Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Marnie (1964), the Hitchcock I hate: Or poor Bruce Dern and other musings


I watched Marnie for the first time last night. It was my last '60s Hitchcock. I have now finished with the '40s, the '50s, and the '60s. I have six to watch from the '30s, Frenzy and Family Plot, and a whole bunch of silents, but still. It's sad. I adore Sir Alfred. His films are some of my favorite things ever. I shudder to think of the day when there are no more Hitchcock films (it's like the day when there are no more Agatha's to read -- PLEASE NO!).

Of course, after shuddering, I'll probably just meander off and watch Shadow of a Doubt and Dial M For Murder simultaneously while chuckling gleefully and rubbing my hands together (I don't know why, I just will).

And, of course, I could watch The Lady Vanishes three times a week for the rest of my life and never regret my life choices.

Anyway, all of this is to say -- I love Sir Alfred. I LOVE ALL OF HIS OUTPUT. You're talking to the girl who is the co-president of the Jamaica Inn fanclub (co-president with Matthew, of course).

You're also talking to the girl who will declare the genius of the flashback in Stage Fright until the day she dies.

I love Sir Alfred and his life choices.

I do not love Marnie.

I hated nearly everything about it.

This is not for technical or film reasons or anything, because, honestly, Sir Alfred can do no wrong. ever. Ever. EVER.

It's just that I hated every single character.

I am not typically a hard-to-please film-goer. I'm the one who loves reprehensible, no-budget films because there's one almost-cool character (Girl in Lovers Lane, I'm trying hard not to look at you).

{Note: I'm also the person who recently, when on an 11 hour flight from London to San Francisco, decided to watch Wrath of the Titans (instead of a whole bunch of classic movies, including Lawrence of Arabia) -- because Liam Neeson was playing Zeus and, well, SAM WORTHINGTON (I love that guy, no matter you all say). So, perhaps, you definitely and absolutely shouldn't even continue you reading this.}

But, don't try to make me like a movie where everyone is a jerk. I just can't do it. You remember what happened last summer when I watched '60s Italian films, don't you? Well, if you don't -- I'll just tell you that it was NOT a pretty sight.

Marnie has no redeemable characters. The only likable one is Mariette Hartley and she's in the movie for exactly 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Those were a bright almost 3 minutes though.

I hate Marnie (not exclusively because she's played by the villain from The Birds, but that did factor into my decision).

I hate Mark. He was a serious jerk and nothing Sean Connery rambled on about in Scottish changed my mind.

I hate Lil. And, really, Diane Baker -- YOU ARE AWESOME. Why did you always play annoying characters (don't get me started on her role as "the future bride of the lonely doctor on the run").

I hate Marnie's mom.

I hate all the mean, assorted business people.

I really was just annoyed the whole movie.

And, then, I suddenly remembered -- BRUCE DERN WAS IN THE CREDITS. BRUCE DERN WAS GONNA BE IN THIS MOVIE. HUZZAH!

Imagine my despair when Bruce Dern ended up being the creepiest, most awful character of all.

Poor Bruce Dern.

I know he's the best villain actor ever, but why can't he ever play a good guy? He's the "hero" in Silent Running, but even that involves him destroying things and killing innocent people.

{Note: I was the strange 15 year-old girl who got excited to see Bruce Dern in the credits of random '60s TV shows because that meant there was gonna be an awesome character with psycho eyes in the episode.}

 ^Psycho eyes were never the same after Bruce Dern got to them.

Oh well, I'm sure Bruce has a happy life. I mean, he gets to be an awesome, scary actor. And then, when he's bored of that, he puts on a wig and transforms in to the singer otherwise known as "Neil Young." (Please tell me that I'm not the only who person who, upon hearing "Cortez the Killer" for the first time, said out loud "When did Bruce Dern start recording?")

BUT, I DIGRESS.

It is suffice to say that I really did not like Marnie, have no desire to ever see it again, and will probably in fact never even acknowledge it again. Topaz was stinkin' better than this. It really does grieve me to say this, because I have always been of the opinion that in the very rare instance that Sir Alfred does not make an absolutely perfect film -- there is still something of genius to love.

Even in Topaz, we had the awe-inducing shot of of the purple dress lady getting killed.

I'm struggling to find something in Marnie. I know there are people who consider it to be his last masterpiece. So please, people, enlighten me.

I mean, I really liked Diane Baker's haircut, but I just don't know if that counts.

EDIT: Actually, I just remembered something brilliant. That opening scene, before we see Marnie's face. I LOVED THAT. That was pure Hitchcock and pure awesome

Anyway, if you're a fan of Marnie, let me know why! If you hate it as much as me, please validate my opinion! And, if you were once a 15 year-old girl who got excited to see Bruce Dern's name in the credits -- PLEASE BE MY BEST FRIEND!

