THE YEAR AFTER YEAR BLOGATHON – Da Big Finish

It’s time to present our final round of bouquets to our blogathon entrants, so here we go with

dabigfinish

Click on Day 1 or Day 2 if you missed either of those days’ entries. Here’s our final set. (Click on the name of each blog to read his or her entry.)

sametime

In the final entry of his ambitious blogathon trilogy, Movierob gives us Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda having an extramarital affair over a quarter-century in Same Time Next Year.

littlewomen

Moon in Gemini examines a family of determined women in the 1994 film of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel Little Women.

malcolmx

And in a surprise last-minute entry, Dell on Movies gives us Spike Lee’s sprawling version of the life of Malcolm X as played by Denzel Washington.

As always, thanks to our very gifted bloggers and their appreciative readers. Here’s wishing you a most joyful and hopeful New Year!

THE YEAR AFTER YEAR BLOGATHON – Day 2 Recap

I don’t mean to get all presidential about this, but attention should be paid as we present

2

We’ve received more terrific entries in our blogathon devoted to movies with a time span of one year or longer. If you missed Day 1, click here to read those entries, and then click on each of the blogs’ names below to enjoy the latest ones!

1

In his second of three entries, Movierob takes on D.W. Griffith’s controversial The Birth of a Nation.

1

Alicia Silverstone helps Brendan Frazier deal with the fallout of having spent 35 years in a bomb shelter in Blast from the Past, as reviewed by Taking Up Room.

final

And thoughtsallsorts watches Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke age before his eyes in the ambitious trilogy Before SunriseBefore Sunset, and Before Midnight.

Keep up bookmarked for one more day of movie time travel!

 

 

 

 

 

THE YEAR AFTER YEAR BLOGATHON – Day 1 Recap

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future…so we’d better get going on

day1recap

We received a lot of great entries on the first day of this ‘thon. Just click on the names of the individual blogs below to read them!

have-yourself-a-merry-little-christmas

Growing up isn’t easy for sisters Tootie and Esther (Margaret O’Brien and Judy Garland) in Meet Me in St. Louis, as A Shroud of Thoughts tells us.

robert-de-niro-raging-bull_a-g-9793672-13198925

The Stop Button takes a look at the troubled life of boxer Jake La Motta (Robert DeNiro) as depicted in Raging Bull.

3

Reelweegiemidget Reviews shows how life for Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson (Paul Dano and John Cusack) wasn’t all surf and sun in Love & Mercy.

dad4

The Midnite Drive-In observes a day in the life of Phil Connors (Bill Murray) — over and over and over — in Groundhog Day.

sunshine

In the first of his three blogathon entries, Movierob watches a Jewish Hungarian family struggle to hold onto their values through three generations in Sunshine.

carol

Dubsism gives us the ups and downs of three vacationing couples/friends (including Carol Burnett and Alan Alda) during the course of The Four Seasons.

07_history_of_the_world_part_1_bluray

And finally, yours truly enjoys Mel Brooks giving us a twisted history lesson in the comedy History of the World Part I.

We still have two days left in this timely blogathon, so keep us bookmarked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE YEAR AFTER YEAR BLOGATHON is here!

banner1

Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s make it official with The Year After Year Blogathon. Join us for the next three days as film-loving bloggers provide their takes on a variety of movies with multi-year themes.

If you are one of the ‘thon participants, please leave your blog’s name and the URL of your ‘thon entry in the “Comments” section below, and I will provide a link to it here ASAP. If you’re simply here for some fun reading, the entry list (below) will be updated regularly throughout the ‘thon. I will also provide daily updates to same on my blog. Enjoy, all!

Here is the list of participants. Click on the individual movie names to link to the blogathon entries. Start reading ’em — the new year is flying by already!

