Category Archives: Insomniac Theatre

Insomniac Theatre: Ride Lonesome

Well, now that I’ve gotten a rant out of the way, how about I get back into the business of watching some movies, huh?  It’s not that there haven’t been movies I haven’t seen; it’s just that there’s been so little time for me to watch them.  I mean, when you think about it, the last movie I watched was Dead Poets Society, and that was back in December!

A part of the problem was that Jeremy The TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope became pretty damned hopeless over the past couple of months.  Meaning I felt like I had almost nothing on my DVR list, and yet my capacity was at 91%.  I had to go through and delete a few movies that I wanted to watch, and there were a couple of TV shows’ pilots I wanted to see if I’d like, but I guess in retrospect Jeremy was trying to tell me something, seeing as how almost all of those shows were canceled.

[Sidenote: You know what wasn’t canceled?  HANNIBAL.  So I would like to preemptively apologize for my behavior from February through May of 2015, because HANNIBAL.  EVERYTHING IS HANNIBAL AND NOTHING HURTS.]

[Note from The Future: I totally wrote that above paragraph before I watched the season finale.  Because now EVERYTHING IS HANNIBAL AND EVERYTHING HURTS.]

So flash-forward to tonight, where the television season is officially over (even Orphan Black HOLY SHIT ORPHAN BLACK YOU GUYS) and I may have taken a nap this evening instead of staying awake and getting other shit done, so since my sleep cycle’s screwed for the weekend, I can reinstate Insomniac Theatre for a night.

I dug out Ye Olde Martini Shaker of Choosing, and tonight’s selection is:


A bounty hunter escorts a killer to town to be hanged, but is allowing the man’s outlaw brother to catch up to him, for a showdown over a shocking previous murder.

At first glance, my readers (all five of you) are probably scratching their heads over the possible reason that this movie would have been recorded off of TCM. This movie doesn’t star Bette Davis, or Barbara Stanwyck, or have a ridiculous premise.  This is also a Western, and Westerns haven’t really come up as a genre on Movies Alaina’s Never Seen.  So what’s up with this?

Well, for the reason I would watch something called Ride Lonesome, you have to go to a barely-watched TV show that aired on ABC Family a few years ago that was canceled after one season, and it was a damn shame that it was canceled, because it is one of my favorite TV shows, and I don’t talk about it much, but I really should:


The Middleman was a crazy sci-fi show about a Middleman (on the left), who was, to quote the Wikipedia article about it, a freelancer who cleans up the earth’s exotic problems, ranging from aliens that love shopping to mad scientists who create gangster gorillas to take over the world.  In the pilot episode, the Middleman hires Wendy (on the right) to be his Middleman-in-Training.  With their snarky android, Ida, they take care of the aforementioned exotic problems.

But that’s not all!  There’s the fact that Wendy is badass and independent and while she gets a boyfriend in the last half of the season, she doesn’t become all goopy about him.  She’s an artist and enjoys playing violent first-person shooter zombie games.  Her roommate, Lacey, is a vegan animal rights spokesperson who is sweet and yet also brings the sass when necessary.

And I didn’t even mention all the pop culture references!  Every episode has a theme – the pilot has overt references to The Godfather and Goodfellas, but also subtle references to the James Bond canon – although that’s nothing like the episode where Kevin Sorbo guest-stars as a former Middleman. There’s also an entire episode devoted to Die Hard.  YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE DIE HARD, YOU GUYS.

So what does this have to do with Ride Lonesome?  In one of the episodes, The Middleman says that he has seen the first act of this movie sixteen times, but due to one thing or another, has never been able to finish watching the movie: he’s always called away to save the world.  There’s a whole sideplot about Lacey meeting up with the Middleman to watch the movie as a date, but that’s not quite germane to why I recorded it.

Basically, I didn’t realize it was a real movie until I saw that TCM was showing it. So I decided to tape it and see if I could watch more of it than The Middleman could.

Also, in a weird twist of fate: a few weeks ago, I had to watch something to get the AWFULNESS of Hannibal (SPOILER: MASON FED HIS OWN FACE TO WILL’S DOGS I. CAN’T. EVEN.) (Note From The Future: ALAINA YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S COMING IN THE SEASON FINALE MASON FEEDING HIS FACE TO WILL’S DOGS IS NOT THE MOST HURT YOUR HEART WILL FEEL), so I put in Blazing Saddles.  And that night, I watched this scene, and I was all, “Who’s Randolph Scott?”  And then I found out that Randolph Scott is the star of Ride Lonesome.  SYNERGY.

So basically, everything was coming up Milhouse.  Also, apparently this movie is only an hour and a half long! Woo hoo!  Good choice, Ye Olde Martini Shaker of Choosing!

Well, the first thing I learned is that The Middleman lied to me – this was filmed in color!  WAIT James Coburn is in this?  That’s a name I recognize!

The credits roll under some music that is both heroic and also incredibly depressing, if that’s possible.  A cowboy comes riding out of some stone formations in what I presume is Arizona, and then there’s another cowboy with his own horse and the guy is drinking some coffee on an overlook.  Pretty far to go for a scenic first cup o’the day, dude.  Dude’s just sipping his coffee, talking to his horse like everything he’s doing is normal.

Coffee Guy greets the first guy and calls him McGee.  Coffee Guy is apparently named Billy.  Apparently McGee is a bounty hunter, and he’s trying to bring Billy back to Santa Cruz to face justice.  McGee’s been tailing Billy for three days. Why’d you sit there, Billy?  If you had a three-day head start, why’d you stop at Starbucks for coffee?

Billy must not ride lonesome, because he’s got a sniper friend up in the rocks above them who takes a shot at McGee.  Billy tries to sell McGee on the fact that there are a ton more sniper friends hiding in the rocks, and if McGee rides away and lets Billy go, Billy won’t go after McGee cuz he don’t have no quarrel with him.  McGee says that if Billy tries to kill him, he’ll take him out with him. Ow – my head hurts from too many similiar pronouns.  Do y’all get that sentence?  Good, because I ain’t going back to fix it.

Oh shit – don’t let me slip into Cowboy parlance.

McGee tells Billy to call his boys off, and basically McGee calls Billy’s bluff because there’s only one dude up there with a BB gun.  Okay – so there’s this hilarious little bit that is played totally straight, I’m the asshole that thinks it’s funny, where Billy straight-up shouts at the mysterious sniper named Charlie, that he has to go find Billy’s brother Frank, and tell Frank that McGee is taking Billy back to Santa Cruz, and apparently Frank will know what to do.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m not even ten minutes in and I remembered why I don’t really like Westerns.

Anyway, Billy and McGee are almost right friendly-like, as McGee handcuffs Billy and makes him get on his horse to take him back to Santa Cruz. There’s some scenery shots, designed to make us all nostalgic for the wild wild west, and guys, time out – it’s no — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

Uh, sorry. I’m watching this late at night and I just heard a weird sneeze-slash-growl coming from outside, and when I went out to my deck to investigate (because I live in the woods and my deck is on the second floor and also if Hannibal were to kill me so he could eat me he wouldn’t make noise sneaking up on me [he’d take off his shoes and do it in his stocking feet] [PHRASING]), and lo and behold, I see a freaking raccoon trying to eat the suet out of the landlady’s birdfeeder.

So as I was saying before Meeko so rudely interrupted me – it’s no Anchorman, but I really enjoyed A Million Ways to Die In the West.  Something tells me I’ll probably be making a bunch of references to that movie in this review – especially the part about how the West looks beautiful and brilliant, but really, everything in the West is trying to kill you.

Back to the movie!  McGee and Billy are riding their horses through beautiful scenery that undoubtedly hides rattlesnakes, scorpions, and devastating Native American curses that will all kill you while you sleep.  They end up at an pueblo outpost or something.  McGee asks if anyone’s home, and the person who’s home tells McGee to drop his gun.  He does, and the guy who comes out is apparently someone McGee knows named Bones? And apparently Billy’s full name is Billy-John.  And thanks to a check of the imdb., I’ve gotten a lot of these names wrong.  McGee is actually named Ben Brigade, and Bones is named Boone, and now I just want to hit the sound guy, because he did a shitty job mixing this movie.

Boone and Brigade are talking about Brigade’s plan on traveling to Santa Cruz, and everyone’s being all friendly-like when a woman comes out of the pueblo with a shotgun.  Apparently this is a way-station for a stagecoach and the station-master’s disappeared.  The woman wants everybody gone, but Boone doesn’t want to leave her alone while the station-master’s missing.  I’m sure that’s the reason.  Anyway, Brigade sees that the west-bound stage is coming, so maybe everyone can put down their guns and let’s see what the stagecoach brings.

Boone tells the woman to get back in the kitchen and make everyone on the stagecoach sandwiches, and while he says it rather nicely, the patriarchal sentiment remains.  Brigade just watches the stagecoach come riding in, and Boone wonders aloud if Brigade thinks Boone and his men are just waiting to rob the stagecoach. Boone says Brigade’s wrong about him; Brigade responds “am I?”

And then the stagecoach runs right into the animal pen, because the coach driver has a big fucking spear sticking out of his chest.  The “dried” “blood” painted on his shirt is practically DayGlo orange.  Oh, this budget is bad – can’t even research that dried blood is more brown than red.  Boone and Brigade determine (based on the feathers attached to the spear, maybe?) that the murderers is/are the neighboring Mescalero tribe.  I was gonna say “that’s not … a real place,” but then I googled it and apparently the Mescalero is a tribe within the Apache nation.  Goddamn public school education!

Boone and his man buries the coachman and the dead riders from the coach. Boone’s coworker wonders why the Mescalero attacked; as far as he knew, “we” had a treaty with them.  Boone then likens the Mescalero tribe to a woman who killed her husband because she got mad at him over nothing. I just shake my head.

Later that night, the woman brings something out to the stagecoach where apparently Brigade has decided to spend the night.  There are at least three coyotes singing in the background.  Keep them away from your birdfeeders, lady!

The lady wonders why her husband hasn’t returned.  Brigade doesn’t really care, because either way you slice it, her husband brought her to the West and then left her alone at the way-station.  She proclaims that she can take care of herself, and Brigade says that if she were his she wouldn’t have to. The lady – WHO HAS YET TO BE NAMED, BY THE WAY – asks what he means, and Brigade responds that he wouldn’t have brought her out here to the middle of nowhere and then left her alone.  She says that her husband’s job brought them out here; Brigade answers that he should find a better one. She sarcastically responds “like Bounty Hunting?” and I yell IT WORKED FOR BOBA FETT. Brigade changes the subject by acknowledging that the little woman cooks good coffee.  Oh, brother.  But apparently, her name is Mrs. Lane and if you will excuse me, Meeko’s sneezing again.

Brigade tells Mrs. Lane to get some sleep, he’ll be taking her with them on his way back to Santa Cruz.  Boone comes out to tell Brigade that the reason he and his friend are out in the middle of nowhere is because the good people of Santa Cruz has granted amnesty to anyone who brings Billy-John in. There’s also a line where Boone admits it took them a week to figure out what ‘amnesty’ meant, so I can’t even make a joke here.  Essentially, Boone tells Brigade that he and his man are tagging along with Brigade to swoop Billy-John out from under his nose and turn him in so they can get amnesty for their crimes. Brigade doesn’t say a word besides telling Boone to keep an eye on Billy-John for both their sakes.

The next morning, the boys are planning out their route when a delegate from the Mescalero tribe approaches. He throws his spear into the ground and circles his horse around it three times: apparently this is the Internationally Known Gesture that stands for “he wants to talk.”  Brigade speaks Mescalero (of course he does), so he goes over and finds out what they want.  Apparently, the Mescalero want to trade something for … Mrs. Lane.


Brigade: He’s got a horse, wants to make a trade.
Mrs. Lane: For what?
Brigade: You. He said they’d been seeing you here.  He wants to take you for his squaw.
Boone: So what do we do now?
Brigade: Play along with ’em.
Mrs. Lane: Play along with them?
Brigade: If we don’t, we’re apt to stir up every buck in the country.


Okay.  Now that I’ve got that off my chest (and also rewatched last night’s episode of The Daily Show wherein my new hero, Ms. Jessica Williams, outlined the double standard in college campus safety talks), I can continue with this movie.

Brigade tells Mrs. Lane that he’s not going to go through with the deal (if this were a modern movie, he’d accompany that with an eyeroll and a sarcastic “obvi”), but she’s not supposed to say anything or break down, as saying something or breaking down would bring shame to the Mescaleros, and then they’d attack them later or something.  The Mescalero brings out the horse that apparently they found, and Mrs. Lane takes a look at the horse and starts bawling.  The Mescalero take the horse and … the horses they rode in on, I guess, and run away. Brigade now actually rolls his eyes and asks what the fuck, Mrs. Lane, I thought you said you didn’t break easy?  She coldly replies, “That was my husband’s horse,” and returns to the pueblo.  [*sad trombone noise*]

Later that day, they all mount their horses and ride off towards Santa Cruz.  I don’t know why this movie is called “Ride Lonesome” if it’s a group of five people riding, but whatever.

Boone and Brigade discuss Mrs. Lane and how pretty she is, and how if Boone was wanting to trade, he’d — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

… goddammit, Meeko!  Stay out of the effing birdfeeders!

Anyway, for Boone, he’d give up an entire herd of wild horses in trade for Mrs. Lane, because she’s the prettiest thing on two legs with a vagina west of the Pecos, or something equally cowboy-ish and awful.  Brigade’s response?  “She’s not ugly.”  THANKS, BRIGADE.  JESUS.  Then Boone tries to change the subject to Billy-John’s brother Frank, but then Brigade says that they’re in “medicine country,” and the Mescaleros are waiting for them over that ridge.  What — medicine country?  Does that mean that everyone who lives in that area is a doctor?

The Brigade …er, Brigade, I guess, turn their horses up to “gallup” and end up in an even worse shack than the pueblo way-station they were in.  Somebody shoots Mrs. Lane’s horse out from under her, and Brigade tries to hold the Native Americans off while the rest of the group runs into the burnt-out shell of a shack and basically, it’s a gun fight and a whole lotta trick falling on the part of the horses.

At one point, all the men are reloading while a Native American runs up.  Brigade nods at Mrs. Lane, because she’s the only one with bullets in her gun, nods at the advancing Native American, and yells “get ’em!”  Mrs. Lane “fires” her gun (because there is absolutely no recoil on that thing, nor is there even the requisite puff of smoke), and when the bullet “hits” the Native American, he merely grasps his chest like Fred Sanford pretending to go up to see Elizabeth and then falls over.  Mrs. Lane is horrified that she killed a man.  Yay remorse!


Boone: Sure beats all, don’t it?  What a man’ll put himself through to get his hands on a woman.  Can’t say as I blame ’em, though.


Seriously – after the shenanigans with Meeko outside, I’m giving serious thought to canning this and watching Pocahontas.  And I haven’t been able to sit through Pocahontas for about … how long as Mel Gibson been crazy now?  That long.

While I’ve been contemplating quitting this (oh, it’s just an empty threat – I’ve never quit on a movie before), Frank and his boys have arrived somewhere and decided to keep moving.  I’m not sure where they ended up, but they counted five horses.  It can’t be the place where the Brigade Brigade is staying, though, or else they’d have found five people to go along with the five horses.  MYSTERY.

Later that night, Brigade gives Mrs. Lane a blanket and then wanders off to be Batman (I’m guessing; he doesn’t seem able to sleep and he has an overdeveloped sense of justice).  Boone talks with his lackey and proposes that maybe Brigade wants Frank to catch up to their brigade.  Then the two of them reaffirm that they are going to go with Brigade and turn Billy-John in so they can get their precious amnesty.