-Millie


Friday, July 20, 2012

To be or not to be... The Five Greatest Soliloquy Deliverers

Well, because my friends are just as strange awesome as I am, several of us planned to get together tonight and watch David Tennant's Hamlet and drink Dr. Pepper (we always drink Dr. Pepper when staring at David Tennant -- well actually we just always drink Dr. Pepper, but you know: Dr. Pepper + the Tenth Doctor = CLEVERR).

It only ended up being two of us (camping, work, vacations -- how are these more important?!), but I had never gotten a chance to see it all the way through before (you, however, can right now because it is available for viewing on PBS.org) and was quite excited to see it. Hamlet isn't my favorite Shakespeare (Twelfth Night all day, every day!), but it does have some of The Millie's most favorite quoting lines: "Get thee to a nunnery!" and "Oh heat, dry up my brains." -- in case you were curious.

Anyway, Mr. Tennant was kinda PERFECT. His Hamlet was absolutely manic and insane and awesome.



And watching his soul-searing delivery of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy (seriously my friend and I were yelling at each other "DON'T BREAK EYE CONTACT WITH DAVID!"), made me think of other favorite soliloquy deliverers.

Here are five that I quite like.

5) Richard Burton


Honestly, Richard Burton is just cool saying anything. But, I rather like his Hamlet. Because he clearly doesn't even care. When he says "to sleep, perchance to dream," it looks like he's really falling asleep. His Hamlet sits on the stool and looks back and forth across the audience -- as if to say, "Truly, I dazzle you with my coolness do I not?"

4) Jack Benny


Sorry, I have no video link. Clearly, this just means you need to go watch To Be or Not To Be (1942). You absolutely will not regret it. Jack Benny's soliloquy delivering is actually an important part of the script. And it's absolutely brilliant. He does it in the most Hamletly way possible. And, well, it's just perfect.

3) David Tennant


I almost switched this with Olivier, but I just couldn't (one doesn't simply change opinions on Sir Laurence Olivier's Hamlet). I just saw this, but already LOVE IT. The long pause, the closed eyes becoming scarily unblinking eyes, the hair -- it's all beautiful.

2) Laurence Olivier


Yes, I was the obnoxious and shockingly pretentious 8-year-old -- who when asked about The Lion King (which I have never seen) -- always responded by saying, "I prefer Olivier's Hamlet."And there's a reason why -- IT'S STINKIN' SIR LAURENCE OLIVIER. The man has one of the greatest voices ever. And he is able to turn a traditional portrayal of the play (which could become stale or boring) into an engrossing and interesting film. That's talent.

1) Gilligan
{embedding was disabled, but clicking on the photo will take you to the video}

This is Hamlet for the ages. When I think of Hamlet, I immediately start singing this song. (Also, I think: "A ghost and a prince meet and everyone ends in mince-meat.") I want to say that I sing this song in my head, but I don't. I sing it out loud and clear, no matter what. It just needs to be done. And, it's brilliant. The powers-that-be knew their Shakespeare. Gilligan's delivery especially gets at the heart of Hamlet's severe "mother issues." Anyway, I don't care. This is perfect. (Also, don't miss Polonius' immortal song.)

These are five of my most favorite Hamlets. Who is on your list?



-Millie

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

19 Favorite Sixties Television Characters: Dr. Richard Kimble




Character: Dr. Richard Kimble
Actor: David Janssen
Show: The Fugitive

The lonely doctor on the run...

First of all, that's a complete lie. The guy has more friends (90% of which are female oddly enough) on the run than he had back in Illinois. He also has better hair. (I sincerely hope that he continued to dye his hair after being acquitted.) Anyway, Dr. Richard Kimble is a perfect person. He's on the run from the law after being falsely convicted of murdering his wife, making him basically the only roaming television hero who REALLY NEEDED TO ROAM. He's also a genius, super-kind, quietly witty, and enjoys flashing a rare twitchy, little smirk.

What He Does Best: Being a heart-breaker (seriously. the guy has women stashed all over the country -- just waiting for him to be proven innocent), being a victim of blind justice, getting people to implicitly trust him, rescuing whole busloads of children, every manual labor job ever invented, sleeping on buses, risking his life for others, hand-to-hand combat, taking the Hippocratic Oath very seriously, being adorable while staring at people with his sad eyes (I think I'm gonna stop now)

Why He's Awesome: He's this Midwestern pediatrician, yet he manages to evade capture FOR YEARS. And, it's not like the police gave up after two months or assigned some stupid detective to the job. No. The twitchy, little smirk has after him a super-genius of a cop (in one episode it is shown that Gerard is more accurate THAN A STINKIN' COMPUTER at guessing Kimble's actions) who also happens to be unhealthily obsessed with his capture. Even so, Dr. Richard Kimble is always ahead of him.

