Announcing…the Reel Infatuation Blogathon (and Pop Culture Platform)!

Unique idea for a movie blogathon!

A Small Press Life: Books. Art. Writing. Life. Tea.

Reel Infatuation Banner-Clara Bow

Fictional characters. Sometimes you like them, sometimes you loathe them, and sometimes you’re half in love with them. Want to get to know someone in a hurry? Swap character crush stories; it’s the ultimate icebreaker!

Reel Infatuation is a reader participation virtual cyclopedia of character crushes. It’s a symbiotic, interactive platform built on the old-fashioned notion of give-and-take. We want to hear all about your film, television, and literary loves! Are your stories sweet, silly, embarrassing, or seemingly inexplicable? Share ’em! First crushes, old crushes, new crushes? Bring ’em on! You show us yours, and we’ll show you ours!

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Our goal is to share as many character crush stories with as many people as possible. Think of it as a continuing conversation joined by thousands of voices from around the world: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll occasionally be totally confused. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Reel Infatuation is comprised of…

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#SatMat’s Top 5 Riffs for Yellow Submarine

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Here are #SatMat‘s top 5 riffs for our March 12 Live Tweet of Yellow Submarine, the 1968 musical cartoon in which an animated version of The Beatles save idyllic Pepperland from being taken over by the music-hating Blue Meanies.

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Regarding the movie’s title song:

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THE INCREDIBLE JEWEL ROBBERY (1959) – The Marx Brothers’ day at the finish line

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Today is the 57th anniversary of the TV broadcast of the Marx Brothers’ final filmed appearance together. (Whew, that was a mouthful!)  Harpo and Chico Marx appeared as Harry and Nick, two inept thieves who try to pull off a jewelry heist, in “The Incredible Jewel Robbery,” an episode of “General Electric Theater,” a CBS anthology series that was hosted by future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

(From here on in, this blog entry is one big SPOILER, if you care.)

The episode is primarily noted for its cameo appearance by the stars’ brother Groucho at the end. The episode is played completely without dialogue until the final scene, where Groucho joins his brothers in a police line-up and says, “We don’t talk until we see our lawyer!”

CBS’ press release for the show stated, “If you watch the show you’ll see a familiar face equipped with mustache and leer. Because of his contract terms [Groucho was still doing ‘You Bet Your Life’ on NBC], his name can’t be mentioned, but he is not Jerry Colonna.”

I was 11 years old when I first read about this TV episode, and I felt as though I’d have given anything to see it. Now it is readily available for viewing on YouTube — it’s embedded below, in two parts — and it couldn’t be more disappointing.

First, the entire premise is played out at such a literal level that even a kindergartener would be rolling his eyes at it. At one point, Harpo is trying to paint a police-car logo onto his car to make it look like a cop car. The logo is circular, so Harpo gets a spare tire, holds it up to the car, and traces the outside of it with his paintbrush in order to paint a circle. Haw-haw.

Second, the silent-movie conceit would be a lot more enjoyable if the show was truly silent. The episode’s musical score is loud and intrusive, and worse, there’s a laugh track all the way through the show to tell us when we’re supposed to guffaw. Since when do the Marx Brothers need a laugh track to tell us they’re funny?

Sadly, this is a show for comedy completists who feel as though they have to see everything their heroes ever did, rather than having entertainment value on its own. Once you’ve viewed “The Incredible Jewel Robbery” one time, your curiosity will be more than satisfied.

Here’s Part 1:

And Part 2:

 

 

#SatMat Live Tweet movie for Sat., Mar. 19: VIOLATED (1953)

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Violated isn’t really as bad as it looks. It also isn’t as good as it looks. What it mostly proves is that Ed Wood wasn’t the only guy with minimal talent and a clouded view of social issues to get hold of a movie camera in the 1950’s.

The movie purports to be about New York policemen trying to track down a psychopath who inexplicably scalps each victim he kills. But the movie’s viewpoint is nearly as deluded as that of its lead murderer. It has gritty, on-location photography that gets you hopeful for a ripped-from-the-headlines ’50s expose movie, only to let you down with pasty-faced non-actors looking as though they’re reading off cue cards.

