Robert Redford is my choice for the Reel Infatuation Blogathon of 2018. I don’t believe this is an unusual pick. Like my crush on Outlander’sSam Heughan, there is a lot of love (by the millions) out there for these two Strawberry blonde (gingers?) actors. The multi-talented Redford has done more than just perform in 79 movies. Besides acting, he directed ten movies; and in my humble opinion, two of those ten films are near perfect examples of the best kind of film making: Ordinary People (1980) and The Horse Whisper (1998). Along with acting and directing, he has also produced 50 films.
In addition to his amazing body of work within the industry, he has been active in many social issues. He is nearly legendary in his work as an environmentalist and his philanthropy. To add to all of this, he is the founder of the largest independent film festival in the United States: Sundance Flim Festival. Now, before I go further, I would like to thank two wonderful young ladies and bloggers: Ruth from Silver Screenings and Maedez from Font and Frock and A Small Press Life. I hope they will host, like they have for last three years, next year too. To read about more posts about Reel Infatuation, please use the links below:https://silverscreenings.org/2018/06/08/reelinfatuation-2018-day-1/ORhttps://fontandfrock.com/2018/06/08/welcome-to-the-2018-reel-infatuation-blogathon/Why Did I Pick Robert Redford?I chose Redford because he is my first ever crush on an actor. As we all know, you never forget your first love. Unbelievably, my love for Redford didn’t begin because of his stunning good looks or his magnetic screen presence or even for my loving every one of the his 79 movies.My magical crush happened when he very young (26 years old) and complete unknown to me and the rest world. He had been acting on numerous television shows from 1960 to 1964. He first showed up on one of my favorite shows: Maverick starring James Garner. During this four-year span of time, he had guest starred on quite a number of popular shows at the time: Perry Mason, Route 66, The Untouchables, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Naked City etc … His last television appearance was in 1964 on The Defenders.
I “fell in love” with Redford while watching a re-run of a very popular television show Twilight Zone (1959-1964). For those unfamiliar with this American television show, it was created by Rod Serling. He was a producer, playwright, and screenwriter. In addition, he introduced and closed each episode with his compassionate pathos and unique voice.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cxf_Dvy0VLs
The Twilight Zone This series is a science-fiction, fantasy, horror anthology. It was brilliantly written, acted, and realistically presented with twists and turns in the end. Also, and maybe more importantly, it usually had a philosophical, howbeit hidden, message about the nature of mankind and what life lessons we need to be learning. Usually, this was an emotional truth that Serling felt should be shared. The legacy of his Life Lessons.
A Few Notes About The Creator of Twilight ZoneRight out of high school, Serling joined the Army to fight in WWII. He was wounded several times; but, he kept going back to combat duty. He fought hand-to-hand combat in the Philippines. After the war, he suffered from severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that haunted him with night terrors for the rest of his life. While working in Hollywood, he was known as an “angry young man.” There were issues that he continuously fought against: racism, the Vietnam war, and censorship.
Twilight Zone: Nothing in The DarkIntroduction An old woman living in a nightmare, an old woman, who has fought a thousand battles with death and always won. Now she’s faced with a grim decision – whether or not to open a door. And in some strange and frightening way, she knows that this seemingly ordinary door leads to the Twilight Zone. Many writers write from their soul. So, their personal emotions can be seen in their work. With that said, imagine this introduction being said by an ex-combat solider who has witnessed and survived death; and he is still haunted by it in his dreams.
More People Behind The ScenesNothing in The Dark first aired on January 5, 1962; and, it only ran for 24 minutes. There are three actors: Gladys Cooper, Robert Redford, and R.G. Armstrong. It was co-written by screenwriter George Clayton Johnson (Logan’s Run (1976), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), and Ocean’s 11 (2001). Here are a couple of pics of Johnson with Redford and Gladys Cooper.
This episode is directed by Lamont Johnson who will go on to win two Emmys for Directing two made for television movies: Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story (1985) and Lincoln (1988). In this clip he explains how the unknown twenty-six year old Redford was hired and the superb British actress, Gladys Cooper reaction after meeting him. This interview was published in October of 2010…48 years after it first aired in ’62.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2-BSFlzaU8A
Summary of Nothing in the DarkThis story centers around a sad, lonely old woman, Wanda Dunn, (Gladys Cooper) whose fear of Death is so great that it has forced her into isolation for most of her life. Oddly enough, she can recognized Death in his infinite forms and disguises. She “knows him” and has been able to avoid him for years. However, there is a cost to pay for having this amazing skill: fearful isolationism. She has never really lived her life because her fear has trapped her from others. As a result, she lives alone on the bottom floor of a dilapidated apartment building. With double locks on her door, she is totally alone, as she nervously sleeps.One snowy night, she is awaken by the sound of class breaking, probably her own window; then, she hears a whistle and then, gun shots. A policeman, Harold Beldon, (Robert Redford) is shot and begs for help. Should she open her door and try to save him? Is it Death tricking her?She finally gives in to his cries and helps him into her flat. She places him on her bed as he profusely thanks her. Then, he begs her to call a doctor, or the police, or an even a neighbour. She explains that she does not have a phone and all the neighbors have moved away. She refuses to go outside to look for help because “he” is out there waiting for her. She decides she can trust the young man; since, she didn’t die when he touched her. She reveals her life story and her gift of recognizing death.Here is a clip of those first 3 minutes of their encounter.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gK1MCE3teZ8As incredulous as Wanda’s story sounds, Beldon is sympathetic to her tragic situation. Suddenly, there is someone banging on her door. She is too afraid to answer it. Someone is breaking in the door. Finally, the door flies open; and, Wanda crumbles to the floor, unconscious.
A contractor ( R.J. Armstrong ) is relieved that she is still alive. He explains that she must leave because he is tearing the old building down to build a new one. He tries to calm her down by explaining that how things work in life. Wanda is terrified to go outside; so, she asks Beldon to help her explain it to him. The contractor looks at her like she is crazy. He warns her that she must gather all the things she doesn’t want to leave behind. He said he would help her move her them; once, he comes back in an hour.Wanda is feeling so hurt and overwhelmed that she cannot understand why Beldon did not say anything to the contractor to help her. Then, she realizes that Death tricked her. I must say Ms Cooper’s performance is this show is what ” pulled me in, hook line and sinker.” I felt so sorry for her and what she missed in her life. All because of a fear of something that was enviable.I was completely into this story. So, you might understand how shocked I was when I learned that twenty years earlier, Cooper played Betty Davis’s BITCH mother in Now, Voyager (1942). Who I hated. Cooper plays a better bitch than Betty Davis in any of her best Bitch roles. This is quite a compliment to Cooper, who I love as Wanda Dunn.Once Wanda realizes that Beldon is Mr Death, he begins to calm her down and reassure her she has nothing to fear from him. He charms her and convinces her that she will be at peace and in comfort. In order for Wanda to surrender her will to Beldon there has to be a believable sense of compassion and trust. Not only for the characters, but also between the actors too. This can then be felt by the audience: The connection is successful. This bond and chemistry between Gladys Cooper (who was 74 years old) and Robert Redford (who was 26 years old) was very strong and compelling.When he reaches for her hand and begs her to trust him and to come with him, I wasn’t sure if she would. Then, in one second everything changed. It changes with two heartfelt words. He softly, begs: Please, Mother. That was the moment that I cried and fell in love with Redford. I doubt Wanda has ever been married or had children. Beldon is probably the only person/Inhuman ever spoke those words to her in her entire life. In the video clip, Lamont Johnson tells the story of the actors mutual respect. Without their mutual regard and respect, this performance could not have been as successful.Rod Serling closes this episode with the following words:There was an old woman who lived in a room. And, like all of us, was frightened of the dark. But who discovered in a minute last fragment of her life that there was nothing in the dark that wasn’t there when the lights were on. Object lesson for the more frightened amongst us, in or out, of the Twilight Zone.Here is a 2 minute video clip that I found on You Tube that mashes scenes together to summarize the story. Unfortunately, the “Mother” was completely left out. To me that was a huge mistake.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i9JZCo912kIIn closing, I have added an interview clip with Redford published four years ago. He is reminiscing about this 52 year old episode. It is very interesting because he mentions the “wonderful dynamic” between the two characters. It’s funny because when most people think of great chemistry between actors, they usually refer to sexual attraction. However, for actors it means so much more.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JuuAEEj1fq0I once remembered a quote that defined love not in years but in moments … if that is true; the, my “Reel Infatuation” with Redford only started in a moment; but, happily his work keeps adding more moments over the years.
Please check for more “Reel Infatuation” stories by using the links near the top of this post.
Finally! A Blogathon dedicated to Broadway musicals and films. I would like to thank Rebecca from Taking Up Room for choosing musicals as her theme for her first ever Blogathon. Congratulations Rebecca; and, I hope this will become an annual event. Please check the link below to find more posts on a variety of wonderful musicals.
I have to be honest, for years, I was not a fan of musicals. I found the story lines boring, predictable and unbelievable. Even during the few times I actually liked a song or dance, I definitely did not enjoy the whole movie; nor, did I ever watch a “whole” movie musical. Unfortunately, I can just see Walt Disney turning in his grave. As a matter of fact, I avoided them as much as possible. However, all that changed when I forced myself to sit through a musical from beginning to end. The movie that drastically changed my disdain for all films, musical, was Funny Girl.
So how was I forced to watch this movie?
The first time I watched Funny Girl (1968), I was home, alone. As a college student, I was working pretty hard on my double major (History and Education). That glorious day, the gods smiled; and, my classes were cancelled due to hurricane warnings. So, I ended up “free” to warm up some left over chili and become a couch potato.
On television, the Tuner Movie Classics (TMC) channel had just announced their movie lineup for the day and evening. As the fates would have it, the best thing to watch on TV that day was a dreaded musical. I self talked myself into giving it a try. I learned that it was nominated for seven Oscars and four Golden Globe awards. Barbra Streisand, in her first movie role, won both awards as Best Actress. So, I watched my first musical, twenty-two years after its release date.
So, how did I have the staying power to endure watching a whole musical?
As I was getting my fatty “free day” ready, a loud weather alert began beeping as a warning banner ran across the bottom of the screen. The hurricane alert had escalated from a 3 to a 4. Hurricanes are seasonal storms in Florida. You kind of get used to them.
However, I still had some chores to do in case the hurricane disrupted power lines and water. I had little time to complete the “Hurricane Drill.” I found the candles and matches, located the flashlight and radio, located extra batteries, and filled the bathtub with water. Now, like a true Floridian, I decided to continue with my plan: Watch Funny Girl.
Unfortunately, as the storm became louder and more destructive, I became overly anxious; and I have to admit, a bit fearful. Even so, the only thing I could do was to hunkered down on the couch with the volume, turned way up. I gave Funny Girl my undivided attention.
From Broadway To Film
In 1964, Funny Girl successfully opened on Broadway with recording star Barbra Streisand cast in the lead and co-staring Sidney Chaplin. Her energetic portrayal of comedienne, Fanny Brice was brilliant. Producer Ray Stark, then turned this “Hit” Broadway show into a movie released in 1968. The legendary, William Wyler, was asked to direct. He was known for his sensitive direction of actors and his ability to display actors in profound moments that made their characters more realistic. It is almost an understatement to say he was one of the best directors in Hollywood.
A Tiny Bit of Behind The Scenes History
During the making of this film in 1967, the Israeli-Egyptian Six Day War broke out. Most of the movie’s financiers were Jewish as well as the cast. Omar Sharif is Egyptian. Many wanted Sharif fired including Streisand’s mother. Jewish director Wyler fought to keep him.
According to an article for TMC by Andrea Passafliume, Sharif relates this story in his autobiography. This is Wyler’s words, as repeated by Omar Sharif:
We’re in America, the land of freedom … and you’re ready to make yourselves guilty of the same things we’re against? Not hiring an actor because he’s Egyptian is outrageous. If Omar doesn’t make the film, I don’t make it either!”
You have to love “99-Take Willie.” To add oil to an already burning fire, Streisand and Sharif began a love affair, although both were married but separated from their spouses. To add to this, publicity released pictures and posters of Streisand and Sharif kissing. Egyptian newspapers condemned him for kissing and acting with a Jew. The film was banned and never been released in that country. I am sure their “decency codes” would not allow the film’s released for other reasons too: The suggested sexual overtones and the drinking or smoking. Unfortunately, Sharif’s citizenship was denied and his Vista revoked so that he could never return to his homeland. Clearly, he paid a high price his art that would haunt him the rest of his life.
A Summary of The Movie
This is the movie trailer. I like this trailer because it depicts the very first words spoken in the movie: Hello Gorgeous.
Eventually, Fanny will keep coming back; until, one the musicians takes pity on her. They need a substitute for a roller skating routine. Fanny can barely keep from falling down as she crashes into the other girls. She literally ruins the act; but, she was so funny the audience begs her to do a song. She and the rest of the world discovers she has a great voice, and a star is born.
Here is a clip of Fanny singing for the first time on stage
After this performance, Fanny is backstage explaining to the other show girls that Ziegfeld, himself, will knock on that door and her to be one of his “follies.” Then, someone is knocking on the door. Fanny opens the door to the most handsome man she has ever seen. She freaks out and slams the door in his face.
Then, she catches her breath and opens the door again. An awkward start to be sure. He explains how much he enjoyed her performance. Fanny is uncomfortable with the compliments from such a “gorgeous” man. She even slips and says he is gorgeous when she was thinking it. She tries to remedy her blunder by saying that she meant that his shirt is gorgeous.
Before Nicky leaves, the theater owner passes by and says a friendly hello to him. Then, Fanny reminds the owner has hired with pay. He realizes she wants to know how much pay. As he walks away, he yells back: $25.00 a week. Nicky informs him that he will pay her $35.00 a week. He explains a friend of his told him to be on the look out for fresh talent. The owner makes Fanny a counter offer: $40.00. Then, Nick offers her $45.00. The owner exasperated makes his final offer: $50.00. Nick said that $50.00 was as high as he was authorized to go.
As the owner walks away again, he shakes his head as he realizes that he is paying Fanny double from what he originally intended. Giggling Fanny asked Nick the name of his friend who has him looking for talent. Nick confesses that there was no friend. He made it up.