Oh good, it’s time for another one of Brigade’s day-for-nighttime talks with Mrs. Lane.  She pets her horse that happens to have a broken leg and tells Brigade that her husband wanted her to go home or to a town or something, but she couldn’t leave her husband.  Brigade understands.  Mrs. Lane wants to know if Brigade’s really the type of person who’d hunt a man for money, and Brigade confirms that he is that man.  Then she goes off to bed (“I made a place for you in the wall, for you to sleep” – THE WEST IS ALWAYS TRYING TO KILL YOU SO MUCH THAT SHE HAS TO SLEEP IN THE WALL) while he hunkers down next to the horse he didn’t put out of its misery and goes to sleep.  Billy-John attempts to escape where he’s been handcuffed to a wagon, but I’m not sure he’s successful.

The next morning, Boone’s lackey is holding a mirror up so Boone can shave. Okay, SHENANIGANS. A of all, where’d he get shaving cream in the West?  B of all, with a crazed brother of a con coming after them, why’d he take the time to shave?  Oh, he wants to impress Mrs. Lane.  Jackass.


Boone: She’s sure something, ain’t she?  Said she was married to that station feller about a year.  Can you imagine having her around all that time?  All them days? … Nights?  Just thinking on it gives me a way-down shiver.


Lackey: I wonder what she’ll do now, she’s without a man?
Alaina: Probably the same thing she did at least once a week while her husband was away, no big deal.
Boone: Find another.
Lackey: But if she loved that feller hard enough, she’d stay a widow, wouldn’t she?
Boone: Ain’t the kind.
Alaina: Really?  You can tell that Mrs. Lane, who can shoot straighter than you, is the type who can’t be without a man for too long?  Jesus Chr–
Boone: Not her.Some are; some get along without.  But not her.  She’s the kind that’s got a need.  A deep, lonely need that only a man can get at.
Lackey: But how do you know?
Boone: I’ve seen it in her eyes.
Alaina: …. …. …. he’s going to rape her.

Boone, I will bet you American dollars that what you think is lust is actually hatred.  Because no woman in her right mind should ever want you.

Mrs. Lane’s walking back to her literal hole in the wall, I presume, when Billy-John calls to her from his spot at the wagon.  Billy-John warns her that The Terrible Frank is on his way, and he’d make sure nothing happened to her (“because you’re a woman and all”) if she took pity on him and let him go. Except Billy-John didn’t count on Brigade’s Batman-like sense of hearing, who heard him whispering practically all the way across the desert. Brigade goes to unhitch Billy-John from the wagon but Billy-John pulls a rifle out from under his blanket and points it in Brigade’s gut.  Boone almost just laughs at Billy-John, because that’s Boone’s Winchester rifle, and after he accidentally shot himself in the leg while riding once (*deep breath* HHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA IT’S TOO BAD IT WASN’T YOUR DICK, DIRTBAG), he never carried it loaded after that, so if Billy-John was stupid enough to grab that rifle, then he’s pointing an empty gun at Brigade.  But yeah, go ahead and try it. Billy-John calls Boone’s bluff and drops the gun.  Boone walks over and shoots it, and sure enough, it is loaded.  The shotgun blast makes the horse THAT I THOUGHT HAD A BROKEN LEG jump up, so apparently the shotgun blast healed the horse, just not in the way we all would have thought.

The Brigade Brigade goes riding off into the … sun.  And there’s more long shots of scenery and dust being kicked up by the horses and HOW HAVE I ONLY WATCHED 45 MINUTES OF THIS THING HOLY HELL I’m getting ice cream.

Man, is there anything better than vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl? Well, I guess if you’re allergic to peanuts … y’know?  Never mind.

While I was eating peanut butter ice cream straight from the carton (and not a Ben & Jerry’s pint, I’m poor now — poor and experiencing a severe lack of clean bowls, apparently [goddamn, I have got to do the dishes tomorrow.  And by “do the dishes,” I of course mean ‘turn on the damn dishwasher.”]), Boone offered to pay Brigade double Billy-John’s bounty in exchange for letting him and his lackey turn Billy-John in for their precious amnesty.  Brigade doesn’t take him up on it.

Meanwhile, Frank and his goons show up at the place where the Brigade Brigade spent the night last night.  He practically licks the dust and determines that they slept there the night before (I think in actuality he finds the spent shell from when Boone shot the shotgun and cured the horse), and tells one of his minions that he figured out that Brigade is letting him catch up to them, because years ago, Frank “did Brigade a hurt” and now Brigade wants to get even with him for it.  Frank tells the minions to take a load off and let the horses rest, because Brigade will be waiting for them.

The Brigade Brigade comes upon a hanging tree, and for a second I thought it was a people!pole, but that’s because I was just reading an article about how Hannibal is the best, no really, it is, SHUT UP IT IS SO and also I’m tired yet also high on the largest amount of caffeine I’ve had in weeks.  (hooray!)  Boone says that years ago, Brigade would’ve probably strung Billy-John up hisownself, but now Brigade just tells them to move on.

That night, Boone’s Lackey and Billy-John start talking about how Boone and the Lackey will get amnesty (“Oh, that WORD again! I don’t even know what it means!” NAME THAT MOVIE) if they turn Billy-John in at Santa Cruz.  Billy-John’s still angling to escape, so he tries to appeal to the Lackey’s sense of human decency, by saying that if Frank happens to catch up to them, Mrs. Lane might get caught in the crossfire, and he “wouldn’t want to see a woman all shot up and dead, would ya?”  Oh, brother.  Then Boone shows up and stops the Lackey from helping Billy-John, then asks where Mrs. Lane is.  Apparently, she’s down by the riverbank. Alone.

Oh, god.  I do not have a good feeling about this.  I’m going to get pissed off again, aren’t I?

Boone meets up with Mrs. Lane at the riverbank.  Boone offers to “take care of her” when they get to Santa Cruz, and she turns him down.  He doesn’t immediately hate her for friendzoning him, but he does tell her that Brigade won’t be making it to Santa Cruz because Boone’s going to kill him.

Well, that sends Mrs. Lane right off to see Brigade, who is standing and watching the hanging tree (which happens to be the lesser-known, more-depressing sequel to The Giving Tree).  Mrs. Lane tattles on Boone, tells Brigade that Boone plans to kill him, and she jumps to the conclusion that they’re fighting over the measly bounty of Billy-John.  (That’s a good title for a novel: The Measly Bounty of Billy-John. Damn, I’m good sometimes.)  Anyway, FINALLY, Brigade explains to Mrs. Lane what’s actually going on:

Years ago, Brigade was the sheriff of Santa Cruz, and he brought Frank in for murder.  When Frank was shoved off to Yuma, he yelled that he would get even with Brigade for this.  When Frank gets out of jail and returns to Santa Cruz, he doesn’t meet Brigade for a showdown; instead, he kidnaps Brigade’s wife and then hangs her on this here hangin’ tree.  So clearly, this isn’t about Billy-John at all, and Boone was hiding in the bushes listening to everything, because he’s so insecure about his manhood he needs to make sure that the girl won’t end up with Brigade.

Boone sends his Lackey up to the ridge to keep an eye out for Frank.  Boone then repeats his offer to Mrs. Lane, who again politely turns him down.  The Lackey returns to camp and tells them who’s coming for breakfast.  Boone sends his Lackey into the brush to take care of Mrs. Lane, but Boone tells Brigade that he and the Lackey will cover him, even though it doesn’t change anything with regards to Billy-John.

Brigade brings Billy-John out to the Hanging Tree and confronts Frank.  Billy-John’s already got his neck in a noose, and there is the most pitiful shoot-out I’ve ever seen.  Brigade manages to shoot Frank in one, then Boone and the Lackey (opening next month for Lando and the Droids!) almost take out a minion each, but when they see that Frank has fallen they turn tail and run.  In addition, Brigade manages to save Billy-John from dying at the Hanging Tree.

At which point Boone comes out and once more asks Brigade if he and the Lackey can have Billy-John for their precious amnesty (also, the new hit single from Boone & the Lackey).  At this point, I’m really hoping Brigade just gives the dope to the two of them, because he got revenge for his wife and by my count, this should all be over by now.  But instead, Brigade, says “come and get him” to Boone, and DEAR GOD WHY IS THIS MOVIE NOT OVER YET

Oh, it’s all a big fake out, because yes, Brigade doesn’t have any need of Billy-John anymore, so he lets them go ahead and take the idiot to Santa Cruz to get their amnesty.  Mrs. Lane asks Brigade if he’s still going on to Santa Cruz, and he says no.  She understands.  I DON’T

Brigade stays behind to burn the Hanging Tree while the rest of the Brigade goes off to Santa Cruz and HOLY SHIT THE MOVIE IS OVER

Dear Middleman:

You didn’t miss much.  Also, I’m probably going to take 45 minutes and rewatch “The Cursed Tuba Contingency” because I really don’t understand why you want to see this movie so badly.  I mean, sure, Brigade has an overwhelming sense of justice, but THE MISOGYNY IS HORRIFYING.


Okay, so that’s that.  And apparently deleting the movie didn’t remove any percentage from Jeremy the TiVo, so I’m probably going to a couple more of these next week.  Meanwhile, I’m going to — WHAT IN THE DAMN HELL

… *sigh*  Fuck you, Meeko.

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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Insomniac Theatre


Insomniac Theatre: “Baby Face”


…Mainly because Jeremy the TiVo: Episode IV: A New Hope is up to 78%, and I have less than six weeks before Fall TV season starts up again.

Turner Classic Movies has done a bang-up job with movies this summer.  In fact, I have taped nineteen movies this year that I have never seen before.  And I’ve taped another five movies that I have seen before, and therefore, will not be reviewed here.  (But do go find Rebecca, The Big Sleep, Big Jim McLain, Strangers on a Train, and a movie with a tie to tonight’s feature, Ball of Fire.)

By the way, if you want to know how awesome Jeremy the TiVo is, here’s how much he’s currently holding:

  • The aforementioned 24 movies taped off of TCM
  • The entire fourth season of Archer
  • 10 episodes of Conan
  • 4 episodes of Franklin & Bash
  • 3 episodes of The Daily Show
  • 2 turtle doves
  • … and the season finale of Hannibal because I JUST CAN’T GET RID OF IT YET YOU GUYS

Here’s how I chose Baby Face to watch tonight: I wrote all the movie titles down on scraps of paper, folded them up, shook them up in my Penguin Martini Shaker of Choosing (because when I drink, I don’t need no fancy shaken drinks.  Diet Coke Lime + Coconut Rum = Fun is about my speed at this point), and Baby Face came out.  Here’s the part where I’d take a photo of everything, but my phone is crap and attempting to charge.  So here’s the MS Paint Reenactment.

it almost looks as if the penguin lost teeth, but those are the unchosen films.

Hahahaha!  Jesus Christ, I’m an asshole.  (Also, thank god The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie wasn’t what came out of the Penguin Martini Shaker of Choosing, huh?)


A young woman uses her body and sexuality to help her climb the social ladder, but soon begins to wonder if her new status will ever bring her happiness.

Two things:

1)      Does anyone else go to here at that synopsis?

2)      The imdb. tells me that if I like Baby Face, then I should also like All About Eve.  Since I’ve seen the latter and not the former, then, ipso facto (if I used that wrong don’t correct me), I should enjoy Baby Face

I love Barbara Stanwyck.  You should also immediately dismiss this statement, as the only full movie starring Ms. Stanwyck I’ve watched is Ball of Fire.  So I guess I should have said that I love the fast-talking, scathing-wit edition of Barbara Stanwyck that I imagine she plays in all of her movies.  Let’s see if my opinion is correct!

Before we officially get into it, here’s some fun historical context that I think I remember from reading something on the Hairpin… yes, it was from the Hairpin!  Anyway, Baby Face was pretty much the reason for the institution for the Hays Code: 

She also bore the brunt of The Hays Office’s decision to finally tamp down on “Pre-Code” films, a.k.a. films that flaunted the existing censorship guidelines. In the original script for Baby Face (1933), she plays a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, stuck in a steel town, exploited by her bootlegger father. She takes up some Nietzschean philosophy and decides to use the big city and big money guys to get what she wants — just like Nietzsche would say she should. So she gets a job at a bank and uses her “feminine wiles,” if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, to make her way up the food chain, seducing one executive after another, before making her way to one who was very engaged … to a big exec’s daughter. And then Daddy Big Exec falls for her, puts her up in a love palace, and gets her a MAID, before original fianced executive finds her there and SHOOTS BIG EXEC AND HIMSELF. Amazing. Just amazing. The new head of the company banishes her to Paris, but she works her magic there as well — and when the new head comes to visit, HE FALLS FOR HER TOO. Barbara!

The bank fails, the new husband is blamed, Barbara refuses to return all her fancy-pants stuff to save the bank and flees to Europe, triumphant. Husband shoots himself, the end. Man-eater in-fucking-deed.

[Guys, if you have some time and love Old Hollywood, Scandals of Classic Hollywood is a fantastic source of information.  I love these pieces, and will totally be buying the book when it comes out.]

Okay, for timing purposes, y’all should know that it has taken me two and 3/4ths Daily Shows to type up all this stuff / draw a penguin martini shaker in MS Paint.  Give me another few minutes to pour a Coconut Cuba Libre and get comfortable and then we can finally begin the Insomnia.

Heh heh heh I don’t know why I’m being such an asshole tonight, you guys.  But I’m enjoying it and having fun, and isn’t that all that matters?

JOHN WAYNE IS IN THIS MOVIE?  Robert Osbourne, you better not be lying to me!

We begin at a factory.  Or, a factory town, I guess.  A whole bunch of factory workers crowd into a speakeasy, because this was filmed in 1933 and I’m pretty sure Prohibition wasn’t over yet?  Or this takes place before the end of Prohibition?  I don’t know.  Anyway, the speakeasy is run by Barbara Stanwyck’s father (or as she’s called in this movie, Lily).  Lily’s Dad is calling for her, because apparently her pretty face keeps the idiot drunks quiet.  Lily’s Dad is also pretty verbally abusive, and the patrons are pretty grabby.  Lily keeps her cool and only uses her words to keep them away from her, whereas I think everyone who knows me knows that I’d have SMASHSTABbed them into capitulation pretty quickly.

Lily brightens up when she sees this old bespectacled guy enter – which is sad, because there’s this shirtless 1930s Chris Evans-type following her around and asking her to take a walk with him in the quarry, because apparently that’s a fun thing to do in that town.  Sheesh.  Anyway, Lily brings the Old Guy a drink, and Old Guy says she should leave while she can, because she’s got energy and power and she could make something of herself.  Lily mutters, “Yeah, I’m a ball of fire, I am.”  NOT YET YOU’RE NOT, that movie came out in 1941!  But seriously, Ball of Fire is an amazing movie, you should totally watch that.

Later that night, some guy in a suit comes in and gives Lily’s Dad some money, then Lily’s Dad hustles the rest of the customers out, leaving Lily alone with the guy.  Oh god.  Oh god.  That … Lily’s Dad better be burning in the Special Hell, is all I’m saying.

Suit Guy gets fresh, and Lily dumps her hot coffee on his hand as he’s trying to touch her knee.  “Oh, excuse me.  My hand shakes so when I’m around you,” she sarcastically throws out effortlessly.  She goes into her bedroom, and for a moment it appears as if this is a routine, but when Suit Guy follows her, she pushes him out.  Suit Guy insinuates that this isn’t the first time she’s been pimped out, and tellingly, Lily doesn’t deny it, either – just says that he’s not going to experience it. 

