We Can Dance If We Want To: A Coronavirus Playlist

A playlist for the lockdown:

Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance”

The Beach Boys – “In My Room”
Humble Pie – “I Don’t Need No Doctor”
Mary Jane Girls – “In My House”
John Lennon – “Isolation”
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Our House”
Bon Jovi – “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Mama I’m Coming Home”

Announcing “The Love Goes On Blogathon”!

Don’t things such as the coronavirus just make you want to spit into the face of Death?

Sadly, I currently have my own reasons for death-aimed expectorations. My wife of 30 years died on March 9.

As with anyone who deals with this sad situation, I am finding my own ways of coping…and one of them is

THE LOVE GOES ON BLOGATHON!

What We’re Looking For

Your blogathon entry should be about a movie in which a couple’s love for each other is so strong that it survives the death of one of those partners — perhaps even reaching out from (or into) the afterlife! Your entry can be from any category — comedy, drama, fantasy, etc. If you need inspiration, Google a list such as “Movies about love after death,” and you might be surprised at some of the titles that pop up. Or if you have a choice of your own, as long as it fits our blogathon’s motif, it shall be honored.

(Since there are so many choices in this “genre,” no duplicate entries will be allowed. Check the regularly updated list below to ensure that your choice has not already been taken.)

Instructions

  1. In the “Comments” section at the bottom of this blog, please leave your name, the URL of your blog, and the movie you are choosing to blog about. Below are banners you can use to promote your blog entry. Please choose a banner, display it on your blog, and link it back to this blog.
  2. The blogathon will take place from Fri., May 1 through Sun., May 3, 2020. When the opening date of the blogathon arrives, leave a comment here with a link to your post, and I will display it in the list of entries (which I will continually update to the beginning of the ‘thon, so keep checking back!).
  3. I will not be assigning particular dates to any blog posts. As long as you get your entry in by the end of the day on May 3, I will be satisfied. (That said, the sooner the better!)

Again, be sure to leave a comment below and grab our banner, and do your entry proud! Here’s the line-up so far:

Movie Movie Blog Blog II – Birth (2004)

Taking Up Room – Corpse Bride (2005)

Maddie Loves Her Classic Films – Truly Madly Deeply (1990)

Moon in Gemini – Wuthering Heights (1939)

Caftan Woman – Chances Are (1989)

Outspoken and Freckled – Ghost Town (2008)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – Misunderstood (1984)

Movierob – Always (1989)

The Flapper Dame – Rent (2005)

Tales from the Freakboy Zone – Hairspray (2007)

Dubsism – Heaven Can Wait (1978)

18 Cinema Lane – The Crow (1994)

The Midnite Drive-In – All of Me (1984)

Critica Retro – Orphee (1950)

Silver Screenings – A Guy Named Joe (1943)

Diary of a Movie Maniac – Foxfire (1987) and To Dance with the White Dog (1993)

Musings of an Introvert – Hearts and Souls (1993)

Pure Entertainment Preservation Society – The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (1978) – Someone needs to fix the hole

The following is my entry in The Pop Stars Moonlighting Blogathon, being hosted by Gill at the blog Realweegiemidget Reviews from March 12-14, 2020. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ takes on pop stars who decided to try movie acting as a second career!

772d664c346c78552d6644784a536642663377-300x300-0-0

With Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a splendid time is guaranteed for all…lovers of bad movies, that is. This movie was conceived at a time when wishful thinking about a Beatles reunion was at its peak, and when producer Robert Stigwood and stars The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton could seemingly do no wrong. So Stigwood snapped up the rights to classic Beatles tunes and, with the simple thinking that 3 + 1 = 4, he put Frampton and The Brothers Gibb together to make a quartet. The only problem was, that quartet wasn’t The Beatles.

The plot bears a vague similarity to the great Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine (and please, the resemblance ends there), by way of Sgt. Pepper’s band rescuing Frampton’s girlfriend (named Strawberry Fields in the movie…you know, “Strawberry Fields Forever”?) from some evildoers, particularly a ferocious band played by Aerosmith. But considering that Aerosmith does one of the few decent Beatles cover versions in the movie (“Come Together”), one would wish for Strawberry to come to her senses and become a groupie for the evil band.

But then, this wafer-thin plot is really only an excuse to gather an all-star cast (including Steve Martin, poor guy, in his feature-film debut) and make them warble half-baked versions of Beatles hits. The nadir is probably George Burns doing “Fixing a Hole” (in his throat, from the sound of it).

I suppose you can’t blame Stigwood, the Gibbs, et al. for trying to cash in on a craze. One person you can blame, though, is veteran Beatles producer George Martin, who inexplicably got involved in this mess as its music producer. At the time, Martin supposedly bragged that the soundtrack album shipped more units than the Beatles’ 1967 original album. But when the movie laid a giant egg in theaters across the country, most of those huge shipments were either sent back or were laid to rest in the $1.98 bargain bin. Since then, Martin, whose has appeared in many Beatles tributes (such as the Beatles Anthology video set), has been noticeably reticent about his contribution to this stinker.