Fanny was rather shocked: You took a gamble?
Nick said: That’s what I do. I am a gambler.
Fanny offensively says: Yeah, but you gambled with my life.
Nick says: Isn’t that what you did tonight on that stage?
So, Nick is a charmer, sophisticated, well-educated, elegant, a world traveler, wealthy, comfortable with the upper social classes, and is a total con artist. Fanny was head over heels in love. Yet, Nick was not interested in changing any part of his life. He liked being free to do whatever he wanted, without a second thought about anyone else. As a matter of fact, Nick directly leaves Fanny to race his thoroughbred horse in Kentucky.
The next time Fanny meets Nick she is working in the Follies for Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Pigeon). Fanny is convinced that Nick got her the job. After Fanny’s debut with the Follies, Nick sends her a dozen yellow roses and invites her out to a sleek dinner club. Fanny sadly refuses because her mother is giving a party in her honor; and, the whole neighborhood is coming. Instead, Fanny hesitantly invites him to her party located in a Brooklyn family owed bar; and to her surprise, he graciously accepts.
Nick blends in very well with friends and family. As a matter of fact, he is invited to a penny ante poker game with the local elderly ladies. They had no idea who they invited to their table. His shuffle alone should have alerted them to his expertise. However, being the charmer, he allowed them to win, even though he was holding the winning hand. He didn’t fool Fanny’s Mama Rose (Kay Bedford).
Her observations were right on the money: He fits in like a friend and not a stranger. He looks at home. He should fit in like a stranger. Fanny relies: He is a gentleman. He fits in anywhere.
Rose relies: A sponge fits in anywhere. A stranger should look a little strange.
Later, that evening Nick confesses to Fanny that he gets lonely but he loves his freedom. Fanny confesses that she is too busy to have a boyfriend. They both admit that they feel lonely at times. It is in this scene Streisand sings her now standard: People
Of course, Nick’s “work” allows him to travel; and, he must leave, again. They will not see each other for over a year. Eventually, you realize something is definitely off about Nick; but, you hope, like Fanny, you are wrong. You start feeling that these two people have to get together; but, you wonder, like any relationship, will it last.
A year later, they will meet again and go on their first date. The film is laden with Brice’s comedic one liners. Yet, it is in this scene with Nick that one of those quips, really took me by surprise. To me it was the most hilarious line in the whole movie. Nick compliments her on the color of her dress because it looks wonderful with her eyes. Fanny retorts: Yeah, well that’s just my right eye. I hate what it does with the left. Later in this same scene, Sharif and Streisand sing a duet about the basics of human relationships.
The Movie continues through their years together, good and bad; until, the marriage sadly ends. The final song, My Man, was sung on stage right after Fanny learns her marriage is practically over. This scene is such a stand alone moment in the movie. Streisand’ mesmerizing performance is unforgettable. There is a little more about this scene I would like to mention later in this post.
Unlike most musicals, this movie has very little dancing. The only dancing in this film happens when it was part of the story. For instance, when Fanny is asked to dance a waltz by her man crush, Nicky Arnstein (Omar Sharif), she dances. However, the camera is focused on Fanny’s overwhelmed expressions. We see her as she mentally drools over her handsome dance partner.
In addition, whenever the Ziegfeld Follies do a dance number on stage, there is some dancing; but, only because it is part of the stage act. So, this musical, like all musicals, uses song to help tell the story; however, this film does not use dance to move the story along.
There are great songs, breathtaking scenes, gorgeous costumes, and a fascinating story. Many of the musical numbers are truly unforgettable. I especially like the scene when Fanny decides to quit the show at the train station and follow Nick before his transatlantic ship sails away. The rest of her show friends try to talk her out of it. That’s when she belts out: Don’t Rain On My Parade!
Not only is this one of my favorite musicals; but, as a woman, I found it inspirational too. Brice and Streisand were forces to be reckoned with. Against the odds, they each made it and did so doing it their own way. Their confidence, intelligence and strong will power keep them going. For this movie, all of the magic and creative forces that went into making this film is what all films should try to accomplish.
Directors Know What Is Best
There are many elements to making a great film; but, having a great director is at the top of the list. An example of this is evident in the closing scene. True, to Wyler’s genius, he used the knowledge that the off camera relationship between the leading stars was ending. In the final scene, when Fanny must sing My Man knowing her relationship with Nick was over, Wyler kept Sharif behind the curtains during the scene. She knew he was there; an, they talked between takes. With every note she sung, you could almost feel her heart painfully breaking. This was perfect magic.
The 2 hours and 38 minutes goes by pretty fast. Which of course is a compliment to the movie itself.
The Real Fanny Brice
This movie was made only 13 years after the real Fanny Brice passed away in 1951. She was considered as a comedic genius and had one of the best singing voices in the 20th century. She was intelligent, witty, and a consummate performer. There were few who had such a command of the stage. In person, she was elegant and very classy. Those who knew her personally, said she was always herself; and she treated everyone the same. One of my favorite quotes from Brice is actually great advice for everyone. This is her life lesson shared
Let the World know you,
As you are,
Not as you think you should be,
Because sooner or later, if you are posing,
You will forget, to pose,
Then, where are you?
No matter, what misery was in store in the life of Fanny Brice, she took it in stride and literally rolled with the punches. The “real” Fanny Brice was hugely popular on the stage and on the radio. She used her God-given talents to entertain millions; and, she always left her audience in appreciation of her enjoyable performance and usually, in much laughter.
If you have read some of my posts before, you know I love history, especially personal history. I love learning how someone, through their defeats and victories, has come full circle to find their bliss or purpose. I ordered a biography on Brice’s life that I intend to review in another post for Life’s Daily Lessons. Until then, I will leave you with the knowledge that Brice worked on her radio show, The Baby Snooks Show, from 1944 to 1951. There was only one episode that was filmed for television. The night it aired, in May of 1951, Brice died of a cerebral hemorrhage. She claimed the show worked on radio but not on television. Here is the clip of that television episode.
I often wondered how she managed the mental discipline she needed to perform as six-year-old Baby Snooks at age 59. Truly, an amazing entertainer.
The idea of space travel has always been an intriguing idea; but, in the more recent years, this idea has become a fact. For years, probes and satellites have been sent to Space to study and learn more about Earth’s neighboring planets. Recently, there are constant reports of a project to colonize Mars. Some scientists believe it may even happen by 2030. An example of how excited people are about this whole idea of space travel, one only has to look at Twitter.
The growing number of accounts devoted to space exploration increases every day. As a matter of fact, a Tweet, on April 12th, celebrated The International Day of Human Space Fight. It celebrates the first manned space flight by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin back in 1961. He was in orbit for 108 minutes with only twelve of his twenty-four rockets. The other twelve exploded at take off. It’s a miracle he made back alive. With the success of Gagarin’s space flight, stories by science fiction writers like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Verne slowly morphed into facts.
Regardless of the numerous space exploration accounts on Twitter, NASA’s Twitter account is still the best one to give you a front row seat to the wonders of space. They tweet live video of astronauts walking and floating in space; and, by the way, they still use Velcro up there. I know because I heard them asking an astronaut to check his Velcro feed. I had to ask the obvious; so, I tweeted the question: You still use Velcro? Someone tweeted back that NASA invented it. I tweeted back: I know but that was over fifty years ago.
I doubt that I will be going to Mars in this lifetime; but, I can still imagine it and enjoy it vicariously by watching Sci-Fi movies. So, I want to thank to Debbie Vega for hosting The Outerspace Film Blogathon. I can read reviews of various space movies and then make a list of one’s I still need to see. There are several wonderful Sci-Fi movies that have been reviewed for this blogathon, just click on the link below to find the ones you would like to watch:
Speaking of great movies about space, I truly enjoyed Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning performance in Gravity. However, this is not the movie I chose to review. No, I wanted to review another Oscar-winning actress, Jane Fonda, in a Space movie released during one of the most tumultuous years in American history, Barbarella (1968). This year is its 50th Anniversary since the release. Like all science fiction movies, it helped lead the way in special effects technology while subtlety making social commentary. For this particular film, I believe the social commentary involved the philosophy: Make love and not war. It’s plot driven, like most science fiction movies of that time, by using high-tech gadgets to stop world domination by mad scientist.
Barbarella Comic Book
Jane Fonda as Barbarella
Barbarella is based on a comic book character by French creator Jean– Claude Forest for the French V Magazine. It was a series of comic strips from 1962 to 1964. Then, it was published as a comic book in 1964. It was considered extremely scandalous at the time. It was labeled as the first adult erotica in the comic book format. Of course, that is not true; but, it did become infamous from this hoopla. Forest claimed the image of the character of Barbarella was based on French actress, bombshell, Bridgitte Bardot.
This science fiction movie is the first feature film that came from the comics. There were other films like Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers; but, they were serials. Meaning, they often ended in cliffhangers where you would continue the story in a few weeks in a different film from the series. Barbarella was directed by Fonda’s French husband Roger Vadim (m. 1965 -1973). Fonda was 30 years old when she made this film. Later, in the same year the movie was released, they had a child, Vanessa, named after actress Vanessa Redgrave. Barbarella did not become a cult classic until it was re-released in 1977.
Barbarella is an intergalactic space agent/spy in the 401st century; yet, her character mirrors 20th century, secret agent, James Bond. For instance, Bond saves the world from a crazy evil genius while he accommodates women who want sex; and, he has the latest spy gadgets. She travels in deep space in a ship that has an interior completely covered in shag carpet.
Before Barbarella receives her orders from the President of Earth, she had just awaken from a deep space sleep. While she peels off her space suit, bouncing off shag interior, She ends up totally naked. It’s at that moment she get the telecommunication. The communication is similar to a Skype (participants can see each other) When she attempts to cover herself, the President of the Earth tells not to bother because the message is urgent. Of course, he is ogling her. This puts the letter “C” in the word creepy. Obeying orders, Barbarella moves forward to receive the message.
I wonder if Mike Myers was influenced by this movie when he made the Austin Powers swinging 60s movies? There is so much shag and shagging in both movies. The shag or shagging would definitely influenced Powers in being “randy” most of the time; and, Miss Shagwell, herself, (Heather Graham) kind of resembles Barbarella. Oh well, maybe, or maybe not?
As far as shagging goes, Barbarella encounters aliens from various planets who want to have some kind of sex; and, she accommodates them while she is saving planets from total destruction from evil genius Dr. Duran Duran’s (Milo O’Shea) the inventor of the Positronic Ray. This weapon will unleashed evil into the universe.
The kicker is Barbarella comes from Earth where physical sex is obsolete. Centuries ago, people found it messy and too distracting. To have sex in AD 40,001, you match your psychocardiogram (?) with someone else. Then, they take an “Exultation Transference” pellet. As they touch each other’s hands to finger tips, rapture is accomplished within 30 seconds. So, civilized! However, it is probably not as much fun either.
Unfortunately for Barbarella, just as she begins to appreciate the fun part of having messy and distracting sex, with Mark Hand – the Catchman, (Ugo Taognazzi), she later meet another alien, Dildano (David Hemmings) who insists on taking the “Pellet.” A few other aliens worth mentioning is professor Ping (Marcel Marceau), Pygar (JohnPhillip Law) the Birdman/angel, and The Great Tyrant (AnitaPallenberg).
Pygar is a blind birdman who befriends Barbarella and becomes her flying Uber in order to find Duran, Duran. While Barbarella and Pygar search for Duran, Duran, Professor Ping tries to fix her crashed spaceship. During the whole movie Barbarella finds herself in perilous situations. Luckily, there’s always an escape; until, Duran Duran captures her and places her in the “Excessive Orgasmic Machine.” This is Duran Duran’s ultimate killing machine: you are “pleasured to death.” I have to applaud Fonda’s professionalism. Her faked orgasm looked like the real thing. She didn’t fake an over the top orgasm like a porn star; and, she didn’t fake a funny orgasm like Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally (1989).
To be honest, I was too young to watch this movie when it first came out 1968. So, I didn’t see it; until, a few years ago on HBO. In the 21st century, this movie seems pretty tame compared to movies and television shows today. Even so, I was still a little hesitant to watch it because, quite frankly, I thought it would be a waste of time. Happily, I can honestly say that it wasn’t a waste of time. I laughed all the way through this entertaining film. Yes, it is CAMPY! So campy, that it is listed among The 100 Most Amusing Bad Movies Ever Made receiving the Golden Raspberry Award.
What possessed a successful actress, like Fonda, to make this movie? Her husband? The part of Barbarella was turned down by several actresses before Fonda accepted it. Sophia Loren and Virna Lisi turned it down. When United Artists offered it to Lisi, she terminated her contract and returned to Italy.
Years ago, I had heard Fonda say that this movie was an embarrassment for her and because of that she never watched it. Like everything else in this life, things change. Just before, she and British actress Helen Mirren presented the 2018 Oscar for Best Actor to Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Fonda compliments the production design in the Dolby Theater: How about these sets? Aren’t these great sets? They’re just like the Orgasmatron in Barbarella. That’s what they look like.
Apparently, years after it was released, Fonda finally did watch her movie. In interviews, she claims the film surprised her because she actually enjoyed watching it. Fonda turned 80 years young this year. She has lived long enough to reflect and examine the decisions and actions she has made in her life. In other words, she has learned a lot and is still learning. Like all of us, she has made mistakes and through those mistakes, she has made changes to make her life even better.
However, there is probably one mistake that will haunt her to the day she dies. Her misguided trip to North Vietnam near the end of the war. She regrets going there, now. Her intentions were right: Doing what she could to help end America’s longest war and bring our boys home. She didn’t understand, at the time, how her actions would be interpreted by both sides. Since then, she has repeatedly apologized to American service personnel who saw her actions as traitorous. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to forgive.
The events of 1968 forever changed America: The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F Kennedy, North Korea capture of the USS Pueblo with 83 crewmen aboard, protesters at the Chicago Democratic Convention, the Tet Offensive which was a surprise attack on US troops during a truce with North Vietnam, the Olympic protests (fists in the air) that resulted with two American athletes (Tommie Smith and John Carlos) losing their medals, and RichardNixon wins the Presidential election. All of this and more happened in the space of one year while at the same time bombs explode on college campuses around the country in protest against the war.