Movie Movie Blog Blog – History of the World Part I

A Shroud of Thoughts – Meet Me in St. Louis

The Stop Button – Raging Bull

thoughtsallsorts – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Love and Mercy

The Observation Post – The Best Years of Our Lives

Moon in Gemini – Little Women (1994)

Taking Up Room – Blast from the Past

The Midnite Drive-In – Groundhog Day

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – Portrait of Jennie

Movierob – The Birth of a NationSame Time Next Year, and Sunshine

Dubsism – The Four Seasons

Dell on Movies – Malcolm X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I (1981) – Mel Brooks as the million-year-old man

banner1

The following is my entry in The Year After Year Blogathon, being hosted at this blog from Jan. 4-6, 2019. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ tributes to movies whose story spans one year or longer!

image3

(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

History of the World Part I did middling box-office (as did all Mel Brooks movies from this point on), but for my money, it’s one of Brooks’ funniest. Having cemented his comedic reputation early on with the 2000-Year-Old Man, it seems inevitable that Brooks would eventually take on the spectrum (or sphincter, as he might put it) of world history. And in the age of the Farrelly Brothers, Brooks’ ideas about bad taste seem almost quaint.

It begins with a lot of black-out gags (the first such gag amounting to, Ape Man = Onan) and takes off from there. The first sustained sequence, The Roman Empire, probably goes on a bit too long, and it “introduced” a buxom actress named Mary-Margaret Humes who, justifiably, went right back to obscurity shortly after the film’s release. But there are also many enjoyable moments: Gregory Hines’s mellow film debut, Madeline Kahn’s ecstatic song tribute to her well-endowed male slaves, and most of all, the Last Supper sequence at the end — completely messed up time-wise (it puts Jesus and Leonardo da Vinci in the same shot), but all the more hilarious because of it. (John Hurt plays Jesus, and as in Brooks’ Spaceballs [1987], his straight-faced seriousness just makes the insanity around him that much funnier.)

The next sequence (embedded below) is one of Brooks’s best: The Spanish Inquisition as a Marx Brothers-style musical number, with Mel Brooks as a socko Torquemada, beating out a rhythm on his victims’ shackled knees. This sequence alone justifies Brooks’ existence as a comedy director.

The sequence depicting The French Revolution has two main objectives in mind: show off as much of (1) British comedienne Pamela Stephenson’s bust and (2) Brooks’s wee-wee humor as humanly possible. Nevertheless, it has its moments, with Cloris Leachman as Madame Defarge, and Brooks as a randy king.

The final short sequence, a trailer for Brooks’s non-existent History Part II, is worth the bother just for one of those moments that makes me laugh for no discernible reason: a scene from “Hitler on Ice,” showing Brooks’s favorite nasty German as an Ice Capader. This ersatz trailer is enough to make me wish Brooks had really made a sequel. I doubt it would have turned out any worse than Spaceballs.

 

STAN & OLLIE vs. Laurel & Hardy

FINAL

(WARNING: This is not a review of the new movie Stan & Ollie, which has not yet come to my area and which I have not yet seen. However, the hyperlink in this blog leads to another blog which does give SPOILERS about said movie. So if you want to see the movie before reading some major plot details about it, avoid the hyperlink.)

I was looking forward to seeing Stan & Ollie. The general consensus of the film’s mostly glowing reviews is that the film mucks up a few facts about the events in question but generally gets the details right about the friendship between the real Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

But then I read the blog of Mark Evanier, a feverish Laurel & Hardy fan. He has seen the movie, and his blog points out the voluminous facts that the movie shunts aside in favor of tearjerking dramatics.

Reading this account of the movie angers me, though I do not blame Evanier for my ill humor. I blame it on a simple fact: I have never seen a single movie or TV show about Laurel & Hardy, either biographical or fictionalized, that does not take some kind of liberties with the facts about L&H’s history.

My late father-in-law, a Navy veteran of two wars, said he could never watch any Navy-themed movie because he knew what real Navy life was like, and Navy-themed movies always managed to get the details wrong. Evanier and I, along with generations of hardcore L&H fans, have done much reading about our two comedy heroes, and we seem to have the same problem with L&H-themed movies that my dad-in-law had with movies about Navy-based films.

