Monthly Archives: July 2012

Insomniac Theatre: “Midnight Lace”

So this will be a little bit different from my usual Insomniac Theatre fare.  I was scrolling through the entries of TCM one night and came across this, and something in the back of my brain pinged.  I vaguely recalled watching a movie years and years ago, when I was a little kid and we had just gotten the expanded cable package with AMC — back before AMC had commercials; that long ago — and I think I may have actually watched this with my mother.

I seem to remember Doris Day being scared out of her wits, and there’s a phone call, and it seems like a British Rear Window, but with Doris Day playing the Jimmy Stewart role without the wheelchair, and also, she’s the one who’s going to be murdered.  Or something.  Eagle-eyed viewers of this blog will have already noted that Rear Window is on my list.

Anyway.  If it turns out that I have actually seen this movie already, it was so long ago that this will seem like new.  It’s not cheating.  Also, Return of the Jedi hasn’t come in the mail yet.  Also-also, I’m not watching Shawshank for a while, so, suck it.


So I’m writing this entry in a Word doc first, because I’m sorry WordPress, I have two blogs on you, but sometimes, your post screen sucks the big one.  And I’m clicking to Google Images to find the poster for this movie, when my Yahoo! home page has a link to a video about a PYTHON SNEAKING INTO AN INFANT’S CRIB.


And even though I’m fucking petrified of snakes, my curiosity is aroused.  I had actually seen a highlight video a couple of years ago, where a cobra snuck into a house.  That was in China.  So when I saw the thing about the python and the crib, my first thought was, “This was in China, right?  Or India?  Or some other country where pythons run rampant and could indeed end up in a child’s crib accidentally?”


“Well, maybe it was their pet?  Because some parents are stupid enough to think, ‘hey, snakes like kids, right?'”




You know what I’m going to do tonight before I crawl into bed?  If you answered “check my bedroom for fucking SNAKES,” you would be correct.

Jesus God, I — I —

*deep breath*  Okay, let’s start our harmless little Doris Day movie.  Maybe that will make the abject terror of SNAKES IN A CRIB seem less real.

Oh, this one also has a Robert Osborne Introduction.  Apparently, this role was Doris Day’s most dramatic and intense performance, causing her to have a breakdown, in fact.  Oh, in all of the screaming about random pythons, I forgot to include the synopsis from the imdb.:

“In London, a newlywed American woman’s sanity comes into question when she claims to be the victim of a stalker.”

So let’s begin.  Oh look, a Bobbie!  We see a constable walking past the American consulate.  And here comes Doris Day, in a white fur coat, walking out of the American Consulate.  A gentleman offers her an escort, but she declines, as her home is only across the park (Grosvenor Square).  But apparently, London fog isn’t just a trenchcoat.  It is so thick (HOW THICK WAS IT) that Doris Day can barely see in front of her face.  She hears a noise — hahaha it’s a mysterious ticking noise!! — but it turns out to be a blind man, not a pipe bomb.

And then there’s Creepy Stalker Voice, who jumps right into threatening to kill her.  For no readily apparent reason.  I can only assume that there will be a reason?  I mean, it doesn’t have anything to do with her wearing fur, does it?  That would be lame.

Doris Day runs into her apartment and calls for Nora but finds her husband, Rex Harrison, instead.  Rex calms her down by telling her that when the fog is really thick, a bunch of practical jokers inhabit the parks, just waiting to torment the old ladies.  Well — I guess I should be glad that they’re not wankers?

It’s too bad — I honestly think that Rex Harrison is now only known for his role of Henry Higgins.  He was truly a versatile actor.  Well — My Fair Lady and Doctor Doolittle, I guess.  Although I can’t think of anyone who goes to Doctor Doolittle first.

Oooh!  Title reference: Doris Day goes shopping and then stops by Rex Harrison’s business to take him out to lunch, and shows off a little negligee she bought that is apparently made out of midnight lace.  Then, as all businessmen husbands do, he tells her he can’t go to lunch with her, so she takes her boxes and returns home.  But there’s construction going on outside of her apartment building and she’s nearly flattened by a steel girder!  Anyway, she makes it, and then runs into her neighbor on the stairs.  Doris makes small talk with “Peg,” whose husband is docked on a ship in Singapore. 

This conversation is very awkward.  Peg keeps trying to go downstairs to mail a letter to her husband, but Doris just keeps calling her back to ask her more inane questions.  I’m surprised Peg didn’t go, “Dammit Doris!  Ask all at once or not at all!”

So the guy calls the apartment and freaks Doris out, so she and Rex go to Scotland Yard and they learn that these phone calls are also kind of run in the mill in London.  Jeez. 

