Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What, Did Exxon Get "Theater" in the Divorce?

Dear Masterpiece Theater,

It's only out of love that I have to ask: what the fuck is wrong with you?

I'm not going to get into your new credits, which frankly I barely noticed and don't really care about. And I won't make unfavorable comparisons between Gillian Anderson and classic hosts Alastair Cooke and Russell Baker, although I will say that the red curtain behind her clashes with her hair; cream or a light yellow would set it off beautifully.

No, it's your content I'm pissed off about. You start off your new season with probably the most exciting idea ever, the complete oeuvre of Jane Austen, and then you go and eviscerate -- eviscerate -- Persuasion and Mansfield Park (I only saw a few minutes of Northanger Abbey, so I'll reserve my rage on that, if any, for another time).

Both adaptations, crammed into an inadequate 90 minutes, are rushed, superficial, and completely manage to skip the important points and emphasize the trivial. Austen's books are not about the plot, or at least, the plot can't be understood without the nuances of personality, behavior, and social convention that make up the lives of the characters. The infinitely superior 1995 version of Persuasion, though only 17 minutes longer, had time to build up the social milieu in which the story took place, so that the viewer could understand what a shocking and unlikely thing it was that Captain Benwick should marry Louisa Musgrove, or receive the full import of Mrs. Smith's news about Mr. Elliott. In this version, one hardly knows who these characters are or cares what they do, and that diminishes the impact of Anne and Wentworth's coming together. And rewriting Wentworth's letter -- one of the finest love letters in all of English literature -- was another supremely stupid choice.

The again totally superior 1999 film of Mansfield Park, although it errs in making Fanny too lively and clever, too much like an idealized Austen herself, at least takes the time to set the stage of Fanny's childhood, including the malice and cruelty of Mrs. Norris and the neglect of Sir Thomas and the whole Bertram family. This background allows us to understand why Edmund means so much to her and why she distrusts the motives of the smooth-talking but shallow Crawfords. Your new version makes it seem like she fell in love with Edmund simply because there was nobody else better around and rejected Henry because she saw him kissing Julia. And Mrs. Norris barely figures in the story, so when she is banished at the end, what kind of comeuppance is that for her?

In short, it's not enough to simply call characters by the names Austen gave them, have them address each other as "sir" and "ma'am," and dress them up in pretty clothes. Although, if you're going to depend on externalities like that, it would help if you got them right. A young lady like Anne Elliott would never career through the streets of Bath like that -- the whole source of tension after Anne receives Wentworth's letter is that her movements are constrained by propriety and politeness, the whole social world seems to be conspiring to keep her from him. And a young lady like Fanny Price would never walk around with her hair loose like a schoolgirl; putting your hair up when you reached the right age was a Very Big Deal.

Speaking of characters like an idealized Austen, what crack is your intro-writing staff smoking? Jane Austen did not identify with Mary Crawford. You may think she had all the best lines, but Austen couldn't have registered her disapproval more clearly if Mary had shown up wearing a sign saying, "Don't be like this, young ladies!"

Just when Frontline is confirming the not-very-new-news that kids don't read books anymore, why are you giving them -- us -- these Cliff Notes versions of great books? One of the fabulous things about Masterpiece Theater has always been that you had the leisure and the scope to tell stories as they needed to be told, however long that took. I mean, you could spend six entire episodes on the inconsequential The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, and you can't spare a full two hours for some of the best books ever written?

Come on, show; you're better than this. We rely on you to be better than this.


Muse of Ire

TV Quote of the Day #1

House: Where we going?
Wilson: Nowhere; I just know it hurts you.

Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard, House, "It's a Wonderful Lie"

Book Quote of the Day #1

When he shook hands his fingers were virile to their very tips.

Olive Higgins Prouty, Now, Voyager

Saturday, January 26, 2008

One Cupcake Doesn't Constitute Harassment

Psych is a fluffy, enjoyable show that I know better than to take seriously. And how cool was it that they did the theme song in Spanish for tonight's telenovela episode? But I get a little incensed when shows take undue liberties with serious subjects for laughs, as this one did with the subplot about Juliet trying to befriend the stick-up-her-ass new officer.