And then she goes back out to the dining room and pours herself a beer.  Suit Guy comes up behind her and hugs her from behind in a not pleasant hug, and Lily PICKS UP THE BEER BOTTLE AND SMASHES IT OVER HIS HEAD, then calmly downs her beer.

Bette Davis, you know I still and always will love you, but I think Barbara Stanwyck is my new Spirit Animal.

Oh, Suit Guy runs outside and into Lily’s Dad, and apparently, Lily was exchange for protection for the speakeasy.  Lily’s Dad runs up to tell her off, but Lily says that she hates him because he’s apparently been pimping her since she was 14.  Oh, dear God.  Special! Hell!

Then Lily’s friend the African-American maid (“Chico”) comes in and says that the still is smoking, and when Lily’s Dad goes down to investigate, the whole thing blows up and Lily’s Dad dies.  Good.  May he burn in the Special Hell for all eternity.  Is there anything worse than the Special Hell?  May he burn there.

Lily goes to visit the Old Guy from the bar after she buries her father.  He wants her to use her power and will to become awesome, to utilize men in order to get what she wants, rather than be used by men as a pawn or slave.  Yes.  I agree with that sentiment.  He quotes Nietzsche at her, and … I never studied Nietzsche, so I can’t really talk about having an opinion on the matter.  I can barely spell Nietzsche.  (Thanks, Microsoft Word for the bone-throw there with your Autocorrect.)

He tells her to exploit herself in the big city — those are the exact words he uses, “exploit herself” — and tells her twice in the same sentence to use men to get the things she wants.  Again, I agree with that, but to a point.  Maybe.  I don’t know; I’ve always been a shitty feminist.

Lily and Chico hop a train and attempt to Hobo it to New York City.  (There are at least two jokes I can make here, but since Hobo With a Shotgun didn’t have trains, I can’t make the one you’re thinking of.  Instead, I’m going to tell them that they should at all costs avoid having a fight on the roof of a moving train.  It is not as glamorous as it looks.)  The … train watcher? He’s out of uniform, so I don’t think he’s a security guard.  Anyway, the guy that swings the lantern to make sure that there aren’t hobos around (because hobos are scared of light, I guess?) — he looks into Lily’s boxcar and tries to kick her and the friend off the train, until Lily closes the door on him and invites him into her boxcar.  If ya know what I mean. 

What’s really awkward is that Chico goes to the other end of the boxcar and sings a song to herself to cover the sound of coitus coming from the other end.  At least, I assume Lily offers the Train Watcher sex – there’s a shot of his gloves falling next to the lantern, and then his hand turns the lantern off.  I suppose they could just be playing Pattycake, but again, singing to cover the sound of that song, and also, that’s how Who Framed Roger Rabbit got started.

Lily and Chico arrive in New York, and they’re hungry.  Hungry for food, for money, and for power.  Or at least, Lily is for the last two on that list.  But as they’re talking about their hunger pains, they pass the Gotham Bank and Trust.

Now look: I know that Gotham City came from the nickname for New York City, and this movie pre-dates Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #29 by six years (my father, if he were to read this [which he won’t, because he doesn’t use computers] would be so proud of me right now).  But if Lily somehow is how to blame for the death of Batman’s parents?  Holy head!canon, Batman, I would freaking love that!  I’m totally going to make that happen through the power of my words.

Lily likes the looks of the building, and hoping that there’s a lot of money to be had in the Gotham Bank and Trust, goes to the personnel department and pretty much drags a nobody into the boss’s empty office to ‘talk over the prospect of a job,’ which of course meant ‘I’m going to blow you and you’re going to employ me.’  Again, I can’t attest to the veracity of that speculation (THANKS, DODGE I mean HAYS CODE), as it happened behind a closed door and after a fade, but tons of people had walked out of that office jobless before Lily swanned in, and in the next scene she’s working in the filing department.  I mean, Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exactly have to work hard at deducing between those lines.

On the other end of the filing department, two dudes are talking about getting a woman into one of the dudes’ department, but I’m not really listening because YOU GUYS – I found Jason Segel’s doppleganger!  (Again, I’d take a picture, but my phone is crap.  So here’s the MS Paint Reenactment.)

jason segel

[For context on why Jason Segel would be wearing a funk hat, watch the clip here, and also note the Intervention Banner in the background.  Remember: it’s not an intervention if there’s not an Intervention Banner!]

Apparently Jason Segel’s name here is Mr. McCoy.  And apparently Lily is the girl McCoy’s been telling his boss about, and — holy shit!  McCoy’s Boss is the spitting image of Saul Goodman!

better call saul

(I’m not going to MS Paint that, you guys – I can’t go about MS Painting everything.  I’m not the brilliant Hyperbole and a Half.)

Anyway, Lily makes eyes at McCoy/Marshall, and happens to catch Saul/Brody in the cross, and before I can finish typing this sentence, Saul/Brody has hired Lily up into the Mortgage Department — his department.   She brings something over to Saul to sign, and Saul tells her to stay after five.  Two girls in the secretary pool are very catty about how Lily’s been moving up the ladder using her legs and what’s between them, and then McCoy/Segel comes over and —


jason segel edited

himym mind blown


So anyway.  Segel/McCoy asks Lily (whom he calls Baby Face –DRINK FOR THE MOVIE TITLE) to go to dinner with him and she blows him off.  As in, she tries to tell him she has something else going on tonight, not that she … I mean, right there?  In the middle of the office?  Come on, she does have standards for this.

As I’m typing this, Lily proves my point.  The 5 o’clock bell rings and Saul goes right over to Lily’s desk and embraces her from behind.  She jerks away from him and says, “Not here,” then she walks over to an office and tilts her head, and before you can say ‘jackrabbit,’ they’re … well, you know.

Saul’s phone rings.  When Saul doesn’t answer, a bank bigwig goes into the large office area to see if he’s still around.  He doesn’t see Saul, and is about to leave when, as he passes the ladies’ rest room, he sees something to make him stop in his tracks and yell, “Brody?”

Saul Brody comes out of the ladies’ rest room, and he passes a hand through his hair.  Hm.  I wonder who was on their knees this time?  Brody’s boss is outraged.  He says in a monotone, “This is an outrage.  A man in your position.  Get your check at once.”  To quote My Friend Sarah: GIGGITY.  Also, HA!

Mr. Stevens tries to fire Lily too, but she puts on the “sexual harassment” face and cries a couple of tears, and before we know it, she’s moved higher up into the bank’s hierarchy – as Mr. Stevens’ secretary.  She delivers a bill or something to Mr. Stevens, and the other two girls in the office bitch about Lily moving fast.  They also handily mention that not only is Mr. Stevens engaged to a girl he’s crazy about, but that he is also of fine and moral character.

That night, Saul Brody visits Lily in her new apartment.  She doesn’t let him in because apparently, her landlady won’t let her have men in her apartment.  …  …  I’m not going to make a joke about that, because too many people I know read my blog and they know my landlady, and I don’t want anyone to start asking questions.  She tries to appeal to Saul Brody’s better nature about his wife and kids, but when he stutters she shuts the door in his face.

She pulls her silk bathrobe around her tighter, and who else should we find in her spacious New York apartment (HA!) than Mr. Stevens?!  (Nice read, Velma.) 

Some future time at the office, Lily convinces the other secretary to take her lunch then, so she can get a manicure at 1.  Damn.  I need a job that will let me have a manicure in the middle of the workday.  Anyway, Lily takes advantage of the alone time and practically skips into Mr. Stevens’ office, where she makes him kiss her.  As she’s doing so, Mr. Stevens’ fiancée comes in to surprise him, but SHE’S the one that’s surprised.  As Mr. Stevens runs after his crying fiancée, Lily smirks to herself and smokes one of his cigarettes, as if this were all going according to plan or something.

Oh, that’s right – and Mr. Stevens’ fiancée’s father is the vice president of the bank!  That will definitely end badly.  Big Daddy tells Stevens to fire Lily.  But when he tries, her feminine wiles make him decide to give Big Daddy his resignation instead.  Big Daddy offers to take Lily off his hands – meaning firing her, of course.  When she’s called up to Big Daddy’s office, Lily makes some story about how she didn’t know Stevens was engaged, and as she sobs out her story, he says something along the lines of he’ll figure something out.

That figuring something out apparently involves setting Lily up in a better apartment, with a staircase and multiple bedrooms and a large vanity table and fur coats and a ton of jewelry. 

I — I can’t even. 

Okay, here comes the part where Alaina tries to marry her 21st-Century values to that of a movie made 80 years ago.  I am a little uncomfortable at how comfortable Lily is with all the choices she’s made.  And look, I am the last person to talk about doing things for money — if there’s a rich dude out there that wants to spoil me, SHUT UP AND LET ME TAKE YOUR MONEY.  I have student loan and credit card bills to pay, and retail ain’t the moneymaker it’s proclaimed itself to be.  But I don’t know any rich men, so.

And I don’t want to say that I’m uncomfortable with how Lily chooses to move up the ladder.  Well – maybe.  Hold on.  Let me back up.  I guess what I mean is, I don’t think I’m above batting my eyelashes to get something.  I can play the “Oh sorry Officer, I didn’t realize I was speeding – I was just listening the music, you know how it is!  I’m so sorry!” to get out of a speeding ticket, but that’s as far as I personally go.  I won’t trade my … feminine mystique, if you will, for a chance at a better job, or better pay, because my belief is that when you work hard at something, no matter how hard you work, it will never be good enough for the higher-ups, giving you a crushing sense of failure no matter how successful you’re becoming, and there are definitely days when I just wish Richard Gere would pull me out of the gutter, but then I realize two things: 1) I’ve never seen Pretty Woman, and 2), I do not like Richard Gere.

Anyway.  Pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps is supposed to be the way to success, or so I’m told.  (Not that I’ve ever seen this happen in real life.)  And I value hard work.  (This is a true fact.)  Not that doing old guys for money isn’t work (or so I’ve been told) — it’s just not the kind of work that validates me.  NOT THAT I DO THAT KIND OF WORK AND HAVE A REAL-LIFE APPLICATION FOR oh shit, I’m blocking this entry from my mother, she’s going to start asking questions that I will answer but she won’t believe me for some reason.

*AHEM.*  NO, I DO NOT HAVE SEX FOR MONEY.  LET ME MAKE THAT CLEAR.  Because if that were a thing that was happening, I’d hope to be a lot richer than I am right now.


Where was I?  Oh right.  Stomach contents.  Anyway.  I guess my sense of discomfort comes from the fact that Lily knows she’s disrupting families, and that is a big NO NO NO on my moral compass.  Being the ‘other woman’ is not a title to which I aspire.  Now, it’s one thing if a guy at a bar makes a forward pass and it becomes complete and “I” find out after that he’s either married or in a long-term relationship – he didn’t disclose that information and willingly sought a partner outside of that committed relationship, and “I” was the rube.  But I wouldn’t ever willingly enter into a relationship with a man who is in a committed relationship.  I just … couldn’t.

And knowing where my moral compass lies is what makes this movie uncomfortable for me.  And I get that Lily was abused, and pimped out by her father, and that this is probably the only way she knows to get ahead.  And again, I’m looking at this 1933, pre-Hayes-Code movie through my 21st Century eyes.  Knowing what I know about movies made in the ’30s, Lily will get her comeuppance and justice will be done, and she will not be allowed to ride off into the sunset with John Wayne.  (Firstly, that was Gary Cooper, asshole.  Secondly, HE MISSED HIS CHANCE.)

Okay, so … that was a rant and a half, and I probably pissed off a ton of feminists and misogynists and people I know in real life alike, so let’s go back to the movie, where Stevens has just arrived at Lily’s apartment, realizes she’s become a kept woman by someone, but doesn’t realize she’s been kept by his father-in-law.

He barges in, and Lily is entertaining Big Daddy (no, not like that!).  He asks Lily to marry him and threatens to kill himself if she won’t, because the boy is sick in the head.  She tries to kick him out, but instead he sees Big Daddy’s brandy glass and half-smoked cigar, and barges into her boudoir.  When he sees Big Daddy, he shoots him with the gun he was hiding in his pocket (REALLY NOT A EUPHAMISM, FOLKS) and then he turns the gun on himself.

Oh, and this all happens on Christmas.

Lily enters the room and surveys the damage, physical and emotional.  She calls the 1930s equivalent of 9-1-1 and waits for the fallout.

The bank calls a meeting of ministers or whatever, and they elect George Brent – “Trenholm,” whatever – head of the bank in the absence of Big Daddy, who is now deceased.  They mutter that they must take care of this Lily Powers story, and Lily comes waltzing in right on time at 10 a.m.  She tells them that she’s so embarrassed and agonized over “Baby”‘s death (what she called Big Daddy, which just sends me down a horrible, horrible path of deviant behavior that I do not want to educate anyone on), and she knows she can’t stay at the bank any longer – she must leave town.  Oh, and since the New York Times or whatever offered her ten thousand dollars for her diary, she tells the quorum of managers that $15,000 surely has to be the true value of the information.

At this point, one of the bank dudes says, AND I QUOTE, “Well, we won’t quibble over a few thousand dollars.”  Ladies and gentlemen: the reason for bank failures everywhere.

George Brent is clearly not under Lily’s powers, because instead of permitting her to run away with fifteen thousand, he instead arranges for her to be transferred to their Paris branch with a job waiting.  Lily is disappointed that she has to work in Paris.  CRY ME A FUCKING RIVER, ARE YOU SERIOUS?  She is the catalyst for one man losing his job and two men dying over her, ALMOST LITERALLY, by the way, and instead of getting what she deserves, she gets flown FIRST CLASS to fucking PARIS!?  Jesus jumped-up Christ, does her vagina grant wishes?!

Trenholm visits the Paris branch and is shocked to find Lily working.  As in, actually working.  At her job.  Trenholm is impressed, and apparently smitten.  He gives her a ride home in the rain and blatantly attempts to be invited into her apartment, but she cattily refuses.  The next day, he sends her a memo that tells her that a car will be picking her up at 8, and they will be dining and dancing together that night.  SERIOUSLY.  MAGIC VAGINA.

In three days, Trenholm has fallen madly in love with Lily, to the point where he actually locks it down and marries her.  It comes out that he marries the woman who was responsible for the deaths of two men back on the ranch, and oh yeah, there’s a financial crisis brewin’ at the bank.  Hubby and wife return to New York to manage the business.

Well, he manages the business; Lily lies around admiring her jewelry.  Until Trenholm comes home and asks for everything he’s ever given her, because he’s being indicted.  He needs to have all the money he’s given Lily because he needs it for bail.  Lily won’t give him the money, and she gives him this speech about how her life has been hard and she’s worked her way up from nothing to have everything, and she won’t give up her material objects for some dude.  She orders Chico (who is still around, and still a maid, because after all, she didn’t have to trade up like Lily did) to pack everything up and head to the pier, because they’re sailing to Paris tonight.  Trenholm watches sadly for a moment, because in his words, Lily is all he has left.  But he realizes he can’t stop her, so he quietly exits the scene.

When they get to the boat, Lily pulls out a record and record player from somewhere (don’t even know, guys) and over the tune of what almost sounds like the theme to “Little Orphan Annie,” the faces of men overlay the spinning record: the train dude; the nobody who gave her the job; John Wayne; Saul; Stevens; Big Daddy; and finally Trenholm.  But when she gets to Trenholm, she remembers him telling her that he loves her in spite of all her previous partners.  (And look, let’s be real here: I’m sure there were more than what was on the record.)