They return home, and then Doris goes to pick up her Aunt Bea, who’s visiting from America.  Rex comes home late and gives her a diamond brooch in the shape of a gondola (because they were going to go to Venice), but then tells Doris that they can’t go to Venice so soon, because Tony’s business needs him.  Hunh.  That feels familiar.

Then the Stalker calls again, and Rex runs upstairs to hear the guy on the extension, but Doris hangs up the phone before Rex can pick up.  When he asks her why she hung up, she claims that she couldn’t stand it any longer.  Rex calls Scotland Yard, and they say they’re going to change their phone number to unlisted, but they also insinuate that perhaps Doris Day is making it all up.  Rex defends her, but the question sticks with him…

… into the next scene, where Doris and Rex are having dinner with Aunt Bea and a former beau of hers.  When Charles takes Doris to the dance floor, Rex tells Aunt Bea about the latest Stalker call, and Scotland Yard’s claim that maybe Doris is a wife who is pretending to be stalked to gain the attention of her husband.  Aunt Bea refutes that claim, but then asks if the call came before or after Rex called their Venice trip off.  As we scroll back up, we see that the call came after the calling-off of the Venice trip, giving Rex some more food for thought.

That night — or possibly another night, I’m not sure — Doris is seated by the fireplace in the dark, thinking.  When she moves to the bed — WAIT A MINUTE.  Rex and Doris sleep in twin beds!  Oh man — oh Hayes Code, how stupid you were in retrospect. 

Doris goes out the next morning — or, at least she tries to but the elevator gets stuck.  The lights go out and she’s stuck in the box all alone.  She starts to scream for help, but then she sees a shadowy man walk up the stairs around the elevator, and she gets all freaked out.  Especially when the man starts beating at the door on the floor above (oh, that sounded bad, Alaina — that’s not what I meant.)  Anyway, he is able to break open the door, and Doris is having a full on panic attack — she’s crying, screaming, and overall flipping out.  The guy gets the hatch open to the elevator car and drops himself in, and then it turns out to be Mr. Younger, who was at the construction site the other day when she almost got flattened. 

And that’s why, whenever you’re being stalked, you always take the stairs. 

She goes and has a drink with Younger to steady her nerves, and he reveals that when he was in the army, a shell got stuck in his tank and he thought he was going to blow up.  Now he’s an architect, working in open spaces.  Doris feels better and happy now that she’s made a friend, and she goes off to run her errands.  The pub’s lady owner comes over and comments on how pretty Doris is, and then asks Mr. Younger if he wants to add his phone calls from last night onto his bill.  DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN

Doris, Rex, Aunt Bea, and Charlie are watching a ballet.  I apologize, I did not catch which ballet it was.  I’m going to go with The Swan Princess or whatever it was that Natalie Portman wanted to be the Black Swan in.  She and her party are sitting in one of the boxes, and I’m sorry, I’m an avid theatre-goer, and I still can’t understand why anyone would want to watch a staged show from a box.  You can’t see the entire stage, and in many cases, you can see directly backstage where the actors and actresses are waiting to make their entrance.  To me, it loses something.  I’d rather sit center.

Swan Lake!  That’s what the ballet’s called.  Rex got called out for a phone call or something, and Aunt Bea and Charlie are on their way home when Nora’s creepy son Malcolm shows up in the box, and asks about paying for Nora’s medical bills.  Doris is put off, and it seems that Malcolm is about to threaten her with worse, when Rex comes back to the box.  He threatens Malcolm in turn, and throws him out of the box.  But Rex has to go to work, because someone has found something.  Looks like someone is embezzling!  And it may be Aunt Bea’s friend Charlie!

Rex goes home, and he’s staring into the fire, going over everything that happened, and then Doris goes into her little twin bed which is just so damned ludicrous and stupid.  And then Doris sees a shadow climbing around in the scaffolding from the construction site next to their flat.  She freaks out, Rex offers to call the cops, she says no, because they don’t believe her anyway.

Ugh … this is so … things go well, then the phone rings.  Doris gets freaked out, then screams for help.  At this point, the movie’s been going on for over an hour, and we still don’t know why the stalker wants to kill her.  The Scotland Yard comes along and then, using logic, makes it seem as if Doris Day is making the whole thing up.  I’m starting to get bored.

