous affair called I’ll Be Seeing You.

It stars Ginger Rogers as a sexually harassed secretary who accidentally shoves her boss out of a window (killing him, of course) when he tries to molest her.  She goes to prison and then she gets out on some kind of furlough for the holidays and goes to stay with her aunt (Spring Byington [best character actress ever]), uncle, and cousin (Shirley Temple).  Nobody trusts poor Ginger, and there’s a lot of family drama and some cattiness, and a lot of Ginger Rogers looking totally glamorously upset in gorgeous Edith Head gowns.

Meanwhile, Joseph Cotten is a half-crazy-from-shellshock WWII GI who’s on leave.  They fall in love, and neither of them tells the other their entire stories.

More drama ensues, the truths come out, Ginger goes back to prison, but Joseph declares his everlasting love, and all is well.

At the end, Ginger and I were both bawling, and I wanted her hair, her clothes, and her tragic and nonsensical love story.  (I was 12. Sue me.)

And then, as any good fangirl in 1999 would do, I decided I needed to boot up AOL and figure out what Ginger Rogers movies I could watch next.

Perhaps the next was Gold Diggers of 1933.  While I enjoyed Ginger’s turn as the hilariously gold-diggingest gold digger, I was more mesmerized by the Busby Berkeley choreography, Joan Blondell’s outrageous beauty and delightful warble, and the general charm of a fast-paced, tightly scripted pre-code.  And so I took a detour down that sort of road for a while.

And I branched out to other ladies–Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, even a brief thing with Kay Francis, and many, many hours with Ann Sothern as Maisie.  And countless others in varying degrees of fangirlish devotion.  Joan Crawford was a late edition, but at the peak of our affair, it was pretty intense.

But then I was back to Ginger and her great tragedies: Kitty Foyle, The Primrose Path, Tender Comrade.  I tried her Astaire stuff and even sort of liked The Barkleys of Broadway, but, for me, there was nothing like Ginger in tears, losing her man, having children out of wedlock, etc.

And then I watched Stage Door where she’s opposite Katherine Hepburn in an actress boarding house, fighting with her for parts and finally becoming BFFs.  And I partially realized what the deal is with my thing for Ginger.

No better foil exists for Ginger Rogers than Katherine Hepburn.  I don’t dislike Katherine Hepburn, and I don’t want anyone to mistake the following for criticism because Kate is obviously marvelous and can make me laugh and cry just as well as anybody, but she certainly has a persona (which is like half the plot of Stage Door): that New England aristocrat with a recognizable tinny voice and a rigid physique who’s rather dour in her tragic roles and who is always ultra stagy.

And then there’s Ginger–soft and flexible, draped casually over a chair playing a ukulele, with her big clear eyes and her buttery midwestern voice barking out sassy witticisms but then also cooing softly to her friends when they’ve had a bad day.

I realized seeing this juxtaposition that I love watching Ginger Rogers cry because she does it as she does all things: with half a smile on her face.

I like her in tragedies because she’s open and warm-looking and funny like your best friend is funny–not like stand-up comic funny but clever jabs and pratfalls funny.

I like her in tragedies because she seems so honest.

I like her in tragedies because in real life she’s a comedic actress.

And her sensitivity to the comedy of tragedy shows in the way she plays someone so foolish and silly but with so much heart like Kitty Foyle or the gal in I’ll Be Seeing You.

Why Fans of Classic Movies Should Like Star Trek: Voyager

11 May

I’m a firm believer that Star Trek: Voyager has something for everyone; however, everyone is not the same, of course.  For example, if I were trying to  indoctrinate cajole my Grey’s Anatomy-loving coworkers into watching my favorite show, I would entice them with a completely different set of pros.

As it stands, the following list is inspired by my blog friend Ruth, who is a delightful classic-movie blogger.  Several posts ago, I talked about Voyager’s still enjoyable bad episodes, and she commented that she’d never watched the show before.

That’s an Internet gauntlet, folks.

I’ve compiled this list to attract a certain kind of person, and I have faith in my tactics.  And, as Captain Janeway would say, I feel lucky today!

Series Overview

Let’s get a quick rundown of what’s going on in this series before I start the list rolling.  I’ll pretend anyone reading this has never watched Star Trek, so I’ll try not to be too technobabble-y.

The Premise:  It’s the 24th century, and Earth and several other planets have long ago joined together to form The United Federation of Planets.  Starfleet–a space navy, basically–serves and protects this governmental agency.