By 1968, seven years had passed since Yuri Gagarin completed his famous space flight. Sadly, 1968 was the year that he was tragically killed in a mysterious Mig 15 plane crash. Yet, despite these numerous sad events, there was still some outstanding successes and accomplishments.
Just to name a few with a “Space Travel” focus, Apollo 8 will successfully orbit the moon. By 1969, man will walk on the Moon. In addition, Television show, Star Trek, had telecast, before millions of shocked viewers, the first “scripted” interracial kiss in the United States. Captain Kirk will kiss his communication officer, Lieutenant Uhura (William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols). Remember, this was at a time when most white America was still adjusting to the Civil Rights movement and ending segregation.
Besides Apollo 8 and the first interracial kiss, Space Travel never looked so good as it did with another Sci Fi film released in 1968. This is the iconic 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Arthur C. Clarke. This was like no other Sci Fi film before. It was an art film with a philosophical base weaved within the plot. This film gave audiences a more realistic portrayal of space travel that included the dangers and some technological threats. Because of this, space movies, like Star Wars and Star Trek, were enabled to become big movie blockbusters with huge budgets and mind-boggling technological special effects.
Barbarella is a fun movie. What it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in its innocent portrayal of an emancipated woman. It also reminds us how far women have progressed and how much farther they need to go. I think science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer said it best: A science fiction writer should try to combine the intimately human with the grandly Cosmic. Barbarella is not a science fiction writer; but, this film definitely combines the intimately human with the grandly Cosmic… to perfection.
Like most people, I have always been fascinated by the concept of Time Travel. Back in the early 80s, I remember a reading an article written by astronomer Carl Sagen. He was so excited about the “reality” of sending a letter to anywhere in the world, in mere seconds. Can you imagine sending humans across the universe to a parallel universe or better yet to another era of earth time? I often wondered if he ever thought that the idea of faxing might be the building blocks to actual time travel?
I also wonder if Albert Einstein believed time travel was possible in the 20th century; since,he spent so much of his energy/time and space on this possibility. As a result, he left us with his time-continuum theory/ theory of Relativity. Even today, it is one of the most recognizable or iconic equations of all time: E=MC2. Basically, this is an equation that symbolizes the conversion of mass into energy and energy into mass by manipulating the travel-speed of light.
As you can probably tell, I am excited about the theme of this blogathon: Time Travel in the movies. I want to thank Rich of Widescreen World and Ruth of Silver Screenings for hosting this event. Please use the link below to find more articles on time travel in the movies:
This movie is based on a book: Timeline (1997) by author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Coma, Andromeda Strain, Westwood...). Due to his background in medicine, he immersed his novels with his science and medical knowledge. One of the reasons I choose this movie was because of Crichton’s meticulous approach to details. When he sold the movie rights for this book, it was with the condition, they would use his back drop story. He had a theory about how time travel might actually be accomplished. He took the idea of faxing to a Time Travel level. Carl Sagan would be proud.
The Movie Summary
Professor Johnson (Billy Connolly) is working at an archaeological dig in France near a medieval castle, Castlegard. He is aided by his assistant, Kate (Frances O’Connor), and his son, Chris (Paul Walker) and his other assistant, Andre Marek (Gerard Butler). The funding of this dig comes from a corporation that is conducting experiments on an accidental “wormhole” it created while attempting to transport a box through a type of huge Fax machine (Time Machine).
All reports from the dig-site are sent to this corporation. The CEO, who receives the dig site reports, also directs the transportation project. He kind of reminds me of Bill Gates type, Dr. Robert Doniger, played by David Thewlis. At the dig site, Chris is trying to start a romance with Kate. Marek explains to him about true love. He uses a medieval grave site of a royal couple to help explain the aspects of true love.
Later, Kate and Marek are lowered into a “just found” tunnel. They find something that astounds all reason: Professor Johnson’s reading glasses are there. Unbelievably, the eye glasses are six hundred years old. Yet, they recently seen them on him the day before. When they try to locate the Professor, they find that he is missing. He was last seen going to the Corporate Lab to report dig findings. The three assistants, along with a few other scientists from the dig site, accompanied them to Corporate.
Frustratingly, Dr. Doniger gives them his explanation. Professor Johnson has been transported back in time to 1357 Castlegard, France. He has a “marker” that will direct him back to the 21st century as long as he is at the opening of the wormhole by the designated time. Problem is, he didn’t return. They are not sure what happened to him. The marker only works for a limited amount of time. So, Doniger elicits the help of the three assistants with their co-worker, Francois Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland) to go on a mission to bring the Professor back. To lead them and protect them, Frank Gordon (Neal McDonough) and a few other Corporate men go with the group.
Already, something about all this feels wrong. Why did Doniger wait to contact them about the missing Professor. They would not have known anything if the Professor had not left his glasses, five hundred years ago, as a clue. Plus, Gordon acts a bit afraid to go. Not quite trusting Doniger, the group agree with the plan to retrieve the Professor.
Sadly, the time machine looks like the transporter from 1960s classic TV show: Star Trek. There we find Engineer Scott “Transporting” Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Doctor McCoy (Deforest Kelly) to the surface of a planet from space. A beam of light is manipulated to transport their bodies through space.
So with earth shattering pain from the transport, the adventure begins. They are transported back six hundred years ago. They arrive in the middle of a war. This war is the Hundred Years War between France and England. The same war that saw combat action from Richard III, Henry V, and Joan of Arc, although they never actually met on a field of battle or anywhere else. A time period where the Black Plague was prevalent and European men loved cropped hair styles God and obeyed the Church.
Before the Professor can be found and just after they appear in 1357 France, a couple of the Corporate guards are murdered by English soldiers. Marek rescues a boy from English soldiers only to find out the boy is a girl, Lady Claire (Anna’s Friel). Then, the whole group is captured by the English Lord Oliver (Martin Sheen) as French spies. We also learn he is holding the Professor prisoner too. To keep Oliver from killing him, the Professor promised to make him a weapon to defeat the French: ” liquid Fire” or Greek Fire. This plays havoc on the whole changing the future idea.
Back at corporate headquarters, one of the wounded men is sent back. Unbeknownst to them, he had pulled the pin to a grenade (illegally brought to the past) while he was fighting the English for his life. Right after the body is transported, the grenade in his hand blows up in the time machine. So, Doniger is busy trying to repair the damage before the time will expired to bring the group back.
The group escaped Lord Oliver but get separated. Marek rescued Lady Claire again. Professor Johnson, Chris, and Kate are captured again. After all these rescues, Marek and Lady Claire begin to fall in love. They have some cute courting miscommunication even though Marek is the only one who speaks her archaic French language (Occitan). They are eventually found by her brother, Prince Regent, Lord Arnaut (Lambert Wilson).
When Marek leaves the French camp to find his friends, he becomes captured again by the right hand man of Lord Oliver, Sir Dekere. As a prisoner, Marek is reunited with his friends who are also prisoners. Soon they learn, that Sir William Deker (Marton Csorkas) is really William Decker from their time. He was left behind and assumed dead. He is convinced that the group is there to kill him. He explained that he has Time travelled several times. He reveals to the group a secret. A secret that Dr. Doniger wants to kill him for in order to ensure his silence. The secret: Each time you go through the transport, your cellular atoms mutate. Due to the internal damage, you will eventually die sooner than you normally would.
Dr. Doniger really wants this rescue mission to fail; and, he sabotages the efforts to fix the time machine before the wormhole appears again. Not wanting to spoil the interesting ending, I will leave the summary here.
Personally, I enjoyed the movie. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like this movie. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its flaws or that there are people who hated it. Crichton hated the movie so much that he refused to sell any more movie rights for his books. However, after he died of cancer in 2008, his estate did sell his friend, Steven Spielberg, the rights to Pirate Latitudes.
So, what happened to this “could have a great movie?”
It is directed by Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon [1 – 4], Superman (1978), Goonies (1985), Scrooged (1988)…) The cast is exceptional: Sir Billy Connolly, David Thewlis, Gerard Butler, Paul Walker, Frances O’Conner, Michael Sheen, Anna Friel, Neal McDonough, …. It had a generous budget of 80 million dollars. By all rights this movie should have been a huge hit with some sequels.
Again, it has a great story, an excellent director, cast and crew and mucho money. So, what happened?
First: It was a disaster at the box office. The first week it opened it made a little over 8.4 million dollars. It grossed not quite 20 million in the USA. In the international market it made 43.9 million. In other words, it lost money.
Second: The hype was overwhelming….people wanted to see this movie. Yet, release dates kept changing. Donner had to ‘re-cut this 136 minute movie to 116 minutes. The studio sent this movie back four times for edit/cuts. Of course, details of the story were cut out of the film. These details helped audiences understand the story; and, allow it to be believable. As a result, it became an action movie and the valuable concepts and plots were lost on the audience.
Third: Possibly, the heart of the movie was removed. At the beginning of the film, Billy Connolly had a prologue that explained his character’s disappearance. This was vital to the story: and helped introduce the plot. Instead, the movie starts with some guy in a robe running around in the desert/forest. One minute he is in a forest running from a knight on horseback. Then, he is struck down by sword. Then, he falls in the middle of the road in the desert. A car stops to assist. We don’t know the guy; and, he dies in the emergency room. Some suits show up to retrieve his medical records and x-rays. The attending doctor says there are abnormalities in the x-rays. For me, this was too soon for a such a small clue for me to use later. Of course, I completely forgot the scene because it is not memorable.
Fourth: Historically the film is inaccurate. There was no Battle of Castlegard. The language was neither French or English. It was before Shakespeare and after Chaucer. In the book, Crichton gave each of them a high-tech ear translator. This was not done in the movie. The language barrier was not appropriately addressed. On top of that detail, the shields had emblems of countries and regions that did not exist in 1357. Canada is one and Germany is another country.
Again, I thought Timeline was an enjoyable movie. No, it does present a reliable theory concerning Time Travel or its impact on society. If there was a perspective about Time Travel in this film, it might be that time travel should not be attempted. What good can come from tinkering with the past? Besides, according to this movie, the human body was not made to withstand the subatomic makeover from travelling the speed of light; with or without a wormhole. It is sad that the movie was edited and cut to its death. This promised to be a great movie; but, was reduced to enjoyable in 116 minutes.
Presently, quantum physicists are still working on the possibility of time travel. What I do know is that six years ago, college students were able to bend light from another room. At this rate, who knows if space and time travel is not only possible but may actual happen in our near future. Honestly, didn’t we just send a Tesla car into space blasting David Bowie’s Space Oddity on the radio. On second thought, maybe there are travels that we, as humans, will find beyond of our realm of attainable possibilities.
“It’s that time of year again when the best of the best in the film industry vie against each other for the coveted and sought after Oscar. The Academy Awards is celebrating its 90th year. On March 4th, it is hosted, for the second time, by popular late night talk show host and executive producer, Jimmy Kimmel.
JimmyKimmel Live! has been on ABC since 2003. To be on television for 15 years is no small feat. Kimmel is a witty, entertaining comic who has an unassuming persona. To general audiences, he is likable. Based on the title of this post, please do not assume that I am trying to imply that Jimmy Kimmel comes across like Forrest Gump or even that he looks like Tom Hanks. However, some people claim to see a resemblance
So, what am I implying? My claim is that Oscar nominees have worked on, contributed and created an Artistic film version of a great story. This story has attracted audiences due to its relevancy in their lives. The social issues explored, alluded to or addressed in the film imitate real life. An example of this is the Oscar-winning movie: Forrest Gump (1995). It has numerous social ills that reflect its relevance. It is because of the importance of relevancy that Jimmy Kimmel is the perfect host for the Oscars. As far as hosting the Oscars, you could not find a better and more perfect host. Unlike The Last Week Tonight show with John Oliver or Steven Colbert in The Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel’s Kimmel Live! stayed out of the political fray; until, this year.
Soon after his son was born, a nurse noticed an unusual breathing pattern in the child. Jimmy Kimmel’s second child by wife Molly needed heart Surgery. This life threatening medical problem for his infant son will later provide Kimmel with a social issue, child health care, that he felt he must address with his audiences. His concern was for thousands of children who need expensive medical care; but, whose parents could not afford it. Now, his show was not just about comedy, it now became relevant to every parent in his audience.
Over the years, the Oscar ceremonies has evolved from just an award show. It has become a platform for social issues and injustices too. Watching the Oscars is not just about the red carpet, glamour, clothes, who will win, and the beautiful. Today, it makes social statements with interviews, ribbon pins or speeches. Watching the Oscars has evolved into an event that is extremely relevant today.
This is an excerpt from The Washington Post quoting part of Kimmel’s monologue from last year’s Oscars:
He mentioned that the Oscars were airing in “225 countries that now hate us,” and said he was happy that Homeland Security let French Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert into the country.
The U.S. is divided right now, Kimmel said, and people have been telling the host that he needs to say something to unite everyone.
“Let’s just get something straight off the top: I can’t do that. There’s only one Braveheart in this room and he’s not going to unite us either,” Kimmel said referring to Mel Gibson. Then Kimmel said that the best thing to do would be for people to reach out to someone they disagree with and have a conversation. “That could make America great again,” he said.
If you were one of those people who did not see Kimmel’s heart wrenching pleas to politicians and lawmakers to extend funding for Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP), I have included it below this paragraph. Again, his own infant son had to undergo heart surgery, not once but twice, as an infant and at age 7 months. Kimmel’s passionate cry for “common sense and decency” touched the hearts of millions. So, besides the fact that Kimmel is an excellent choice for hosting the Oscars due to his wit and comic timing, he is also a relevant choice because he publicly cares about many social issues that people face today. By the way, CHIPS was not extended due to budget cuts.
Kimmel’s Plea For “Common Sense and Decency”
This clip is a little over 13 minutes. If you have not seen it, you might like to watch it now. Warning! If you do watch it, you will laugh; but, your eyes will tear up too. This is a parent who not only loves his child; but, who is also deeply concerned for other parents whose children are sick and; cannot afford healthcare without government assistance.