Although, do I recall that, in the end, it’s Rex Harrison doing it?  I seem to recall that Rex is behind everything, because he was the one embezzling and he wanted to escape without his pretty American wife.  I don’t know, that’s what my gut is telling me.  (Although my gut is also very hungry…)

Anyway, things progress.  She’s attempting to get on a bus but then she’s pushed-slash-trips and lands in front of the bus.  She meets up with Peggy and asks her to lie to Tony about hearing the Phone Guy, because then someone would believe her, but the lie doesn’t work when the phone ends up being out of order.  Then she has a nervous breakdown, and Rex and Aunt Bea put her into a psy — HOLY SHIT IS THAT DOCTOR BELLOWS?!

‘m sorry – I was recapping the scene where Doris goes to the psych ward, and I happen to look up and the psychiatrist is played by Dr. Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie!  I loved him growing up!  He and the Professor from Gilligan’s Island — although, I’ll be honest here, I had more of a crush on the Professor.  I just kind of felt bad for Dr. Bellows for four seasons.  I’m honestly surprised that Dr. Bellows didn’t end up in therapy.

Okay, moving on.  How much more of this movie do I have to watch?  [Only about half an hour.  Thank god.] 

Mr. Younger goes back to the pub and actually sees the guy that ended up in Doris’s apartment that one time.  Meanwhile, the stalker calls Doris, and this time, she actually gets Rex to pick up the phone and hear the guy on the other end.  Rex calls the Yard, and he is told to pretend to go to a meeting so the stalker can make his move, leaving Doris alone in the apartment.  Mr. Younger’s hanging around outside, smoking his pipe, when he sees someone sneak into the construction site.  He follows the guy, doesn’t find him, but accidentally — I kid you not — trips over a wheelbarrow and scares the bejeezus out of Doris.

Then the creepy guy breaks in through the terrace, and he and Rex fight, breaking like, everything in the apartment, and then the gun goes off and Rex gets up, the other guy dead. 

And then — AS I CALLED IT — Rex reveals that he never called the police, and that he had planned to kill Doris all along, in order to gain her inheritance to help cover up the embezzlement that Rex had done. 

Oh, ‘Enry ‘Iggins.

In the end, Doris escapes through the window and across the scaffolding — oh, and Doris’s friend Peggy was Rex’s mistress and in on it the whole time — and the Yard had bugged the phone and was able to confirm that, not only were the calls real, but also that Rex was behind it all.  So he gets arrested and Doris escapes with Mr. Younger and Aunt Bea, and now, I can finally go to bed.  In the ninety-degree heat. 

Hooray … ?

Grade for Midnight Lace: Meh.

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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Today is Independence Day: the day when, 236 years ago, our forefathers signed a Declaration of Independence from their evil overlords, the English.  I thought it appropriate and, also, slightly ironic to choose this night as the night I watch the tale of another rebellion.  Sadly, their tale ends (temporarily) in defeat, doled out by the hands of an evil lord.

[Hands — because one gets cut off!  Right?  Guys?]

One more thing before I hit play: Empire magazine, way back in 2008, said that this was the Third Best Movie of All Time, behind The Godfather as number one, and Raiders of the Lost Ark as number two.  That is pretty steep for me – I LOVE Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So much so, I almost want to make business cards that proclaim me to be an Obtainer of Rare Antiquities.  Because how awesome would that be?

Okay – now I’ll push play.  Right after I pour a gin and tonic.  (What?  It’s the Fourth of July and I don’t like beer.)

Okay, I get why Star Wars began with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …”, but shouldn’t Empire begin “A long time ago {but not as long as the last movie}” yada yada?  No?  Am I being too picky?  Okay, fine, I’ll shut up.

[Wow, my TV is super loud.] 

Episode V
It is a dark time for the Rebellion.  Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Revel forces from their hidden base and purused thema cross the galaxy.

Eveading the dreaded Imperaial starfeleed, awoijfaerawgokjwerg;lkj GIVE UP PATTERSON

Apparently, the Rebel Base is located on Hoth [but where’s the Revel Base?  Can I go to there?], and Darth Vader has sent a shitload of probes into the galaxy to find Luke, in order to punish him for blowing up his Death Star. 

Hey it’s Luke!  And he’s riding — yes, I know it’s a Tauntaun, but can I just play dumb for another thirty seconds and make a Huge Kangaroo joke?

NEVER MIND BETTER JOKES AHEAD so Luke’s talking to his best friend Han on their super-cool wrist communicators, and Luke’s Tauntaun rears its head, and Luke asks it if it smelled something, and I was about to make a “He who smelt it dealt it” joke when LUKE GETS SIDESWIPED BY A FUCKING YETI

Note to self: Tauntauns can smell Yetis, but apparently not hear their approach or warn anyone about the Yeti’s proximity to its rider.  Good to know.  Meanwhile, the Yeti has knocked Luke unconscious and is dragging him away to somewhere.

