Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jessica (1962): I...I...I...just don't know what to say.

I almost ALWAYS only write actual semi-reviews for films I utterly loved, films I utterly hated, or films that are completely and brilliantly idiotic. I never blog about harmless, forgettable movies (for those I write a couple sentences on my 2011 in Film page). But, I have to with Jessica....because I don't even know whether I'm supposed to love it or hate it or ridicule it. THE MILLIE IS HOPELESSLY CONFUSED. ;-D

This movie has an awesome setting in Sicily -- utterly gorgeous. The cast is super-cool. The '60s fashion is to-die-for. And the music is quite lovely. 

But the story is complete junk. Normally, I adore horribly written movies -- but I don't even know what to say about this one. It tries to be dramatic and "realistic," before being lured away into becoming a charming and wonderfully unrealistic comedy, before suddenly remembering that this is Jean Negulesco picture -- AND IT'S GONNA BE DRAMATIC. It's like the writer realized that the characters were just a little too happy and settled -- QUICK! KILL OFF THE HARMLESS, OLD CARE-TAKER WHO IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING A LITTLE JOY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS OLD AGE AND DESTROY THE GARDEN HE'S BEEN WORKING ON FOR 60 YEARS WHILE YOU'RE AT IT! And while, we're on that point. The little wind storm utterly demolishes the garden he's been working on for 60 years. Had there literally been NO wind in Sicily since at least 1902?! (Normally, I forgive such anomalies. But, I'm not in a forgiving mood. ;-D)

I'm not even going to talk about the remarkable amount of sexism in this film, because I want to move right along to Maurice Chevalier as a priest.

*Excuse me a moment.*


Okay, anyway, I'm back. Yeah. Maurice Chevalier is the, um, devout and pious Father of the village (yeah, I'm stilling dying of laughter). He also sings and dances. And as the title character of Jessica is a midwife, I was seriously expecting him to wander by singing, "Thank heaven for leeetle girhls..."

Also: Why was everyone mad at Jessica? SHE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG. arrrgghhh.

Good things about this movie:

** It once again makes me want to Vespa my way around '60s Europe.

** The fashion was awesome.

**The cast was utterly brilliant.

** MARCEL DALIO SIGHTING (even though his character was extremely creepy [and Marcel made it the least possible of creepy that he could])!

** Gabriele Ferzetti.

Who is this actor? AND WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF HIM BEFORE?! He was so utterly perfect that I added basically all of his 50s/60s stuff to my Netflix. He's in a bunch of famous films that I've heard of before -- BUT SOMEHOW I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HIM?! Craziness.


And while we're on the subject of Gabriele Ferzetti (his name is totally fun to type): You know how in all those late '50s/early '60s movies where there was a "handsome," older bachelor it was ALWAYS played by Rossano Brazzi -- but he is just so seriously creepy that I can't even handle watching anything with him? Well, Gabriele Ferzetti (go type/say his name. You know it's fun. ;-D) was playing that part in this movie AND HE WAS SO PERFECT. Is there any possible way we can go and digitally remove Rossano Brazzi from everything and add Gabriele Ferzetti instead? Get back to me on that, because I am seriously curious. ;-D

Well, in conclusion, I don't even know what to say about this movie. It was like the kind of movie I should have loved ('60s, Sicily, cool clothes, Vespa, MARCEL DALIO), but absolutely do not love.

That script was crazy and not in a good way (and you have to be aware that to be not crazy in a good way in the eyes of The Millie is extremely hard to be).

However, this movie introduced me to Gabriele Ferzetti -- so all is forgiven.

Well, almost all. I still cannot get the image of Maurice Chevalier as a singing, dancing priest out of my head. I fear that I never shall.



kate gabrielle said...

I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever! I had so much fun reading it!! :D And I have this movie on dvd.. I think I seriously need to watch it right away now, if only just to see what all the fuss is about Gabriele Ferzetti (that is fun) ;-D

Oh, and have you seen Susan Slade? I know you hate Troy Donahue but I think you'd have fun making fun of the movie if you watched it! At one point a baby (yes, a baby) climbs out of his crib, grabs a lighter, LIGHTS said lighter, and then bursts into flames. It was hilarious in a way that only extremely melodramatic early 60's movies can be.

Millie said...

AWWW! That makes me so happy! :-D

Hahahahahha! WATCH IT NOW! Maybe you can help me make sense of it. Well, Gabriele Ferzetti (I keep wanting to spell his name with two L's because of you. ;-D) isn't really in it for that long and I think his character is supposed to be schizophrenic (or the writer who wrote the character is schizophrenic), but he has basically the greatest Italian accent EVER. haha

OH. MY. GOSH. I neeeeeed to see this. I would go through the torture of Troy Donahue to view such awfulness. *OFF TO NETFLIX!* ;-D

Thanks for the wunderbar comment, Kate! Yours always make me happy! :-D

DKoren said...

What?? Rossano Brazzi is creepy??? What universe is The Millie living in?? ROFL! Ah well, more for me! :-D I take it you don't like South Pacific, then!

Seriously, I loved reading this review. It makes me almost -- almost -- want to see this movie just to see how crazy it is.

Millie said...

Deb: I'm living in Millie World. Quite lovely here. ;-D

Yes, yes, yes! You can have all of him!

hehehehe! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hello from Australia...

Anyone can help with "links" to download "JESSICA" in ENGLISH???

I've been trying for a while and the only version available is in SPANISH.

Would really appreciate it.

"kate gabrielle" says she's got the movie on DVD. Can you kindly help?


Auretha Callison said...

I liked it for all the reasons you did, but for different reasons. I lead people to change their image and lives in fabulous ways by..well..beginning to look fabulous. This film is very true for myself personally and most of my clients. When one does not dim one's light, and lives gorgeously, they are very attractive!! The issues in this film are very real reasons people choose to gain weight, dress invisibly and not show up gorgeously in the world. Loved it and promoted this new to me blog on both my facebook pages. LOVE. Can't wait to read more of you!
Auretha Callison,
Soul Stylist


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