Just for the record, it's not harassment when:

  1. It only happens once.
  2. You don't tell the offender that you don't like their behavior and want it to stop.

Also, way to send a mixed message there, chief. That's not the way to elicit the desired response.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stop Your Foolishness, Niecy

As a person who's somewhat, shall we say, organizationally challenged (i.e., an unmitigated slob), I get a certain masochistic pleasure from the makeovers on Clean House. Despite the show's sophomoric attempts at humor, I enjoy Niecy Nash's folksy but tough-love approach, and generally the designs by Mark Brunetz are both functional and attractive.

Usually, I can get behind the show's portrayal of the homeowners' being unreasonable. Take, for example, the Isakawa family's mishegoss over the never-used ping-pong table (and thanks for nothing, Mark, for your shit-stirring when they finally got it sold).

But what got me, in that same episode, was Niecy and Mark's attitude toward the mother Cathy's books: their blank incomprehension that a person might actually want to keep her books and read them again. They made her feel like a freak and a bad mother because she resisted giving up her collection for the pittance that used books bring at yard sales, compounded by their emotional blackmail that they would furnish her daughters' bedrooms if she complied. Sure, the books needed to be out of the kitchen, but apparently it never occurred to them to buy her some freaking bookshelves.

Deal with the literateness of it all, Niecy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

10 11 Questions About the Drakon

  1. If they left Romania because their inaccessible mountain fastness was gradually breached by humans, why did they choose to migrate to the middle of flat, populous England?
  2. What makes the alpha alpha? What would happen if the Marquess wasn't the most powerful drakon?
  3. If the male and female alphas are supposed to get married, and drakon marriages are unbreakable, what happens when the previously acknowledged alpha (like Melody or Melissa or whatever her name is) gets displaced by a newly discovered, more powerful alpha (like Rue)?
  4. Where did Darkfrith get that stupid name? And hasn't anyone human ever asked what the hell was up with that?
  5. How many drakon live in Darkfrith? What do they all do for a living?
  6. In replicating English social structures, how did they choose who was going to be noble and who was going to be a peasant?
  7. A marquessate indicates a large territory. How come there's a Marquess but no subsidiary titles and gentry?
  8. Who is on the Council? What is its purpose? What is its point, if it can't overrule the alpha?
  9. Do humans ever try to settle in Darkfrith? What happens to them?
  10. If the mere presence of drakon chases away animals, how do they farm? Do they pull the plows themselves? OK, maybe they can buy their meat, but what do they do for eggs and milk?
  11. If their half-blood descendents were so wondrous and magical and beautiful and ruthless that they ruled most of Eastern Europe for centuries, how come the drakon never took over England?

Edited January 30 to add the big one I forgot.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

7 Fashion Things I Know More About Than Stacy and Clinton

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm no fashionista; heck, anyone who looks at me could tell you that (*rimshot*). But I know what I know, and there are a few things that consistently make me yell at the TV during What Not to Wear:

  1. Neutrals do not go with everything. They go with a wide range of things, true. That doesn't mean, however, that you can wear a pink-hued grey with a yellow-hued green, or that you can pair olive green and tangerine.

  2. If your pinstripe is wide enough or bright enough to be noticed, it doesn't count as a neutral. So put that plaid shirt back on the rack, sweetheart.

  3. You can't mix patterns like stripes and florals. Ever. Unless you are a sofa from the Kountry Kollection at Sears.

  4. Those pants that pull or wrinkle at the crotch? They don't fit you, no matter how good they make your butt look.

  5. Wearing a size 12 does not mean you have to shop at Lane Bryant. Or even a size 24. Why don't they ever take those poor girls to Marina Rinaldi,* or Salon Z at Saks, or Daphne? Even Talbots Woman would be more exciting.

  6. If you need special lessons in how to walk in your heels, they're too freaking high.

  7. Your shoes may not need to match your bag, but they should match the rest of your outfit. Red shoes with a black and white dress? Fine. Light blue shoes with jeans, a magenta shirt, and a brown jacket? Not so much.

*Edited January 13 to add: See? Carson Kressley took his participant Layla to Marina Rinaldi. And she looked fierce.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Holy Crap, That's a Lot of Books!

Finally regained the strength to lift my head from my sickbed and wrestle with my year-end reading numbers. They break down this way:



























Even if I round it down to 200 to account for the books I pitched across the room without finishing and the few I read online (i.e., while I should have been doing something else), that still works out to almost four books a week. That's TWICE what I thought my consumption rate was.