Once again, I believe that one of the common attributes of an award-winning film is its relevancy for people of today and in the future. I had to think about all the movies that touched my heart. Nearly, all of them were Oscar-winning movies: To Kill a Mockingbird; On The Waterfront; Road To Perdition; Signs; The Prestige; Rocky; Inception; Warrior; Locke; The Patriot; and so many more. The topics varied; but, they always had heart warming moments that touch my very soul.
Here is my favorite scene picks that personally affected me the most from Forrest Gump
The last 15 minutes of Forrest Gump is pure movie magic. Forrest (Tom Hanks) is recently widowed and raising his five-year old son as a single parent. When Forrest watches his little boy get on the school bus, alone for the first time, is when my eyes become floodgates. He sits on a tree stump at the bus stop; and, there he patiently waits for his son to return to him: safe and loved. This always brings tears to my eyes. The relevancy should be obvious for any parent and perhaps children too. Especially, in light of the heinous acts of violence on America’s children in schools and on the streets. The unspoken fear of every parent: their child does not return to them after school or after play.
This first clip is Forrest caring for his sick wife and some discussion of what Vietnam War was like. Then, he visits her grave. It is nearly six minutes long. It goes by very quickly.
This next clip is very short: 36 seconds. Forrest is sending little Forrest on a school bus. Haley Joel Osment plays Little Forrest in his first film role at the age of six.
This scene shows Forrest prepared to sit there on that tree stump; until, little Forrest returns. Besides the great story, the acting, the cinematography, the director, …music adds layers of complexity to the make a memorable scene.
Forrest Gump won six Oscars at the 1995 Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. It was nominated for 13 Oscars. Many critics agree that this movie is one of the top ten movies ever produced. I believe one of the reasons is its relevancy for the audience. This movie addresses single parenting, the physically and mentally challenged, child abuse and incest, War, Veterans of war, Civil Rights, falling in love, burying a love one, revolutionaries, racism, social protest, drug addiction, bullies, etc…The list is long. The story of Gump is a story of human kind; good and evil.
Forrest Gump touched my heart and will remain in my memory; but there were other winners that year that are definitely worth noting
Other Oscars winners that year that included parenting as part of the plot or subplot were The Lion King; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Legends of The Fall; and The Madness of King George. There were twoother Oscar winners that did not have parenting as a subplot; but, they did address other social issues. Ed Wood addressed drug addiction, ageist, and acceptance of alternative life styles like transvestite. Speed addressed violence and the fear of a homegrown terrorist. The main point is that nearly all Oscar caliber movies have some kind of social relevance to engage its audiences. Thankfully, we can honor all those creative artists and their movie magic; especially when we have talented hosts like Jimmy Kimmel to guide the way.
I would like to thank Oscar’s Blogathon hosts:
In honor of the Oscars this year, Paula from Paula’s Cinema Club (Twitter -@Paula_Guthat); Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled (Twitter @Irishjayhawk66) and Aurora from Once Upon A Screen are hosting this year’s 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Please use the following links below to read wonderful posts about Oscar movies and other Oscar topics!
I was invited to write a post on one of the most successful singing duos in Hollywood history. To be honest I knew next to nothing about the pair. Their heyday happened years before I was even born. The couple became famous near the end of the Great Depression (1929 – 1942). During those bleak days of the Depression, it must have been something wonderful to watch these two beautiful people singing their love songs while staring into each other’s eyes. Even by today’s standards, their on-screen chemistry is off the charts. It is no surprise that their movies were extremely popular and lucrative magnets for box office profits. They attracted millions of fans around the world, then and now.
Since it is Valentine’s Day, it is only fitting that the most appropriate Blogathon ever to celebrate Sweethearts is created for our film lovers. Of course, it is The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon hosted by Tiffany and Rebekah Brennan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS). To read more posts about MacEddy movies and their individual movies, please use the link below:
Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy made eight films together from 1935 – 1942. Of course, they were musicals; since both were trained opera singers. Eddy always considered himself a singer, first and foremost. MGM’s Louis B. Meyer couldn’t agree more. Eddy did not do well in his screen tests. As a matter of fact, before he starred in his first movie with MacDonald, he wanted out of his contract; so, he could return to his singing career. The shy Eddy felt out-of-place in Hollywood. Fortunately for Eddy, his smooth baritone voice could rival AndreaBocelli tenor voice in beauty and expression. So, after a film career of 16 movies, he continued to give concerts. He performed literally to the day he had a stroke on stage and died hours later, in 1966. MacDonald had a lovely soprano voice; but her on-screen presence and her natural acting ability allowed her to make 28 movies. She was an established star before she made her first movie with Eddy.
I had no idea what a great actress she was; until, I watched my first and only “MacEddy” film: The Girl From the Golden West. Since viewing it a few times, I am a true fan now; and, I intend to binge watch their movies, together and individually.
History: The Girl From The Golden West And Opera
This is the fourth movie made (1915, 1923, 1930 & 1938) that is adapted from David Belasco’s play with the same title. In 1910, Giacomo Puccini turned this play into a popular Italian Opera, La Fraciulla Del West. If you don’t know Puccini, you don’t know opera. Even this gifted child of nine knows Puccini. Amira Willighagen sings on Holland’s TV show, YouGot Talent:O Mio Babbino Caro (My favorite, Puccini song). Forgive me for this indulgence. Opera is passionate and full of gut wrenching emotion. To hear a song sung by a child that is basically a mother’s plea for the life of her child is completely overwhelming: That’s Opera! To understand the MacEddy movies, you have to appreciate the impact this genre of music had on their audiences.
With a sample of a Puccini opera piece and a bit of history, I hope it helps in understanding the appeal that these movies had on audiences of that time. It was a scary time: world-wide economic Depression with democracies failing and dictators seizing control. Opera is music that not only tells a tragic story but revels the raw emotions involved within that story. Please don’t underestimate the impact these songs had on the fans and audiences of that era. Opera has been described as the beautiful sounds and emotions of life itself.
The Movie: The Girl From The Golden West (1938)
This MacEddy movie is a musical western. It is not a cowboy musical western, like a Roy Rogers or a Gene Autry movie. This movie is concerns the dramatic movement to the West with all its dangers and mingling of diverse people and cultures. Granted this is an old Hollywood imaginary version of that era. This movie was also made with the watchful eye of the Hays’ Decency Code. So, the rating today would be probably be a G (General audiences) because no one is killed, no one says a curse word, and everyone is honorable, even the bad guys, in one way or another.
The First Thirty Minutes of this Two Hour Movie:
The movie begins with settlers in a wagon train moving west. All singing in chorus about their hopes for the future: Sun up to Sun Down🎶. It reminds me of another western musical, Paint Your Wagon (1969). In this film, they sang I’m on My Way 🎶. The two opening scenes are very similar in imagery and song. I would not be surprised if the opening scene from Paint Your Wagon was indeed influenced by this MacEddy film.
We see an elderly man who is driving the wagon. Beside him, is a little girl of 9 or 10. We learn from their conversation that the little girl, Mary, is an orphan. Her dying father, who was a gambler, asked his brother, Davy (Charlie Grapewin) to care of Mary and take her with him if he goes out west. Mary’s mother passed away before her father. Uncle Davy and the other settlers are alerted to break for camp since the Tom Tom of the Indians can be heard nearby. Once they gather around the camp fire, little Mary (JeanneEllis) breaks out in song: Shadows On The Moon🎶. It is a lovely lullaby taught to her by her mother.
As she sings, they are spied on by a Mexican bandit and boy (Bill Cody Jr.) around Mary’s age. They boy is mesmerize by the song and Mary. Just as Mary finishes her song, they are visited by a priest, Father Sienna ( H.B. Warner). He is impressed with Mary’s song and asked if she swallowed a canary. Mary, being a gambler’s daughter, laughs and claims: I bet ya a dollar that I didn’t.
The padre introduces himself and explains that he lives in a mission nearby. He asks Mary if she could sing for his parishioners in church one day. She promises that she would. Father Sienna explains his mission is to bring civilization to the Indians and bring information to civilization in order to help settlers cross through the wilderness and reach their destination. He pulls out a map to show them where they are in relation to the surrounding mountains and rivers. Some panicked Indian parishioners interrupt the priest. They explained that he must return to the mission immediately. General Ramirez (Noah Berry Sr.) and his men are there. Before he leaves, he warns the settlers to stay away from Ramirez because he is very dangerous man.
At the mission, Ramirez and his rowdy men are drunk. The boy seen earlier spying on the settlers is with them. The General begs the boy, Gringo, to sing for the men. They love to hear him sing. However Gringo is reluctant. The General teases him about mooning over the singing little girl (Mary). The General then persuades Gringo to shoot a sheep with his bow and arrow. If he kills it in one shot, he will give him a medal. Gringo kills the sheep and earns his medal. He then sings a song of camaraderie: Soldiers Of Fortune🎶.
When Father Sienna finds his dead sheep with an arrow shot through its body, he angrily says to General Ramirez: Since when are soldiers warring with sheep? The priest demands to know who killed his sheep. Gringo steps up and proudly admits guilt. Father Sienna is impressed with the boy’s courage and honesty. He explains that violence and killing can be avoided and that there is a better way. Gringo’s heart is moved; and, he agrees with the priest against Ramirez’s objections. The priest gives Gringo a cross pin. He says it is a medal of a different kind. The General angrily takes his medal back from the boy and explains to the Padre: If I do not take the medal from the boy when he does something bad, I will run out of medals to give him when he does something good.
An Indian chief complains to Father Sienna that if the land belongs to his people why are the people trying to settle there. The General yells that the settlers want to take the land and kill all of them. He demands that Gringo repeat what he said to the chief in his language. Gringo refuses to tell the chief what the General said.
To prove to Gringo he is willing to try to accept the new settlers in an act of friendship, the General and his men decide to pay them a visit. The settlers mistake them for warring Indians. They shoot at them and fatally wound the General. They make it back to the mission. As the dyng General ridicules Father Sienna, Gringo sadly sings, Soldiers Of Fortunes for the last time. Gringo is so angry with the priest, he ripped his gift pin off his shirt and tosses it to the ground.
The Set up For The Rest of The Movie
The Movie moves from a wagon train, to years later in a small gold mining town, Cloudy Mountain in California. It is here, we find our heroine, Mary Robbins aka “Girl” (Jeanette MacDonald). She is the sole owner of the Polka, a saloon. She is also one of the very few women in town and only single white woman. Yet, our miners are respectful of the Girl while they enjoy camaraderie, boozing, and gambling in her establishment. They also trust her with all their gold and money; until, the coach comes; and, they can send it on to banks for safe keeping.
It is here, Mary talks to one of her admirers, gambler and Sheriff Jack Rance (Walter Pigeon). Pigeon is perfect as the charismatic handsome but dangerous gambler turned Sherriff. He just shot at a man for trying to cheat him at cards. When Mary sees him sitting alone with a deck of cards, she notices his recently used gun displayed on top of the card table. She asks Jack: What’s the gun for? You afraid of cheating yourself? Mary is witty, beautiful and smart. MacDonald adds a western accent and movements to her character. She walks around in long strides; and, her steps are more like stomping around. She convincing embraces the core of her mountaineer character.
Mary obviously understands her power over the men folk; and, she uses it. She also has another admirer, the town blacksmith, Alabama (Buddy Ebsen). Unlike the Sheriff, he knows his love for Mary can only stay within the friendship mode. The friendship is affectionate and warm. Ebsen better known for his TV roles in The Beverly Hillbillies and Barnaby Jones.
Sheriff Rance sends Alabama to fetch the girl because he has a surprise for her: a piano pronounced: Pie-And- nee. Alabama approaches Mary playing a fife. Mary sings the lovely tune: The Wind in The Trees🎶Which is one of the my favorite songs in the movie. Later in the movie, Ebsen will sing solo in another great song: The West Ain’t Wild Anymore🎶.
Meanwhile, a Robin Hood type of bandit, Ramirez (Nelson Eddy) and his outlaw gang are causing fear and unrest amongst the settlers in the region. Ramirez is a white man whose parents was killed by the Indians when he was a small child. He is Gringo all grown up. He and his gang enjoy singing their song: Soldiers of Fortune. Eddy is a tall, blonde and wholesome handsome. He resembles Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger. He is easy on the eyes and he is likable. He is at his best when he is singing or sharing the screen with MacDonald.
Ramirez is popular with the ladies but he is not “in love” with anyone. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his favorites, like Nina Martinez (PriscillaLawson). He keeps love coaching his right hand man, Mosquito (Leo Carrillo) to not get tied down with love; besides, it messes with your criminal career.
That is until; he robs a coach on its way to Monterey. This coach has a very special passenger: Mary. She travels to Monterey every year to sing in Father Sienna’s church. She has done this since she was a child. On this trip she is singing, Ava Maria🎶
Honesty, the scenes between Eddy and MacDonald are the best part of the movie. He outrageously flirts; and she; is witty and sassy. Their whole exchange is truly funny and sweet. In other words, the sparks fly with these two. If Eddy is not a great actor, he had to be completely enamoured with MacDonald off-screen. This kind of chemistry is flawless and timeless. Not since Jane Austen‘s Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice has there been such heated sexual undertones. I ask you, how can a man pointing a gun at you while he is robbing you be so dang charming?
I don’t like spoilers; so, you just have to watch and enjoy the MacEddy banter in the movie for yourself. Despite being in dire straits, Mary does not show her fear; since, she knows Sheriff Rance sent a posse for her protection, and probably, for the gold too. When Mary hears horses arriving, she triumphantly announces to Ramirez that he and his men are caught. However, as the posse arrives, Mary soon realizes that the posse is actually prisoners of Ramirez’s men.
As Ramirez continues to rob the people of the coach, he believes he is chivalrous when he allows Mary to keep her necklace from her mother, and her dresses for her performance at the Church. Also, he tolerates and jokes with her concerning her “sassy mouth.” So, he continues to flirt with her; until, Mary gives him a parting gift: A sound slap across the face from the window of the “just leaving” coach. Mosquito and the men are shocked that Ramirez allowed Mary to “get away with that.” Ramirez seemed shocked too. He then tells Mosquito to ride with him into Monterey. They will go as visitors; since, no one knows what Ramirez looks like. Once there, Ramirez plans to locate Mary in order to repay her for the slap.
