The 4th Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) BLOGATHON is here!

The time has arrived! All blogathon participants need to present their credentials for

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Join us for the next three days as bloggers pay tribute to movies that cleverly suggest sex rather than overtly depicting it.

If you are one of the ‘thon entrants, please go to the “Comments” section below, and post the name of your blog and the URL of your entry; we’ll link to you as soon as possible. If you are just here to read, keep us bookmarked; all entries will be linked back to their original blogs, and also we will do a ‘thon recap at the end of each day. Enjoy, and try not to get too hot and bothered!

Here is the list of blogathon entries, in chronological order:

The Flickering Screen – Nosferatu (1922)

Movierob – Bringing Up Baby (1938), The Lady Eve (1941), and Pillow Talk (1959)

Anybody Got a Match? – Gilda (1946)

Sat In Your Lap – Ball of Fire (1941)

Movie Movie Blog Blog – The Outlaw (1943)

“DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!” – The Big Sleep (1946)

thoughtsallsorts – Duel in the Sun (1946)

Moon in Gemini – Clash by Night (1952)

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – Female on the Beach (1955)

A Shroud of Thoughts – The Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedies (1959-1964)

The Midnite Drive-In – Contempt (1963)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Dell on Movies – Love and Basketball (2000)

THE OUTLAW (1943) – It’s a tussle (with Russell) to get through

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The following is my entry in The 4th Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from June 15-17, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ entries about movies that subtly suggest sex rather than graphically depicting it!

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In the 1940’s, moviegoers went to The Outlaw to see Jane Russell’s much-ballyhooed breasts. What they got was the Brokeback Mountain of its time. Sad to say, there’s more chemistry between the three male leads than there is between Russell (playing sassy Rio) and Jack Buetel (as Billy the Kid).

Although the movie is most remembered as a Howard Hughes production — Russell was a receptionist in the office of Hughes’ chiropodist, and Hughes immediately became obsessed with her bust and the idea of exploiting it — The Outlaw actually has some powerhouse credits behind the camera. These include screenwriters Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht (both uncredited) and Jules Furthman (To Have and Have Not); photographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane); and composer Victor Young (The Palm Beach Story). How Hughes could assemble a group like that, with the added insurance of Russell’s cavernous cleavage, and come up with such a blah movie is beyond my comprehension.

The story begins in Lincoln, NM, where Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell) is the sheriff. Garrett greets his old friend Doc Holliday (Walter Huston), who is looking for his stolen horse. It turns out that Billy the Kid  has the horse, though he claims to have bought it fair and square. Even though Doc and Billy spend the rest of the movie vying for the horse, they quickly become close friends, much to the consternation of Garrett, who now feels left out of the, er, threesome.

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The movie’s first shot of Russell. Roll in the hay, anyone?

At one point, Billy decides to sleep out in the barn to protect the horse from getting stolen by Doc. He ends up having a scrape with Rio (which obviously inspired the movie’s famous tagline, “How’d you like to tussle with Russell?”). It turns out that Billy had killed Rio’s brother, and she wants vengeance and tries to stab Billy with a pitchfork. But Billy overpowers her, and the movie suggests (rather nonchalantly, IMHO) that Billy rapes her as well.

The next day, Billy gets in a gun battle in town and ends up getting shot by Pat, forcing Doc to shoot two of Pat’s men. Doc takes the wounded Billy to his home to recuperate, and as it turns out, Rio is there, the movie imply that Rio is Doc’s live-in lover. (How did they get that one past the censors?)

Doc asks Rio to take care of Billy while he rides off to escape Pat’s posse. At first, it appears that Rio is going to murder Billy, but instead she nurses him through a month-long coma. Doc has told Rio to keep Billy from getting chills that would kill him, and so — to the gratification of salivating moviegoers — Rio begins to take off her clothes, declaring, “I’ll keep him warm.” Because of course, in a script by three male screenwriters, it’s only natural that Rio would fall in love with the guy who raped her.

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The close-up that gave Russell instant screen immortality.

Eventually Doc returns to find that Rio is in love with Billy, and after that, it’s a contest as to which dreary romantic rivalry will eventually win out — Rio and Billy, Rio and Doc, or (let’s face it) Doc and the embittered Pat.

At this blog, I’ve previously declared what I refer to as “The Adrienne Barbeau Theorem” — that theorem being that big breasts, in and of themselves, are not a compelling enough reason to sit through a terrible movie. The Outlaw proves that theorem in spades. 

‘40s males must have been delighted with the views they got of Russell’s blossoming bosom, but the story that bookends those views is so dull, it doesn’t even make for good movie camp. The publicity stills of Russell reclining among bales of hay (including the image at the top of this review) are far sexier than anything in the movie. Russell’s character is a cipher, and she even more so. One would never have guessed from this movie debut that Russell could be a very good actress and comedienne, she’s so one-note here.

Finally, the males in the movie are a perfect example of why I don’t like Westerns. They aim their guns at each other and talk more about shooting each other than they actually do. You’d think their ammo was macho conversation rather than bullets. What is it about boys and their toys?