And finally, in a fit of … something, Lily realizes that she loves Trenholm too, I think?  And she races off the boat, leaving poor Chico and 90% of her luggage behind.  That’s awkward.  She runs home, and when Trenholm isn’t in the apartment, she runs down to the office, and JESUS CHRIST THERE’S ANOTHER ONE.  He tried to shoot himself, but apparently he missed.  Somehow.  Anyway, she calls an ambulance, and he’s apparently enough of a poor shot to survive, and they’re going to live happily ever after, apparently.

ARE YOU SERIOUS?  I — Okay.  I don’t know.  I don’t even know.  Being able to live happily married is not the comeuppance I was expecting.  Again, 21st-Century perspective.  I — *sigh*

I’m going to go to bed.  And seriously, everyone: go find Ball of Fire.  It’s super cute, Barbara Stanwyck is awesome and most certainly does not trade sex for money, the talk is quick and witty and funny.  It’s awesome.  Way better than Baby Face.

I mean she doesn’t really have a baby face what does that even mean … 

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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Insomniac Theatre


Insomniac Theatre: “The Gay Falcon”

Wow, it’s been a while, huh?  Let’s do one of these.  It’ll be fun.

Now, this is an episode of Insomniac Theatre.  Some of you — probably not many, but possibly a couple out there — have hopefully noticed that this is not me watching The Shawshank Redemption.  Truth be told, I’m still not ready to watch it.  Although, based on the fact that the one episode of Family Guy I decided to tune to being the episode where they lambast Stephen King novels, including yes, Shawshank, I’m just going to have to dig in one of these nights and get it done.  Because before I know it, Once Upon a Time will be introducing a stylized version of Andy Dufresne, and he’ll kill off Captain Hook, and you guys, I think that would kill me.

Oh hey!  Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s on Chiller!  HOLY SHIT and it’s not season seven!  It’s “Nightmares”!  Season One and the Master, yo!   OH MY GOD if I’m still up at 2 a.m. I am TOTALLY watching “Prophecy Girl”!  (I’ve only quoted it about a frillion times in the past few months.)

Anyway.  Someday when I don’t feel pushed to watch Shawshank — because the more pushed I feel, the more likely it is that I will be completely biased and angry at the movie — I will watch it.  But right now I’m all “LEAVE ME ALONE SHAWSHANK OR I’LL … oh shit, I had something for this.”

So, long story short — TOO LATE — let’s do an Insomniac Theatre.  Tonight’s episode: The Gay Falcon.

Uh, there's no falcon on that poster.

Guys.  GUYS.  That’s George Sanders.  You may remember him from such roles as Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, or Max Favell from Hitchcock’s first Hollywood feature film, Rebecca (which is a fantastic movie, and book, and you should totally watch the movie and read the book.  No seriously, DO IT), but here’s where you should know him from: as Addison DeWitt, the phenomenal theatre critic and one of the narrators of one of the other best movies in the universe, All About Eve.  In short, he is one of my favorite actors and honestly, he’s the only reason I taped this off of TCM.

The first in the ‘Falcon’ series finds the amateur detetive and ladies’ man on the trail of jewel thieves.

Amateur detective?  Ladies’ man?!  JEWEL THEIVES!!?  SIGN ME UP.  This sounds like a kick-ass, black and white version of Ocean’s Eleven, minus ten.  Actually, with ‘jewel thieves,’ it could also be a kick-ass, black and white version of The Great Muppet Caper, minus Muppets.

Oh please let someone say “I’m gonna catch those thieves red-handed” … I’ve been ever so good.

And PS – this movie is only an hour and fifteen minutes long.  So let’s get going!

A charming woman with a hat gets off an elevator and goes into the office for Gay Laurence.  So WAIT — ‘Gay’ is his first name?  Are you serious?  Are you sure it’s not Guy Laurence?  Who names their son ‘Gay’?  Even back when ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’ more often than ‘homosexual’?

So I had this moment where I was going to call his character ‘Gay Larry,’ because I’m also the asshat who calls him Pope Frankie, but then I remembered that Buffy actually had a ‘Gay Larry,’ and Gay Larry was amazeballs, so instead, I’m just going to be easy on myself and call him Addison.  Because unless he’s playing Favell or a tiger, George Sanders will always be Addison DeWitt to me.

Addison is sitting and staring out his office window at a woman who’s undressing in the next apartment.  His visitor charmingly berates him as Addison whistles?  Addison whistles?!  He’s smiling and not being evil about it?  This is a very different edition of Addison DeWitt.  I’m not sure I like it.

Anyway.  The visitor is Addison’s girlfriend, and she gets understandably upset when she catches him spying on the lingerie lady across the way.  She says something to the effect of she thought he’d be busy breaking stocks or whatever it is that stockbrokers do, but instead he’s ogling.  She exacts a promise out of him: she’ll marry him if, by September, he’s able to quit women and something called “Crime Solutions.”   Crime Solutions?  Sounds like a wacky diet trend.  Maybe I should try that …

At 4:43, Addison and his administrative assistant, “Goldie,” who is a former criminal, take off for the day, seventeen minutes early.  They go to … I don’t know, somewhere where Addison asks for a spinach juice, which, ick, and he is waited on by a very racist depiction of a waiter who happens to be of Asian descent.  And that is all I am going to say about that, because there is no WAY I am going to comment on the offensive portrayal of that character because sadly, it clearly wasn’t offensive back in 1941.

Anyway.  While Addison and Goldie wait for his spinach juice, they find a pretty woman snooping around in Addison’s study.  *ahem*  SHE’S TOO SHORT FOR THAT GESTURE.  It went out with Minnie Fiske.  Addison asks her what she’s looking for — too politely for Mr. DeWitt — and she jumps up, excited to meet Mr. Laurence, “the Falcon,” who apparently was the Sherlock Holmes of his day?  If that’s the case, why haven’t I heard about this Falcon before now?  Goldie swans in and sits down, telling her that Addison’s pledged “no more crimes and no more dames.”  I realize that this is the first of the Falcon movies, but was there a source material that I’m just completely missing?  I feel like I want to know more about these crimes and why it’s so important that he’s giving them up.  Did he get himself into trouble in one of those cases?

The woman gasps at Goldie’s entrance, and says, “That must be your Dr. Watson!  Your faithful and loyal colleague!  All characters like you have a kind of a, a stooge, don’t they?”  DOCTOR WATSON WASN’T A STOOGE.  Don’t you read?  Or at least watch Sherlock?  No, seriously, watch Sherlock, it’s AMAZING.

I feel like I’m promoting everything but the movie I’m actually watching.  And also, Shawshank.

So anyway, at this point, Addison introduces Goldie as his associate, “Doctor Jonathan Locke.”

Wait.  WAIT.  Goldie’s name is … John Locke?  (I don’t care if it’s spelled without the ‘e’ on the end.)  Are you serious?  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!  You guys, I am sorry in advance.  Because now I get a legitimate chance to make ALL THE LOST JOKES.  BEST. Insomniac Theatre.  EVER.

The woman finally introduces herself as the secretary to Maxine Wood, who happens to be throwing the party that Addison’s girlfriend wanted to go to that night.  (Oh yeah, that’s why Addison’s girlfriend visited him – they were invited to Maxine Wood’s party and she wanted to go, but he convinced her to stay home instead.)  Apparently, every time Maxine Wood throws a party, some jewelry gets stolen.

(DUDES.  Does Maxine have a brother?  I’ll bet it’s her brother, Nicky Wood.  Nicky, the derelict no-goodnik brother of Lady Holiday who tried to steal the Fabulous Baseball Diamond from the National Gallery?  Yeah, it’s totally that guy.)

And now I feel the need to make a joke that myself and maybe Amelia will get, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Sorry in advance.  See, when I was at the University of Southern Maine, two of the dorm towers were named Dickey-Wood.  I don’t know why, probably after famous people or something.  (I really wish now it was named Dicky-Seamus.  That would make this story so much better.)

Thanks, Benoit.  Balls.

Anyway, the Dickey-Wood towers were the crappiest place to live on-campus (excepting Upton-Hastings, the freshman dorm).  (For my FPC gang, the equivalent would be … a rotting version of Edgewood, I guess?)  (For other readers, make your own equivalent).  And some of the letters were falling off the towers.  So maybe everyone called the towers Icky-Woo.

So now you know why I’ll be calling the fictitious brother who stole the jewelry Icky Woo.  (Also, Nicky Holiday, you guys.  How is that NOT the best Muppet movie?)

Oh shit, Addison’s on the phone.  The secretary’s gone because Locke pushed the woman out a window eight flights up of the room, emphatic that they’re out of the crime-solving racket.  Back to Addison’s phone call.  He’s calling his girlfriend, whose name is Eleanor.  He’s changed his mind about not going to the party; now he wants to go.  Locke stands there, shaking his head, and saying “Here we go again.”  Addison looks up at him and says, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO.”

Okay, maybe he didn’t.

Addison and Eleanor arrive at Maxine Wood’s party.  They start dancing when the over-excitable secretary shows up and pretty much makes Eleanor think that Addison is not only cheating but also solving crimes again.  I’m not sure which one she considers to be worse.  The secretary whisks him away on the dance floor, and at some point he’s traded off to this old woman who kind of looks like Miss Inch from the original Parent Trap, and she gives him her diamond ring to protect it from being stolen.  She is apparently Mrs. Gardner.  Addison goes back to Eleanor, who’s been dancing with her friend Manuel, and for a second I thought his last name was Tunt because I couldn’t really hear but oh my god that would MAKE MY LIFE, but according to the imdb. his last name is Retana, and not only have I been spelling Elinor incorrectly, but also now I’m sad I can’t make more Archer jokes.

Locke tries to get in to the party, and because this was filmed during WWII, there are raffle tickets up for sale, and there’s a bit where Locke tries to buy a dozen for a dollar and then he learns that it’s actually $100 each, and he runs away quicker than Lost!Locke doing anything ever on Craphole Island.  Because Locke couldn’t run.  Because he was crippled.  OH MY GOD LOCKE WAS RAY!

Oh look!  Locke is trying to crash the party by climbing up the fire escape!  Sneaky!

Addison is dancing with Maxine Wood, and damn, her voice sounds familiar.  *imdb. search*  HOLY SHIT IT’S MRS. ‘IGGINS FROM My Fair Lady!  Anyway, Addison can barely hear Mrs. Higgins talk, and as he’s bribing the band conductor to play something slower and softer, a shot rings out!  Oh shit, son!

Double Oh-Shit!  It’s Mrs. Gardner, the old lady with the ring!  She’s dead now!  And because that was the room that Locke was climbing into, they think Locke killed her!  Look, unless she died by a plane falling on her, I think Locke’s in the clear.  I can’t speak for the Man in Black, though.  Anyway, Locke gets framed and Addison puts the diamond ring on one of the fast-talkin’ detective’s cigars and sticks the cigar back into the detective’s pocket, and I’m not sure why that’s happening.  Then Addison goes to tell Elinor that he has to go to police headquarters because he got mixed up in crime again, and there’s this hilarious little moment where she completely overreacts as she says her line: “WHY do I put up with this?  Why?!”  Like, there’s a little head-shake in there, and wide eyes, and she’s playing to the balcony, folks, but she doesn’t realize that on film, there is no balcony.

Addison tricks the stereotyped Irish cop into letting Locke out of jail in hopes of using Locke as unwitting bait for the real murderer.  As Locke’s being released from prison — oh shit, I had something for that — something about a hatch — Addison takes back the detective’s cigar and removes the diamond ring.  Apparently, Addison used the detective as a means of smuggling the ring from out of the party!  That’s my Addison.

Now there’s this sequence where there’s this snarky sketch artist, and he’s trying to get Locke to describe the murderer, but Locke doesn’t understand sketching terms.  I get the feeling that, were I to continue to watch the Falcon series of films, this gag would be repeated in every episode.  Much like Archer saying “Oh shit, I had something for this” in almost every episode of Archer.

Also, apparently Locke was describing the Irish chief of detectives.  Oh, you guys are funny.

The secretary meets Addison and Locke outside of the police station and offers them a ride, which they’re both happy to accept.  Until Locke realizes that they’ve got people following them.  IT’S THE OTHERS.  Addison explains the whole “bait” concept to Locke, who responds, “Oh, in that case I don’t mind a couple of dicks around.”  Except that I didn’t hear the setup to that line, I just heard the word “dicks” and went to the twelve-year-old space in my head.  Heh heh couple o’ dicks.  Hee.

Addison, Locke, and the secretary — whose first name is Helen, apparently OH SHIT LOCKE AND HELEN?! — lose the tail and Addison and Helen go somewhere, leaving Locke alone in the car.  Stay in the car, Locke.  He only thinks DON’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN’T DO at Addison, and then gets out of the car to go play pinball somewhere.  Addison and Helen go up to an apartment somewhere — I’m not sure if it’s Addison’s apartment or someone else’s.  As Locke plays pinball, a gangster comes up behind him and walks him out of the pinball store.  That can’t be good.

Back at Addison’s apartment, Helen has brought over Mrs. Higgins and they’re discussing the case.  Mrs. Higgins asks Helen to bring sugar for tea, and there’s this cute little moment where Helen keeps trying to talk over Mrs. Higgins, so excited she is to participate in the conversation.  What’s really cute is when Helen comes back with the sugar and no one wants any.  She has this little tiny pout moment, and it’s cute.

Addison suggests that Mrs. Gardner was involved in insurance fraud – she thought he was the jewel thief she needed to hand her diamond ring to, and then she could file a claim on her insurance for her lost diamond ring.  She assumed Addison was the jewel thief because his boutonniere was a silver carnation, and that may have been the signal for “JEWEL THIEF.”  His fiancée Elinor gave him the carnation, which she took from — *gasp* — Manuel Tunt!  (Yes, I am calling him that, shut up.)

Addison wants to know more about Manuel.  He’s apparently much in the swing of the social circle.  And as Helen says, “Oh, he’s wealthy and respectable.  He owns diamond mines in South Africa!”  Well that settles that, then!  No one is more above-board than a South African diamond mine owner!

Mrs. Higgins asks Addison to take the case, and there’s no arm-twisting whatsoever.  They agree to meet for lunch, and then they agree to call each other by their first names, which infuriates Helen with jealousy.  As Addison walks Helen back to the car, she gives him shade about all the women friends he has that allow him to call them by their first names, and why doesn’t he just go back to calling her Miss Reed, when all of a sudden she asks, “Hey, where’s the Doctor?”  Because Locke is not in the car when they asked him to stay in the car, Chuck, because whenever someone asks someone to stay in the car, Chuck, they NEVER stay in the car, Chuck, and also, it’s not like they locked Locke into the car — it’s a fucking convertible!

Instead of going to look for Locke, Addison takes Helen back to his apartment because he doesn’t have time to drop her off at her own place.  She is entirely too excited for all the wrong reasons for going to Addison’s apartment: he is not going to ravage you, Helen; he is going to lock you in a room so you don’t bug him anymore.  Jeez, it’s like Eve being able to take a nap before going on in Footsteps on the Ceiling.

Meanwhile, the goon brings Locke up to this apartment and tells him to phone Addison, tell him to mail Locke the ring ‘general delivery’ (I don’t know what that means — this postal service is all antiquated terms to me now.  What’s a stamp?) so that the goon’ll receive it tomorrow, and maybe he won’t kill Locke.  Well, while Locke’s dialing the phone, someone pokes a gun through a window and shoots the goon, and all that needed was a film projector and some laughing weasels, because that was nearly the exact same scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Judge Doom murdered R.K. Maroon.  Locke tries to escape, but the boarding house lady didn’t like him making phone calls to sex workers who turn out to be ex-girlfriends, the cops show up VERY QUICKLY for what I assume to be New York City, and recognize Locke enough to take him downtown.  Maybe I should start calling Locke Sawyer.

