#314- Grease

Quick recap: A movie made in the 70s, set in the 50s about a bunch of 18 year olds played by 30 year olds. And there is a lot of singing.

wrong grease, but best Simpsons episode

Fun (?) fact: Because everything has to be a conspiracy now, someone from Tumblr theorized that Sandy had a near drowning experience on the beach at the beginning of the movie and the resulting scenes are all hallucinations, ending with the ascent into the sky.

My thoughts: Look, I don’t HATE Grease. Hate is such a strong word. And you could even say I mildly enjoyed it this time, compared to when I watch it in high school (strange, I know). But it definitely didn’t endear itself to me by any stretch of the imagination and I’ll be perfectly satisfied if I never have to watch it again.

When I watched Grease the first time, I originally disliked it because everyone else loved it, kind of like my feelings toward Amelie. Not that I’m all that well versed on musicals, mind you, but Grease is still beginner level to me. This time around, I couldn’t really find anything that stood out as the reason to dislike the movie, except for Olivia Newton-John. My money was on hating John Travolta, but he grew on me, and I daresay I even liked him by the end. But Sandy? Nope. She was too goody-goody, but even worse, she played it up so the audience would think she was just sweet. That doesn’t work when you are already 30, though. Olivia Newton-John and her character were just trying to hard and it annoyed me. The other characters annoyed me as well, except maybe Frenchie, whom I was rather fond of.

The music was catchy enough, but I was surprised that it didn’t stick in my head the next day. I’m the kind of person who gets songs stuck in my head often. Hell, I wake up every morning with the Double Mint jingle running through my head so you’d think Summer Nights would get in there at some point, but no. I really did enjoy the numbers as well as the dancing but for whatever reason, it just didn’t do anything for me. As mentioned before, everything just annoyed me. It was like everyone really wanted to capture the ‘real’ high school experience in the least real way possible. I can say I’ve evolved to no longer outright disliking the movie, but it will forever be a ‘meh’ in my book.

Final review: 3/5

Up next: the Ice Storm

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#313- Meet Me in St. Louis

Quick recap: The Smith family encounters many ups and downs leading up to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903. A better title for the film could’ve been, If You Love St.Louis so Much, Why Don’t you Marry it?

a special ‘thanks’ to Judy Garland for getting this song stuck in my head for a week straight

Fun (?) fact: The mother of Margaret O’Brien (who played Tootie) wanted her child to get paid more, but the studio refused. Instead, they randomly chose a lighting guy’s daughter to fill the roll, going so far as to dress her and give her lines. The studio eventually backed down and O’Brien took her roll back over. The lighting guy then dropped a light during one of Tootie’s scenes, just narrowly missing her. He was later committed to an institution. Hollywood didn’t play around back then.

let me tell you, though, this kid was amazing

My thoughts: I love a good musical, and Meet Me in St. Louis didn’t disappoint. There were infectious songs, beautiful costumes, romance and an absolutely terrifying Halloween scene that gave me nightmares, so what else could I ask for?

So, first off, the entire cast was fabulous, especially Margaret O’Brien (as mentioned earlier) and Judy Garland as Esther Smith. I have heard her voice over and over in the Wizard of Oz but never really appreciated its depth until this movie. Side note: I had no idea this was considered a Christmas film. Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was damn depressing, which is just about what I expect all my holiday movies to be, so I’m on board. Anyway, I loved everything about Garland except for her eyebrows, which really weirded me out. But I also feel guilty about that knowing how much she went through with her looks. And maybe that was the style at the time? They were a little much, but didn’t detract from the overall tone.

Oh, honey. No.

And then there is that crazy Halloween scene, which just comes out of NOWHERE. The scene begins with Rose helping the little girls, Tootie and Agnes with their costume and I’m thinking it’s just going to be another cute peek into this family’s life. But then the girls go outside to join their friends, who have started a freaking BONFIRE in the street. What are they burning?Why are they burning things? Girls are dressed as boys and boys are dressed up as girls and it’s madness. There’s apparently some game going on where the older kids pretend to kill the neighbors by throwing flour in their faces and screaming, ‘I hate you!’. And the thing is, Agnes and Tootie already had a conversation with their mother about the flour so it’s a known thing. The rest of the movie is your typical romance and family fare, but this scene was downright creepy and I’d like to not think about Halloween before, let’s say, 1950.