 

 

 

 

Suicide is not painless

This week, sadly, brings news of the suicides of two celebrities: Fashion designer Kate Spade at age 55, and Anthony Bourdain at age 61.

I watched Bourdain’s TV work only sporadically, but he certainly seemed to enjoy what he was doing. I admit I was barely aware of Spade until this week’s news. But I am always sorry to hear of any such news, especially regarding people who seemed to have everything going for them. My heart goes out to their families and friends.

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I have long hesitated about telling the story of my own suicide attempt. But after reading this news, as well as the news that suicides and attempts at it are increasing in nearly all 50 states, I feel that if my story can help even one person, it’s worth telling.

In 2003, I had been a public school teacher for 10 years. At first it had been quite satisfying, but little by little, the micromanaging and the unruly students chipped away at my self-confidence. Finally, I ended up with a house administrator who, for some unknown reason, had me in her sights. She made a point of observing me and writing me up, right in front of a class of my best students.

As it happened, the day before, I had gone to see a counselor and had been prescribed Xanax for depression. I had duly taken the first four pills on schedule, just like I was supposed to.

But the next morning, I went to talk to my principal about the write-up I had received. I had hoped he would see things my way. Instead, he sort of shrugged his shoulders and said that things would be this way from now on and I might as well get used to it.

When the meeting was over, I nodded my head, went to the nearest restroom, and swallowed the remaining 56 Xanax pills all at once. Then I got in my car and left the school, intending to go directly to my counselor’s office.

As it happened, I got only halfway there before I passed out. Luckily, I had at least enough presence of mind to pull over to the side of the road and shut the car off. A passing policeman noticed me, found the pill bottle beside me, and called for an emergency. I’m told that he found me muttering that I just wanted the pain to stop.

When I came to, I was in a hospital room, facing my wife and my kids (then ages 7 and 10). My wife later told me that she was furious when she got the news. She immediately pulled our kids out of school, telling them that Daddy had been in an accident and that they all needed to visit him in the hospital.

As I recall, my wife said very little and just allowed our kids to crawl all over my bed and all over me. She later said that this was her way of showing me just what I would have been leaving behind had I succeeded.

The next three years were not easy, as I pretty much had a nervous breakdown and then regularly attended counseling sessions, which made me feel like I was an onion getting peeled away at, layer by layer. But I knew it had to be done if I was to get any further in life.

In the 15 years since my suicide attempt, I have gone on to write, direct, and star in several local plays; created this blog and a podcast, both of which have many followers, for whom I am very grateful; and have found the job of my dreams, after so many decades when I was certain I wouldn’t find satisfaction in any job. My kids have long since learned the truth about that day in the hospital, and while it might have been more difficult for them to deal with than it was for me, we seem to have a very good relationship now “on the other side.” I would have indeed missed out on a lot if I had killed myself.

I have previously written about suicide here on this blog. It is the most maddening of subjects, because it’s nothing you can truly get a handle upon. If you cut your finger, you can put some ointment and a bandage on it to heal it. If it’s cold season, you can get a flu shot and take Vitamin C to help prevent getting sick. The relentlessness of suicidal thoughts ensures that they cannot be controlled or prevented so easily.

I can only say, please find a reason to live. Even if it is only for the purpose of surviving for another day, you will have accomplished something. Get help however, wherever, and whenever you can. Trust that somebody, if not a lot of somebodies, will be sorry if you attempt suicide and succeed.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ReelInfatuation Blogathon Starts Friday!

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The Reel Infatuation Blogathon starts Friday, and we can’t wait!

This is a blogathon where we dish about our secret (or not-so-secret) screen or book character crushes – past or present. Click HERE for the original announcement and HERE for the roster.

If you, like us, are having trouble picking one fictional character, you can choose two or three!

If you haven’t yet signed up, there’s still time to join the fun. Just grab a banner (below) and let us know your choice.

The blogathon runs this Friday through Sunday (June 8-10). See you there!

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Jessica Rabbit – a very animated sex symbol

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The following is my entry in the Reel Infatuation Blogathon, being co-hosted by the blogs Font and Frock and Silver Screenings from June 8-10, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read about bloggers’ crushes on memorable characters from movies, TV shows, and books!

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(WARNING: The following blog entry, while not overly explicit, is as risque and politically incorrect as this blog ever gets. If such subject matter even mildly offends you, turn back now.)

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It’s not an original observation to say that Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is a landmark in American film animation.

IMHO, the same can be said for the movie’s buxom heroine, Jessica Rabbit.

When my blog was given its first Liebster Award in 2015, I responded by posting several facts about myself, including the following:

A lot of my readers and fellow bloggers are female, so I truly hope this won’t offend you. But I have to confess, I am mesmerized by large breasts. I don’t get it, it’s embarrassing, and I try my best not to stare. But then, Christina Hendricks. Or somebody who dresses like her. And then she’s mortified that I’m wide-eyed over the very appendages that she’s put on display. It’s God’s curse on me.

So you can just imagine the effect that Jessica Rabbit had on me. It was as if some wizard had taken the essence of Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, and Adrienne Barbeau, transplanted them into one single human female body, and then injected her with hyper-silicone.