And for a movie that presents itself as a cautionary tale, it has some weirdly nonchalant characters. There’s an aspiring model who falls hook, line, and sinker for a total stranger’s story that he’s a professional photographer who wants to boost her career. And when the girl goes home to tell her mother about the guy, the mother is strangely unhesitant about letting her daughter go off with him…which starts to leave you with little doubt as to the basis for the movie’s title.

(And let us pay tribute to Tony Mottola’s astounding musical score, played entirely on guitar and sounding like Django Reinhardt after a bender.)

So join us on Twitter.com this Saturday for some grindhouse giddiness. Heck, it’s only 67 minutes of your life wasted!

Announcing “The 2nd Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) BLOGATHON”!

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It’s never too early to start planning for a summer vay-cay, now, is it? Having struck quite the touchy nerve with my previous SEX! (now that I have your attention) BLOGATHON last year, I thought I’d do it again for this summer.

If you’re unfamiliar with last year’s ‘thon, the idea is to blog about movies that are a turn-on in the way that they suggest sex rather than graphically depicting it. Movies from the Production Code era are ideal examples, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that time period. If you’re stuck for ideas, click here to link to last year’s SEX! Blogathon, and read some of the entries.

The rules for this year’s SEX! Blogathon are the same as last year’s, as follows.

The Rules

Your blog entry can be about any single movie, as long as it fits the following criteria.

1. You need to write about an entire movie that you find sexy, not just a single scene. The upside-down kiss in the 2001 Spider-Man movie was undeniably sexy, but unless you can make a case for the entire movie being a turn-on, please don’t write about it.

2. The movie you choose can be from any era (even silent), but it needs to be a movie that subtly suggests sex. No writhing, naked bodies, and no explicit dialogue about how much one person wants to go to bed with another.

That’s not to say that your choice can’t be a modern movie with adult dialogue. If you can make a solid case for something like, say, Body Heat (which was a modern homage to 1940’s-style movie sex), I’ll accept it.

3. Explain why you think the movie is sexy. Your explanation does not have to be lurid or explicit, just a simple description of why the movie “does something” for you.

How Do I Join the Blogathon?

In the “Comments” section at the bottom of this blog, please leave your name, the URL of your blog, and the movie you are choosing to blog about. At the end of this blog entry are banners for the ‘thon. Grab a banner, display it on your blog, and link it back to this blog.

The blogathon will take place from Sunday, June 19, through Tuesday, June 21 (the first day of summer). When the opening date of the blogathon arrives, leave a comment here with a link to your post, and I will display it in the list of entries (which I will continually update up to the beginning of the ‘thon, so keep checking back!).

I will not be assigning particular dates to any blog posts. As long as you get your entry in by the end of the day on June 21, I will be satisfied. (That said, the earlier the better!) Duplicate entries about the same movie are welcome as well.

Again, be sure to leave me a comment and grab a banner, and have fun with your blog entry!

Here’s the line-up so far:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Serendipitous Anachronisms – A Room with a View (1985)

Moon in Gemini – A Place in the Sun (1951)

BNoirDetour – Scarlet Street (1945)

The Flapper Dame – The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Outspoken & Freckled – It (1927)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – To Catch a Thief (1955)

Defiant Success – A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Thoughts All Sorts – Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Flickers in Time – Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)

Meredy.com – Red-Headed Woman (1932)

Pop Culture Reverie – The Moon Is Blue (1953)

Realweegiemidget – When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Silent Wierdness – Lady Windermere’s Fan (1925)

Pfeiffer Films and Meg Movies – The Age of Innocence (1993)

Dell on Movies – Double Indemnity (1944)

 

Sex! Blogathon Banners

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THICKER THAN WATER (1935) – Laurel & Hardy’s farewell to short subjects

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(WARNING:  Major spoilers abound!)