As for the numbers themselves, I guess it makes sense I posted so little in August, since apparently I spent every waking moment reading. Don't know what my excuse for November is.

Favorite Books of 2007

The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas
Shane the Lone Ethnographer, Sally Campbell Galman
Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
Air, Geoff Ryman
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
Transformation, Carol Berg
California Fire and Life, Don Winslow
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
For My Lady's Heart, Laura Kinsale
Trouble Is What I Do, Rob Kantner
Blade of Fortriu, Juliet Marillier
The Ladies of Grace Adieu, Susannah Clarke
Gimme More, Liza Cody
Fortress of Ice, C. J. Cherryh
Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik

Most Hated Books of 2007

A Grave Mistake, Stella Cameron
Immaculate Midnight, Ellen Hart
Eyes of Crow, Jeri Smith-Ready
Blue Shoes and Happiness, Alexander McCall Smith
The Oxford Murders, Guillermo Martinez
Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michael Faber
Red Lightning, John Varley
If I Ever Get Back, Darryl Brock
St. Dale, Sharyn McCrumb
Only With Your Love, Lisa Kleypas
Goddess of Spring, P. C. Cast
The Dangerous Debutante, Kasey Michaels
Son of Avonar, Carol Berg
Rifkind's Challenge, Lynn Abbey
Alinor, Roberta Gellis

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Love Gladiator Flicks

Over the past couple of months I've been watching a rebroadcast of I, Claudius Sunday nights on my local PBS station. It's the first time I've seen it again since it originally aired, right at the peak of my Latin Club geekhood, and my sister had never seen it before at all ("I was out of the country then" is her standard excuse for anything she missed for whatever reason for the past 30 years, but in this case I think it might be true). After one episode, she dismissed it as "like Upstairs, Downstairs with togas"; but although I think the description is apt (or would be, if Upstairs, Downstairs had had a little more incest and murder), I think the series holds up rather well.

The early episodes, before Claudius becomes emperor, are still the most fun: not just because Livia and Caligula are such juicy characters and Sian Phillips and John Hurt portray them so well, but because it's a lot easier to deplore the goings-on when the narrator is just a helpless observer, not the one in power. (That old "oh-I-didn't-know-I-was-signing-the-death-warrant" routine didn't work for Queen Elizabeth I either, you know, Claudius.) I also adore Brian Blessed as Augustus; he reminds me of a football player who suddenly woke up one day as ruler of the known world, baffled but earnest in his attempt to do right. And I still go around sometimes muttering, "Quintilius Varus, where are my eagles?" much to the dismay and puzzlement of those around me.

The other fun part is to spot the occasional actor who appeared in the saga before he became well known, like Peter Bowles, who's been in every other British comedy series since the beginning of time; John Rhys-Davies, before he took Indiana Jones to Egypt; and oh my god is that Patrick Stewart with hair?

Incidentally, I found out over Christmas that my old Latin teacher had died. Ave atque vale, Mrs. Hayes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Movie Diary November-December 2007

Movies seen for the first time are in green.