It turns out that I had the right idea, just with different actresses. Gary K. Wolf — who wrote Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the novel from which the movie was loosely adapted — based Jessica on Red, the curvaceous dancer in Tex Avery’s cartoon Red Hot Riding Hood (1943). Richard Williams, the movie’s animation director, said, “I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth, we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and [live-action director Robert] Zemeckis kept saying, ‘What about the look Lauren Bacall had?’”

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Jessica’s “influences.”

Upon the movie’s original release, many party-poopers complained that Jessica was a prime example of male sexism, as she was given outsized physical attributes that amped up the objectification of women. There’s no doubt that Jessica was intended to rev up male moviegoers, but I submit that she has several virtues that make her far more “relatable” than the typical femme fatale.

Jessica is not about being unattainable, a fact laid bare by her choice of spouse — gangly, hyperactive Roger Rabbit. When questioned by detective Eddie Valiant as to what she sees in Roger, she replies, “He makes me laugh.”

Despite her curvaceous appearance, Jessica is innocent at heart. Her most damning extramarital activity is being caught playing patty-cake with a human male. (As Jessica famously described herself, “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”)

Jessica is far from helpless. When one of the bad-guy weasels reaches into Jessica’s overwhelming cleavage to cop a feel, he is taken aback (and thrown back) when his hand gets caught in a bear trap that Jessica had placed in her decolletage. (Valiant tells Jessica admiringly, “Nice booby trap.”)

Finally, I submit that Jessica does a nice turnabout on “the male gaze” — the feminist theory that women in film are depicted solely as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer. If you believe that Jessica is an example/victim of this, I think it is leavened by, again, her choice of husband. If someone as un-macho as Roger Rabbit can be adored by someone like Jessica, then there’s hope for all American males. Conversely, when a man truly falls in love with a woman, he sees his partner as someone like Jessica, no matter what her physical attributes (or lack of same).

I have but one regret regarding my infatuation with Jessica. Someone once observed that, if a 1930’s moviegoer was stealthy enough, he could sneak onto the Warner Bros. movie lot and actually watch James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart doing their thing…yet that same moviegoer could be invited right up to the camera to see Bugs Bunny, and without the necessary animation, all he would see is a flat, inactive cel. In that sense, Jessica really is unattainable. Imagine being a red-blooded male moviegoer, knowing that, try as you might, you would never be able to shtup Jessica Rabbit.

Less than two weeks until The 4th Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) BLOGATHON

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It’s only a few more days until we call cinematic shenanigans with our 4th Annual SEX! (now that I have your attention) BLOGATHON. There’s still time to enter; we’re looking for blogs about movies that subtly suggest sex rather than blatantly depicting it. Click here for the complete rules and to find out how to enter.

THE PRODUCERS (2005) – I’m a prisoner of love…for Mel Brooks

 

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The following is my entry in The Broadway Bound Blogathon, being hosted by Rebecca at her blog Taking Up Room from June 1-3, 2018. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ tributes to Broadway-related movies!

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There are countless groups who are certain to be offended by Mel Brooks’ musical version of The Producers. There are those who didn’t like Brooks’ initial 1968 film, those who thought his Broadway version was a bad idea, and those who will think the 2005 twice-removed film version is even worse.

A pox on all of them.

I’ve been a Brooks fan since Blazing Saddles. But though Brooks is famous for wallowing in excess and bad taste, his more recent movies were downright benign, as if Brooks had turned into the eccentric uncle who tells risque stories at the dinner table. The musical Producers returns Brooks to full-throttle bad taste, and it is all the more hilarious for it.

You probably know the basic story by now: Loser Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) and his meek accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) scheme to produce the worst show ever, so that it will close in one night and they can keep the investors’ money. They choose to produce “Springtime for Hitler,” written by an unrepentant Nazi (Will Ferrell). And to treat themselves, they hire Ulla (Uma Thurman), a beautiful but ESOL-impaired Swedish secretary.

If you liked Brooks’ 1968 version, you can regard this one as The Producers on steroids, and that’s mostly a compliment. People who seemed like one-joke numbers in the original — Ulla, the Nazi — get to blossom here. Who knew that Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell could sing and dance so well? (As for me, this is the first Ferrell movie performance I’ve actually enjoyed.)

And that’s another of the movie’s surprises: Satiric or not, it’s presented as an honest-to-gosh musical, as if Guys and Dolls had collided with the scatological Brooks. Some of the numbers are straightforward, others are slightly wacko (the tap-dancing ladies with walkers are one for the ages), but they’re all done with old-style panache. For that, kudos to Susan Stroman, who directed the Broadway version as well as this one.

People will complain that it’s all too over-the-top. Of course, any of Brooks’ best work is. They’ll complain that Lane and Broderick are not Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder (of the original version). No, they’re not — they’re Lane and Broderick, and they do just fine as such.

Best of all is Brooks’ relentless effort to score laughs, big and small. It’s been a long while since a moviemaker worked so hard for his comedy, and an even longer while since I’ve laughed until I cried. It was worth the wait.