Again, he is this gentle, Midwestern pediatrician -- who just happens to be highly skilled at hand-to-hand combat. I mean, I guess we can blame that on his service in the Korean War (as a medic). But, I prefer to just assume that the good doctor is perfect at everything.

He basically can just look at a person and they immediately trust him with their lives. Strangely enough, this works especially well on females. By the fourth season, Lt. Gerard shows up at a "Kimble sighting" place and immediately begins interrogating the nearest attractive female -- he knows who the most likely Kimble ally is.

Dr. Richard Kimble saves EVERYONE'S LIVES. It doesn't matter if they are bad guys, it doesn't matter if he is definitely gonna get caught and sent back to death row, it doesn't matter if it's stinkin' Lt. Gerard. In fact, Kimble saves Gerard's life multiple times. He also saves Gerard's wife's life. And Gerard's kid's life. He also saves Gerard's dog's life (I think).

The twitchy, little smirk. I really cannot emphasize it enough. It's a work of art.



Favorite Moments: Oh, so many. But, I'm just gonna go with three random moments to ensure that this post can be mostly read in one sitting.

In "Smoke Screen," he's working as a crop-picker down near the border with a lot of evidently illegal workers. A forest fire breaks out, one thing leads to another, and he's stuck in the middle of a ring of fire with a lady in labor. There's a nurse on the scene, but of course this pregnant lady needs a c-section. He can perform the operation, but it will kinda blow his cover as a migrant worker. A similar Hippocratic Oath causing dilemma happens again and again in many episodes. This was one of the first. It's absolutely brilliant because every time the viewer knows that he's gonna eventually help the person (OF COURSE HE WILL!), but also maybe he won't. David Janssen was such a perfect actor that he portrays this crazy struggle between duty and survival so wonderfully.

In "See Hollywood and Die," Kimble has to downplay his convicted wife-murdererness to one person and overplay his hardened criminal on the run status to two other people -- AT THE SAME TIME. It's kinda awesome.

In "The Last Oasis," he gets shot in the leg. He then proceeds to instruct Hope Lange on how to remove the bullet, how to miss important arteries, etc -- all while sitting there, watching.



^Dr. Richard Kimble was MADE to fangirl over.

In conclusion, Dr. Richard Kimble is one of The Millie's absolute favorite '60s TV characters because he is not a simple hero. He's actually a very conflicted convicted murderer on the run from the law, but not society. Unlike many super-cool '60s loners, he doesn't roam because that's just what he does. In fact, he would much prefer his boring life as a gentle, Midwestern pediatrician. And, at the end of the series, all indications point to him returning to that life. (Craziness. And, by the way, the final female is stinkin' dull.) This is why he is awesome and fascinating.

He also has a twitchy, little smirk.


-Millie

Next up: A crime-fighting female with a pet ocelot named Bruce. Oh yes.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

19 Favorite Sixties Television Characters: Simon Templar


Character: Simon Templar
Actor: Roger Moore (but as it has already been determined, Simon Templar and Roger Moore are actually the same person and therefore interchangeable)
Show: The Saint


Oh, Simon Templar. First off, the man is stinkin' perfect. He actually lives off of his perfectness. He has no real "job," yet is constantly traveling in high society around the world -- apparently living off his charm and eyebrow-raising skills alone (okay, and he also can become a master criminal whenever the situation calls for it/even when the situation definitely does not call for it).

What He Does Best: stealing things, the aforementioned eyebrow raising, ruining people's lives with clever quips ("You seem to have an inferiority complex. And rightly so, because you are inferior."), feeding evil women to the Loch Ness monster (I'm not making this up), driving his kick-awesome Volvo, being The Saint

Why He's Awesome: Aside from what I've already mentioned, there are other reasons why Simon Templar is cooler than everyone else.

He can figure out whenever any policeman is following him (he's strangely disliked by every police chief everywhere), then he usually invites said policeman to join him for dinner, or a drink, or he gives him directions to where he's headed next -- just to make it easier for the cop.

Whenever he gets into a fight, and his hair becomes tastefully disarranged, he simply runs his hand over his head -- AND HIS HAIR IS BACK TO BEING COMPLETELY PERFECT.

He breaks the fourth wall in every single episode (well, b/w eps) and talks directly to the camera, usually about the "amusing" stupid people standing next to him. Why? BECAUSE HE'S STINKIN' SIMON TEMPLAR AND HE DOESN'T CARE.

