Insomniac Theatre: “That Certain Woman”

28 Apr

Aw man.  While I was debating on what to watch for tonight’s edition of Insomniac Theatre, I realized Bravo was showing Quantum of Solace.  And since the only man I love more than Daniel Craig right now is Ian Somerhalder and sadly, he’s not on TV right at the moment, I turned it on and began playing the game “Where does Stana Katic show up?”  And then I stopped playing because I’m getting only slightly bored (only slightly — Bond just took his shirt off and all of a sudden, things got interesting again), so I checked out Wikipedia and apparently, Stana Katic’s character doesn’t show up until the end.  Damn.

So I’m over it.  Also, I have actually seen Quantum of Solace, and I own the DVD, so I can wait on rewatching that and let’s kill some movies on Jeremy the TiVo, shall we?

Tonight’s entry is the last — oh, hold on, James just found Dying!Mathis.  *sadface*  What is it this week with the deaths of Epic Bromances?  First Damon and Alaric (*SNIFF* I’LL MISS YOU ALARIC, possibly only slightly less than Damon will), and now Bond and Mathis?  Awww… — Um, anyway.  Before I continue, dear Everyone I’ve Ever Met: I HAVE NO SHAME.  But most importantly,That Certain Womanis the last Bette Davis movie I have left from my rash of recording Bette Davis movies.  And the synopsis on imdb. leads me to believe that this one won’t be a comedy:

Mary Donnell, a young legal secretary with a past, elopes with a client’s son, but his father has the marriage annulled without knowing she’s pregnant.

What’s with Bette Davis movies and strange pregnant circumstances?  I mean, I knew she didn’t do too many ribald comedies, but this is a crazy amount of drama.  I swear, I am kicking myself for not recapping The Golden Arrow when I had the chance.

But before I can truly recap this bad boy, there is one thing I’m going to need: pajamas.  Be right back.

OKAY.  I am in pajamas, and I have vodka and Sprite.  If I don’t hit ‘play’ in the next five minutes, I’m going to end up watching the entirety of Quantum of Solace.  Play has been hit, vodka has been sipped, and the rating is a G.  Let’s dig in, shall we? 

That Certain Woman also stars Henry Fonda and — Anita Louise?  Didn’t she play one of Bette’s sisters in The Sisters?  She did!  She played Crazy Helen, the middle child!  I would say “this is going to be good,” but let’s face it — this isn’t going to be the happiest of movies.  But maybe she’ll play someone crazy again?

Bette Davis comes running out of the rain and onto a double-decker bus, carrying a bouquet and with her friend or possibly her mother.  When she gets on the bus, a shadowy guy tosses a newspaper at her, and the headline reads “Fourth Anniversary of the Valentine’s Day Massacre” or something like that.  I DON’T REWIND.  Anyway, apparently that has some significance for our heroine, because the next shot is of a headstone that dates someone dying at 30 back in 1929, and that’s who the bouquet is for.  So Bette Davis loved someone who died in the Valentine’s Day Massacre?  That’s my gal!

Meanwhile, a paparazzo has followed her and her friends to the cemetery, and he asks her to pose at the foot of the grave on which she is bestowing the flowers.  He thanks her as Mrs. Haines (the name on the headstone is Haines), but then her friend with the newspaper who also went with her and her other friend drags the paparrazzo over to the headstone in a rather awkward manner — apparently the Depression wouldn’t allow for a second, smoother take — and bangs the guy’s camera into pieces.  Ha!

The paparrazzo attempts to get Bette to buy him a new camera.  In what will surely become my new catchphrase, Bette Davis calls him a “fresh monkey” and orders him to scram.  Fresh Monkey?  Oh, that’s priceless!

Bette Davis is working as a secretary in a law office.  She seems to have a nice boss – he goes around singing and everything as he’s getting ready for lunch.  Everything’s going well, until the paparrazzo from the cemetery shows up and asks her to sign something that gives him the right to publish a tell-all about her dead husband.  She asks him to leave in no uncertain terms — but without calling him a ‘fresh monkey’ again — and then her boss, Mr. Rogers, resues her.  And he reveals that he always knew that she was Al Haines’s widow, and that she’s okay with him.  As imdb. says, Al Haines was a gangster, so Bette Davis is trying to keep out of the mob.  Good on you, Bette. 