He finds Mary in the Father Sienna’s Church as she sings Ava Maria.
Upon hearing Mary sing, Ramirez remembers that she is the little girl who sang that beautiful song around the camp fire years ago. He never forgot the song nor the lovely voice that sung it. Ramirez is now in full blown, “I am madly in Love” mode. After Mary’s performance, he overhears the Governor inviting her to a ball that evening. He tells her he will send an Army officer to escort her. Ramirez seizes his chance. So, he “borrows” an Army uniform to escort Mary, while at the same time, he uses his birth name, Anderson. So, Lieutenant Anderson escorts Mary to the celebration; so that he might have the opportunity to woo her.
During the celebration, one of the best dance scenes at that time is filmed, The Mariache 🎶 sung by Eddy. Again, I think this movie may have influenced another Western musical. That movie had one of most memorable dance scenes in film history. The barn raising dance scene in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954).
After spending the evening with Mary, Ramirez/Anderson wants to tell her the truth about himself. So, he follows her to Cloudy and finds her. In order to woo Mary properly, Anderson/ Ramirez must sing a love song. This clip is an example of MacEddy’s mutual chemistry and his beautiful voice. The song is Who are we to say🎶. Near the end of this clip, Alabama (Edsen) appears. Also, at the end of this clip, I think MacDonald is fascinating to watch.
He is also introduced to Sheriff Rance who had previously asked Mary to marry him. Rance is none to friendly with this new rival for Mary’s attention. Plus, he is furious that his posse failed to capture Ramirez. So, Rance has set a trap for Ramirez. He put a $10,000 award for his capture and is luring him to the saloon to steal more gold.
No one knows what Ramirez looks because he covers his face and speaks with an accent during his robberies. However, Mary will soon learn the truth about the Lieutenant Anderson’s identity.
The last forty minutes of this movie moves very fast. It involves lynching, sacrifice, lost love, gambling for love and life, and of course the power of True love. As I said before when I began this post, I knew very little of this phenomenal coupling of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Now, that I do, I am so thankful to Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan at PEPS. This particular movie is not a fan favorite like Maytime (1937) or Rose Marie (1936); but, this and their five other movies are dearly loved.
Besides, the fact the movie is a bit dated, my only complaint would be that it was too long, at two hours. They must have had a terrible time trying to edit this film; since, they would delete all the scenes with Roy Bolger ( The Tin Man in Wizard of Oz) as a character named Happy Moore. Despite the length of the movie, it is still enjoyable.
The story in this film is so appealing that it not only inspired a play, but an Opera, four movies, and finally a novel too. In addition to this movie, there are seven more movies starring these singing Sweethearts for your viewing pleasure. I hope, if you have not seen a MacEddy film, you give yourself a treat, and enjoy the escapism of their extremely entertaining films.
Happy Valentine’s Day💞
Original 1938 Trailer for The Girl From The Golden West:
This actor and comedian will be missed for a very long time. Anyone who had caught his act or watched his movies knew there was some kind of genius lurking there. He was manically funny and his dramatic performances were near perfect. He won an Oscar for his supporting role in Good Will Hunting (1997); and, he had 83 nominations from various film industries and 63 wins. Whether drama or comedy, he sublimely did it all. The ancient Greeks would have considered him the consummate performer, like BusterKeaton. They are a combination of hilarious laughter and heartbreaking tears; or, as the Greeks considered it, an illusion of perfection within the arts of entertainment. You only had to see Williams once, regardless where; and, he made an impression that you would not easily forget.
His improvisations were pure magic. As with most performing artists, many aspects of his personal life would make it into his act. For instance, he was very proud of his Scot heritage. You can see some of this in the following video clip. In this clip, he is impersonating a “pissed” (into his cups, smashed, drunk…) Scot. This particular Williams character ended up inventing the game of golf. Take a look, if you have not seen it or if you want to laugh again. This displays Williams’ trademark of energetic impersonations along with the hilarity of his wit.
Before I continue, I would like to thank Gill from Realweegiemidget and Crystal from In The Days ofClassicHollywood for hosting this much deserved tribute: RobinWilliams Blogathon. To read or see more of this tribute, please use the following links:
The first fleeting impression I had of Williams was from TVs reboot of Rowanand Martin’sLaughIn (1977). Williams was mixed in a fast paced kaleidoscope of comedians doing their gags and short skits. However, he stood out even then. He was young, handsome, and wearing a funny-looking cowboy hat. He wowed me in only a few seconds. Anyone who saw him knew he was different and unique. I tried to catch the show the following week. Either, I missed it; or, it just didn’t never aired.
I don’t think I saw him again until the highly popular Mork and Mindy (1978 – 1982). He was not a cowboy this time. No, he was a cute, funny-looking space alien who is befriended by the pretty Mindy (Pam Dawber). For those who don’t remember it, this show is a cross between My Favorite Martian (1999) and the Earth Girls Are Easy (1989). For most of us, it was the first time we heard the words: Nano, Nano! Who knew then that “Nano” technology would be in our future?
Williams claims he was heavily influenced by many great performers and actors. However, I think his greatest influence came from comedic icon and the first inductee to the Comedic Hall of Fame: Jonathan Winters. If you seen Winters act when dressed as a women, you might think: this is Mrs. Doubtfire’s American cousin: MaudeFrickert. If you never seen Winters impersonation of the 87 year old Maude, then I encourage you to watch the following short clip of “her” with Dean Martin. Theyaresetting up a commercial for a sponsor of TheDeanMartin Show in what they call a “station break.”
The jokes are a bit dated and sexist; but, it was “naughty” fun for audiences of the early 60s. The similarities between the two crossdressing elderly, spitfire-characters cannot not be missed. Both are immensely enjoyed by their adorning fans.
After Mork and Mindy were married, they soon announced a baby on the way. Their half Alien/human newborn would be “hatched” into a baby named Mearth (Jonathan Winters). Due to Williams admiration of Winters, this should not have surprised people; but, it did. You had to watch it to understand how ridiculously funny those last few years were on that show with this comic marriage. Those two together, Williams and Winters, was akin to a comedic molotov cocktail.
Here is a clip of them ten years later after the show ended. They are on the Johnny Carson Show. Carson had alreadied interviewed Williams before they brought out Winters. Winters had just won an Emmy for another TV show; however, he did not attend the awards to receive it. Williams was obviously elated to be there with the iconic funnyman. This clip is just a glimpse of what it must have been like with these two geniuses working together. Their respect and admiration for each other can be seen through the details.
In addition to Winters, Robin Williams credits others whose influence had an major impact on him, especially, when it came to acting. He loved watching British actor, Peter Sellers (PinkPanther, Doctor Strangelove or how I Stopped worrying and love the Bomb) and DustinHoffman (Tootie, Hook). They each impressed upon him the need of learned, practiced characterization. Each character, no matter how large or small the part, deserved serious study. Hoffman taught Williams this during the making of Hook: Preparation is key to a great performance. This advice must of become extremely important to the “The King of Improvisation.”
Williams will be involved in 105 film productions. Most, if not all, delivered a character, good or evil, with a degrees of heart and humanity.
The first time one of Williams’ performances surprised me was in Kenneth Branagh’sDead Again (1991). This is a wonderful movie that salutes the styles of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells. With that said, this movie has passion, murder, mystery and the possibility of reincarnation. It travels from post WWII in the United States (filmed in black and white) to the present (filmed in color). In the past, Branagh is German composer Roman Strauss. He marries a much younger musician, Margaret (EmmaThompson). She is murdered and Strauss is executed for the crime. In the present, Branagh is cynical private eye, Mike Church. Most of his work comes from tracking down missing heirs.
A lawyer contacts Church to locate a professionally ruined psychiatrist, Cozy Carlisle (Robin Williams). What a great name for a psychiatrist, Cozy. Apparently, that was his problem. He got too “ cozy” with his patients. Church locates him working in a grocery store’s freezer locker.
Church is called by his priest to come back to the orphanage (converted Strauss mansion) where he was raised. They have an female amnesiac who just appeared at their gates. Unfortunately, she is so traumatized, she is mute too. As if that is not enough, she has nothing on her to identify her. Church really doesn’t want to deal with this kind of case; but, his priest knows how to guilt him out. Once Mike meets this woman, he is immediately intrigued. He gives her a temporary name, Grace (Thompson).
Eventually, Mike ends up taking her to hypnotist, Franklyn Madson (Derek Jacobi) who also has a antique shop. Church and Grace learn of the Strauss murder under hypnosis. While in the hypnotic state, Grace appears to relive her past life as Margaret Strauss, (the murder victim). As a result, Grace finds her voice but not her memory of her life in the present. Church’s instincts tells him not to trust Madson. Instead, he and Grace pay a visit to the bitter and angry, ex-doctor, Cozy Carlisle. Church wants his advice about the possibility of reincarnation. The following two clips completely contain this conversation. Until this movie, I never seen Williams in such a dark role. It was brilliant, of course.
Even as this darker character, Cozy Carlisle, Williams delivers a punch line to Branagh’s Mike Church. I liked how this movie explores other beliefs. Although the answers differ by various religions, the questions remain the same (why we are here; or, what is our place in the greater scheme of things). The answers will always be debated; but, even with confusing answers, the questions are always pursued and are infinitely more interesting.
The following year Williams passed away, a very dark movie (his last) was released, Boulevard (2015). I was saddened that such lovely person as Robin Williams is not here anymore to make us laugh. No, I didn’t see it, nor at that time, did I want too. However, time soften the heart; and, I decided I want to see it. I want to be fair in honoring all of Williams’ work.
For a while, I wanted to remembered the smiling and gifted performer in happier movies. A few years, after he passed away, Americans in the United States were given the “another” last movie with Robin Williams. It was released in the U.K. in 2015 but not in the States. It is a scientific comedy…Yessss: Absolutely Anything. Williams does the voiceover for the dog, Dennis. The trailer looks funny; and, I am looking forward to watching it.
It is directed by Terry Jones (Monty Python) and it is written by Jones and Gavin Scott. I took the liberty of copying the cast lists from Wikapedia. Here is the link:
Feast your eyes on all of this talent. As far as the voiceover cast, you might as well call it “Monty Python” with Robin Williams.
Simon Pegg as Neil Clarke
Kate Beckinsale as Catherine West
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Ray
Rob Riggle as Colonel Grant Kotchev
Robert Bathurst as James Cleverill
Eddie Izzard as Headmaster, Mr. Robinson
Joanna Lumley as Fenella
Marianne Oldham as Rosie
Emma Pierson as Miss Pringle
Meera Syal as Fiona Blackwell
Mojo the Dog as Dennis the Dog
John Cleese as Chief Alien
Terry Gilliam as Nasty Alien
Eric Idle as Salubrious Gat
Terry Jones as Scientist Alien
Michael Palin as Kindly Alien
Robin Williams as Voice of Dennis the Dog
Again, I have not seen this movie; but, I guarantee you that I will by this weekend; even though, the movie received lukewarm reviews. That’s nothing new. Most comedies receive lukewarm reviews; or, they are totally trashed. It just makes me happy that Williams, in the voice of “man’s friend,” comes from this space age comedy to make us smile, again. Let me know in the comments if you seen it and if you enjoyed it.
Again, that you Gill and Crystal for hosting the Robin Williams Blogathon. Don’t forget to see more tributes to Robin Williams using the following links:
With a new year, you can expect new challenges. As a blogger, my year started out with a FANtastic challenge. This year I have been offered the opportunity to write a post that “pays forward” The Twelve Days of Christmas. The gifts given here is from the popular television series, Outlander, specifically Season 3. These gifts were givento fans of Outlander throughout this past year of 2017.
Many people, including myself, believe that the true spirit of Christmas should not be celebrated once a year but everyday of the year. So with that said, allow me to present to you, dear reader, with The Twelve Days of Outlander. I begin this post by highlighting “some” of Season 3’s main events. It would be impossible to include everything in this post from Season 3; since, there is an over abundance of memorable scenes and surprises. So, I begin by discussing some of those major events (plot and subplot themes). I will include the first and second day of Outlander gifts 🎁 to fans within this long review. Afterwards, I will conclude with listing the final ten gifts.
If you have notseen Season 3 or read Gabaldon’s Voyager, you need to know that this post is loaded with spoilers. For those of you, like me, who are in Droughtlander (a space of time between two seasons), I hope you will enjoy this post; and, for you, who are just curious, I hope you too will enjoy the post.
What are some of the Events in Season 3?
Jamie and Claire Fraser’s twenty years of separation, the Battle of Culloden, their reunion, the journey and adventure to rescue Wee Ian Murray from pirates, fighting the Bakra and a Sea wreck on the coast of the New World.
The Reunion and Tweny year Separation
Season 3 is based on the third book, Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon. Personally, this is one of my favorites from the eight-book series. One of the most significant events in the book is the Jamie and Claire reunion after being separated for over twenty years. Here we find a much older Jamie and Claire struggling to find their comfort zone in each other’s hearts and matured lives.
Let’s face it: An 18th century Scottish Highlander-warrior has different skill-sets and cultural perceptions when compared to a 20th century English mother and Combat-Army nurse who had struggled to become a Civilian surgeon in the late 1950s. Without a doubt, they will need years to work out their personal differences and on going martial issues. Added to these tantamount obstacles, there is also a bit of explaining to do for all their decisions and mistakes made during the last twenty years. On the first night of their reunion, Jamie questions Claire about her motives for coming back to him, 20 years later. To say the least, time travel is a bitch.
Jamie drives home the point: He is not the same man that she once knew. Now he has additional aspects to his complex life: 7-Years as a cave dwelling hermit, ten more years of prison, smuggler, printer, treasonous writer, second marriage, his son: Willie… Nor, is she the same Claire, he once knew: a mother who raised a twenty year old daughter, a married woman of 23 years to Frank, a doctor with a Harvard degree, Women’s Liberation, The Civil Rights Moment, a man on the moon, penicillin…. Regardless of the time traveling consideration, life has a way of changing us through our experiences. Claire and Jamie are no exception to this rule.