Addison is able to get a parking spot directly in front of his apartment building, because this is clearly a movie and not real life.  When he and Helen get upstairs, the Detective Chief or whatever and his assistant are waiting for him, sitting with the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion.  They inform him that Locke is again behind bars, and they’d like Addison to come downtown again.  Addison embraces Helen, asks her to faint, and as she does he passes her body off to the Chief or Whatever, and then he escapes through a hidden passageway in his closet.

This will be the only time I do this: too many Gay jokes, not enough time.

Elinor is madly brushing her curls before going to bed when she finds Addison on her balcony.  She screams at him for leaving her at the party with no explanation, but when he tells her he’s hiding from the fuzz because he’s wanted for murder, all of a sudden she’s peaches and cream again.  Hm.  That … sounded less dirty in my head.  Anyway.  Also, Elinor — “wanted for murder” isn’t a trait I’d like to see in a fiancé.  Maybe you should reexamine your priorities?  The phone rings, and it’s Helen, trying to figure out if Addison made it safely.  He tells her he did, pretending he’s talking to Jerry, which is apparently the name of the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion?  There’s another racist joke in there somewhere, but my laptop only has an hour and a half left of juice and I’m entirely too lazy to go get the plug.  Addison thinks he’s in the clear until he reaffirms one too many times that he’s talking to “Jerry.”  Elinor swipes the phone out of Addison’s hand and hears Helen talk about being kissed by her ‘Darling,’ and before you know it, Addison’s running out of the apartment only inches ahead of a vase of flowers being thrown at him.  Seriously, Addison?  You have way more class than that.  Miss Caswell never got pissed at you for working so closely with Eve.

The next morning, Addison comes up to Elinor on the street, and he’s dressed like a bum.  She tells him to clear off because she’s dating Manuel Tunt again.  He tries to tell her that Manuel is dynamite, but she doesn’t listen.  He gets shoved off by a policeman who doesn’t recognize him, and then he goes to a pay phone (because this is back when New York actually had pay phones), calls his apartment, and is stunned to learn that Helen is still there, waiting for him.  Uh, dude – she’s smitten.  You’ve got your hands full with that one.  There ain’t no frightened rabbits you can push her onto.  In fact, she wants to be Addison’s assistant, because Locke is stuck in the hatch, entering the Numbers over and over again still in jail because no one’s bothered to bail him out.

She meets him in a café that night, and she’s wearing practically the same outfit Dolores was wearing when she went to tell Eddie that she had the tickets to Catalina.  (Who Framed Roger Rabbit again.  Sorry, this movie is making me make entirely too many references!)  Addison wants to find out where Manuel Tunt lives so he can break in, and Helen is practically quivering with excitement as she asks, “You want to break in?”

Addison replies, “In a manner of speaking.  Tonight is my night for backdoors.”

*ahem.* Too many Gay jokes; not enough time.

They are sneaking to Manuel’s apartment like a couple of vaudeville players.  Which wouldn’t be out of place on a vaudeville stage, but in an apartment complex it looks as ludicrous as you can probably imagine.  They manage to pick the lock with ease, because there’s no such thing as burglar alarms in the 1940s.  They search the apartment, and Helen is as bad at it as you’d think she would be.  She keeps tripping over phone cords and dropping books and basically, all she has to do is tap-dance on the coffee table and she’d still be more subtle than she’s being now.  Addison tries to think about where a clever man might hide something precious when he hears Manuel come home.

Addison quickly tosses some mail out of the desk to make it look like a break-in and then he and Helen rush to the balcony.  Apparently Manuel’s a really dumb Tunt and doesn’t go out to the balcony to check when he sees the mail everywhere.  I mean, they were making a shit-ton of noise.  If I was coming home, heard noise in my apartment, but didn’t see anyone leave through the only door, you know where I’d look?  The balcony!  If I had one, that is.

Manuel makes a phone call to someone, hides something behind a hidden panel, and then leaves to pick up Elinor.  Addison sneaks back into the apartment and takes the thing, which turns out to be a gun.  Lame.  He and Helen escape via the fire escape, and fire escapes sure are getting a lot of play in this movie.

Addison makes Helen take him to the city morgue.  He tricks the mortician into looking at the dead body that Locke supposedly killed while Helen actually does what she’s supposed to and stay in the car, Chuck.  Except she gets to talking to a cop and tells a tale about her brother hoping that a dead girl is their sister.  Anyway, Addison looks at the body, but we don’t see that scene because  of the Hayes Code, and he goes back to meet with Helen.  The mortician picks up the paper to continue reading Marmaduke when the front page falls out of the pile, and there’s Addison’s face, with the byline “FALCON EVADES POLICE: Playboy criminologist sought in mystery slaying.

‘Playboy Criminologist.’  I would like that on my business cards, please.  Right underneath ‘Obtainer of Rare Antiquities.’

There’s a small scene where Helen waltzes into the police station while the entire force is interrogating Locke, and she attempts to confess to the murder of the goon when the real Chief of Whatever pokes all the holes into her story.  When they prove that the gun he has is the one that killed the goon, she spills that it’s the gun that belongs to Manuel Tunt, and he’s dining at the Swan Club, and he’s dining with a woman, so go ahead and break up that relationship so she and Addison can start dating, all right?  That’s pretty much her thought process, and it’s kind of odd that that’s her only way of thinking.

Addison’s on the phone.  Goodness, he spends a lot of time on the phone in this movie.  If it was remade today, it’d be half an hour long, what with all the texting he could be doing instead of waiting for ringing phones to be answered.

Addison’s calling Elinor, telling her to pretend that her aunt is sick so she’ll be safe when Tunt gets arrested.  She refuses, because she thinks that he’s just jealous.  Meanwhile, Helen meets up with Addison at the diner and apparently it’s okay that she blabbed to the cops because the gun checked out as the murder weapon.  Addison excuses himself to change clothes and meet up with Elinor, giving Helen a couple of bucks and telling her to get a soda and take in a movie.  He practically calls her a kid.  Stop calling her a kid.  And then – THEN! – when he leaves, Helen looks to a waiter, and with very big eyes and overdramatics, she bellows, “I HATE MEN.”

“Bill’s 32.  He looks 32.  He looked it five years ago, he’ll look it twenty years from now.  I hate men.”  God, I love that line.

Oh no!  The Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion is tied up!  Oh, Manuel Tunt tied him up and he’s waiting for Addison.  Tunt ends up monologuing, but when he hears Helen sneaking up on Tunt, he shoots the door she’s hiding behind and Addison thinks Tunt’s shot her, but she only just fainted again.  Addison leaves her with the Jovial Butler of Asian Persuasion and he goes to change clothes and meanwhile, Elinor shows up at the police station because she’s under arrest.  She calls Addison but gets Helen instead, which just sets her off again.  The Stereotypical Irish Cop agrees to meet up with Addison, and sends Elinor off to jail to keep her out of harm’s way.  Irish Cop asks Locke if he wants to come with, but Locke decides to stay put on the beach and lead from that location.

Irish Cop and Addison arrive at Mrs. Higgins’s apartment.  Apparently Mrs. Higgins’s life was threatened by someone, and she’s frightened.  Addison brings the Irish Cop into Mrs. Higgins’s apartment to help keep watch while she sleeps.  Mrs. Higgins is getting into bed, and as soon as she turns off the light, Tunt clumsily enters the bedroom through the balcony.  After Addison and the Irish Cop take their damned sweet time rescuing Mrs. Higgins from her murderer, Tunt keels over dead.  Mrs. Higgins is relieved, but Addison finds a syringe on the floor and watches Mrs. Higgins attempt to crush it with her slipper.  OH ‘ELL NO, MRS. ‘IGGINS!  YOU’RE THE BAD GUY?!  But — but Miss Doolittle!

Apparently, the goon that was killed was Mrs. Higgins’s husband.  Damn.  I had all my money on brother.  But here’s my question: if Mrs. Higgins was the brains behind the operation, why the FUCK did she ask him to take the case in the first place?!  Oh, wait, they were trying to frame Tunt.  Dammit.  Never mind.  Welcome to Insomniac Theatre, where your narrator sucks.

Addison rescues Elinor from the clink.  Or, tries to.  But she’s still pissed at him, so she says something along the lines of she’d gladly rot if she could just throttle him for a minute.  At which point, Addison replies: “I think I could get you off if you’d promise to marry me.”

Too many jokes, not enough time.

There’s another two minutes of dénouement, but I’m going to end my recap here because that line is just perfect.  Also, there is a distinct lack of falconry in this movie.

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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Insomniac Theatre


Insomniac Theatre: “House on Haunted Hill” (1959)

If I haven’t gone to bed yet, it’s still Halloween, right?

*GASP* SHIT I forgot that It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on tonight!  DAMMIT!  I wonder if it’s on On Demand… (Right, because I haven’t watched that every year for the past 28 years…)

ANYWAY.  This is the last ‘horror’ movie I have on Jeremy the TiVo: Episode IV, A New Hope.  So my plan is this: I have tons of candy, already purchased on sale, 2/3 of a Diet Coke left, and I don’t have to work tomorrow.  I’m going to watch this, write about it, and then watch Gargoyles to wash the ick factor out.  [NOTE: If you watched Gargoyles growing up, as I did, Disney did a[[nother]] marvelous thing and put ALL of the episodes online.  INCLUDING “Deadly Force,” which they took out of rotation due to its being deemed “too violent.”  I am SO EXCITED.]

[The other marvelous thing Disney did?  Bought LucasFilms.  But I’ll talk about that at a later date.]

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren and his 4th wife, Annabelle, have invited 5 people to the house on Haunted Hill for a “haunted House” party. Whoever will stay in the house for one night will earn ten thousand dollars each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors.

Jesus.  Okay.  Y’know, I seem to remember seeing the remake of this movie years ago.  There was a tank of blood in the basement, and also, Taye Diggs was there?  And I seem to remember that I didn’t actually watch it, so much as stare at a corner of the screen while other friends and acquaintances watched it, because it was uber-gory, and that is something I do not enjoy.  Even when both Geoffrey Rush and Taye Diggs are involed.

All right.  I have now wasted enough time searching the interwebs for other, distracting things; I have no choice but to push play at this point.  My only hope is that this movie is chock full of B-movie ‘horror,’ where you can clearly see the stage craftsmanship and the acting is atrocious.  In other words, more funny than scary.

Oo, Robert Osbourne!  He’s wearing a very green tie.  Apparently the director of this movie hired doctors and nurses to attend showings of his movies in case people fainted from fright.  Shit, did that actually happen?  I mean, I’m not a fainter by any means, but … is this movie actually going to be scary?  I’m not sure I can handle that…

Jesus, this is rated TV-14?  That worries me when I’m watching TCM.  I mean, look, I’ve seen True Blood.  I enjoy it, in fact.  But I know — AACK!  The movie just started with a woman screaming.  THAT’S NOT A GOOD SIGN.  Anyway, I enjoy True Blood.  But I don’t see that show as part of the horror genre; it’s too campy and naked for that.

Okay, woman screaming in the dark.  At least it’s not me!  By the way, this is all happening over a black screen, and there are other Halloween-y noises happening too.  Thank god I’ve got all my lights on, or else I’d be kind of freaked out.  I can see why the director may have needed nurses.

Then this disembodied head shows up.  He claims his name is Watson Pritchett or something, and he owns the haunted house.  Seven murders have occurred in the house over the past few years or whatever.  Watson fades out and the disembodied head of Vincent Price shows up.  Apparently, he rented the House on Haunted Hill for a night so his wife can throw a haunted house party.  Let me just take a moment to digress:  Dear Future Husband: I will NEVER want to throw a haunted house party.  Ever.  And if you’re thinking of ways to surprise me into doing something completely different, for an event or a birthday or whatever, “haunted” is NOT the way to go.  I hate surprises as it is; surprises with ghosts and/or murder?  NO THANK YOU.  Unless you’re trying to subtly hint you want a divorce…

I’ve watched less than five minutes of this movie, and I’ve looped around in my digressions to a fake husband that wants to divorce me.  Why does my life suck so hard?

Vincent Price does a roll call of all the inhabitants of the House.  All the guests are arriving in hearses and in a funeral procession.  All of the people – including some doctors, Watson Pritchett, a test pilot, and a secretary — are attending because they need the $10,000 Vincent is offering if they can survive the night in the house.  Now, I know that when I watched Death of a Ghost Hunter I bitched that Carter or whoever was getting $5,000 and that seemed really low and stupid.  But this is $10,000 in 1959-money.  That’s like … well, according to a calculator, $70,000-ish.  That’s still not enough to get me to spend a night in a Haunted Mansion.  Unless it’s the Disney Haunted Mansion.  (Although I’d still want all the lights on.)

The guests take a moment to introduce each other in the grand hallway, and then the door shuts under its own power.  And then the chandelier starts swaying, and almost falls directly onto the Pretty Secretary!  (Look, the chances of anyone surviving this thing is pretty much nil, so I’m not going to bother learning their names.)  I think it’s Test Pilot that pulls her out of the way, and now I start laughing hysterically, because when everyone was introducing themselves all I could think of was when the group from Clue introduced themselves over dinner with their fake names and backstories and how everyone hated Miss Scarlet at first (except for Professor Plum), and then when the chandelier falls, all I can hear in my head is “It was only one bullet that got the chandelier, so that’s one plus two plus one plus one!”  “Even if you were right, that would be one plus one plus two plus one, not one plus two plus one plus one.”  “All right, fine.  One plus one plus — SHUT UP!!”

Wow.  When you type the word “plus” over and over again, it totally loses all meaning.

Vincent goes to find his wife, who comes out of the bathroom wearing a robe and a corset.  Annabelle doesn’t want to go to the party because Vincent invited people who needed money instead of friends.  But it’s because they have no friends.  As they banter, we learn that Annabelle isn’t happy in their marriage, to the point where she’s tried to poison Vincent a couple of times.  They’re a regular … whaddyacallit … oh god, there’s a literary reference for this.  A husband and wife who won’t divorce each other yet they hate each other and enjoy trying to kill each other … first person to remind my soggy brain of that wins!

Watson Pritchett is entertaining the other guests downstairs by FINDING A RANDOM BUTCHER KNIFE and WAVING IT ABOUT, describing how his family was MURDERED WITH IT.  Okay, that was kind of funny, actually.  “THIS is what she used to sever my brother’s entrails!”  “Dude, put that away, you’re getting intestine in my martini.”

I hate to be repetitive, but there is no amount of money anyone could offer me to stay in a haunted house.  NO AMOUNT OF MONEY, Friends of Mine Who Enjoy Trying to Get Me to Do Things I Don’t Want to Do!

Vincent arrives and he wants to do another roll call, but this time, with alcohol.  My kind of party!  Apparently, the caretakers come at midnight to lock everyone in the house, and there is no way to escape the house.  No electricity, no phone, no internet — oh wait, this is 1959.  Vincent asks Watson to take them on a tour of the house, saying that there are seven ghosts: four men, three women.  Which just happens to make up the current group of partygoers.

They end up in a room that had a stain on the ceiling from a murder.  Blood starts to fall on the Old Woman’s hand.  I yell out STIGMATA!  She and Vincent laugh it off, claiming the roof leaks.  She not-so-calmly wipes the blood off and asks, “Who would want to mark me?”  Watson then leads them down to the wine cellar (which I almost typed as the wince cellar).

The vat in the floor was apparently filled with acid at one point.  The Secretary almost falls in, but the Test Pilot catches her.  Sure enough, the vat is stilled filled with acid, as Watson Pritchett confirms by tossing a dead rat into the vat.  The party files out, looking for more alcohol, but Test Pilot stops The Secretary and asks her what she’s doing here.  She admits that she needs the money, but neither she nor Test Pilot realized they had to actually stay in the house to earn the ten grand.