Mr. Rogers goes out and … invites the paparrazzo out to lunch?  What?  Mr. Rogers comments that it’s so wet out, that it’s a great day for ducks.  Fun Fact!  Ducks actually hate the rain.  He runs into Henry Fonda, who is apparently Bette Davis’s boyfriend.  Awww… he’s kind of a goober.  I like that.

Bette Davis goes out to a restaurant where she runs into an old gangster acquaintance while she waits for Henry Fonda.  She thinks he’s stood her up, but he shows up after all, and then he takes her home, and I think he tries to get her to ask him up to her apartment, but she tells him that they’re just very good friends.  And apparently, Henry Fonda has Daddy Issues.  I’m not sure what the deal is between Hank and Daddy — it hasn’t been discussed at length at this point.  But hey, Henry Fonda is asking Bette Davis to marry him. 

Henry Fonda goes over to Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers tells Henry Fonda all about Bette Davis’s past.  Aw, does Mr. Rogers love Bette Davis too?  I’d be surprised if he didn’t.  After all, a) of all, everybody loves Bette Davis, but b) of all, all men are in love with their secretaries in some way.  But the most important part of this whole scene that I’m watching is that the next day, Mr. Rogers goes to the office after playing poker the entire night before, and he swivels a bookcase around and on the other side of the bookcase is a full wet bar!  Can I have one of those?!  That one little thing would satisfy three of my fantasies: 1) an awesome library, 2) an awesome bar, and 3) the ability to reenact the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and his father are tied to the chairs and the poker makes the fireplace swivel and they end up in a Nazi switchboard room.

Anyway, Mr. Rogers sends Bette Davis out to marry Henry Fonda, and it’s all very blah, and honestly, I’m regretting a bit not actually watching Quantum of Solace to the end.

(I may have just paused That Certain Woman to be able to rewind Quantum of Solace so I could watch the ending.  Shut up.  Hey, Detective Beckett!  On another yet similar note, can I has Skyfall now?  How about now?  When can then be now?  THAT’S NOT SOON ENOUGH)

Bette Davis and Henry Fonda get married, but then it looks like Henry Fonda’s father interrupts the honeymoon.  Ouch — that’s not even remotely cool, Henry Fonda’s Dad.  Henry Fonda wants to stay married, but Henry Fonda’s Dad doesn’t want them to be married.  To the tune of HOLY SHIT HE JUST BACKHANDED HENRY FONDA.  And Henry Fonda’s Dad believes that she is a gangster’s moll and is trying to insinuate herself into the Fonda family for nefarious deeds and reasons. 

While Henry Fonda is trying to convince his dad that Bette Davis is as fantastic a woman as we all know her to be, Bette Davis bolts in the night.  The cool thing was that the detective who once arrested her when she was married to the gangster defended her.  But she still runs back home.

But hey!  Then a year passes — or possibly two — and now Bette Davis has a baby!  Hell, that was a very productive three-hour honeymoon.  She’s working at Mr. Rogers’s law office again, and I still say that Mr. Rogers is in love with her.  This same morning, Bette Davis learns that Henry Fonda married another girl.  She is determined to remain solvent on her own, without asking Henry Fonda’s family or father for help.

She goes into another room to take a phone call, where it’s revealed that Henry Fonda and his new wife were in a terrible car accident IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE and the chauffeur was killed and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fonda are in a hospital, unconscious.  I’m sorry, but this just reinforces the fact that, should I ever go to France, I am not driving ANYWHERE.

Mr. Rogers sends Bette Davis on a trip to get her mind off things.  NOT TO FRANCE?!