As seems to befit Laurel & Hardy’s final “official” short subject (they later did  The Tree in a Test Tube while on a lunch break at Twentieth Century-Fox), Thicker Than Water meanders all over the place, as though L&H had better things on their minds. It switches from a domestic setting to a city auction house to a hospital as nonchalantly, and with as much logic, as a Stanley eye-blink.

The first scene shows Ollie at the behest of the latest shrewish Mrs. Hardy (Daphne Pollard, who is offered Ollie’s finger to kiss and instead bites it). Stan is the Hardys’ boarder, and naturally Mrs. Hardy is none too happy about it. Mrs. Hardy commands Ollie to do the dishes while she goes out, and Ollie, having no dog to boss around, orders Stan to stay and be as miserable as he is. This results in a somewhat belabored scene where Stan and Ollie do their best to clean the dishes, with the inevitable disastrous results.

Mr. Finlayson (James Finlayson, of course) comes to collect the monthly payment for the Hardys’ furniture. Mrs. Hardy had thought it paid already, and her inquiry to Ollie results in an Abbott-and-Costello-like verbal fight, with Ollie saying he gave the money to Stan to deposit, Stan saying he gave it back to Ollie to pay for his rent, etc., etc. When the matter is finally straightened out, Mrs. Hardy belittles Ollie some more, Stan challenges Ollie’s manhood(!), and Ollie vows to take money out of the Hardys’ joint account to show Stan (not Mrs. Hardy, mind you!) who’s boss. The scene ends with the movie’s cleverest touch: Stan leaving the Hardys’ apartment and “pulling” the movie screen forward to the movie’s next scene.

Stan and Ollie’s curiosity draws them into an auction, where they end up bidding on behalf of a woman who is short of cash and needs to rush home to get some more. (As befits the movie’s haphazard logic, the woman is never heard from again.) Ollie is thus forced to buy the clock on which he and Stan had bid (against each other!). They lug the clock home and then decide to put it down in the street(!) to take a rest. Busy street, large clock, apathetic truck driver — you do the math. When Mrs. Hardy comes home and discovers what has happened, she knocks Ollie out with a frying pan nearly as big as she is.

Ollie’s injury results in him needing a blood transfusion (just like most concussions, right?), for which Stan becomes the unwilling donor. (Stan seems to have bad luck in hospitals — witness his being on the wrong end of a needle in County Hospital.) The transfusion goes wrong, and some of Ollie’s blood must be pumped into Stan to balance the procedure. The final result is an appropriate closing image for L&H’s short subjects — Stan-as-Ollie, complete with mustache and condescending gloat, followed by Ollie-as-Stan, head-scratching and crying all the way.

There are worse short subjects in the Laurel & Hardy canon, though none with so many promising ideas so half-baked. Thicker Than Water almost seems a poorer farewell for Stan and Ollie (in short subjects) than does The Bullfighters (for their Hollywood movies).

“Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” – Oliver Hardy

 

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The following is my entry in The Classic Quote Blogathon, hosted by The Flapper Dame on Mar. 4-6, 2016. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ backstories of some of the most famous quotes in movie history!

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I would hazard a guess that, even for non-fans of Laurel & Hardy, there are two indelible images of Stan and Ollie that everyone seems to know about or remember. One is of the duo endlessly hauling a crated piano up a Sisyphean flight of stairs in The Music Box.

The other is of Ollie turning to Stan, usually after some Stan-created disaster, and intoning, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” A funny and most durable catchphrase — but where did it come from?

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Laurel & Hardy biographer Randy Skretvedt believes the line might have been provided by L&H title-writer H.M. “Beanie” Walker (above), who might have unconsciously cribbed it from Gilbert & Sullivan,  who used the line in both The Mikado from 1885 and The Grand Duke from 1896.