The hell?

Final review: 5/5. I was originally going for a 4 but when you get a song stuck in your head for a week, it does things to you.

Up next: Grease

#297- A Night at the Opera

Quick recap: It’s nothing but hijinks with the Marx Brothers! This time they get in on a money making scheme involving the opera.

Someone should’ve clued them in

Fun (?) fact: Producer Irving Thalberg made the mistake of leaving the Marx brothers in his office for several hours while he went to various meetings. When he returned, he found Harpo, Chico and Groucho completely naked and roasting potatoes in his office. Defeated, he sat down, ate one of the potatoes and never did that again.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo

My thoughts: The other day, my 7 year old told me in no uncertain terms that he hated black and white movies. My husband had shown him The Day the Earth Stood Still several months ago and according to him, it was super boring. Like any good parent in this situation, I went about trying to prove my child wrong- if it was the last thing I did.

My initial plan was to start playing A Night at the Opera and as soon as my kid became restless or started terrorizing the cats, I would turn it off. Then I would note how long he had made it and that would be the deciding factor in how I reviewed this movie. I didn’t account for the fact that he would absolutely fall in love with the film. He seemed bored at first ( Groucho was his least favorite) but anytime Harpo appeared, everything was good. Some of my kid’s favorite scenes:

Groucho ordering all that food for the stowaways

Everyone piling into the cabin

Harpo actually playing the harp

Harpo playing the trombone with a violin bow

And on and on and on. My son ate it up! It didn’t matter that there was barely a plot or that there were a few slow numbers we could’ve done without, the comedy more than made up for it. Had I watched the movie alone, the curmudgeon in me probably would’ve given it just a couple of points. Seeing this through fresh eyes made me appreciate it so much more. I think what astounds me most is how there are so many tv shows and movies marketed to kids nowadays but sometimes it’s the simple stuff they love the most. And Harpo.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: Once Upon a Time in the West

 

 

 

#255-Gold Diggers of 1933

Quick recap: Set during the Depression, a group of showgirls find work in a new Broadway play and new love with a mysterious benefactor.

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MRW it’s payday

Fun (?) fact: This movie is where the song ‘We’re In the Money’ comes from.

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Not even kidding, this creepy kid gave me nightmares

My thoughts: I think it’s best to start with a quotation of lyrics from one the most famous songs from this movie, so that you can better understand what I had to watch:

From ‘Pettin’ in the Park’:

Pettin’ in the park, (bad boy!) Pettin’ in the dark; (bad girl!) /First you pet a little, Let up a little, and they you get a little kiss/ Pettin’ on the sly, (oh my!) /Act a little shy: (Aw, why!)/ Struggle just a little/ Then hug a little/ And cuddle up and whisper this: /“Come on, I’ve been waiting long,/ Why don’t we get started? /Come on, maybe this is wrong, /But, gee, what of it? /We just love it.”

Yeah. And there’s a delightful scene where the girl in the show physically struggles but the guy continues to hold her tight. Then there’s a rainstorm and the girl gets soaked and has to change. She chooses to put on a metal dress to hopefully stop his advances, but nope! The creepy child from the gif above just happens to have a tin can opener which he uses to cut through the dress and then probably rapes her.

So, besides all the implied rape (and believe me, there’s A LOT), the movie just felt jumbled together. It’s supposed to be a movie about a broadway play (Fun!) and there are also crazy antics where the group of girls pretend to be gold diggers to piss off snotty rich men who hate love (fun!). But this is during the Depression after all, so the last song of the movie is about remembering our soldiers who marched off to war and who are now marching in bread lines, trying to survive (Bummer). And to be fair, there is a lot of talk about the Depression, so it wasn’t just thrown in, but there’s a ton of money thrown around in the play and instead of a song, why not use some of that money to help people rather than building a contraption that makes it rain and snow in the theater?

The love story between Polly and Brad was cute, but mostly because Dick Powell, who played Brad is quite the looker. His warbly voice kind of threw me off but I was smitten throughout most of the movie. The girls also seemed like a fun group, especially Trixie, and I think this would’ve been something I would’ve loved to watch over and over again in the 30s.

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I could do without the creepy kid though

Final review: Despite the fun I had, I’m going to go with a 3/5 because of the kid and because there were some really slow parts

Up next: Blow-Up