Fast-forward, like, two more years, and now Jack Jr. is 4 years old, and Mr. Rogers is apparently extremely sick.  One day, Mr. Rogers runs away from his home or hospital or wherever he is, and a private detective or someone goes to Bette Davis’s home, hoping to find Mr. Rogers.  Mr. Rogers did end up at Bette Davis’s apartment, and he claims that he asked his wife for a divorce, that he loves Bette Davis, that he wants to marry her.  But he has a fever and something awful, though it’s never said what he has, so Bette Davis writes his feelings off as nonsense.

I’m sorry — what kind of plotline is this?  I mean, I get that everyone loves Bette Davis, but when does Henry Fonda come back?  Anyway, Mr. Rogers dies, and there’s some big frouferah about how Bette Davis was having an affair with Mr. Rogers (which wasn’t true), and the paparrazzi were able to take a picture of her kid.  She decides to run away, but then — then!  — Henry Fonda shows up!  But he’s still married to the other woman.

And he has the gall – THE GALL – to go over to Bette Davis’s house, and out of the ‘goodness of his heart,’ offer to adopt her son to ‘help her out.’  She absolutely refuses, but she still introduces her son to Henry Fonda, which is something I wouldn’t have done.  Maybe.  I’m not sure, seeing as how I’ve never been in the situation where I’ve had a baby and not told the father.

I’m not going to delete that sentence, but please note as you reread that sentence that it is currently 2:39 a.m., and I can’t be held responsible for my typing actions.  I don’t rewind, I don’t retype, and nothing good happens after two a.m.

Anyway, Bette Davis wants to run away with her son and tells Henry Fonda her plans.  But Henry Fonda’s Dad puts a restraining order out on Bette Davis and tries to adopt the son out from under Bette Davis because he thinks Bette Davis is an unfit mother.  Henry Fonda barges in and berates his father, and he and Bette Davis are back in love.

The next day — what is with this movie and such abrupt transitions? — Henry Fonda’s Wife shows up at Bette Davis’s house, and she tells Bette Davis that, yeah, she’s in love with Henry Fonda, but Henry Fonda loves Bette Davis, so she’s willing to give Henry Fonda up so he can be happy.  But then Bette Davis says that she doesn’t love Henry Fonda!  WHAT!?  WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU — BUT ISN’T THIS — AHCK.  I kind of hate this movie right now. 

Also, in case I forgot to mention this up above, remember that car accident that Henry Fonda and his Wife were in?  Well, it left Henry Fonda’s Wife paralyzed in a wheelchair for life.  And you know the horrible parts?  Number One: Her name is ‘Flip.’  Flip?  FLIP?!  THAT’S A HORRIBLE NAME FOR A CRIPPLE.  Number Two: Actually, not so horrible — I’m going to hell.  But Number Three: When Bette Davis offered to push her wheelchair, I went to the Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? place.

Henry Fonda and his wife leave, and then Bette Davis makes some kind of decision, and asks her roommate slash maid or whatever to take the son and put him in his sailor suit.  Then she quickly types up a letter to Jack and seals it, but we don’t know what it says.  Is she giving up her son?  Is she sending the little kid to his father’s house to live with him?  WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Yeah, you’re regretting it now, aren’t you?  Bette Davis, as much as I love you, your character just made some bad decisions. 

FOLLOWED BY AN EVEN WORSE ONE.  Now she’s in Monte Carlo — what the fuck?  — with a little dog?  And — what the FUCK is going on?

Oh man — please tell me there will be some poetic justice and she takes a car ride and gets in an accident and becomes paralyzed?  That will be awful and yet fantastic at the same time.  And I never want to wish Bette Davis harm, but this movie is getting slightly ridiculous.

Nope, no car accident — just a trans-Atlantic phone call from Henry Fonda after Bette Davis learns that ‘Flip’ died last year, because apparently it’s over a year since the last scene?  Transitions, people!  Anyway, with Flip out of the picture, they are now safe to be a big, crazy, happy family because apparently now Henry Fonda’s Father doesn’t give a shit — or maybe he died too and no one told Bette? — but the best part is that we don’t even see the actual reconciliation and the movie’s over and holy shit, that was even worse than The Sisters.

I mean, why was it even called That Certain Woman?  Because I’m not entirely sure the title meant what I think they thought it did.

Grade for That Certain Woman: Meh.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


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