Personally, Claire has more trust issues and lacking a bit of confidence in herself. Whereas Jamie is extremely stoic and definitely trusts no one, completely. Due to his criminal actions, Jamie is very complex person with a very complex life. For instance, depending on what he is doing at the time, he has various names or aliases for of his various actions or occupations. Obviously, Jamie and Claire have major difficulties to resolve in their ongoing relationship. Fortunately, they have common bonds besides their enduring love for one another, both mirror each other in courage and perseverance. Plus, they have aged well; and, they are still the sexiest couple on film and probably on the planet.
Outlander Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan photographed on the Outlander set in Cape Town, South Africa on March 9, 2017 by Ruven Afanador Balfe’s Costume: Marnie Ormiston; Hair and Makeup: Anita Anderson; Heughan’s Costume: Kirsty Allen; Hair and Makeup: Wendy Kemp Forbes; Set Dressers: Jason Broderick and Thomas Leppan; Production: Baker Kent Productions
Outlander Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan photographed on the Outlander set in Cape Town, South Africa on March 8, 2017 by Ruven Afanador Balfe’s Costume: Marnie Ormiston; Hair and Makeup: Anita Anderson; Heughan’s Costume: Kirsty Allen; Hair and Makeup: Wendy Kemp Forbes; Set Dressers: Jason Broderick and Thomas Leppan; Production: Baker Kent Productions
🎁 🎼 So, on the First Day of Outlander Gifts 💝 fans were given a hilarious and imaginative parody of Jamie and Claire’s visit to CouplesTherapy provided by MTV’s funny man David Horowitz ….🎼 Fala La La La 🎶 La La La🎶
🎁🎁 🎼 On The Second Day of Outlander Gifts 💝 fans were given superbperformances by Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Grant O’Rourke, Sophie Skelton, Richard Rankin, David Barry, Steven Cree, Laura Donnelly, Hanna James, and by the whole hard-working cast. In addition to the performances, fans were gifted by the producers, directors, writers, art and set designers, cinematographers, makeup artist, and anyone who worked on any part of Season 3’s episodes. Thanks to you all for your gifts of creativity and hard work…🎼 Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
The following contain several gifted scenes and pics from Season 3: The Separation years and the Battle of Culloden (Episodes 1 – 5).
Another Major Event in Season 3: The Battle at Culloden
🚫Dear Reader: Unless you are suffering from Droughtlander (the space between seasons) or you just like to read, you may wish to scroll through the next several paragraphs; until, you reach the rest of the Outlander “Pay It Forward” Gifts 🎁 🚫
Another major event in Season 3, the book and Scottish history: the Battle of Culloden. The last battle for the Jacobite Rebellion. The images within these scenes are not only memorable but eerily beautiful.
The opening scene has to be one of the best in television history. If Sam Heughan’s (Jamie Fraser) performance in these scenes does not receive critical praise; then, I am convinced that critics are either dishonest in their reviews; or, they haven’t a clue as to what a great performance looks like. As the scene begins. an unconscious and wounded Jamie is lying among the massive number of dead on the battlefield. He awakens with his body partially covered by the dead body of Captain Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). His first thoughts: I am dead. He goes in and out of consciousness as he remembers bits and pieces of the battle and his life with Claire (Caitriona Balfe)
Jamie is waiting for death. He wants to die. He not only wants to end his physical pain; but, his emotional heartbreak as well. This was the last major battle of the Jacobite Rebellion. They fought to put the “rightful” King (Prince Charles Edward Stuart/ aka Bonnie Prince Charley) on the British throne. With the poor leadership of Prince Charley (AndrewGower) along with terrible strategies, the Battle of Culloden becomes a horrific defeat for the Scots. Scotland will forever be changed due to hundreds of years oppression that follow this defeat. Most highlanders were killed in battle or soon after. Jamie wanted to die in that battle. He sent his wife and unborn child into the future, never to see them again. Of course, he wanted to die. In his mind, life was not worth living anymore.
As he suffers from his wounds, he awaits for the Angel of Death or the blade of a British solider’s bayonet to end his life. All around him, wounded highlanders are killed by British soldiers. Then, a light snow descends from the night sky. Near him, he watches a bunny rabbit scampering about. While lying there, Jamie has a vision of Claire.
His cousin, Rupert Mackenzie (Grant O’Rourke), finds him dying. He refuses to leave him there and helps him off the battlefield to a small cottage (the only building) on the battlefield. Eventually, the remaining Highlanders are found and kept there as prisoners; until, each is executed: One at a time while the other prisoners can can hear the shots.
Jamie listens as each man gives his name to be recorded just before they are shot. Then, near the cottage, Jamie painfully listens to the fatal shots. Sadly, some of the men were as young as sixteen. The tears start flowing when Rupert says his goodbyes to Jamie after he volunteers to go next.
Twenty Years of Separation for Jamie and Claire
For Claire: Co-parenting her daughter, Brianna, with Frank is a double edge sword: She loves that Frank is a wonderful father; but their marriage as a couple is void of passionate love. She cannot forget Jamie, especially while loving his ginger haired daughter. So, she continues to pine for him even though he died two hundred years ago. To her credit, she tried to leave Jamie in the past. She even agreed to never speak of Jamie or to tell Bree about him while Frank was still alive. However, talking and thinking are two different things. So, cleansing Jamie from her was impossible for Claire. Nothing can stop Claire’s love for Jamie Fraser. Naturally, Frank resents her for this. For Bree’s sake they remain together as parents; but their marriage is a sham: “friends” with benefits as Frank promises to be discreet with his girlfriends. How utterly lonely for Claire. This will have a negative effect on her self-confidence and trust in others.
Frank cannot compete with the memories of Jamie. As a result, Professor Randall looks for love and companionship with his female students. Unfortunately for Claire, Frank not only left her feeling lonely and unwanted, he also did not appreciate her mothering duties. He encourages her to go back at school. However, once her schooling was complete, he resented her leaving their home and child to go to work and making friends like Joe Abernathy. Frank was a man of his times. He accepted the social rules of separating the races while he secretly thought Claire was having an affair with Joe. This was not touched on in the show but was mentioned in the books as one of his reasons for wanting to take Bree back to England and leaving Claire. I am glad the writers left this out.
Claire has entered into a “man’s profession” of medicine. She receives little support except for her friend of color, Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson), who is also on his own due to “Separate but Equal” policies of segregated America and during the Civil Rights Movement. These are major changes in Claire’s life which also affects Claire’s character and personality.
There are plenty of life changes for Jamie Fraser as well. He was seriously injured in the fatal Battle of Culloden. But he lived when nearly every warrior he knew and fought side by side with died. He survived. Despite the fact, he is sent home to die, he survives and becomes a hunted man. To avid capture, he lives in a cave for seven years; and, he hunts food at night and sneaks it to his sister’s home at Lallybroch. He provides food for his sister’s family who happens to be his only family now. While hiding in his cave and avoiding capture, he becomes part of the Scottish lore, The Red Bonnet.
Eventually, after young Fergus (Romann Berrux) has his hand lobbed off, thanks to the to the Redcoats trying to find Jamie, he has had enough of his family being harassed and arrested because of him. He decides that it is time to turn himself in to the redcoats. He begs his sister to work with the British to trap him; so, she can collect the award money. This award money is desperately needed to help all the families on the Lallybroch lands.
Jamie goes back to prison for another ten years. There his finds his “godfather,” Murtagh Frizgibbons (DuncanLaCroix), barely alive; yet, he too is a survivor of the Battle at Culloden. Eventually, Jamie is befriended by the new prison commander, Lord John Grey (DavidBerry). Grey is secretly gay and falls desperately in love with Jamie knowing Jamie cannot and will return his love. Yet, the two men learn to trust each other, eventually. Grey realizes he is fortunate to earn Jamie’s trust and friendship. Both men respect each other and consider the other as a honorable man.
The following is a clip of a scene between Jamie and Grey as they reveal their sorrow for love ones they lost.
Grey’s appearance in Season 3 is pure joy. He is a fascinating character that Gabaldon has dedicated another series of books too. I hope if there is a spin-off show off of Outlander, I hope it is Lord John Grey.
When the prison closes, Grey prevents Jamie from going into transportation to the American colonies as an indentured servant. Instead he arranges for Jamie to go to the English country estate of Helwater. Jamie’s rebel prisoner status is kept a secret from the Earl’s wife, Lady Louisa Dunsany (BethGoddard). The Dunsanys’ son was killed in a battle against the Jacobites. When Jamie expressed sympathy for the Dunsanys’ lost, he explained to the Earl that he understood since he had lost his own two children. The Earl of Dunsany was moved by Jamie’s statement. He agrees to give him a small stipend and his prisoner status to be kept secret. Although Jamie remains a prisoner, he is “hired” as a groom due to his skill with horses.
Poor Jamie! Why does everybody want to jump his bones? Soon after he begins his work as a hired groom, he is blackmailed by the Geneva Dunsany (HannahJames). A seventeen year old daughter of the Dunsanys who is arrogant, lacks self-discipline and is spoiled rotten. In addition, she is a virgin who is betrothed to the Earl Of Ellesmere (a man in his 60s). She is determined that her first sexual experience will be completed with someone she is actually attracted to and is powerless to refuse her. Hello, Jamie! According to Geneva, Jamie is an ideal candidate because he has been married; and “he will know what to do.”
Two days after Geneva loses her virginity to Jamie Fraser, she marries the elderly Ludovic Ransom, The Seventh Earl of Ellesmere (JamesCameron Stewart). Apparently, one night of love-making with Jamie was too much for Geneva’s fertile eggs. Geneva becomes pregnant; and, nine months later, she delivers a healthy baby boy. Sadly, Geneva, like many women of her time, dies within hours after giving birth. As the Dunsany family gather to Geneva’s dying side, she confides to her sister the identity of the real father. Soon after Geneva dies, a grieving Isobel (TanyaReynolds) confronts Jamie. She is interrupted by a servant who cries for their help. Lord Elesmere verbally attacks Geneva’s grieving parents. He yells about the betrayal and sham of his marriage. He knows the child could not be his; since, he and Geneva had not consummated their marriage. He is beyond angry: Raging mad is a better description. The Dunsanys beg Lord Elesmere to give the baby to them. Suddenly, he threatens to kill the newborn. As he holds a knife over the baby and about to plunge it into its small body, Jamie shoots a pistol and kills Elesmere. Jamie kills the Earl; but, he saves his own son.
William makes child number three for Jamie. The first two were girls: Faith and Brianna. Even though Jamie never met either of them, he continued to feel the hurt and pain of a Father who lost his children. On the other hand, his son, William, is there; and, Jamie can see, touch, and speak to him. What he cannot do is claim William as his own. Eventually, Lady Dunsany shows her appreciation to Jamie for saving her grandson’s life. Through her husband’s influence, she offers him a promise to obtain his pardon from the King. After years of being hunted and held as a prisoner, he can finally be free again and go home to Lallybroch. Jamie thanks her but asks if he would be allowed to stay on as a stable hand instead. He cannot leave William behind; nor can he confide this to Lady Dunsany. Instead, he explains that his family in Scotland are on hard times; and, they need the money he sends them. So, Mackenzie (Jamie) stays on at Helwater as a free man, a groom; but, more importantly, as a father to watch, observe, and be near his son, William.
A major obstacle appears as William (ClarkButler) grows older. By the time he is six, his has a near identical resemblance to Jamie. The only difference is their hair color. Willie has his mother’s dark hair instead of Jamie’s Ginger hair. However, people are starting to notice Jamie and William’s uncanny resemblance. Jamie will not jeopardize Willie Ransom’s wealthy inheritance and title as the future Eighth Earl of Ellesmere.
Mackenzie/Jamie tearfully says goodbye to the Dunsanys, Lord John Grey and his son. Isobel and Grey marry and become legal guardians of Willie. They both promise Jamie to love and protect Willie while keeping Jamie’s secret.
Jamie goes home; but, he is painfully lonely. He misses Claire and their baby; and his his heart aches for Willie. So, his sister plays matchmaker. At Lallybroch on Hogmanay (Scot’s New Year Eve party). Jamie is charmed by two adorable little girls. The younger one’s name is Joan (LaylaBurns), and; has red hair like Brianna; and, her slightly older sister’s name is Marsali (LaurenLyle). They plea with Jamie to dance with them. Which makes Jamie laugh; since, it is usually the males who ask the females to dance. During Jamie’s dance with both girls, Jamie openingly laughs and smiles. He has a soft spot for children; plus, he was reminded of his own two lost daughters. Because the girls are fatherless; and Jamie yearns to be somebody’s father and someone’s husband again, he marries their mother. The mother is “A want-to-be-Jamie’s girlfriend” Laoghaire Mackenzie (NellHudson).
This is definitely not one of Jamie’s wisest decisions. The marriage fails almost before it started. He soon finds himself, alone again, and making a living as a printer in the city of Edinburgh. There, he finds very little profit as a printer. So, he resorts to the lucrative, but criminal, side business of smuggling French wines into England. He is always taking care of love ones first; so, he sends money to his sister, Jenny Murray (LauraDonnelly) and her family in Lallybroch; and, he also sends money to Laoghaire for her care and his “adopted” daughters. To save money, he has arranged for a free room that is close to the docks and harbor. It includes free meals and privacy in a location that is another shocker for our honorable Jamie Fraser: a brothel. This is provided by a Madame who not only owns the brothal but who is also one of Jamie’s best customers. She buys a great deal of smuggled French wines.
The Reunion of Claire and Jamie
That moment when Claire and Jamie see each other after twenty years is priceless. Take a look at it in the following clip.
Has Jamie and Claire changed after twenty years? Without a doubt. No matter how much the lives and personalities have changed, there is one thing that stays constant: Their connected souls. When your love is shared Soul Deep, there is nothing that can separate you from that love. Jamie and Claire will learn to adapt to each other’s changes and begin a new life together.
The next scene reveals their awkward awareness of each other:
The long-awaited event of Jamie and Claire’s Reunion is not the only romantic event in Season 3. There are other loving couples such as Bree and Roger and Fergus and Marsali.