  1. The African Queen (1951, John Huston). Well, just one of the best movies ever made. Exciting, funny, touching, and thoroughly entertaining. Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn at the peak of their form.
  2. The Wizard of Oz (1939, Victor Fleming). Well, another classic that can't really be any better. My favorite part is when Bert Lahr sings, " 'F I Were King." Yes, the flying monkeys still creep me out.
  3. The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966, Norman Jewison). This is the movie that made me fall in love with Alan Arkin when I was young. A great cast, a sparkling script, and a refreshing message.
  4. This Sporting Life (1963, Lindsay Anderson). Turgid drama starts out unpleasantly and goes downhill from there.
  5. Stage Fright (1950, Alfred Hitchcock). Hitchcock and Marlene Dietrich? I was so there. Unfortunately, I was so out of there when the hero insisted on behaving like an idiot within the first five minutes of the film.
  6. City for Conquest (1940, Anatole Litvak). Jimmy Cagney plays the sap for so-not-worth-it Ann Sheridan. With Donald Crisp as the world's only honest boxing manager, Arthur Kennedy as a George Gershwinesque composer, and an amazingly good-looking Elia Kazan as a hood.
  7. Inherit the Wind (1960, Stanley Kramer). In college, I actually met one of the men who wrote the play on which this is based. He was a pompous windbag, but this is an interesting, though preachy, film nonetheless. I love Gene Kelly as the cynical H. L. Mencken stand-in. Why didn't he get to do more straight drama?
  8. King Kong (1933, Merian C. Cooper). Despite the outdated special effects, the original is still the best, although we really didn't need to see Kong battle every prehistoric creature on the island and oh my God somebody make Fay Wray stop screaming. Still, the scene with Kong battling the planes on the Empire State Building remains one of the most affecting in cinema.
  9. Green for Danger (1946, Sidney Gilliat). Police inspector Alastair Sim enlivens this conventional whodunit in a rural English hospital during WWII.
  10. The Edge of the World (1937, Michael Powell). Worthy but dull look at the depopulation and abandonment of a remote Scottish island.
  11. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger). Charming, eccentric story of English soldier Roger Livesey, his friendship through two world wars with German officer Anton Walbrook, and his three loves, all played by Deborah Kerr.
  12. The Catered Affair (1956, Richard Brooks). Bette Davis is terrific in an extremely uncharacteristic role in this earnest drama from a Paddy Chayevsky play about working-class New Yorkers. I regret I didn't get to see the seond half -- maybe I'll Netflix this.
  13. The Women (1939, George Cukor). Fabuluous production of the Clare Booth Luce play, with star power to burn. Despite her ridiculous eyebrows and stagy gestures, Norma Shearer plays the wronged wife with grace and dignity. The message, feminist for its time, doesn't hold up today, but the sparkling dialog certainly does.
  14. A Night at the Opera (1935, Sam Wood). Inspired lunacy. Stayed up just long enough to see the famous stateroom scene, which is good cause it gets rid of most of that pesky singing.
  15. The Captain's Paradise (1953, Anthony Kimmins). I laughed in places, but the whole thing is so slimily sexist I'm ashamed of myself. Although Alec Guinness gets his comeuppance for not letting his madonna be a whore and vice versa, the leering hero worship of his first officer and the roguish way in which he escapes at the end robs it of any moral force. And I still want to know why his uncle came out from England to talk to him.
  16. Whiskey Galore (1949, Alexander Mackendrick). Story of 50,000 cases of whisky shipwrecked on an island wrung dry by wartime shortages has comic possibilities, but starts off too slow. Got interrupted midway through and never went back. As always, enjoyed Joan Greenwood; also starring a very young Gordon Jackson.
  17. Ratatouille (2007, Brad Bird). Cute, but I couldn't get over the inherent grossness of a rat in the kitchen. My sister and I had to close our eyes any time Remy's relatives swarmed. Subplot about Linguini's inheritance and the rascally Skinner seemed unnecessary and contrived. Some stunning animation, particularly the sequences where Remy is swept through the sewers. Peter O'Toole grand as always.
  18. The Incredibles (2004, Brad Bird). Amazing, well-written animated feature about displaced superheroes. Great voice work by Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, and Samuel L. Jackson, but I loved loved loved Brad Bird as superdesigner Edna Mode.
  19. Talladega Nights (2006, Adam McKay). Started out well, but then OH MY GOD THE PAIN MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP. I will confess I liked that they named the kids Walker and Texas Ranger. Sacha Baron Cohen as rival driver Jean Girard has the funniest French accent since Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau.