Let me give you just three examples regarding L&H:

  • A 1992 direct-to-video compilation movie titled Laurel & Hardy: A Tribute to the Boys was hosted by comedian Dom Deluise. Aside from the movie showing colorized clips from The Boys’ comedies (I’ll spare you my condescending opinion of colorization), at the end of the movie, DeLuise stated when Hardy died, Laurel was at his bedside, holding his hand. A touching image, to be sure, but it’s totally false. Laurel was too ill to even attend Hardy’s funeral, much less be at his bedside to hold Hardy’s hand at the time of his death.
  • Cuckoo, a generally well-meaning 1974 British documentary about L&H, sports the oft-quoted “fact” that Stan Laurel was married eight times. Wrong again! As Evanier points out, Stan was married to and divorced from three different women (one of whom he remarried before divorcing her again).(If you’re looking for a happy ending, Laurel’s fourth wife, the former Ida [pronounced “E-da”] Kitaeva, turned out to be Laurel’s soulmate, and they were married for 18 happy years before Laurel died.)
  • Just yesterday, another well-meaning tribute to L&H was broadcast on “CBS Sunday Morning.” Half of it was a plug for the Stan & Ollie movie, while the other half was a L&H mini-history of The Boys that included several clips from their classic comedies. All well and good, except that CBS listed the wrong years for two of those comedies. If you are going to bother to list their movies’ release dates in the upper-left hand corner of the TV screen, why not go to the trouble of getting the dates right?

Sadly, Laurel & Hardy are not alone in this rewriting of movie comedy history. In 1971 came a book titled W.C. Fields & Me, written by Fields’ on-and-off mistress of 14 years, Carlotta Monti. Fields biographers (including his own grandson) have since established that the book was a vanity account in which Monti played hard and fast with several of the facts about her relationship with Fields. But nobody knew that in 1976, when Universal made a film version of the book, starring Rod Steiger as Fields and Valerie Perrine as Monti.

The movie played even harder and faster with the book’s fantasy version of the story, stating that Fields was a somewhat impoverished comedian who came to Hollywood accompanied by a midget sidekick (played by Billy Barty). Truth: Fields had no such sidekick, and he was already fairly wealthy from his stage and Broadway careers. The movie claimed that Monti met Fields when she attended one of his parties anonymously and was brusquely put to work by Fields as the party’s waitress. The truth, at least according to Monti, was that she first met Fields when she was a starlet appearing in a screen test for one of his movies.

So it appears that Hollywood has a thing for exploiting the personalities of its comedy legends, but when it comes to getting the facts right, Hollywood figures, “Ah, they’re just comedians — who cares?” And it seems to me that Laurel & Hardy have suffered the most from this lackadaisical approach to comics’ biographies.

You might think that I’m being a little too sensitive about this kind of thing. I dunno. If a good friend or relative of yours died, and you commissioned an outside party to film or tape a tribute to that person, how pleased would you be if said party got most of the facts wrong about your beloved? Many Laurel & Hardy buffs will tell you that they regard The Boys as friends. And friends should not be so carelessly wronged.

With that in mind, I’m still interested in seeing Stan & Ollie. But I will probably do so with a far more disparaging eye than that of some exceedingly generous film critics.

THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK – It’s not about rape

I have officially had it with Christmas-themed political correctness. I kept my mouth shut when everyone started yakking about the supposedly sinister subtext of the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” But nobody is going to mouth off to me about Preston Sturges and get away with it.

220px-The_Miracle_of_Morgans_Creek_1944_poster

Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) manages to make comedy hay out of, of all things, the pregnancy of an (for all intents and purposes) unwed mother. If you’re not familiar with the movie, I have previously summarized and raved about it here on this blog. If you don’t agree with me that Miracle is hysterically funny, that’s your loss. But a blog named Ellen and Jim Have a Blog, Two has tried to argue that the movie is about a case of rape. (You can read their take on the movie here.) This will not stand.

Ellen and Jim — who, for the purpose of brevity, I will hereafter refer to as “the blog” — state that they read the shooting script for the movie as well as watching the film itself. Yet in order to make their point, they leave out miles of crucial plot points and manage to twist many of the remaining plot points into Christmas licorice.