We are introduced to an adult Bree (SophieSkelton) in the sweetest romance with a Scot who is Oxford history Professor, Roger Wakefield (RichardRankin). Bree lives in Boston. Roger travels from Scotland, at Christmas time, to present to Claire proof that Jamie survived Culloden. Plus, he wanted to see the Randell ladies because he has a huge crush on Bree. When Bree learns that Jamie survived Culloden, she encourages her mother to go back to him. She wants to make her mother happy again; and, she wants to thank Jamie for his sacrifice and love. This may be the only time she can communicate to her real father that she loves him too. Claire travels back in time to find Jamie Fraser again.
Once back and reunited with Jamie, Claire is shocked and surprised to learn of Jamie’s second marriage to Laoghaire Mackenzie. This is a shocker since Laoghaire tried to have Claire burned as a witch. Laoghaire wanted no obstacles in her way in securing Jamie’s love. Claire also finds the Lallybroch family has grown up since she had last seen them, especially wee Ian (JohnBell). Young Ian is a sixteen year old who is determined to be with his idolized uncle Jamie that he repeatedly runs away from Lallybroch to be with him.
We also learn of the deaths of Black Jack Randall and Claire’s first husband, Frank. Finally, we meet Jamie’s newest loyal friend, Lord John Grey (DavidBarry). I hope some smart producer or producers will make this character into a spin-off series. The Grey books are crime solving mysteries with a lot of humor in them. Plus, Jamie Fraser appears in some of the books to help him out.
A brief summary of the Second Half of Season 3
The second half of the season is like the rollercoaster ride of adventures. Wee Ian is kidnapped by pirates while trying to recover a small treasure chest hidden on a small island in Northern Scotland. Jamie and Claire use Jamie’s uncle Jarred’s ship, the Artemus, to follow and rescue the lad. While at sea, a British man of war seizes the Artemus looking for doctor to help treat the crew who are quickly dying from an unknown disease. Claire volunteers to go on board against Jamie’s objections. The British Captain (CharleyHiett) promised to return her; but, he lied. One of the British crew recognized Jamie as Alexander Malcolm: A Scot printer who is wanted by the British crown for treason and the murder of a government employee. In fact, it was actually Claire who accidentally killed the government inspector while she was defending herself from being sexually assaulted in Jamie’s room at the brothel.
Voyages And Shipwrecks
Since most of the senior officers have died from the mysterious disease, a recently promoted and very young, Captain Leonard keeps Claire on board his ship to make sure Jamie follows him to Jamaica. He hopes his much larger and faster ship will reach Jamaica before Jamie’s cargo ship. He wishes to set a trap and arrest him for murder and treason. The Captain of the Artemus has agreed to help the British captain capture Jamie. When Jamie insists they throw cargo overboard in order to make the ship lighter so they could catch up with the British man-o-war. The Captain wastes no time in having Jamie arrested and thrown in the brig.
Before reaching Jamaica, Claire jumps overboard and swims ashore to a small island. Jamie’s ship hit rough waters full of rocks and cliffs. They are shipwrecked on the same island that Claire swam to. Neither knows the other is there.
Once they discover each other, they repair the ship’s mast and sail to Jamaica. Looking for Jamie’s nephew, young Ian who was kidnapped by pirates, they inadvertently purchases a slave. Jamie also discovers that his friend, Lord John Grey, is the new governor of Jamaica. He and Claire go to the governors’ ball to see if Lord Grey can assist in finding the boy. They ask their slave to inquire from other slaves information that help them find Ian too. For his help, they promise to free the slave. He confirms that young Ian is seen at the Abernathy estate.
Before, the Frasers reach the estate, Jamie is arrested by Captain Leonard. Before Jamie is incarcerated in a prison cell, he is bought before his newest best friend, Governor Lord John Grey. This next scene is one of my favorites for the whole season. It not only showcased the actors’ prowess, it was exciting to watch John Grey’s “set down” to Captain Leonard. There are three actors in this scene. One of them, Heughan, never says a word; but, his reactions to the other two men, as they confront each other over the his arrest, speaks volumes for his acting chops. This scene is one of favorite scenes in the season. Kudos to David Berry. Watch how Jamie’s buddy (Lord Grey) handles the ambitious Captain Leonard. It is brilliant.
Of corse Jamie and Claire locate Young Ian at the Abernathy estate. However, the widower, Mrs. Abernathy, is none only Gellis Duncan. Another time traveler who befriended Claire. Gellis is a “witch” and Claire thought she burned at the stake in order to help Claire escape her fate. She is also bat shit crazy. She hired pirates to steal young, virgin boys in order to bathe in their blood, to remain young. Mrs. Abernathy is known as the mysterious monstrosity known as the Bakra. Lucky for young Ian, he was not a virgin. Of course, Jamie and Claire will save him from certain death.
When escaping Jamaica, their ship runs straight into the eye of a hurricane. At the beginning of episode 13, the last episode, Claire says: Iamdead. Just like Jamie did at the beginning of episode 1 of season 3. While Jamie awoke, seriously wounded, Claire didn’t wake, she was drowning in the ocean. Again, this is one of the most stunning scenes I have ever seen on film. As Claire drifts to the ocean bottom, Jamie is finally seen trying to cut the ships ropes from her body. Then, he kisses her and breathes his last breath as he blows air into her mouth. This is the following scene.
With the completion of season 3 overview by highlighting superb performances and production Gifts (Day Two 🎁 🎁), let us continue the Outlander Christmas “Pay it Forward” in the spirit of The Twelve Days of Outlander 🎶
🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Third Day of Christmas, Starz Outlander gave fans Seasons 3 and the working of Season 4; and by the January of this year, they received yet another gift: the “probable” gift of Seasons 5 and 6….Fa La La La La Fa La La
🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Forth Day of Christmas, Outlander presented to fans a Twitter account from the writers of the show: @Outlander Writers. This a Twitter account that fans may directly ask questions to the writers after each episode has aired. Fans receive feedback to their questions every Tuesday…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Outlander presented to fans online corrected scripts, Behind the scenes pics and discussions, games and quizzes for each of the Season 3 episodes (13)…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶
Writers Matthew B. Roberts and Toni Graphia discuss the last episode with executive producer Ron Moore. These discussions can be found for each episode. These discussions have interesting behind the scenes information. Thanks Matt Roberts, I now want to use a water hose too after listening to you describe how much fun you had in spraying Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Sixth Day of Christmas, Outlander presents to fans opportunities at Con Gatherings to meet and greet: cast members, producers, writers, and musicians. These gatherings may include photos with fans, autographs, eating and dancing….Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Outlander presented fans with wonderful newcostumes from Terri Dresbach. Season 3 is known as the season of the Skirt for Claire and the Tricorne hat and blousy shirt for Jamie…Fa La La La La Fa La La La🎶
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Eighth Day of Christmas, the Outlander cast, crew and producer, Ron Moore, provided numerous opportunities for QuestionsandAnswers from Ten minutes to thirty minutes; off and on throughout the year. These are really fun; and, if they pick your question, it feels like you have won the lottery. In addition, cast and crew are constantly tweeting fun stuff about their work and playing practical jokes on each other. For instance, they love stealing each other’s phones and taking selfies of themselves; then, sharing them on Twitter… Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
I must add StevenCree who plays Ian Murray. Ian is Jamie’s best friend since childhood. He even married Jamie’s sister, Jenny. Steven is also a real life friend to Sam Heughan. Cree loves to use his Twitter account to engage Outlander fans with his Heughan Talks video clips. Cree disguises his voice to talk for Sam (thehostwiththemost) and Sam’s guests, like Michael Jackson. These guests are actually dolls or pics on the computer monitor or on a tablet. Once, for 2017 Christmas, he filmed the real Sam. It reminded me of my sister who aggravated me while I tried to ignore her. Of course, you can tell, both men are having a great time, along with the fans.
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Ninth Day of Outlander, fansweregifted with the added the talents of NEW CAST MEMBERS! Here are a few that comes to mind; but, there were many more …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
David Berry, John Bell,Lauren Lyle, Caesar Domboy
David Berry as Lord John Grey
John Bell as young Ian Murray
Lauren Lyle as Marsali and Caesar Domboy as Fergus
Hanna James, Wil Johnson, and Gary Young
Wil Johnson as Joe Abernathy
Hanna James as Lady Geneva Dunsany
Gary Young as Mr Willoughby
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼On the Tenth Day of Outlander, the fans were gifted with a lovely surprise: Murtagh Fritzgibbons (DuncanLacrox) survived Culloden. In the book, he was killed as he “killed” Black Jack Randall. Some fans do not like it when the main storyline is distorted from the books. I loved that Jamie’s wise and experienced “godfather” was found in Ardsmuir prison. I hope to see much more of him in Season 4 …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Eleventh Day of Outlander, fans were gifted with the sweetest Christmas scene between Roger and Bree. Their first Christmas together and a kind of bittersweet date; since, Claire just left to go back through the stones and back to Jamie. When Roger first visits Claire and Bree, he confessed that he wanted to spend an American Christmas with them. He wanted to eat Boston cream pies and eat lobster rolls. Claire told him that the few Christmas traditions the Randall’s had shared had consisted of reading The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens toa much youngerBree was much younger. Of course, Claire realizes that this was the first Christmas Roger would celebrate without his father who recently died. She also understood that he wanted to spend Christmas with a friend who knew his father and who has a beautiful daughter that he was seriously crushing on. In the following scene, Bree is comforted by Roger. Her mother just said goodbye. Bree watched her from the window as her mother takes a taxi to the airport for a flight to Scotland. I think Bree and Roger are so adorable as they try to cheer each other up and rekindle the joyful spirit of Christmas together. I am really looking forward to seeing more of these two and Season 4…Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁 🎼 On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Outlander fans could once again see some their past favorite actors and characters help Season 3 become the BEST SHOW on TELEVISION. Thank you actors, all: for reprising your roles …Fa La La La La; Fa La La La🎶
Bill Paterson as Lawyer Ned Gowan
Lotte Verbeek as Gellis Duncan/Mrs. Abernathy
Nell Hudson as Laeghaire Mackenzie
And of course the whole recurring cast of Outlander, including production teams, writers, and crew that make this show an exceptional delight to watch and follow as the “gifted” fans do. People say that Outlander has the best fans. When in truth, how could they be otherwise with such wonderful gifts from such an Outstanding show. Have a wonderful and Happy New Year everyone.
David Berry as Lord John Grey
Lotte Verbeek as Gellis Duncan/Mrs. Abernathy
Realweegiemidget Reviews’ Gill Jacob, offered up the “pay it forward” using The Twelve Days of Christmas theme as a challenge to several bloggers. She chose our particular topic, I am honored she singled me out to write a post on the Outlander. I pride myself as one of the millions of avid Outlander fans (book series and the show). I hope you will enjoy reading this post whether you are a fan too or even if you know nothing about the show. If you would like to read other ”Pay it Forward” posts with the focus on other popular TV shows and movies, please use the following link:
I am am not going to tag you in order to draw you into a public challenge. Instead, I hope you do write your own “Pay it Forward” in the spirit of the Twelve Days ofChristmas. It would great for you to join in the fun, especially after you read other posts submitted to this Blogathon. However, my friends, I truly hope you will not be offended that I included a few of you have in my tags at the bottom of this post. I hope that it is not too intrusive. If it is, please let me know. I hope everyone has a wonderful and successful year.
***I do not own any of the images found in this post***
‘The Great Breening Blogathon is an opportunity to censor a movie based on the old Hollywood decency codes. I want to thank Tiffany Brannan for the invite to participate in this fascinating Blogathon; especially since, it provides me with some challenges as a writer and as a movie fan. For instance, it allowed me to see a wonderful film classic with a different perspective. The film isn’t just a work of art with its own truths and lessons; instead, I viewed it with the eyes of a societal protector that uses a moral compass called the Hays Decency Code.
I have been following a blog, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS) for awhile now, and; I have enjoyed their posts. They have invited bloggers to honor the man whose control of movie content has produced many of the classic, timeless movies during a twenty year span (1934 to 1954), known as the Golden Age of Hollywood.
The Process of Breening
First, I carefully review the film by watching every detail in each scene for any objectionable material that might not have been allowed according the code. The process of censoring these movies is called Breening. This is in honor the man, Joseph I. Breen, who perfected this system. For the purpose of this Blogathon, I had to choose a movie that was not previously “Breened.” A movie not made between 1934 to 1954 and not made after 1968. So, my movie choice which was made in 1930 is considered one of the best films ever made, even by critics today: All Quiet on The Western Front.
Just think about it, this movie was made only one year after the introduction of sound pictures, in 1929. In addition, this movie is bit historical considering that it was made only twelve years after WW I (1914- 1918) or “The Great War” as it was known then. This means most adult audiences, which saw this movie in 1930, were either in that war or affected by it in some way. This brilliantly made film won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; and, it also earned two nominations for Best Writing, Achievement and Best Cinematography.
Could this movie even been allowed to be made using the Breening system?
The Movie is adapted from a popular book published in 1929 and written by a wounded, German WWI Veteran, Erich Maria Ramarque. So, basically it is an American made movie based on the viewpoint and experiences of an enemy soldier. Ironically, this is, in and of itself, enough too have stopped the release of this movie under the Hays Code. A general rule of the code claims: the sympathy of the audience must never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin. In war, the other side is always wrong and evil.
Ramarque’s book became a best seller around the world. It is considered one of the greatest novels of all time. It is still required reading in classrooms and colleges across the United States. A sequel to this book, The Road Back, was published in 1931. In this book, he opposed the rise of Nazis Germany. In 1933, Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s minister of Propaganda) banned his books and had them publicly burned them. War hero, turned author was an anti-Nazis; so, Hitler deemed him as a traitor. In 1939, he immigrated to the United States; and, he became a U.S. citizen in 1947.
The Movie and the book are still considered influential anti-war works and important chronicles of WWI. The leading actor in the movie, Lew Ayers, was so influence by the movie, he became a conscientious objector for the rest of his life. This did not make him popular in Hollywood; but, he continued to act in various roles for decades until his death in 1970.