Test Pilot and The Secretary walk around the wine cellar, opening various doors.  I expect one to have the sounds of a violin playing coming from one, or at least a horse whinny (FRAU BLUECHER), but alas, just wine bottles.  Until Test Pilot opens one, finds a hallway, enters, then has the door slam behind him. 

The Secretary pounds on the door, but the lights start to flicker and go out.  The Secretary sees what appears to be the ghost of the woman dropped in the vat, but the ghost doesn’t come into the room.  She runs out of the cellar to get the rest of the party, speaking rather calmly about the ghost and that Test Pilot was missing behind a locked door.  When they get to the room, the door is unlocked, and Test Pilot is waking up after a bump on the noggin.  The Psychiatrist patches him up in the living room, claiming The Secretary is experiencing hysteria, but that doesn’t truly explain Test Pilot’s injury.

Later, Test Pilot and The Secretary return to the room.  That seems exceptionally dumb to me.  Why return to where you think you may have seen a ghost that knocked you unconscious?  Test Pilot knocks on the walls and finds the walls to be … not hollow, but thin.  He leaves The Secretary in that room and goes to the next, telling her to knock back when she hears him knock on his wall.  NEVER LEAVE THE GIRL ALONE IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, TEST PILOT!  That’s Rule Number 5 in the Rules for Haunted Houses!  (Rule Number One being: DON’T GO INTO A HAUNTED HOUSE.)

As The Secretary is slapping the walls, she happens to turn around and OH SHIT THERE’S THE UGLY GHOST WOMAN THING AGAIN.  As The Secretary screams, the ghost kind of glides out of the room, as if someone were pulling it on a skateboard.  Okay, now I’m laughing at the idea of a ghost statue on a skateboard that you can bring to parties.  (Krieger doesn’t have that much time, though, guys.)  Test Pilot returns from the other room, and I have to give The Secretary props — she screams her pretty little head off one minute, but then goes right back to talking logically and calmly.  Or, it could just be shitty acting.

Test Pilot doesn’t believe The Secretary.  She hands him her candle and storms out of the cellar, and walks right into Annabelle.  Annabelle leads The Secretary to The Secretary’s room, where she tells her to not go out by herself for the rest of the night.  Annabelle leaves The Secretary to freshen up, and then she runs into the Test Pilot.  She leads him to his room, and Annabelle flirts heavily with him. 

Vincent is able to convince Annabelle to attend her party — mainly by pulling her hair and threatening her.  He summons Test Pilot and The Secretary, both of whom state they’ll be downstairs in a minute.  The Secretary finds a severed head in her luggage (WHAT THE FUCK, MOVIE), and instead of running directly to the living room and demanding to be let out, she instead becomes Alice-in-Wonderland curious and goes to find out what’s behind a curtain, where she a GHOST comes out of FUCKING NOWHERE, clamps a gnarled hand over her mouth and says “He’s going to kill you.”

NOW she fucking runs downstairs and demands to be let out.  Luckily, it’s not yet midnight, so she has that option.  BUT FUCKING TEST PILOT TELLS HER TO WAIT.  She — and I — yell FUCK YOUR MONEY (although she says it in nice, 1959-times language), at which point Vincent introduces the caretakers, WHO ARE THE GHOSTS The Secretary keeps seeing.  Awk-ward.

She still wants to go home — good girl! — but apparently the caretakers played a nasty trick on everyone and locked them in five minutes early.  THAT WASN’T PART OF THE DEAL, GHOSTS!  Since the party’s officially started, Vincent starts handing out the party ‘favors’ – guns in coffins.  Motherfucking guns in coffins.  WHAT KIND OF STUPID FAVOR IS THAT.  What about a metal file?  THAT CUTS THROUGH BARS, DUMBASS. 

After everyone has the guns, The Secretary goes up to Watson and asks for clarification: his sister-in-law was murdered and hands and feet were found, but no heads?  Guess what?  SHE FOUND A HEAD.  She herds the entire party up to her room and tells them to look in her suitcase.  All Watson finds are panties.  Because a of all, no, there are no heads, and b of all, all women packed multiple pairs of panties back in 1959 in case they were hit by a truck.  At least, that’s how I understand history.

The Secretary is totally losing her mind, and The Psychiatrist asks her if she wants a sedative.  Ha!  “SEDAGIVE?”  Man, I haven’t watched Young Frankenstein in forever!  And now I totally have to, in light of last week’s Once Upon a Time.

The majority of the party decide to go to their rooms.  Some playwright; a situation pregnant with possibilities and all you can think of is everybody go to sleep.

Soon afterward, Test Pilot goes into The Secretary’s room to try and comfort her, which is of course code for “Consoling We’re Not Ghosts Yet” Sex.  Instead, he finds a severed head in the closet.  He is able to touch it and bring it to Watson, who says that The Secretary will be joining the ghosts soon.  They hear a garbled scream and run out, and see a woman hanging from the rafters in a diaphonous white gown.  (Vocab word FTW right there!)

Test Pilot and The Doctor cut the woman down.  When Vincent arrives at the scene, the camera reveals that the corpse is that of Annabelle.  Aw, poor Annabelle!  She had spunk!  Test Pilot leaves Annabelle’s room and finds The Secretary.  THAT’S who she reminded me of!  Annabelle came downstairs wearing a gown with a trailing white sash, and I kept thinking she was wearing something that Eve wore, but actually, she was reminding me of the Baroness from The Sound of Music!  She wore almost that same dress to the ball!

Okay, anyway — Watson ends up in Annabelle’s death room, and Vincent tosses him out.  He seems genuinely sad to be a widower again.

The party meets downstairs to discuss what to do.  Here’s my plan: all six of you sit in the room for the remainder of the night, staying alive by living together.  IF WE CAN’T LIVE TOGETHER, WE’RE GOING TO DIE ALONE. 

In other news, maybe my NaNoWriMo book will be a series of essays entitled, “Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover: How Television Shaped My Life More Than Anything Else.”  There will be a whole three thousands words (or more!) written just on Lost and how it warped my fragile little mind.

Okay.  I just spent about ten minutes searching for that stupid Jack Shepherd quote, only to be misled about when that speech was given.  Stupid Lost.  All of the guests have gone to their separate bedrooms.  The Psychiatrist looks freaked out, but I’m unsure about what, because I wasn’t paying attention.  Blood was dripping on the Old Lady again, but that’s all I’ve got there.  Test Pilot is back in The Secretary’s room, but I’m not sure what’s going on. 

And … I’m going to take a break.  As in, I’m going the fuck to bed, and I’ll finish this in the morning.

Twelve hours later…

I’m back!  I slept almost seven hours, with no bad dreams whatsoever.  Eat that, Vincent Price!  On the docket for today was to go vote, and also, check out the James Bond Skyfall OPI Nail Polish collection at Ulta.  And when I checked my email to learn that I had a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase?

… It’s only a problem if you think it’s a problem.  (It might be a problem.)

Okay, so I’ve rewound back to where the group has gathered in the living room.  Good news, everyone!  There’s half an hour left.

The Psychiatrist makes a Jack Shepherd-esque speech, saying that in the past three hours, one of the group has been slugged (Test Pilot), one almost had a chandelier dropped on her (The Secretary), one has been scared to the brink of hysteria (The Secretary, again), and one of them is dead (Annabelle).  He wants to find a way out, but Watson claims it’s pretty darned hopeless.  Vincent proposes that Annabelle didn’t kill herself, because there was no way at the point at which she hanged herself for her to climb up/pull herself up that high.

So now they suspect everyone else of being a murderer.  The Psychiatrist proposes that everybody stays in their own room for the next six hours.  (And you, pose as a playwright….)  Because the Innocent won’t have a reason to leave the room, but the guilty will try and murder more people to get more money, or something.  Everyone thinks this is a splendind idea, because this was filmed about fifty years before Jack Shepherd told everyone that IF WE CAN’T LIVE TOGETHER, WE’RE GONNA DIE ALONE.  I swear to GOD, people!!

I REMEMBERED THE REFERENCE!  Vincent and Annabelle are like Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin in The Ghosts Who Stole Christmas, that awesome episode of The X-Files

Everyone goes into their bedrooms.  They light candles (which give off a helluva lot of light in 1959).  The Psychiatrist starts to write a note to himself, but something wiggles his doorknob.  Thinking he’s going to catch the murderer, he opens his door — YOU NEVER OPEN THE DOOR! –, but there’s nothing there.  Blood starts to drop on the Old Woman’s hand again, and now she’s freaking out a bit more.  Test Pilot knocks on the adjoining door he so happens to have with The Secretary’s room.  She lets him in (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT) and he agrees with her that Vincent is trying to kill people.  He wants to go see if there’s a way out so he can contact the police.  The Secretary wants to go with him, but he tells her to lock her door and stay safe in her bedroom.  With a locked door.  And ghosts.  I’m sorry, that’s just the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

He goes behind the Alice in Wonderland curtain, and gets stuck in there when a mysterious hidden panel emerges and locks him in.  Meanwhile, The Secretary is pacing back and forth in her room when the lights go out.  Oh, they do have electricity?  Who’s the continuity maven on this feature?  Lightening flashes, and then WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT IS THAT A SNAKE I SWEAR TO GOD IF THAT’S A MOTHERFUCKING SNAKE COMING THROUGH THOSE BARS — oh, it’s rope.  What?! 

Anyway, rope, of all things, is making its way through the window and around The Secretary’s pretty little ankles.  Oh, seriously?  She is watching it all happen, and she’s not even trying to not get caught?  Secretary, come on.  She keeps moaning “no,” and then she sees Annabelle’s ghost through the window.  But because she asked so nicely, Annabelle’s ghost allows her to live.  For now.  Once the rope retreats and disappears, The Secretary grabs her gun and runs out of her room to Annabelle’s room, where she finds … Annabelle once more hanging from the ceiling?  BUT SHE WAS ON THE BED A FEW MINUTES AGO!  She runs downstairs after almost being quieted by a Creature From the Black Lagoon-esque hand, and when she reaches the living room she tries calling for the Test Pilot again.  The organ starts playing itself in the living room, and The Secretary runs back to her room, screaming.  But you didn’t find Test Pilot!

The Psychiatrist is out walking around.  DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT WOULD BE THE MURDERER?!  He knocks on Vincent’s door, and Vincent answers it, gun drawn, and accuses The Psychiatrist of being the murderer.  WHAT DID I JUST SAY!?  The Psychiatrist asks if Vincent’s seen anyone walking around.  You mean, while he was hiding in his room along with everyone else?  Damn, Psychiatrist, where’d you get your medical degree from, Greendale Community College, or Columbia the country?  (That’s two references for the price of one, folks.  February 7th is October 19th.)

Anyway, the Psychiatrist thinks someone’s in danger and wants Vincent to help him search the house for the someone in danger.  They both have their guns.  Psychiatrist says he’ll take the upstairs, Vinnie can take the downstairs.  Vincent asks at the same time I do, “Why not together?”  HOW MANY TIMES CAN I SHOUT “LIVE TOGETHER, DIE ALONE”?  Apparently there’s not enough time for both of them to search together, it would be quicker if they split up.  Bad idea.

Especially when The Psychiatrist doubles back to check in on Annabelle’s corpse.  She’s still ‘resting’ prettily on the bed.  The Psychiatrist whispers, “It’s almost over darling.”  Wait, what?  And then Annabelle wakes up, and I GET IT!  It’s like the poison that Paolo and Nikki drank on Lost, and then wake up to find themselves being buried alive, only this time, Annabelle wakes up!  So the Psychiatrist and Annabelle are in cahoots, and most likely a relationship as well.  They’re apparently waiting for The Secretary to accidentally shoot Vincent, and the Psychiatrist admits that he was the one who scared The Secretary in the cellar.  It’s all a plot to kill Vincent to escape her unhappy marriage. 

I have to admit — I didn’t see that one coming.  Usually I can pick up when there’s going to be a twist, but since M. Night Shyamalan didn’t direct this, it wasn’t telegraphed from ten miles away.  So good on you, Director of this movie.

Sure enough, when Vincent happens upon The Secretary in the cellar, she shoots him.  But after, like, five whole seconds of staring at him, which, to me, is more than enough time to realize he’s not a ghost.  Especially when Vincent says, “Secretary, no!”  Horrified and screaming again, The Secretary runs out.  The Psychiatrist comes out from one of the offshoot rooms — how did he get down there so quickly?! — and tosses Vincent into the acid pit.  Or so we’re led to believe, seeing as how the screen fades to black.

As instructed, after hearing the shot, Annabelle ventures to the cellar.  She calls for the Psychiatrist, but all the doors start to close behind her, squeaking all the way.  She peeks into the acid bool, and a skeleton emerges from it, completely picked clean.  She tries to run away, but the skeleton gets up and walks her into the acid vat, and of course she falls in.  So both Vincent and Annabelle die in the acid bath.  Also, that was entirely too hokey.

But the hokeyness is explained when we see Vincent come out from behind a wine casket!  Because why would Vincent Price die?  HE WOULDN’T.  So during the scuffle, Vincent must have knocked the Psychiatrist into the vat, brought a skeleton to the Haunted House party, rigged it to scare the bejeezus out of Annabelle, where he pushed her into the vat so they both died.

Vincent goes upstairs and explains everything, and everyone is okay with it.  They find Test Pilot behind the partition, and he’s all right too.  Watson Pritchett says that there are nine ghosts now, and there will be more, because now they’re coming for you.

Uh, no they’re not, because now the movie’s over, and I’m going to turn this off now.  So, shut up, Watson Pritchett. 

Grade for House on Haunted Hill: Meh.

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Posted by on November 1, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


Insomniac Theatre: “The Innocents”

UGH.  I was going to do this last night.  Honest-to-God, I was planning on studiously avoiding the last debate and Game 7 of the NLCS because I a) didn’t care about the former and b) wasn’t totally emotionally invested in the latter.  What ended up happening was finding myself flipping back and forth between Game 7 and the debate, getting pissed off at both candidates for entirely different reasons (though the bayonet crack was funny — come on, guys, lighten up, he wasn’t making fun of the Navy, he was making fun of the antiquated notion of what our Navy looks like!  Jesus!), and then Jeremy the IV wouldn’t let me not watch either The Daily Show or Conan, so Daily Show it was, and then I was able to tune into the very end of Game 7 where the GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!  THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! And it was awesome, because even though I’m a New Englander, my loyalties can be bought easily.  Especially when the Red Sox suck giant donkey dicks and also, my friend Emily lives in San Francisco, so there.

ANYWAY.  By the time I was ready to actually sit and watch The Innocents, it was 12:30, I had written about five paragraphs bitching about the debate and why I don’t really like horror movies, and then I realized I wasn’t truly in the mood to watch a black-and-white psychological thriller, so I put in Season 1 of Archer and kept cross-stitching Babou.

Holy shit!  You guys — look at his little spots! 

(Seriously, everyone’s getting home-made presents this year.  I just realized: I’m po’.  So if you have a favorite quote or particularly geeky phrase that you want to see cross-stitched into a sampler [a la “God bless this swirling vortex of entropy”], shoot me a personal message and it will be yours.  At some point in the future.  Can’t guarantee that you’ll get it for Real Christmas.  We may need to institute Alaina’s Christmas Present Day on, like April 5.  Because that’s how I roll.)

Sweet — IFC is showing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Martin Freeman!  That was the movie I would always put in when I had to pull an all-nighter back in college.  Well, that and Prisoner of Azkaban.  I could put those on and not need to pay attention to every moment.  Pure background noise.  I swear, those movies got me through Costuming and Makeup Production. 