As one critic put it at the time, if you listen to the soundtrack album backwards, you can hear Paul McCartney saying, “I wish I was dead! I wish I was dead!”

BORN TO KILL (1947) – You can’t always get what you want

The following is my entry in The 110 Years of Claire Trevor Blogathon, being co-hosted by Virginie and Crystal at their blogs The Wonderful World of Cinema and In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood from March 8-10, 2020. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ takes on the life, career, and movies of this fabulous actress!

220px-Borntokill

(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

There are a lot of people in Born to Kill who want only precisely what they can’t have.

th

Let’s start with the biggest one first. Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney) simply wants everything. He has an outsized sense of entitlement that would make Donald Trump look humble. To him, everything and everybody is a toy, intended for his amusement until he wearies of it and moves on to the next toy.

th (1)

Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) has just finalized a divorce in Reno and already has another man waiting in the wings — her ostensible fiancee, a rich man named Fred (Phillip Terry). (Unaddressed in the movie is the fact that Helen is already engaged to Fred before the ink on her divorce paper has even dried. So chances are that her dalliance with Fred might have been at least one cause of the divorce.)

On the night that Helen is preparing to leave Reno to meet up with Fred in San Francisco, she happens to stop back at her boarding house one more time. There, she discovers that two people have been murdered. Helen takes the sight unusually quietly and doesn’t even phone the police about it. Nothing must delay her trip to Frisco, after all, so why get involved?

But Helen gets involved whether she wants to or not. On the ferry to her train, she strikes up a conversation with a dashing man:  Sam, who unbeknownst to Helen was the one who committed the murders. The two hit it off, take the train to Frisco together, and then part ways, with the duo making a vague plan to meet up again in Frisco.

btk_georgia

One night, Sam drops by unexpectedly while Helen is entertaining her foster sister Georgia (Audrey Long). Helen is heir to a fortune that Sam sees as his ticket to the good life. Since Helen has now dismissed Sam as a one-night stand, he figures he’ll take up with Georgia.

borntokill3

Lest I divulge any more of the plot, let me mention a couple more hangers-on who can’t have what they want. Mrs. Kraft (Esther Howard, Detour) is a boozy old spinster who runs the boarding house where the murder takes place. All she wants is good, mindless times, and she nearly pays for it with her life.

th (2)

Marty (Elisha Cook Jr.) is Sam’s sycophant. All he ever wants is a crumb of Sam’s approval, which he rarely gets. (If Marty’s desperation to please Sam strikes you as a little more than platonic, you wouldn’t be the first moviegoer to think so.)

th (3)

About the only one who gets what he wants is detective Albert Arnett (Walter Slezak), but that might be because he sets his sights pretty low. He uses a sparkling and expansive vocabulary in an attempt to rationalize his mercenary ways. As such, he’s about the only person in the movie who tells things like they really are, functioning as a rather sleazy Greek chorus. (For that reason, he’s probably my favorite character in the movie.)

th (4)

All of this is directed to a noir-thee-well by Robert Wise, who seems to flitter around these lowlifes and regard them even more shadily than the verbose detective does. Claire thinks that all she has to do to avoid her part in a murder plot is to distance herself from it. But Fate has a way of drawing these similarly sketchy people together, like a rope that will quietly lasso them in and then draw a noose around each of their necks.

Born to Kill is a thoroughly gripping film-noir entry, a perfect movie to watch when you’re feeling down about your lot in life. It’s as if the movie was saying, “Relax — you could be one of these people.”

JAWS (1975) – Four decades later, it still has bite

The following is my entry in The Out to Sea Blogathon, being hosted by Debbie at her blog Moon in Gemini from March 6-8, 2020. Click on the above banner, and read bloggers’ critiques of a variety of water-based movies!

download (1)

Three moronic sequels have not dimmed the power of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. In fact, the sequels have only made the extraordinary qualities of the original more pointed. The shark was never the point; the characters were.

The movie’s plot sounds quite similar to the many rip-offs which followed. A beach is terrorized by a shark; the police chief (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beach down; but the tourist-conscious mayor (Murray Hamilton) won’t have it; tourists become so much appetizer while the mayor wallows in guilt; and finally, someone kills the sucker.

But again, it’s the way in which the shark is built up as a movie villain that had contemporary critics comparing Spielberg to Alfred Hitchcock. We never see the shark in full until movie’s end. More often, we get simply the shark’s actions. And they’re scary enough, as when the shark tears off the end of a pier where some bounty hunters were waiting to catch him.