There’s some disputed regions on the fringes of the Alpha Quadrant (because they’ve divided the galaxy into quadrants and named them with Greek letters, of course), and a rebel group called the Maquis has sprung up to defend what they feel is their own land.  Officially, The Federation sees the Maquis as terrorists, but they’re all wronged idealists, mostly (and the dudes they’re fighting [the Cardassians], who are officially in The Federation, are sneaky jerks, tbh).

Captain Kathryn Janeway and her new starship Voyager have been sent out to the Badlands to go after a particularly trouble-causing Maquis ship, on which one of Janeway’s oldest friends is serving as a spy!  Quelle drama!

Before she goes, she springs a dude from jail who had been in Starfleet and then also in the Maquis to act as her guide! Quelle more drama!

Well, both the Maquis ship and Voyager get gotten by an alien who pulls them 75,000 lightyears away from Earth–all the way to the Delta Quadrant.  This dying alien is trying to figure out if anybody has similar DNA so that he will have an heir to look after this planet he’s looking after.  Spoiler alert:  Nobody does.

Meanwhile, these other aliens are trying to get at the thing that transported everybody from the Alpha Quadrant so they can use it to gain power and take over stuff.

Janeway can’t let them gain power and take over stuff because they’re meanies, so she destroys the thing, stranding her ship and the Maquis ship in the Delta Quadrant.  Quelle drama-est!

This is the first time Janeway meets Chakotay (the Maquis captain). I hope they both brushed their teeth this morning because dang.

Janeway and the Maquis captain decide to join forces to get back home, so they all take up residence on Voyager and are forced to work together.

Meanwhile, they’ve picked up a few people from the Delta Quadrant to be on their crew:  a dude who’s a trader and is supposed to be good at navigating this–to Alpha Quadrant types–uncharted space and a lady (from the planet the alien who whisked them away was guarding) who has a really weird short lifespan.

Also, meanwhile, the ship’s doctor dies in the first twenty minutes or so and is permanently replaced by the Emergency Medical Hologram.  His journey into sentience becomes a plot point in many episodes.

Also along the way they run into the Borg, a species that is not so much a species but an amalgamation of species who act as one unit, like a hive, and they basically steal other species’ bodies to use in their ultimate goal of perfection through putting together the best parts of every species and then enhancing themselves with robotics.  The Borg are weird and scary and robotic and hard to describe, and when you’re part of the Borg, you have no personality of your own and do only the will of the Collective.  Anyway, Janeway rescues a lady from the Borg, and her journey into humanity becomes a plot point in many episodes.

So, if all the sci-fi hasn’t already turned you off, let’s have a go at the list.

Honorable Mention:  Clean (with a Little Innuendo)

One thing I really love about old movies is that they’re not explicit.  If a couple is intimate, they cut to a fireplace.  If somebody’s mad, he gives a glare and bunches his hands into angry fists instead of cursing a blue streak.

And because of the cleanness, they get to have a little more fun (and be a little more creative) when they wanna be a little bit dirty.  So they say things like, “You know how to whistle, don’t ya?” instead of something yuckier.

Because Voyager aired on regular old TV instead of HBO and because we have a lady captain who is so stagy and sassy, we get cleanness, and a little bit of sassy dirtiness once in a while.

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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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The Worst Episodes of Star Trek: Voyager (That I Happen to Like)

19 Dec

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Star Trek: Voyager is the red-headed stepchild of the Star Trek franchise, but, the thing is, I’ve always had a soft spot for gingers.  This soft spot is very large for anything totally ’90s and cheesy with plenty of action, so-so acting on occasion, copious CGI, and an interminably, bountifully sassy HBIC.  All of this adds up to, even though Voyager sometimes deals us some *bad hands, I still see some aces among the worst of them.

I present to you now the seven worst episodes **that I still very much enjoy.

Season 1: “Parallax”

Torres and Janeway talk science in Parallax

Pictured L-R: Torres; Reconciliation through Technobabble/Palpable Science Girl Excitement; Janeway; Season 1 Bun

The Episode:  They haven’t chosen a chief engineer yet.  Chakotay’s Maquis candidate is belligerent Starfleet drop-out B’elanna Torres while Janeway’s gunning for broken-nosed (by B’elanna Torres, no less) Lieutenant Carey.  Meanwhile, Voyager is stuck in the event horizon of a quantum singularity and trying very desperately to get out.

Why It’s Bad:  It’s really one of the only Maquis vs. Federation episodes and doesn’t make much of the premise.  Also, I guess the science is nonsense?