So back to The Innocents:

The imdb. describes the movie thusly:

A young governess (Deborah Kerr) for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

Here’s why I’m watching The Innocents: it’s a classic in the psychological/supernatural horror genre, I’ve never seen it, and it’s slightly more than a week until Halloween.  Also on my DVR list is the Vincent Price original, House on Haunted Hill.  I am both interested and wary, on both counts.

See, I may have alluded to it when I watched Death of a Ghost Hunter*, but looking back at that entry, I think I was more vague than I wanted to be.  As much as I enjoyed The Grudge and Final Destination II, they are not movies that I will rewatch on a regular basis.  Actually, now that I think about it, I know I own both of those movies on DVD — oh wait, no; I gave both to the Roommate when I moved out, because I’ve never rewatched them.  Oh, I bought them.  Because I am an idiot who apparently has no real level of responsibility when it comes to money.  And the reason I enjoyed them was because they took themselves so fucking seriously that they completely bypassed ‘scary’ and ended up at ‘stupid.’  If you recall, I was the idiot yelling at Buffy to just kill the fucking demon, why can’t she just pick up her boyfriend, she has superhuman strength, why is she going upstairs?  Doesn’t she know by now you NEVER GO UPSTAIRS?  And then there was the slow clap when that dude in Final Destination II got tri-sected by a barbed wire fence.  That was awesome.

I mean, those events are too ludicrous to believe.  Yeah, sure, there may be a certain amount of plausibility, but, come on; car accident causes a van to run into a tree, the driver lights a cigarette while she waits for the jaws of life, the air bag delays but when it finally does deploy, the driver’s head rams right into the conveniently-placed tree branch, kills her, causes her to drop her cigarette, which lights the gas that is leaking out of the van, which leads right to a tank of methane or propane or something on this farm or wherever, and when that blows up, it blows up a section of fence which happens to slice right through one of the other passengers who had survived up until that moment.  That is a Rube Goldberg machine of epic proportions.

[SIDEBAR: Dear God, I adore Sam Rockwell.  In all of his incarnations.  Zaphod Beeblebrox, Hammer of HammerCorp, everything else I’ve ever seen him in … if he’s not careful, he could end up on my list of Pretend Boyfriends.]

I recognize that the point of horror movies is to scare ourselves.  It takes something that could potentially, actually happen — either through a weird sort of crazy, random happenstance, or through supernatural events — and shows us how horrible it could end up.  When horror is done well — as I assume The Innocents will do — it freaks us the fuck out.  And I don’t know about y’all, but that is not a feeling I truly enjoy feeling.

And here’s where I get back to Death of a Ghost Hunter.  That is a perfect example of a movie that takes itself so fucking seriously that it loops around to being not just stupid, but awful.  However — and Sarah?  I would have said this earlier, but Twitter wouldn’t give me more characters — given the right parameters, I’d watch Ghost Hunter again.  Those parameters include being with friends who either have or have not seen it yet (a game of shared experiences, or a game of Terrify the Ghost Hunter Noob, whichever, either is hilarious), and a lot of booze.  But I would never watch Hobo With a Shotgun.  The violence was really, too terrible for me (although I’m still impressed with the use of hockey skate as murder weapon), no redemption for any characters, and I’m sorry, it was being crude just to be shocking.  I can’t give any empathy to envelope-pushing for no real reason.

Sorry, Sarah – I can’t do it.

Okay, so, how does that loop into The Innocents?  Well, while I’ve never seen the movie before, I may have read that in the end, the governess goes a little crazy and murderous?  And ghosts or not, that can be a very scary thing.  Needless to say, I will be watching this with all the lights on.  Because I really don’t want to get freaked.  I may need to institute a rule like my acquaintance back in college — whenever her boyfriend made her watch either a violent movie or a scary movie (I can’t remember witch), she had to watch Election before going to bed.  I can probably do the same thing with The Avengers.  Or maybe something shorter; it is 1 a.m. after all.

All right — let’s do this.  At least the movie’s only an hour, forty minutes long.


The film begins with a black screen and then a sunrise over the sound of birds singing, and a woman praying.  Or something.  Oh, that’s where I read this!  The movie is based on Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, which is a Book I’ve Never Read.  I think I was looking at books that I know I should read at some point in my life, and the synopsis of Turn of the Screw said that there were allusions to it in The Innocents

Deborah Kerr — is it “Carr” or is it “Curr?” — thinks while she prays that all she wants to do is save the children, because what they need more than anything is someone to love them.  Oh, SHIT, NOT THE CHILDREN!

Michael Redgrave plays the uncle of the children Deborah Kerr is going to be the governess for.  His voice sounds familiar.  Hmm… well, apparently I’ve never seen him in anything else.  The children live on another estate, and the Uncle wants nothing to do with them.  Uh, yikes.  Deborah Kerr will be their second governess, and the girl, Flora, was very fond of Mrs. Jessel.  Apparently the Uncle had settled everything, and then the governess “had to go and die.”  Uh, yikes.  It’s Deborah Kerr’s first position, and the Uncle tells her at least three times that, whatever happens, she has to run the show without involving him.  Deborah Kerr promises to try.

I’m ninety percent sure that this movie was filmed after The King and I.  So I could make some jokes in here about the King of Siam, but to be honest, I’ve never seen that movie either, so I’m just going to shut up about it.

Deborah Kerr gets out of the carriage (the film takes place most likely in the 1860s or 1870s, judging by the costumes) and walks the rest of the way to the estate.  It’s a very pretty estate, I’ll give the Creepy Uncle that. 

ALTHOUGH NOT AS CREEPY AS FLORA!  Deborah Kerr hears someone calling “Flora,” and then all of a sudden Flora shows up, the very epitome of “young girl about to be haunted, to the extent that she looks like one of the twins from The Shining.”  Deborah Kerr introduces herself, and Flora says she knows, and does she like reptiles.  Deborah Kerr says wisely that it depends, and asks why Flora asked the question.  “Why, I happen to have one in my pocket.”  WHAT REPTILE FITS IN POCKETS, LITTLE GIRL?  I SWEAR TO GOD IF THERE ARE MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES IN THIS MOTHERFUCKING HORROR MOVIE, I’LL — oh, it’s a turtle.  *phew*  Aww, and its name is Rupert?!  Reference to both Giles and Stewie’s bear!  Okay, I’ll un-pause you now, movie.

Flora introduces Deborah Kerr to the Cook or whatever it is, and the Cook is really overly happy to meet the new Governess.  Deborah Kerr is overwhelmed by the largeness of the estate.

Anyway.  The kid has her bath and then she and Deborah Kerr go to sleep — apparently it’s kosher for the governess to sleep in the same room as the kid.  As Flora’s saying her prayers, she hears a squawk of what could be a hurt animal.  Apparently, Mrs. Groce (the aforementioned housekeeper or cook or whatever) has told Flora to ignore when she hears things like that.  Flora tells Deborah Kerr to ignore it, but apparently compassion is her weakness, and she refuses to ignore it.  Deborah Kerr sleeps fitfully while Flora hums.

The next day, she receives a letter from Flora’s brother’s school, and he’s been expelled for being an injury to other students.  Flora had been saying that Miles was coming home, though both Deborah Kerr and Mrs. Groce said that he wouldn’t be home until holiday.  When Deborah Kerr asks Flora how she knew, she just says, “Oh look, a lucky spider, and it’s eating a butterfly.”  WHAT THE FUCK, FLORA?!

Miles comes home on the train and the two children run off to play together.  That night, Deborah Kerr is doing the rounds before going to bed, and when she listens at the door to see if he’s sleeping, he calls her in.  Miles gives me the impression that, when he grows up, he’s going to be a thankless rake.  He’s practically attempting to seduce Deborah Kerr.  He’s all of eleven!  Anyway, Deborah Kerr tries to get him to talk about why he was expelled, but he keeps his trap shut.  The wind blows the candle out, and Miles says, in what I assume is his idea of Seductive!Voice, “It was only the wind, my dear.”  DUDE.  YOU’RE FUCKING ELEVEN.

The next morning, Deborah Kerr is cutting roses in the garden.  There’s lots of ambient noise — birds chirping, pigeons and doves cooing, and Flora humming her song again.  Deborah pushes some roses out of the way and finds a hidden statue, of a cherub holding the … cut-off hands of someone?  And there’s a fucking cockroach coming out of its mouth?!  EEEEEWWWWW….. And while Deborah notices that, all ambient noise stops.  ALL OF IT.  It’s quiet.  Too quiet.  Not in the good way.  Deborah looks up and sees a man standing on one of the towers.  She crosses through the garden and goes into the tower, at which point the pleasant sounds of birds chirping and cooing fade into the disgusting noise of flies buzzing.  She climbs the tower to find Miles sitting and playing with pigeons.  THOSE ARE THE DIRTIEST BIRDS, MILES.  AND ONE OF THEM IS SITTING ON YOUR HEAD.  DUDE.  Deborah Kerr wants to know where the man is, but Miles tells her she probably just saw him.  He says at one point, “Oh, dear.  I hope you don’t need spectacles; you’re too pretty for them.”  SERIOUSLY, MILES, YOU’RE ELEVEN.

As Deborah Kerr is trying to find out of there are any other people living on the grounds, Flora comes running up and tells her that Miles is ‘running expedition.’  Which turns out to mean riding his pony very very fast, and all I can think of is Bonnie Blue from Gone With the Wind.  Unfortunately, the little imp doesn’t break his neck.  Damn.

The kids ask Deborah Kerr how big her house was growing up.  Miles the Minx asks if the house was big enough to keep secrets.  Apparently not, because her father was a Father, always writing sermons.  But when he’d go out, the family would play Hide and Seek.  That causes the children to want to play Hide and Seek, which is NEVER A GOOD IDEA IN A CREEPY OLD HOUSE.  She ends up in an attic with ANOTHER CREEPY BOBBLEHEAD, WHAT THE FUCK, OLD MOVIES.  She goes over to stop its bobble, but then she runs into the table and starts up a music box.  The song it plays is the same song Flora keeps humming, and there is a cracked picture of a man in the box as well.

And then Miles, the Creepy Fucker, jumps out and frightens poor Deborah Kerr.  He puts his arms around her neck in what I assume is a half-Nelson-type hold, but Deborah at first mistakes it for a hug.  When it turns out to be not that and more of a stronghold, she asks him to stop holding her because he’s hurting her.  He refuses.  MILES, WHAT THE FUCK.  And then Flora shows up and then Miles lets Deborah go, and also, Flora is happy because Deborah found her missing music box.  It’s also Deborah’s turn to hide.

She goes back to the living room and hides behind one of the draperies.  As she’s standing there, she sees a man stalking up to the window.  She tries to scream, but either she’s too scared, or she doesn’t want the kids to find her hiding space.  The man practically puts his nose on the window, then moves back into the dark in the slowest backwards walk ever.  Deborah understandably freaks out, as she recognizes the man as the man from the tower.  When Mrs. Groce shows up, Deborah pretty much accuses the housekeeper of hiding a handsome yet scary man on the grounds.  Then she realizes that not only is he the Man From the Tower, but also the Man From the Music Box Picture.  She’s on her way to the attic to find the picture when Mrs. Groce tells her that the man she thinks she’s seeing is dead.  DUH AND/OR HELLO.

A couple of days later, it’s pouring out and the kids are being little nightmares in the classroom.  A series of stupid little things (squeaky pencil, Miles being a fucktard) cause Flora to cry.  Deborah Kerr decides that instead of learning, they’ll pretend that it’s Flora’s birthday.  The children want to have a costume party, so they go off running to surprise Deborah.  Deborah gets all worried about the kids running off.  Mrs. Groce runs interference, telling Deborah that there was no man, and the dead man was the Uncle’s valet.  He died by slipping on the front stairs while drunk in a snowstorm.  Apparently Miles was the one who found him, which is tragic in its own way because Miles followed after the valet — name of Quint, and I know there’s a Jaws joke in there somewhere, but remember, that’s also on the List — like a little lost puppy.  Worshipped him, which, even if Quint hadn’t cracked his head open like a snow margarita, would have ended poorly.

The kids come down the staircase all wrapped in sheets and crowns, looking like a regular little royal party.  Miles recites a poem about what could he do with his Lord away, and I have no idea if he’s referring to Jesus, Quint, or something else.  The atmosphere is very Macbeth-ish.  Deborah Kerr wants to know more about the mysterious Quint, but then she learns that apparently, Quint and the first Governess may have been having an affair or something.  Mrs. Groce tells her to not worry about it, because the whole thing’s over and done with.  Deborah wonders, is it really?

Deborah Kerr is sitting with the children in the garden, and she becomes convinced that she saw another ghost, this one of the former governess.  That night, Deborah tells the housekeeper her fears, and the housekeeper finally believes that Deborah really is seeing these things.  Deborah does the classic “What do the ghosts want?,” hoping — like Giles and Buffy did fifty years later in “I Only Have Eyes For You” — that if they can figure it out, they can exorcise the area of the ghosts.  Apparently, Governess #1 and Quint were sex fiends, and they didn’t care who saw them.  Uh, yikes.  In addition, Quint was abusive to the Governess, but she liked it.  When Quint died, she became uber-depressed, and she died of a broken heart.

Deborah Kerr has a creepy nightmare that night, full of overlain shots of the kids being creepy, dancing with the ghosts of the dead, and the kids keep whispering about keeping secrets.  Deborah Kerr believes that the children might be possessed by the dead Quint and dead governess.  Deborah wants to convince Creepy Uncle that his niece and nephew are possessed, but she wants to make sure she knows all the details.  Mrs. Groce finally tells her that the First Governess drowned herself.

Deborah wants to go to London, but on the day of her journey, she finds the ghost of the First Governess in the schoolroom, crying.  Like, there are actual wet tears on the chalkboard of sums.  So she decides to not go to London, and to keep the children within her sight at all times.  But then later that night, she goes on rounds throughout the house with her candelabra, and she hears the voices of the First Governess and Quint, with the Governess saying “The children are watching,” and Quint laughing maniacally.  When she returns to the bedroom she shares with Flora, Flora’s kneeling at the window, watching Miles walk around in the garden.  Deborah takes up her candelabra again and runs down to the garden to figure out what Miles is doing out so late.

Miles had decided to run outside with his bare feet because he thought he was being boring.  OH MY GOD.  MILES.  THERE ARE GHOSTS ABOUT.  As she’s tucking Miles in bed, she finds a … a dead pigeon, with a broken neck, UNDER MILES’S PILLOW.  MILES, WHAT THE FUCK.  And THEN, he asks Deborah Kerr to kiss him goodnight, and when she hesitates, he kisses her smack on the lips.  And not an “Eleven-Year-Old” kiss – an “I’m Growing Up” kiss.  MILES, WHAT THE FUCK

The next day, Flora goes missing.  Deborah Kerr believes that she’ll be at the lake where the First Governess killed herself.  Sure enough, Flora and her music box are dancing in the gazebo at the edge of the lake.  Well, Flora’s dancing to the music from the music box.  The music box can’t dance.  Deborah Kerr sneaks up on her and then gently calls her name, in an attempt to not scare the poor girl.  But as Deborah asks her who gave her the music box, and if she can see the spectre of Miss Jessel, the First Governess, because she can, she’s right over there, don’t you see her, Flora?  Don’t you?  Anyway, Flora starts to bawl, just as Mrs. Groce comes up and wants to know what’s going on.  And —

JESUS CHRIST, WEEKLY EMERGENCY ALERT TEST!  BE MORE INAPPROPRIATE!  Good God almighty, I jumped!  *deep breaths* Okay, I’m awake now. 