  20. The History Boys (2006, Nicholas Hytner). Surprisingly touching and effective film about a group of working-class boys prepping for Oxbridge entrance exams and the two teachers struggling for their souls. What impressed me is that the film doesn't side with either the love-learning-for-it's-own-sake professor (Richard Griffiths) or the just-give-the-right-answers coach (Stephen Campbell Moore), but allows them both to be partly right, to have their own strengths and flaws. Frances de la Tour, who looks like a downmarket Diana Rigg, gives one compelling but out-of-place speech about women in history. My sister and I have continually quoted this movie to each other ("Ici un hopital en Belgique." "He loved werds. He loved LITrachure.")
  21. Notorious (1946, Alfred Hitchcock). Hands-down, my favorite movie of all time. Damn, Cary Grant is sexy when he's surly.
  22. Casablanca (1942, Michael Curtiz). Well, it was just "give Muse a present" night at TCM as they unrolled three of my faves. Dynamic, sexy, taut, and suspenseful from start to finish, with Humphrey Bogart in the role he was born to play. And quotable? The whole move is one big quotefest.
  23. Now, Voyager (1942, Irving Rapper). Yes, again. Now shut up and pass the tissues, please.
  24. Night Nurse (1931, William A. Wellman). Interesting early Barbara Stanwyck effort, with Clark Gable in a rare, very sexy, villainous role. You know it's pre-Code when the happy ending involves Stanwyck's bootlegger boyfriend getting Gable anonymously rubbed out.
  25. The Shop Around the Corner (1940, Ernst Lubitsch). The original and still the best of the clashing-coworkers-who-secretly-yen-for-each-other flicks. Tough and glamorous Margaret Sullavan holds her own with strong and stubborn Jimmy Stewart. Frank Morgan also does a great job as the store owner.
  26. In the Good Old Summertime (1949, Robert Z. Leonard). Transplants The Shop Around the Corner from Budapest to Chicago, shedding its charm and wit as well as any pesky controversial topics like adultery and attempted suicide. Judy Garland and Van Johnson just can't hold a candle to Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart.
  27. Wild Boys of the Road (1933, William A. Wellman). I could see its good intentions, but I just wasn't held by this story of teenagers riding the rails in the Depression.
  28. A Christmas Carol (1938, Edward L. Marin). Boring, not very faithful version of the Dickens classic. Reginald Owen is no Alastair Sim.
  29. Meet John Doe (1941, Frank Capra). Intermittently effective Capracorn about the plight of the average guy (Gary Cooper!) during the Depression. Barbara Stanwyck is at her best, sexy, ruthless, but vulnerable, and Edward Arnold is quietly menacing as the shadowy financier controlling the operation. Setpiece in the middle, where a fleeing Doe confronts the scale of the movement he's started, really drags down the film. Walter Brennan, of all people, gives a surprising cogent definition of karma burden.
  30. Young Mister Lincoln (1939, John Ford). Dull courtroom drama whose only twist is that the lawyer hero happens to be Abe Lincoln. Despite Henry Fonda's earnest effort, no patch on the infinitely superior Abe Lincoln in Illinois.
  31. Roberta (1935, William A. Seiter). Incognito Russian princess Irene Dunne sings, and sings, and sings -- including that well-known Russian folksong, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Other than that, this is a cheerful and likeable movie with some early Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers sparkle.
  32. A Christmas Carol (1984, Clive Donner). Clunky remake tries to delve more deeply into Scrooge's psychology, not entirely successfully. George C. Scott is no Alastair Sim either, but he does OK with what he's given. Also features appearances by David Warner (was he really ever that young?) and Roger Rees (gee, he was pretty).
  33. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, Michael Curtiz). See my earlier post re: Errol Flynn in tights. I just love how Claude Rains purrs his lines.
  34. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936, Michael Curtiz). Snoozerama tries to recast the disastrous Crimean War battle as a triumph. Errol Flynn should have stuck to tights.
  35. How Green Was My Valley (1941, John Ford). Beautiful, evocative story of Welsh coalminers. The ever-solid Donald Crisp is impressive as the patriarch Gwilym Morgan, and Maureen O'Hara is stunningly beautiful as Angharad. I'm just mad that Mr. Gryffudd (Walter Pidgeon), who turns away Angharad's love, is presented as a martyr, when he's really a moral coward.
  36. It's a Wonderful Life (1946, Frank Capra). See post to come.
  37. Meet Me in St Louis (1944, Vincente Minelli). Like the youngest Smith sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien), a really schizophrenic movie: half winsome and half gruesome. Where was Anna Freud in 1904? because that kid really needs a shrink. However, Judy Garland has never looked more beautiful, and the songs are glorious.