Why I Still Like It:  I am a sucker for B’elanna Torres episodes.  Oh, you want to split her into a Klingon half and a human half and have them talk to each other?  Sure, sounds awesome.  Oh, she’s upset about some Maquis deaths and feels the need to hurt herself a lot?  Absolutely.  Oh, she’s crash-landed on an ancient Greece planet and serves as a muse for a playwright?  Quelle fun!  Oh, she needs to go to Klingon Hades and save her mom and be Xena, the Klingon Warrior Princess?  Now we’re talking!

Oh, you want her to be all belligerent and get all up in Janeway’s grill spouting technobabble and then become BFFs with Janeway because of their mutual love of technobabble?  I will be there with SO MANY bells on!  And that’s why I like this episode:  technobabble and girl bonding.

Also, this episode takes place in the good old days when they still had Federation vs. Maquis conflict and Lt. Carey was around once in a while and Seska was hamming it up everywhere (I miss Seska so!) and we all thought B’elanna would get together with Harry.  Which actually makes a lot more sense to me than her with Tom.  They really would have been the cutest together.  Then she could’ve still been kind of a Maquis badass instead of having to play straight man to Tom’s shenanigans.

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OUaT 2.3 Recap: When Lancelot Shows Up for Approximately 16 Lame Seconds

23 Oct

Episode 3: Lady of the Lake

Do we need to talk about how much I love Snow White’s outfit and sass, or do they speak for themselves?

Fairy Tale Land Flashback:  Red runs to a tent meeting over which Charming presides, the subject of which being taking back the kingdom from his (kinda) dad.  Red announces that King George’s new general is like a leviathan.  All the king’s men arrive, and the good guys all go their separate ways to do stuff, vowing to meet at Mama Charming’s house, and Black Lancelot catches Snow White.  He’s the new general, and Snow White is flabbergasted that a member of the Round Table would stoop to working as a hired gun.

Present day Fairy Tale Land: Snow White’s still unconscious in the pit, and Cora’s taking care of her while she chats with Emma about this corner of the land being a haven.  She laments being trapped here because of what Regina did and claims the “apple fell far from the tree.”  Emma buys it and talks about going back to Henry.

Snow White wakes up and immediately begins protecting Emma from Cora and trying to tell her not to trust her.  Emma balks at this.  She obviously don’t know nothin’ ’bout Fairy Tale Land.  A rope descends, and Emma and Snow White are called to an audience with the leader.

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Monday Night Special #7: Delving in with Diagrams (to Battlestar Galactica)

2 Oct

Sentence diagramming was created by man.  It evolved.  It rebelled.  And it has a plan to take over our Monday nights.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Battlestar Galacticaum, spoiler alert through season 4 except for the final three episodes, which I haven’t watched yet

Quick Synopsis:

Humanity lives on 12 planet colonies in the far reaches of the galaxy.  They have created sentient robots–Cylons–who have rebelled.  After 40 years of peace, the Cylons re-emerge sporting human-like bodies and nuclear weapons.  They bomb humanity, and a very small space-faring group of people on several spaceships survive and run, trying to find Earth, which is the fabled location of the 13th colony of man.

A bunch of other drama happens–including an alliance with a rebel faction of Cylons–by the time we get to season 4’s “Blood on the Scales,” in which Vice President Tom Zarek–an ex-con and idealistic-ish manipulative scumbag–has engineered a mutiny.  He’s killed all the members of the democratic governing body except for the president and her aide, and he has plenty of the soldiers on Galactica as well as a bunch of the rest of the fleet on his side.

He’s forced President Laura Roslin–who has never been elected president, only appointed a million times because she’s ruthless yet the best person for the job–into hiding aboard the Cylon baseship, and they are about to blow each other up.  Laura Roslin then says

Important Quotation:

I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eyeteeth to end you.

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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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Hey Gurrrrrrrrl! It’s your inbox!

19 Sep

Hey gurrrrrl!

It’s your inbox!

I hate to be a downer, but I don’t see you as often as I’d like. Usually you check me quickly from your phone since your computer died and you have to use Tish’s all the time. She doesn’t mind, you know. She never uses it. She prefers looking at the internet on her phone. But you don’t. You like using a computer. Haha! You would actually prefer a desktop! You’re kind of a fuddy duddy.

OMG! I just said fuddy duddy. How does an email inbox even know a gay ass colloquialism like that! And now I’m being un-PC. Ugh! This is what happens to me when you don’t clean me out for months on end: I get all clogged and reclusive and think in offensive phrases.

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