Friday, September 14, 2007

These prints evoke similar feelings in me. Wind, movement and wonder.

Though I am not entirely convinced that the hot air ballon shift is vintage (that neck seam looks too recent--I'll let you know definitively once I get a carbon reading on it), it sure is aloft. The flags strung between the parasails are a terrific source of asymmetry and breathing room. I love the propellors on the end of the ship dangling from the largest balloon cluster. And these little people! Look at them wearing leisure suits. They don't know that it's not polite to point. And that's okay. Lilliputians can point all they like. It makes them look even cuter.
So what do you think? Vintage or not? Vintage fabric perhaps, and recent construction? I'll call in a very expensive outside consultant. Mom, what do you think?
The Lipizzaner Horse Show is no longer available. It sold for a whopping $66. I love the combination of uncombinable colors, the movement in the manes and tails. And the eyelashes. I especially enjoy the headdress on the horse in the bottom right hand corner. Why the Lipizzaners look like unkempt old nags next to these fillies.
Oy. I just realized why I put these prints together. The Yellow Submarine. Yes, that Yellow Submarine. Both prints mimic the animation style of the Beatles animated trip-fest. But wait, there's more.
I saw The Yellow Submarine a couple of years ago. I rented it randomly along with a pre-code Joan Crawford vehicle called Dancing Lady. Of course, I watched Joan first. Dancing Lady is arguably more mind-bending than The Yellow Submarine, even with all its bad puns and Blue Meanies.
No expense was spared for Dancing Lady, a backstage dramedy about a spunky shopgirl who just wants to dance. La Crawford has two leading men: Clark Gable and Franchot Tone. Rumor has it that she was fooling around with both of them during filming. Fred Astaire makes his film debut, as do The Three Stooges (though they are not yet called that).
The finale dance number includes a magic carpet ride to a Bavaria (Singing: Here in Bavaria/They take good care-a-ya.) that obviously inspired Mel Brook's Nazi number in The Producers. And finally, all the chorus girls mount carousel horses on a mirrored merri-go-round turning amongst the stars in outer space. Really. Not even I could make this up. The chorines grip carousel poles and go into deep back-bends, one right after another. The last is Joan. Slowly, she leans back until her head rests on the horse's rump. She's smiling, staring into outer space. Triumphant. Director Robert Z. Leonard lets her ride that look long and hard to the finish. There's a little coda at the end with Joan and Mr. Gable but it is cheap and superfluous. All you need is Joan and that look.
When I watched The Yellow Submarine afterward I was aghast. It is this exact moment from Dancing Lady that appears in the Beatles animated film. I kid you not. The film has been drawn over in places and eventually morphs into an animated version of itself. But it lasts a long time and represents, dare I say it, a kind of climax. What are the odds of randomly choosing those two films to watch together?
But then I'm psychic like that.
I also once chose 3 Kenneth Mars films at random. The Producers (yes, the original with the incomparable Zero Mostel playing to the backrow like he's still on Broadway), What's Up, Doc?, and possibly the worst movie I have ever seen: Rough Magic.
The original Producers has much to recommend it. Though it is terribly dated now (I don't know why they remade it), the scene with Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and the blue blanket will always make me laugh. ( Full disclosure: My mother once dated Dick Shawn, the guy who plays Hitler in the 1968 film.) Mr. Mars plays the nazi playwright, all nervous tics and clenched teeth.
Mr. Mars plays a similar character in What's Up, Doc?, only Serbian this time, but with similar intensity and wild gestures. Although the film runs out of steam once it turns into a car chase, and Babs herself is embarrassed by it (despite all the snuggling with co-star Ryan O'Neil), I enjoyed the first half. It marks the debut of the Great (and unfortunately Late) Madeline Kahn. As O'Neil's neurotic fiancée, The Great Kahn utterly slays me. She does shtick with wigs, with handkerchiefs; she even has a neurotic walk. I genuflect before the Great Kahn. She deserves a post of her own.
Mr. Mars plays a magician in Rough Magic. For the love of all that's holy, do not see this movie. Oh, it's got all kinds of elements that sound appealing: card tricks, magic realism, Mexico in the 1940s, and a vendetta against the heir to a uranium fortune. But stay away. You'd be better off sniffing glue.
Bridget Fonda seems to be heavily sedated. Russell Crowe even more so, and he never really decides whether or not to have an American accent. The depiction of Mexico is overwhelmingly racist. The indigenous medicine lady adopting the skinny blonde gringa is an imperialist fantasy, inspired perhaps by Carlos Castaneda's spurious anthropology. It's not worth it even for the costumes. Not even for the scene where a man is turned into a giant sausage and eaten by a terrier.
Oh dear, I'm making it sound better than it is. Don't see it. And this is coming from a person who enjoyed Ishtar.
Mr. Mars cannot save this Hindenburg. Though he tries. He plays the elderly magician like a cross between Santa Claus and King Lear. He is blustering, shouting, rolling his rrrs. He waves his arms so much, I was worried that this was a snuff film. I mean, he really goes for it in the death scene.
I am happy to say that Mr. Mars is alive and well and currently has a very robust career as a voice-over artist.


Post a Comment

<< Home