  38. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, Paul Greengrass). The Muse ultimatum: stop making these lousy movies. Boring, nonsensical, and LOUD.
  39. The Namesake (2005, Mira Nair). Visually stunning but overly long saga of Indian-American identity clearly suffers from the filmmaker's love for, and inability to prune, the source material. Film should have started with Gogol's high school graduation. Good performances from Kal Penn, Irfan Khan, and Tabu.
  40. Stranger Than Fiction (2006, Marc Forster). Much to my own amazement, I really enjoyed this strange examination of reality vs. construct, of cause and effect. Emma Thompson shows great courage in appearing, for most of the movie, like shit; Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah are both likeable, although he's mannered and she's dramatically unnecessary. Like many movies set in New York, takes place in a fantasy Manhattan where literature professors and novelists who haven't published in ten years have huge, airy, light-filled offices and apartments.
  41. The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936, John Ford). Worthy drama about Dr. Samuel Mudd, imprisoned for helping John Wilkes Booth. Put me right to sleep.
  42. Up the River (1930, John Ford). Moderately entertaining caper picture about cons who escape to help a pal stay on the straight and narrow. Brash Spenser Tracy and tasty young Humphrey Bogart in early roles.
  43. A Raisin in the Sun (1961, Daniel Petrie). Dated but intense drama of black Chicago family and the American dream. Sidney Poitier's performance as the weak, frustrated Walter Lee is incandescent. And is that really Louis Gossett Jr. as the stuffy George Murchison?
  44. A Star Is Born (1937, William A. Wellman). The original Hollywood fairy tale. Interesting effort, but outshone in every way by the 1954 Judy Garland version.
  45. Small Town Girl (1936, William A. Wellman). Girlfriend, I've said this before: noone blames you for wanting to get out of your boring-ass town. But you don't have to marry some drunken, emotionally abusive (though pretty) asshole to do it. Just buy a train ticket to Boston and get a job!
  46. Over 21 (1945, Charles Vidor). Thought this movie, based on Ruth Gordon's play about her experiences as an Army wife in WWII, would be fun, but no.
  47. Theodora Goes Wild (1936, Richard Boleslawski). Small town authoress (Irene Dunne) writes sexy novel, attempts to maintain secret identity, meets asshole publisher (Melvyn Douglas), mix-ups ensue. Yawn.
  48. Miracle on 34th Street (1947, George Seaton). See post to come.
  49. The Cutting Edge (1992, Paul Michael Glaser). Ah, vintage '90s cheese, nice and ripe. She (Moira Kelly) is a spoiled princess figure skater; he (D. B. Sweeney) is a macho hockey player. Will these two crazy kids be able to get together on the ice and off? If you don't know, you haven't seen many movies, but it's all enjoyable nevertheless. Toe pick.
  50. Tenth Avenue Angel (1948, Roy Rowland). Hokey piece of crap about sad sack New York tenement girl (Margaret O'Brien) whose faith is restored by seeing a cow kneel at midnight. No, I'm not making that up. Young Angela Lansbury is a knockout, though.
  51. I Remember Mama (1948, George Stevens). Sweet, sentimental story of Norwegian immigrants in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Maybe it's the accent, but Irene Dunne has never seemed more natural and less affected to me. Barbara Bel Geddes, on the other hand, with her breathless, Bambi-eyed innocence, drives me quite crazy.
  52. The White Cliffs of Dover (1944, Clarence Brown). Everybody's got a stiff upper lip in this story of Britain during the two World Wars, especially American Irene Dunne.
  53. Scaramouche (1952, George Sidney). Even Stewart Granger in tights could barely keep my eyes open. I thought it was creepy that the hero never told Janet Leigh that they were siblings, but then they turned out not to be siblings after all. That was creepier.
  54. Red River (1948, Howard Hawks). Oh really, Carrie Fisher? You think John Wayne ever made a movie where he didn't think he was the hero? Think again.
  55. The Corsican Brothers (1941, Gregory Ratoff). Utter yawnsville.
  56. The Gay Divorcee (1934, Marc Sandrich). Sheer delight, although Fred Astaire does come off as creepily stalkerish in this as some of his other early roles. No matter what the stars are up to, however, the real comic duo in these films is always Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore. Alice Brady has just Irene Dunne's sniff and giggle, but in her it's supposed to be obnoxious.
  57. Shall We Dance? (1937, Marc Sandrich). Another great one from Fred and Ginger. Of the many great bits, I particularly love when Ginger's little dog gives up on their ostensible walk of the deck. I also really like Jerome Cowan as Ginger's cheerfully amoral manager (although he is kind of a schmuck, at that). Strange to recall how much effort hotels used to put into policing their guests' sex lives.