Conflicting legends have grown up around the movie. One story has it that Spielberg, on the verge of establishing himself as a movie maverick, agreed to direct the movie only on the condition that the shark not been seen until the movie’s second half. The other story is that Spielberg intended to show the shark all along but had continual mechanical problems; as a result, the actors had plenty of time to improvise and get “into” their characters. Whatever the reason, the movie builds up as a model of suspense.

download

And as a result, we get to know what makes the three primary shark-hunters tick. There’s Police Chief Brody, whose first view of the shark inspires the classic understatement, “I think you’re gonna need a bigger boat.” There’s macho Captain Quint (Robert Shaw), whose hardening was partially the result of his being on-board a ship that sunk into shark-infested waters (which he describes in the movie’s famous monologue). And there’s oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), who quickly throws in the towel on Quint’s machismo contest by parodying it (when Quint crushes a steel can with his bare hand, Hooper crushes a styrofoam cup).

Ever since Spielberg hit it big 45 years (!) ago, Hollywood has gone mad with special-effects follies. But as moviegoers (and Spielberg) have always known, special effects are a success only if you care about the characters first. Jaws still serves a textbook example of special effects giving payoffs to well-developed characters.

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Spielberg!

A personal column

I usually try very hard on this blog to keep my personal side limited to my opinions on movies and pop culture. But I am beyond myself about a particular situation, so I hope to use writing as a catharsis for it, as many writers do. If you’re put off by any writing that’s particularly touchy, please overlook the following blog post.

As of this writing, my wife of 30 years has been in the hospital for 50 days.

The origins of this problem date back about 15 years. In 2006, my wife started losing her energy one day, and it gradually got worse. By the end of the week, we had to use a wheelchair to get her from our bedroom to our van in the garage so that we could take her to the emergency room.

It turned out that my wife’s body was retaining an abnormal amount of fluid that was literally weighing her down. After about a week in the hospital, all of the fluid had been drained, and my wife was back to normal and was sent home.

The same thing happened a second time a few years ago, only this time it was more severe. By the time this hospital visit was finished, they had drained — literally — 150 pounds of fluid from my wife’s body.

Now, again, the problem returned in January, only this time with a host of complications. The fluid build-up was so bad that (a) the fluid has spread beyond her leg to other parts of her body, which also needed to be drained, and (b) when they try to drain the fluid this time, it usually causes some other problem — possible kidney damage, for example — that the doctors must take into account. So just when it seems as though my wife’s health is making some progress, something else happens to set her back.

The funny thing is, her “numbers” usually look fairly normal. By medical standards, an oxygen measurement is ideally 95 or higher. Although my wife’s numbers have fluctuated, they generally stay pretty high. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing that matters to some of the medicos. They come in, see the number 95 on my wife’s screen, and say, “Her numbers look great.” Never mind that she will now have to re-learn how to balance on her feet and walk because she has been bedridden for so long.

My wife is long overdue to be admitted to a physical rehabilitation clinic, and at the start of this latest hospital stay, we figured that was a no-brainer. The doctor would say, “Oh, we’ll be sending her to rehab at the end of the week” or “early next week.” All of the doctors and rehab officials have signed off on her going to their clinic.

Who hasn’t signed off on it? The insurance company. So far, one claim and three appeals have been filed, and all have been turned down. The insurance people seem to think that the hospital has sufficient physical therapy methods to help my wife. Although all of the hospital’s staff is well-meaning and want to help my wife, there’s only so much they can do. And the rotating PT staff employed by the hospital can meet with her only a couple of hours for a couple of days each week.

A very assertive nurse is trying to get yet another appeal approved by the insurance company. So it’s practically a race against time. Will my wife be approved in enough time that a rehab clinic will actually help her, or will her current malady, combined with other newcoming physical problems, keep her from ever getting better?

As you can imagine, it’s disheartening for me to see my wife in such condition, especially when she could be on the road to recovery if some red-tape-laden fools would just sign off on it. Needless to say, it’s also not doing any good for my wife — an otherwise strong woman whose hands are now tied until someone deigns to let her move on to the next step in wellness.

I haven’t mentioned any names in this blog because my wife would be infuriated to know that I was even writing about this situation in a public forum. But I have few people to talk to outside of our limited social circle, and I’ve been dying to get this off my chest somehow. So I hope you will keep my wife and our family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your indulgence.

P. S.: I’d also like to take this opportunity to vent about a personal peeve. Some people look at persons such as my wife and decide that, because there are no outward signs of a physical problem, such people must not be handicapped, just lazy.

This entire situation has its origins in a car crash in which my wife was involved over 30 years ago — an accident that nearly killed her and ended up with her having to have pins put in her hip. As the old saw goes, everyone you meet is fighting a battle which only that person actually knows about. So if you get annoyed when you see a seemingly healthy person drive into a handicap parking spot, think twice before you pass judgment on them, and be grateful for your own health.