Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Sailor-Made Man (1921)
One thing I just don't get about this otherwise charming Lloyd film: why do they show the sailors dancing with each other? Any way you look at it, it's bizarre. Have they been at sea too long? Though I doubt if Lloyd was gay (he was a legendary Lothario who photographed nude starlets in 3D), the heavy white makeup, heavily made-up eyes (making them slightly "bedroomy", which women loved) and bee-kissed lips were somewhat androgynous. When Joel Grey chose his makeup palette for Cabaret, I wonder if he consciously or unconsciously was influenced by Lloyd. Also, I am always amazed at the fact that Lloyd in person really didn't resemble his character. He was good-looking in a fine-featured Montgomery Clift sort of way, but his facial expressions were completely different. His brother Gaylord looked more like "the Boy" than Harold did! This wasn't just due to makeup and glasses; I am sure it was done from the inside. His slow-blooming facial expressions (in Why Worry?, when he discovers Jobyna Ralson in his lap, and Never Weaken, when he realizes he is on a beam 30 stories up) are what make him so brilliant. I don't think anyone else in comedy was that subtle. He seemed to know that a closeup was extremely intimate. And what is it with women swooning over him, I mean women NOW? I see messages plastered all over the 'net about how much they love him and wish they could be with him. Now THAT's magic.
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
A Big Broadcast indeed
This movie is very dear to me. I saw it on late-night TV when I was about 12 years old, tape-recorded the sound track and listened to it over and over again. This is a movie that has everything: wacky W. C. Fields bits like his golf and pool routines, Bob Hope bombing out with the crowd on the ship (imagine, in his first movie role he can't even raise a laugh!), bizarre but charming performers like Shep Fields with his Rippling Rhythm orchestra (whom Lawrence Welk obviously ripped off), accompanied by an even more bizarre animated segment.
It's almost like watching a '30s stage revue of really gifted and varied performers, including a Mexican singer so beautiful he must be gay, and Martha Raye doing her foghorn bit. But the crowning glory of this film is the funny and poignant duet, Thanks for the Memory, with Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.
Most people know the tune as Bob's theme song, but few know the clever, tender, almost Dorothy Parker-like lyrics. This is the story of a sophisticated but madcap couple, not unlike Nick and Nora Charles, running through money like water, traveling the world, and finding bliss in bed. Each verse tells a little bit more of their story in an arch, clever way that is never too trite because of Shirley Ross's marvelous acting. Her facial expressions reveal the deeper story underneath the actual events, a couple who were madly in love but stormy and tempestuous, with fights that may have included screaming and hair-pulling.
Shirley makes reference to "the night you came home with lipstick on your tie", making it sound like an uproarious joke, while Bob rolls his eyes in discomfort. He sings of "that weekend in Niagara when we hardly saw the falls," and Ross murmurs, "How lovely that was." "Thank you," Bob replies.
This is a fresh and sensitive take on what could be a very sentimental song, and I can never see it without tearing up at the end. This movie is worth renting or buying, if you can find it, as a great example of '30s entertainment with the bonus of a truly great "love-lost" song.
A tricky aspect
I loved this film when I saw it on TV as a child, and remember tape recording the sound track and listening to it over and over again. Crosby's voice is resonant and powerful, while still retaining the intimate crooner aspect that made him famous.
I love W. C. Fields, who does some of his best bits ("Women are like elephants. I like to look at them, but I wouldn't want to own one"), and isn't as boozy as he later became. Everything works here, but the underlying racism is disturbing. There is a sort of Steppin' Fetchit character who is slow and drawly, and the Cabin Kids are referred to as pickaninnies. Maybe this is why I only saw it once in about 1967, and never saw it again on TV.
I did just snag a DVD on EBay, but from the look of the primitive cover, and no label at all on the disc, I think it's bootlegged. It's watchable, but not really a good copy. I think there was a commercial disc many years ago, but it's out of print. I hope Turner Classics shows it, as in the past they've shown films with racist content in context, with commentary by a black sociologist. These references may be cringe-inducing, but they are also extremely revealing of a social climate that went uncriticized.
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
A charmer of a film. Loved it. Couldn't help but notice Rupert Everett, thinking he was a better-looking (gay) Hugh Grant. I thought he was headed for a great career as a comic foil, or the gay best friend (a la Sex and the City). What happened? He ended up sort of dropping out of sight. He'd pop up once in a while in an Oscar Wilde drawing-room comedy, but mostly he was in embarrassing turkeys like Inspector Gadget.
Then there was the dreaded The Next Best Thing, in which he co-starred with Madonna. Oh dear. What's that thud? Could that be a promising career keeling over dead? It's too bad, but I can't help but feel Everett lacks something that Grant has been able to sustain for 15 years. I don't know what to call it: a sense of irony? Not taking himself too seriously? Everett just seems like a narcissist, in love with his own looks. And about his looks: he hasn't aged very well. He has that slightly pinched, Windsor look, as if he's third cousin to Charles. The aquiline nose is getting beaky, and the eyes seem to be migrating closer together. I know, I hate to be cruel, but his recent memoir reveals that he truly is a narcissist, more interested in partying than in landing decent acting jobs.