Also, you know you’ve been up too long when you’re awake for the weekly test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  Fuck.

Oh look, I only have twenty more minutes.  Flora gets scared of Deborah Kerr and demands to never see her again.  Well, in her defense, Deborah, you are becoming kind of a creeper.

That night, Flora is screaming to raise the dead — uh, pun hopefully not intended? — but Deborah is respecting the girl’s wishes to never see her again.  So instead, Flora just screams all night long.  Apparently, she’s also cursing up a storm, but thanks, Hayes Code!  We only hear screaming, no swear words.  Deborah tells Mrs. Groce to take Flora to their Uncle while she works on getting Miles to talk.  Clearly, Mrs. Groce believes Deborah Kerr’s gone ’round the bend, but is in no position to try and convince her otherwise.

Mrs. Groce says goodbye to Deborah Kerr and takes Flora to her uncle’s in London.  Young Master Miles has gone outside to play, so Deborah Kerr waits for him to return.  It’s not until teatime that he decides to deign Deborah Kerr with his presence.  He’s very happy that he’s got Deborah Kerr alone.  He tries to convince Deborah Kerr that he’s happy and Flora’s happy and everyone’s so very, very happy together, but then he runs away, undercutting his entire argument.

She tells Miles that her father — the vicar, remember? — told her to help people, even if they don’t want help.  That’s why she’s kept Miles in here alone.  She asks again what happened at school, and he tries to tell her it’s because he’s different, but then she says that he’s no different from any other boy.  Uh, Deborah?  HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING THIS MOVIE?!

Finally, Miles admits that he hears voices and that he’d talk in his sleep, frightening the other boys at school.  He then taunts Deborah Kerr, and she sees Quint in the window behind Miles.  He goes a little crazy — possibly possessed — and calls Deborah a damned dirty hussy.  Hey, now.  He runs out of the conservatory, throwing Flora’s pet turtle Rupert out the window.  NOT RUPERT!

He runs into the garden, convinced that Deborah’s gone mad.  She sees Quint replace one of the statues in the garden, and when Miles asks to see him, the devil, he spins around, has a seizure or something, then passes out.  As Deborah Kerr picks him up, strokes his hair, and tells him that she has him now and that Quint’s gone. 

… And then she realizes that …



In conclusion, the movie was not as ‘scary’ as I thought it was going to be.  Hurray!  It was still fucked up, and I can’t imagine how everyone must have reacted to the story back when it was released. 

I tell you what, though — I think the next movie I watch is going to be of the Netflix Roulette variety.  I need to be making fun of more things.

*PS: Upcoming H2 Productions:
Ghost of a Death Hunter
Death of a Goat Hunter
And the last in the amazing trilogy: Hunt of a Goat Ghost.

On behalf of the team at H2 Productions: You’re welcome, world.

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


Insomniac Theatre: “Marked Woman”

Aaaaaaannnnd……… I’m back! 

And Caroline the Netbook’s keyboard is acting up once more.  Or, to be generous, dear Caroline: the touchpad is exceedingly touchy tonight.  This will make blogging fun.

I’ve had Jeremy the IV, Part One (also known as Jeremy, Episode IV: A New Hope) set up for approximately three weeks.  And in that time, I’ve become addicted to Go On, The New Normal, and TCM once more.  I have seven movies on my DVR’d list, and the list is already up to 60%.

I have a problem.

I’m sorry – I also have to take a moment of digression.  As I’m writing the preamble to this, my return to Insomniac Theatre, I’m watching last Wednesday’s episode of The Daily Show, and being totally lazy and not fast-forwarding through the commercials.  I just saw a commercial for Patron Tequila, and they’re talking about how Patron conserves water, and recycles glass, and creates renewable compost, and I get that they’re trying to make us like them even more because they’re being all environmentally responsible, but I’m all … I don’t always drink Patron.  But when I do, it’s because a rich frat guy is trying to impress me.


So let’s return to Insomniac Theatre with what is sure to become a Bette Davis Classic, Marked Woman:


A crusading DA persuades a clip joint “party girl” to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory “parties.”

Here’s why I’m excited: it stars Humphrey Bogart AND Bette Davis.  The last time the two were in the same movie, she slapped the shit out of him.  And Bogey don’t take no shit.  The dialogue’s going to be fast and witty, and pretty much awesome, right?

Also, I’m using this as my return to the Mvoies Alaina’s Never Seen stage because it’s an hour and a half long.  Woo hoo short movies!

Hm.  According to Robert Osborne, this movie is the Law & Order of the 1930s: “ripped from the headlines,” and the mobster is loosely based upon Lucky Luciano.  More fun facts: Bogey plays a good guy, whose character is based upon that of Thomas Dewey.  The SAME Thomas Dewey who went on to defeat Harry Truman for one newspaper headline.  (Did I do a history?)

Also: due to the Hayes Code, Lucky Luciano’s prostitutes are here known as “party girls,” or “hostesses.”  Damn you, Hayes Code.

Huh, this is interesting.  It starts with the credits, but then it also goes through a roll-call of sorts, with a few frames of each actor and the character they’re playing.  Whoa, and Mayo Methot is not a looker.  And she was Bogey’s wife before he married Lauren Baccall?  Jeez, Bogey, what was she, funny?

The story, all names, characters, incidents and institutions portrayed in this production are fictitious.  No identification with actual persons, living or deceased, is intended or should be inferred.

But … Robert Osborne just said … ?

A bunch of policemen are hanging out around a place called “Club Intime.”  Jeez, I wonder what *that* could be a front for.  Say “Obvious, much” much?  While the police stay outside, a bunch of goons head downstairs and look at the cocktail bar and talk about turning the private dining room into the gambling room.  Oh, I get it — it’s a mook with his interior decorators.

One of whom is carrying … a spaniel?  Or, a … shit, I don’t know what kind of dog that is.  It’s a lap dog, with longer hair — the kind that old ladies usually tie up in a bow on the top of their head?  A Shi-Tzu?  Crossed with a spaniel of some sort?  Damn.  You know what I need?  Shazam for dogs.  Honest-to-god, I could use Shazam for a lot of things.  ANYWAY.  The Lead Mook pets the dog and then tells the Dog Lackey to take her for a walk, as it’s “too stuffy in here.”  …. What?  What kind of mook takes his dog to his brothel?

The mook’s name is apparently Mr. Vanning.  He tells his decorator he wants a different type of chandelier for the nightclub.  He takes a tour of his ‘party girls,’ one of whom is the lovely Bette Davis.  He then gives a speech about how he’s turning this nightclub into something called a ‘clip joint,’ which must be code for something that in turn was code for brothel.  Again: stupid Hayes code. 

The girls all pile out, told to come back tomorrow.  Vanning stops one girl and pretty much tries to fire her for being too old.  Ouch — first you’re told you’re a whore, then you’re told that you’re too old to be a whore?  That’s gotta smart.  Bette jumps in and tells Vanning to give her a chance, as he’s only just bought the bar and can’t be sure how she’ll work out.  He agrees, taken with Bette’s outspokenness.  He invites her up to his place, but she wisely declines, as she’s got an inkling as to what he’s all about, and since he’s her boss now, that’s as far as it will go.  As she leaves, he tells his decorator mook friends that she’s a smart girl; one of them says that it’s possible she’s too smart.  Uh oh.

The girls all go home to their shared apartment and kvetch about their lovely life.  /sarcasm.  Meanwhile, Vanning has renamed Club Intime into the duh-doi name “Club Intimate.”  I detest idiots with no sense of subtlety.  A woman sings about a silver dollar man of hers, and a group of men call over Bette, her friend Old Estelle, and the nightclub singer. 

Can I just say, without fear of remorse or shaming from anyone I know, that being a whore in that type of joint seems like a swanky job?  The women get to dress up in gorgeous gowns, men fawn over them and buy them champagne, yours is watered down so you maintain your sobriety, but you keep funneling booze down their throat and get to dance and the next night it’s another dude, and sure your wages are cut a little bit by your boss, but come on! 

Bette’s mark is down on the dice table by $1800.  He writes a check and then takes Bette home.  When he tells her he doesn’t have a dime, she tells him to hightail it out of town as soon as possible.  Except the mooks catch him at the Waldorf and beat him up a bit. 

The next day Bette’s kid sister shows up at the girls’ apartment, but the kid sister doesn’t know what Bette and the girls do for a living.  Apparently Kid Sister goes to college – I’ll bet Bette sends what funds she can to help out Kid Sister.  Anyway, two guys come up to the apartment and ask Bette if she knew some guy named Ralph Crawford.  Turns out, Ralph was the guy Bette was out with last night, and also the guy that Vanning’s mooks killed. 

Holy SHIT, Bogey’s young in this movie!  There aren’t any wrinkles!  His voice isn’t as craggy or deep!  Even his five o’clock shadow is somewhat sexy!  I mean, I’ve loved him in Sabrina, and I’ve seen Casablanca and The Big Sleep, but … dayum, Bogey.  I was not expecting that.

The girls are doing a line-up, including the Kid Sister.  Bogey is trying to figure out what happened to Crawford.  He throws Bette in jail for being an accessory to murder, but he really knows that she’s not involved.  Vanning’s lawyer visits Bette in jail and tells her to play ball to protect Vanning, and if she doesn’t she’ll end up like Isobel Flemming, who ended up in the river.  Bette ends up in Bogey’s office again, and she pretty much has a breakdown in his office because she’s too young to die.

And THAT’S the part where I was going to make a reference to Buffy’s great scene in “Prophecy Girl,” where she overhears Giles and Angel talking about the prophecy, and how she’s going to march into the Master’s lair, and she will die.  She starts laughing and then starts throwing books at Giles, screaming “Read me the SIGNS!  Tell me my FORTUNE!” then she breaks down and in a very quiet voice, says, “I’m sixteen years old.  I’m too young to die.”  And I totally felt okay comparing the great Bette Davis to that, one of my favorite scenes ever in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but then I remembered that in this movie, Bette’s pretty much playing a watered-down version of a prostitute, and having her say that she’s sixteen years old is REALLY FUCKING ICKY.

Damn.  I really want to watch “Prophecy Girl” right now.

[Six minutes later…]

Jesus, thank god for Netflix, huh?  *sniff*  How can Sarah Michelle Gellar be so GOOD!?  And how can Giles KILL ME with a crinkling of his eyes?  No, I will not watch “Helpless” again.  Right now.  I’m still watching Marked Woman.

Anyway.  Jesus.  Bette agrees to testify against Vanning, according to the requisite spinning newspapers that movies from this time period are so fond of.  She identifies the perps in front of the entire court, which to me seems rather stupid.  Of course, in this day and age, we have our witnesses testify from behind the curtain of the Witness Protection Program.  So I guess my perception is colored.

Bette testifies, and then the defense calls a cop up who testifies that he had the two perps in custody for drunken driving at the time when Bette testified that they were taking care of the murdered dude.  Turns out, Bette was working with Vanning the entire time to ensure his innocence.  When she returns home, the Kid Sister is hiding from the world, devastated that her sister is a … ‘hostess.’  I swear to god, Hayes code…

Then Kid Sister tells Bette that she can’t go back to school, because she’s humiliated that her sister is a … ‘hostess.’  So she’s just going to hang around the girls’ apartment, waiting for … I don’t know.  Something to happen.  That part wasn’t made all that clear.  (Or, this could just be the fault of me not paying attention.  Hey look, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are going to host the Golden Globes!  Remember when the Golden Globes didn’t have a host?)

Emmy-Lou, one of the girls, comes home to change before going to another party and finds Kid Sister sitting in the dark.  She convinces Kid Sister to go to a party that Vanning’s throwing.  And by “convinces,” I mean “pretty much strong-arms her into going.”  She bribes her with a pretty silver dress, and they’re starting to get changed when the camera decently pans away from the two girls (if they couldn’t say “prostitutes” in 1937, they certainly couldn’t show two women undressing each other) and the camera lands on … holy SHIT.



I mean, JESUS CHRIST.  How can anyone SLEEP with that thing staring at them all night?!  Oh, PS, it’s ALSO A BOBBLEHEAD.

Anyway, Kid Sister goes to Vanning’s party with Emmy-Lou and ends up getting tons of cash from a guy.  She had the same idea that I had: that maybe that life ain’t so bad.  Bette wants to keep Kid Sister out of that type of racket, but Kid Sister does what Kid Sisters so often do: run and do the exact opposite of what Big Sister says she shouldn’t do.

And she runs right back into Vanning’s party, and the arms of the guy who gave her the money, but when he tries to put the moves on her she resists.  Vanning and Emmy-Lou show up, and even though she’s not an employee, Vanning sees money in her, so he hits her down a flight of stairs, where she must die, although it’s never actually said that she’s dead.

Bette yells at Emmy-Lou for taking Kid Sister to the party, though nobody tells Bette that Kid Sister’s dead.  Not Emmy-Lou, not Vanning … until she goes to Bogey’s office to try and get him to help her.  As he kicks her out, the coroner brings in reports, at which point he figures out that Case 3B42-A (or whatever) is actually Bette’s Kid Sister. 

After the funeral, Bogey goes to the girls’ apartment and tries to get the girls to help testify.  None of the girls are brave enough to be willing to testify against Vanning.  They all recognize that Vanning will kill them all, just as easily as Vanning killed Kid Sister.

And then Vanning shows up!  And he kicks all the women out of the room and lets Charlie knock Bette around a little bit.  Also, Emmy-Lou is conveniently missing. 

Cops swarm on Club Intimate, led by Bogey.  He’s looking for Emmy-Lou, trying to get the final piece in the Who Killed Bette’s Kid Sister? puzzle.  She was being strongholded in Vanning’s apartments or wherever.  When Bogey comes up in a raid, Emmy-Lou manages to get away – using the elevator, of all things!  She runs straight to Bette’s hospital room, and Bette really does look beaten. 

(Fun Fact!: The Makeup department at Warner Brothers gave Bette Davis very ‘pretty’ bandages for this scene – like a glamour girl’s version of being beaten.  Bette Davis went to her doctor and told the doctor to bandage her like a woman that had just been brutally beaten.  She then stormed back to Warner Brothers and demanded to be shot like that or not at all.  And THAT is why Bette Davis > You.)

Bette manages to convince all the girls to agree to testify against Vanning, so Bogey is finally successful in indicting and arresting Vanning.  The girls end up in jail, mostly for their own protection.  The case goes to trial, and all the girls testify, both to the innocent character of Kid Sister and to some of the deeds that Vanning and his men had done.  Bogey gives a stirring closing argument, calling out the five girls for testifying when men with more power refused.  The jury finds Vanning and his cohorts guilty on all counts.  And because this took place before the Witness Protection Program, the judge sentences them to at least 30 years in maximum lockup, and threatens them with more should anything ever happen to the five women who testified against him.

Bette was going to say something to Bogey, but he was being congratulated by the rest of his team.  So when she leaves, Bogey calls after her to thank her and congratulate her  and he offers her his assistance.  I think, in a roundabout way, he was asking her to go out with him, but she didn’t feel that she was part of his world.  He tells her that he’ll see her again, and she agrees.  The movie ends with reporters conglomerating around Bogey, taking pictures, and the five women walk into the night fog and disappear.

Hm.  Well.  That was … kind of a sad return for Insomniac Theatre, I guess.  I expected more face-slapping.  And yelling.  And sarcastic comments.  I mean, I think the movie was good, but … meh.  There should have been more jokes.

Sorry, guys.  That was lame.  I’ll pick a better one next time.

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Insomniac Theatre


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