1

The movie’s pivotal plot twist comes when the heroine Trudy (Betty Hutton), having deserted her long-adoring 4-F male friend Norval (Eddie Bracken) to attend a party for soldiers going off to war, gets accidentally knocked on the head and later finds that she is pregnant from her night of frivolity. The blog labels this incident as a “rape” and uses the R-word repeatedly before it ever deigns to (vaguely) mention another major plot point.

At one point before Trudy gets bumped on the head, one of the partying soldiers declares, “Hey, I got a crazy idea — let’s all get married!” Everyone laughs derisively at the idea, but the movie implies that the deed took place. When Trudy returns Norval’s car to him in a damaged state and drunkenly tries to recall the evening’s events, the camera focuses on a relic that Trudy unknowingly left in the road — a sign that had been placed on the back of the car that read, “Just married.”

Now, Sturges might have inserted this plot point simply to appease the censorious Hays Office. Yet the blog goes so far as to say, “It passes because in the words of the script [and the movie, I might add] she has not been raped; she was married and therefore cannot have been raped. Tease this out and we could imagine a scene of marital rape.”

Well, I suppose we could, and we could also extrapolate any number of biased theories from the movie’s plot points, if that’s all we wanted to do. What I find especially bothersome about the blog is its implication that the movie is laughing derisively at a woman who finds herself pregnant and, though she is supposedly married, has no father to speak of for her baby. (In a reply to a query from one of the blog’s readers, the blog answers, “I feel for [Trudy’s] distress — if the movie would allow it, but it does not, and that is why it’s made up of laughter betrayed.”)

2

But I don’t see it that way at all. The movie takes quite seriously Trudy and her young sister Emmy’s (Diana Lynn) reactions to the news of Trudy’s pregnancy, and their dread of how apoplectically their stern father Edmund (William Demarest) will react to the news.

The blog also opines that Sturges “has [female] characters say they cover up for and prefer men who hurt them.” Where’d they get that one?? Norval, who has pined over Trudy ever since they were in grade school, wants nothing more than the best for Trudy. Widowed father Edmund is shown to be far more bark than bite, softening up quite a bit as the movie progresses.

There are plenty of laughs to be had in The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, but none of them occur by cheapening the characters or making fun of Trudy’s very real plight. And along with the laughs comes plenty of pathos, of the kind that Chaplin surely would have applauded. It appears that, when it comes to Preston Sturges, Ellen and Jim have a chip on their shoulders, two.

Announcing THE YEAR AFTER YEAR BLOGATHON!

Can you believe that another year is almost over? As this is an entertainment blog, let’s celebrate year’s end in a (b)logical way by indulging in…

TOP

Rules for the Blogathon

  1. I would like your entry to be about any movie with a time span of at least one year, which can involve: (a) a movie in which the characters age over the course of a year or more; (b) time-travel movies; or (c) anthology movies with segments involving different eras or periods of time.
  2. If you can come up with a variant not listed above that still involves a time span of a year or more, let me know and I’ll accept it if it fits. Please do not ask for a movie whose time span is less than a year. For example, movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross and Pulp Fiction definitely “play” with time, but in a far shorter time span than one year.
  3. Sorry, no duplicate posts. There are enough time-span movies that you should be able to choose one of your own. Please review the entry list below (which will be updated regularly) to ensure that your choice isn’t already taken.

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 Friday, Jan. 4 through Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019. 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 Jan. 6, I will be satisfied. (That said, the earlier the better!)

Again, be sure to leave a comment below and grab a banner, and have fun with your blog entry! Here’s the line-up so far:

Movie Movie Blog Blog – History of the World Part I

A Shroud of Thoughts – Meet Me in St. Louis

The Stop Button – Raging Bull

thoughtsallsorts – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Love and Mercy

The Observation Post – The Best Years of Our Lives

Moon in Gemini – Little Women (1994)

Taking Up Room – Blast from the Past

The Midnite Drive-In – Groundhog Day

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood – Portrait of Jennie

Movierob – The Birth of a NationSame Time Next Year, and Sunshine

Dubsism – The Four Seasons

Dell on Movies – Malcolm X

 

Banner1

Banner2

Banner3

Banner4

Banner5

Banner6

Banner7

Banner8