Han returns to the rebel base and is calling for his other best friend, Chewie.  Han is deserting the rebels because Boba Fett is still looking for him to collect the debt he owes to Jabba the Hut.  As he’s saying his goodbyes, he gets pissed at Leia for not making a bigger scene, and dares her to tell him to stay for her, and not for the rebel alliance.  Hm…

My hmm stems from: that’s not how a typical hero acts towards his woman.  I mean — oh man, I’m not going to explain this right, am I?  Look, guys?  Pardon me while I try and work out some feels over here.  Han Solo is the typical, brutish, strong hero – witty, quick on his feet, battle-weary yet still battle-ready.  Good at his job (best pilot in this ‘verse, at least).  And he’s telling Leia that he knows how she feels and he wants her to admit it.  Why?  Does Han reciprocate the feelings, and wants to know he won’t be rejected first (which, in itself betrays some vulnerability in Han)?  Does he suspect but isn’t sure?  Or, much like Paul Varjak did in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is he trying to show Leia how oblivious she is to the love he has for her?  I — I have seen too many movies, yet not enough, that I am pleasantly surprised at this characterization.

It also makes me wonder what the hell happened to George Lucas in the interim.  Because seriously, ten minutes into this movie and I’m waxing philosophical on it, whereas Phantom Menace had me napping during the Pod race.  Twice.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA  I’m sorry, I’m sorry — I’m a horrible person.  Luke’s strapped to the ceiling, and he’s doing his Jedi Mind Trick to grab his lightsabre,, and ALL I CAN SEE IN MY HEAD is Silent Bob, using his own version of the Jedi Mind Trick to get the videotape of Shannon and Trish.  I knew what the Mallrats scene was referencing all these years, but even so — it took me by surprise. 

I really feel the need to watch Mallrats now.

Was that the Yeti’s right hand?  Jeez, George Lucas — or should I call you Freddie Foreshadowing?  But seriously, do you have some mental block when it comes to always wanting to cut peoples’ right arms off?

Okay wow – nothing to snark at, nothing to joke about.  This is totally engrossing me.  So I’m at the part where Han is getting Leia and Chewie and 3P0 out on the Falcon — so yeah, I’ve skipped a lot, but again, not too much to talk about, which is good — but here’s my question: why are the Storm Troopers wearing those cape thingies?  Because you know what they look like?  Klan members.  And that’s not a good look for anyone, even idiots that can’t hit the side of a barn with their blasters.

And then Han goes through the asteroid field and tells C-3P0 to never tell him the odds, and now Luke is crash-landing on Dagobah. 

Yoda’s a little hellraiser, ain’t he?  I kinda like this Yoda.  The Prequel!Yoda was way too stuffy.

I am like Princess Leia in that I, too, need more scoundrels in my life.

Dear Ben Kenobi: I have watched the prequels.  And, granted, I did not see you in your training period.  But when the fuck were you ever reckless?  I mean, sure, you broke with the Jedi to go and rescue Amidala or whatever happened in Attack of the Clones, but — you were the one always reining Ani back from the brink.  You calling yourself reckless is not a good selling point for me.

And look, that’s not a knock to Obi Wan’s character – that’s a knock on George Lucas’s shitty writing.

Holy shit the cave was a sandworm?  [That’s a very stupid sentence I just wrote.]

Okay, COOLEST THING EVER — Luke just fuckin lightsaber’d Darth Vader’s head off in his Dagobah hallucination fight scene, and at the same time in REAL LIFE, a crack of heat lightening (or, now that I hear the thunder, real lightening) shot through the sky.  It was AWESOME and I swear I am NOT MAKING THAT UP.

Now, is this the part where Yoda says that he has done the impossible, and that makes him mighty?  Because that would be awesome.

[Forty minutes of awesomeness later]
I think that says it all.  All the jokes, references — a lot of literature, to be honest — they all make sense now.  I was pleased that I was aware of 90% of the story before actually watching it, which only goes to prove my theory that I don’t actually have to watch any of these movies — that the plots and references are imprinted in my brain, like some cultural brain sludge, and we all know all of this and it’s only when we watch the source material do they resonate. 

Honestly, I kind of wish that I had sent back A New Hope sooner, because that would mean I could watch Return of the Jedi later.  But in a way, it’s good that I have to wait.  For one thing, I’m almost falling asleep while typing these paragraphs, and I never did finish my gin and tonic.

Grade for The Empire Strikes Back: Awesome.

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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Star Wars