Bad guys are always telling him that he's a "very clever man" whenever they have him temporarily tied up. Simon Templar always has a response. Once, he replied, "I'm not very clever...I'm exceptionally clever." Another time, he responded, "You've been reading my mail."

Anyway, I could keep on going for hours. Suffice to say, Simon Templar is basically the most awesome person to ever be awesome.

Favorite Moments: I kinda already mentioned several, but there are more. In one episode, he needs to be at his friend's wedding, 100 miles away, in a week -- so he decides to hike. Why? BECAUSE HE'S STINKIN' SIMON TEMPLAR AND HE FELT LIKE HIKING.

In another episode, he bets this arrogant rich guy (in front of a bunch of reporters) that his burglar-proof house will be robbed within two days. The Saint then arranges to have a police alibi, knowing that there are half-a-dozen criminals planning to commit the crime in his name. So, he wins the bet -- not having done a single thing.

In one episode, he wanders around Rome disguised as a blind, Italian beggar (there is a point).

And in most episodes, he saves the day/the world/a good portion of humanity with just his charm, smile, and a raised eyebrow.

I will allow his peppermint-popping, "arch-nemesis" Inspector Teal says to explain:

“Let me tell you something about Simon Templar. The more he smiles, the more helpful, the more cooperative, honest, and charming he is— the more you can be sure he is plotting something diabolical.”

And, THAT, is why he is one my absolute favorite '60s TV characters (I am aware that he originated in the '20s). There is just no one cooler. I mean, my car is named Simon Templar (and there's a sign of the Saint taped up in one of the windows, just to further reassure everyone that I am completely crazy).

Basically, The Millie just hearts Simon Templar.

-Millie

Next up: A lonely doctor on the run?

19 Favorite Sixties Television Characters

 ^This has little to do with this post, but it is a photo of David Janssen watching himself on TV (AND SMILING) -- so it must be celebrated!

I recently saw an awesome list of greatest '60s TV characters over at the Classic Film and TV Cafe. It didn't have just the usual choices. And, it inspired me to create my own list (with several same entrants)!

I adore '60s television. I grew up on it. I am also quite certain that it has shaped much of my outlook on life (this is definitely not something for you to worry about).

Sixties TV is brilliant and great and quite diverse. It also taught me how to play poker by the age of six (oh, classic westerns -- never change!).

Anyway, I shall be posting -- in their own individual posts -- 19 of my favorite characters. I'm only posting 19, because I always forget at least 8 choices in every list I make -- so they'll all have to share the 20th spot.

These posts will also not be as awesome and in-depth as the CFaTC ones (I really encourage you to check out that list -- you will surely not regret it). One, because I am too lazy. Two, because I cannot stay on track/focus. And three, most of the time, my explanations for liking anything end with strange gurgling noises and me mumbling to myself, "He has a nice face..." (in Charles Boyer's accent, because I always talk to myself in Charles Boyer's voice).

There. I have certainly missed creating run-on sentences!

Well, with further ado, expect the first (non-ranked) choice in semi-post-haste!

-Millie

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

{Click the photo to watch the video}

I hope it's lovely! 

-Millie

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Return of The Millie



Well, hello there, dear followers! I have missed you!

I never meant to be away so long, but one thing led to another...

I become a responsible adult in April and then I spent the next two months pretending to work hard on studying for finals and finishing high school and such. Mostly, I just watched whole seasons of Survivor on YouTube and played thousands of games of computer solitaire, while staring listlessly off into space contemplating what I was going to do with my life.

On June 16th, I graduated from high school and simultaneously graduated from college with my Associates degree. (I kinda love Glorious Washington's Running Start program, which lets HS juniors and seniors attend college full-time for free!)

In the early hours of June 19th, my first nephew was born. And in the slightly less early -- but still quite ungodly -- hour of 5:00 am, I was at the airport heading to Sierra Leone.

That is where I have since then. I really did not forget about you all!

I honestly kept coming up with random posts that I wanted to write, but it seemed somehow awkward to pop up with my top ten favorite Vincent Price mustaches -- after being away so long. ;-D

Anyway, I'm back. And no more school! This summer is gonna be awesome.

I'll be gone in the fall again, but not to school (I'm waiting a year). Instead, I'm gonna be somewhere in the world. I don't know quite what yet. Perhaps on Mercy Ship in Guinea, West Africa. Perhaps on a YWAM DTS in Switzerland. I really don't know yet. It's gonna be awesome though. I'm super-excited!

Anyway, I'm quite happy to be back. I've been forced to write far too many lucid essays these last six months. I NEED to write some nonsensical loveliness!

-Millie

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