The catchphrase was first used by Hardy in The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930). In popular culture, the catchphrase is often misquoted as “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” This misquoted version of the phrase was never uttered by Hardy in a movie. Ironically, L&H seem to have caused the misunderstanding themselves, having named another of their 1930 short subjects Another Fine Mess

The catchphrase became so familiar that L&H even got laughs out of variations on it. For example, in Chickens Come Home (1931), Ollie starts to say to Stan, “Well,…” But Stan finishes the thought with, “Here’s another nice mess I’ve gotten you into.” In the shorts The Fixer Uppers and Thicker Than Water (both 1935), Ollie remarks, “Well, here’s another nice kettle of fish you pickled me in!” And in the feature film Saps at Sea (1940), Ollie declares, “Well, here’s another nice bucket of suds you’ve gotten me into!”

If you’re a hard-core Laurel & Hardy buff (here, sir!), you might have wondered how many times this catchphrase has showed up in a L&H film. One enterprising website has documented the answer — indicating that the catchphrase (including its minor variations mentioned above) was used a total of 16 times. In two instances, it showed up twice in the same film, and it is even the very last line of dialogue ever spoken by Laurel & Hardy in a theatrical movie (in their final release, 1951’s infamous Utopia).

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Unlike Laurel & Hardy themselves, another set of filmmakers did use the catchphrase correctly as a title, but to little avail. In 1972 came a little-seen movie comedy titled Another Nice Mess. It was produced by Tom Smothers of the Smothers Brothers, and it was written and directed by Bob Einstein (later to gain fame as stunt man “Super Dave Osborne” on cable TV). Intended as a political satire, it starred impressionist Rich Little and character actor Herb Voland playing President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew in the manner of Laurel and Hardy. Apparently, the movie had only a brief run in a few Los Angeles theaters and was never released nationally.

In 2005, a jury of over 1,500 leaders from the creative community, including film artists, critics, and historians, chose what they felt were cinema’s 100 most memorable quotes for the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movie Quotes” list. Ollie’s “Another nice mess” quote ranked at # 60.

The phrase continues to be relevant in the age of blogging. A little over a year ago, a blogger — who had recommended the use of an older Microsoft handset whose email app later became obsolete — used Ollie’s catchphrase as the headline for his blog on how he would help users restore their email system. And just three weeks ago, a blogger for LinkedIn.com felt compelled to hurl Ollie’s invective at “interventionist economists” such as Alan Greenspan.

Right up to the end of his life, Stan Laurel poo-poo’d the idea that his movies had any claims to either social commentary or immortality. One would imagine how floored he’d be that just one simple sentence from his movies has taken on such a life of its own.

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Sources:

American Film Institute. 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes. http://www.afi.com/100Years/quotes.aspx

Hearn, John. Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/another-nice-mess-youve-gotten-me-john-hearn

StanLaurelAndOliverHardy.com. Nice Mess. http://www.stanlaurelandoliverhardy.com/nicemess.htm

Technical Meshugana. Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into! http://www.techmeshugana.com/2014/11/nice-mess-microsoft/

Turner Classic Movies. Another Nice Mess. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/739646/Another-Nice-Mess/notes.html

Wikipedia. Laurel and Hardy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurel_and_Hardy

 

Finale of the IN LIKE A LION, OUT LIKE A LAMB BLOGATHON

We took a powder on Day 2, but our bloggers rallied for a fine finish! So let’s see the final tally of movies that changed bloggers from skeptics to believers, as we present

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If you missed any of our wonderful entries the first time around, click on the bloggers’ names below to read the Day 3 entries, or click here to read entries from Day 1.

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Cinematic Scribblings overcame her fear of musicals to enjoy the frothy French entry The Young Girls of Rochefort.

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Old Hollywood Films came to realize that not all filmed Shakespeare is static, as she indulged in the film-noir trappings of Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet.

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I Found It at the Movies overcame her initial apprehension at the violence of Sam Peckinpah’s imagery and savored the solid story and acting of The Wild Bunch.

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And last but not least, Dell on Movies started out indulging his daughter’s movie tastes and ended up enjoying the quirky treasures of Rob Reiner’s Flipped.

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And that’s our blogathon! Many thanks to the gifted bloggers who contributed their time and talent to the ‘thon, and of course to you readers who who kept up with the ‘thon. Here’s wishing you the best and asking you to keep an open mind about all that cinema has to offer!

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