The Great War (1914 – 1918)
Sadly, this war was tagged as the “War to end all wars.” Many people of that time believed in stockpiles of modern weapons (militarism) as a defense against attack and eventually, war itself. Their “new” weapons and machines would make the act of war obsolete. This delusional belief was based on the idea that the war would be fought mostly by machines instead of humans, who would just control the buttons. As a result, there would be fewer lives loss; and, the war would be over very quickly. The technological arrogance of this assumption is deplorable. I guess they thought it would be like Robot Wars. Of course, Trench Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Chemical Warfare, Tank Warfare, and even uses of the Aeroplanes (flying coffins), radio, motor vehicles, animals (homing pigeons, horses, and dogs), flame throwers, hand grenades … just made destroying all known life easier to do and in much greater numbers. As a result of so many men killed in this war, the remaining survivors were known as being part of “The Lost Generation.”
What an enormous responsibility these film makers took in making a war movie that the viewing public was still healing from. Too much realism could repulse them and not enough would make the film sound dishonest and irrelevant. Would using the Bleen system change the quality of this two hour and 11 minute movie classic? After censoring this film, would it keep its integrity and possibly be a better movie? Or, regrettably, with details left out or changed, would it have too much sugarcoat and therefore, unbelievable?
The Breen scenes
The Movie opens with a military parade in the streets. A professor in boy’s classroom is nearly yelling at his students in order to be heard. He is encouraging a whole class of boys how honorable and adventurous it is to fight the enemy on foreign soil. He even quotes the Latin phrase that every Roman soldier said: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
Sweet and Fitting it is to die for the fatherland.
The need to join the fight becomes so overwhelming, they jump up from their desks and quit school. This displays their heart felt love for their country (Nationalism). The armies around the world would keep families and friends together as a fighting unit or company. They truly were a ” band of brothers” sent off to war together.
So, here is the first scene I would cut or at least rewritten.
Breen #1: Costumes – undressing scenes should be avoided.
Breen#2 Sex: scenes of passion –No excessive or lustful kissing and no suggestive postures or gestures.
It is a scene where the boys first arrive at boot camp and are assigned their uniforms and bunks. These young men sit on their beds together and excitedly talk about the weapons they will be soon trained to use. There is a close-up a man taking off his shirt as they talk. Many are half dressed playing around on beds. As one young man raises his hips off the bed to put on uniform pants, his friend, Paul Baumer (Lew Ayers) jokingly places the pointy Helmut under his butt. Of course, his butt lands on the point. He screams and then uses the Helmut to smack Paul, as they both laugh. Then one of the other friends, grabs another friend’s face in both his hands and kisses him squarely on the lips and then on the cheek while he laughingly says: you won a metal that time Mulller. Muller laughs too.
Personally, I love this scene; since, it displays their exuberance for life and their playfulness while they excitedly wait to start their imaginary adventure. However, I am sure it would not pass decency code at the time. Since it is a long scene, in a long movie, over two hours, it would be easier to just delete it.
Second scene to Breen
When the men find out that their drill sergeant is their friendly post man back home, they literally laugh in his face. Part of boot camp training is to break down independent thinking and then build it up again with team thinking. Immediately, the Corporal shows the men that he is not their friend and is on a power trip. So much so, Himmelstoss delivers his cruel and sadistic orders.
Breen #3 Crimes Against the law – REVENGE in modern times are not presented in detail
After 6 weeks of grueling training, the men were denied leave to relax in town. Not one weekend were they allowed a break from training like other companies. They were given their orders to leave at midnight for the Western Front (trenches built between two warring enemies: French and the Germans). They had just enough time to clean the mud off their uniforms. Later, that same evening, they were given an opportunity to even the score. They happened to witness a drunken Himmelstoss stumbling across the camp. They strung wire to trip him; then, they covered his head in a blanket. Then, they carried him into the woods and commenced to beat the “tar” out of him. They each took turns beating his arse with canes. Then, they dumped his unconscious body in the mud.
We see the men pre-plan their brutal attack and carry it out in detail against a superior officer. This would definitely not be allowed under the decency code. I would rewrite the scene as an accident witnessed by the men for their enjoyment. As the drunken Himmelstoss crosses the camp, he hits his head on a tree limb and falls unconscious into the mud while the men hilariously laugh.
Breen #4 Repellent subjects – Brutality and possible gruesomeness is not allowed
The scenes of men in combat are very graphic. There is one scene that a soldiers hands are left grabbing wire while the rest of his body has been blown away. I would have deleted this scene.
The last scene I would like to Bleen, although there are many more, is a scene where they are bathing in a lake, NAKED.
Breen #5 Nudity can never be permitted as being necessary for the plot
After lusting for a woman on a poster, in a village pub behind enemy lines, the men decide to take a bath to try to feel human again. While bathing and swimming naked, they see three French girls across the river. The girls are giggling and laughing at these nude boys. They see them and try to persuade them to join them. They girls only laugh and shake their heads in unbelief at their nudity and terrible attempts in speaking French. Finally, one of them lures them with a bottle of wine and some bread he had retrieved from the embankment.
A guard on duty orders them back to across the river. The girls indicate their house and for welcome to a rendezvous later that night. They arrive in the dark: wet and naked (nakedness is implied). The girls are shocked that they were butt naked. So, they grab the feminine clothing hanging on a clothesline. When they come into the house, they clothes are hanging on them in weird ways in their excitement to be admitted in the house. The women are starving and they quickly ravish the food. One of the girls lead Paul to a kitchen chair beside her. This is one of the sweetest scenes in the movie. Paul tenderly watches her as she devours the food. Then, she cups his cheek in her hand. He slowly turns her hand over and delicately kisses her palm. You could almost feel his heart and read his mind as you witness the grossness of the war slowly fall away.
There is free love, nakedness, and sneaking around by breaking orders not to cross the river….let alone fraternising with the enemy. This whole scene would have to be rewritten where Paul is married and returns home for some love. Too bad because this scene, with these two strangers and enemies, reveal a lesson in the fact that humans have a basic need. In order to connect to our sense of humanity, we must do so through others. That is all this scene wants to convey; no more and no less. In a rewrite, Paul’s going back to the wife involves mutual expectations. He is not the man he was before the war. His experiences have changed him into someone much more complex. All of that has to be included too with a wife. These two scenes would be completely different lessons with different results. The plot does just thicken, it is changed.
There are many more scenes that I could Bleen for this movie; but, since I am a newbie at this, I think five scenes is enough for this post. What do I take away from this process? There are movie scenes that can be removed and rewritten to make a better movie. Fine editing is vital for a film’s success. However, this classic masterpiece could not withstand too much Bleen censoring without changing the true sentiments of the storyline and plot.
This challenge of utilizing the Bleen system, not only entailed that I use someone else’s decency standards; but, also that I judge the merit of an art form purely based on the perceived notions of what is considered “good taste” or what is “right” for the common good. It is stifling at best and at worst, it limits freedom of speech. Anyone who has been involved in creating any art form knows that most artists look for the “Truth” from within their soul. Without a doubt, the artist and the censor have two separate perceptions of what Art should be. This difference creates an endless discussion and debate on defining Art and the limitations (if any) on the freedom of speech and expression.
I enjoyed participating in the Bleen process and again, I want to thank Tiffany for this lovely opportunity. If you enjoyed critiquing this movie with me and you would enjoy reading more posts about other “Bleen” movies, please use the link:
What is it about “mad scientists ” that is so appealing to film audiences? Is it their crazy ideas that fascinates? Or maybe, it is their passion for possibilities of the unthinkable. Real scientists like Albert Einstein, NikolaTesla, or LeonardoDaVinci were thought “mad” at times too. Their ideas shocked their contemporaries; and yet, their passions eventually changed our perception of our world which resulted in changing our lives for the better too. It is only natural that we find ourselves drawn to these “mad” geniuses. Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings invited bloggers to write a post about a mad scientist from the movies. Please use the link below to read more blogs on movie scientists of all sorts:
My original “mad scientist” was Doctor Frankenstein from the Mary Shelley’s book and from the multiple film incarnations of him. I also love comedies. Logically, I was going to write a post about MelBrooks‘ Hilarious YoungFrankenstein. However, as I was watching Igor (pronounced I-Gor not E-Gor) looking for a human brain, I had a better idea…Brains….the Human brain.
What if Dr. Frankenstein took the brain and put in in a dead body? I mean a body that wasn’t pieced together from many body parts. Just pick a whole dead body and put in a “good” brain. Or, as Brain Surgeon Doctor Micheal Hfuhruhurr (SteveMartin) said:
Ladies and gentlemen, I can envision a day when the brains of brilliant men can be kept alive in the bodies of dumb people.
So instead of Young Frankenstein (1974), my post will be about another hilarious movie scientist, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, in the film, The Man Wiith Two Brains (1983). This is the third of four movies that CarlReiner directed that starred comedic, mastermind SteveMartin:
Dead Men Don’t Ware Plaid (1982)
The Man With Two Brains (1983)
All of Me (1984)
The three comedy writers who wrote TheMan With Two Brains also wrote the screenplay for DeadMenDon’t Wear Plaid: Carl Reiner, Steve Martin and George Gale. This movie mostly spoofs horror films of by gone years. I feel it is only proper to mention each of the films since they not only inspired The Man With Two Brains; but, they have “mad” scientists who should not be ignored in a blog that honors them.
Donavan’s Brain (1953)
Blood Devils (1970)
They Saved Hitler’s Brian (1968)
TheBrain That Wouldn’t Die (1983)
A Brief look of these Four Horror Movies that Influenced The Man With Two Brains: All movie trailers are added at the end of this post.
This first one, Donovan’s Brain, stars Nancy Davis. I think this is interesting because she will become the future First Lady married to President Ronald Reagan. In this film, she is marry to a kindly doctor who keeps a criminal’s brain alive; however, the evil brain slowly takes over the doctor’s mind and body.
The second movie is known as Blood Devils in the United States and Beast of Blood in the United Kingdom. This one is a rare treat because it is a Filipino Horror flick that is Dubbed in English. This movie has a disfigured evil doctor on an island who loves making zombies by transplanting heads. He keeps the head and body of a man-beast alive. The head controls its detached body. The last scene in this movie trailer is a funny due to the dubbing process.
Third movie has one of the most unique titles that I ever heard: They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Besides the title, the making of this movie is unique too. They had a theatrical release of this 70-minute movie in 1963. Then in 1968, the movie distributor asked UCLA students to add 20-minutes more footage to the ending. This was adapted for television. According to this movie, Hitler didn’t shoot himself in the head. His Nazis henchmen smuggled his living head to an island near a country, Mandoras , in South America to be attached when the Third Reich could be revived. Hence, it prompted another movie title: The Madmen of Mandoras.
The last horror film to influence the comedy writers of The Man With Two Brains is The Brain That Would Not Die (1983). This time the mad scientist has a girlfriend whose head is decapitated in a car wreck. He keeps her head alive while she begs him to allow her to die. When he tells her he knows what he is doing because he has done it before. Even though he created a living mess with the poor guy. She really begins to hate her boyfriend as he goes lurking for a body to attach to her head. He is little choosy too because his looks for victims at a burlesque show and a beauty pageant. The head really hates it when he decides to killed an old ex-girlfriend for a body. The head nags him so much, he tapes her mouth shut.
These four movies influenced the making of The Man With Two Brains. Inthis film, we meet “mad scientist” or should I say mad Brain Surgeon, Doctor Hfuhruhurr who perfected the “cranial screw-top” brain surgery. He describes his over inflated talents to a reporter in this way:
My brilliant research in brain transplantation is unsurpassed, and will probably make my name live beyond eternity.
When he asks the reporter to read his statement back, he asked him to remove the word “probably” because it made him sound to “wishy, washy.”
Dr. Hfuhruhurr is a widower who still grieves for the lost of his wife and soul mate. He explains to the reporter that a gardener, Ramon, gave him a Barbie doll that was made with his dead wife’s hair. He keeps the doll on the dash of his car. While driving he explains to the reporter. Suddenly, he accidentally hits Delores Bennett ( Kathleen Turner) with his car. He immediately goes to help her and tells a four-year little girl, who witnessed the accident, to go for help. Carl Reiner says this is his favorite scene in the whole movie because that amazing little girl, who could not read, memorized her lines so well that the scene was shot in one take. The following video is that scene and many more chuckles too.
He operates to save her life. I love the cats that keep showing up during surgery. Doctor “H” yells at them to “Scat! Damn cats around here.” Little does he know, Delores is a recent widower. She is looking for another wealthy man to marry in order to scam him from all of his money; until, he “accidentally” dies and will leave her even more money through his insurance which is left to her through his Will.
Kathleen Turner is so smooth, sexy, and decadent in this movie. It was an eye opener for audiences to see her in a comedy after seeing her explosive portrayal as Matty Walker in noir thriller, Body Heat (1983). She claimed she wanted to do a comedy because Delores is so outrageous and “it wasn’t a token female role.” Besides, the fact she could work with creative funny men like Reiner and Martin must have attracted her too.
They marry. But you feel this gold digger is going to be wife in name only. After the preacher pronounces them man and wife and that he may kiss the bride, she turns her cheek to the Doctor ” H” to kiss and says, “Not now.” He is sexually frustrated for six weeks; before, he tells his new wife that he is going on a business trip that can easily be a substitute for a honeymoon too. They travel to Venice where unbeknownst to them there is an “elevator killer” terrorizing the women of the city. Here he meets another “mad scientist” Doctor Alfred Necessiter (David Warner). I love to watch Warner’s work in anything. He is such a great actor.
Doctor Necessiter discovered a radical technique to store living brains of the victims of the Elevator Killer. Because the killer injects the victims with window cleaner, it allows the doctor to keep the brain alive. However, the brains only have a limited time to live in the liquid before it dies. In addition, he has perfected a method of transplanting a human brain in a gorilla.
While visiting the Necessiter, Dr. H finds he can communicate with one of the ladies brains. She has the sweetest voice (uncredited Sissy Spacek) and although, no one can hear hear her she communicates to Dr. H using telepathy. He is intrigued and wants to help her out of her darkness. He later learns the brain’s name is Annie Uumellmahaye. You just know by the unusual names that they are meant for each other: Hfuhruhurr and Uumellmahaye 💖
Carl Reiner wanted Annie and Dr. H to have a loving romance that time and memories could not prevent. He believes “Random Harvest” (1942) to be the greatest of movie love story. It stars GreerGarson and RonaldColman This movie inspired the greatest romance of man and brain in the movie.
He decides to kidnap Annie and keep her until he finds a suitable dead body to attach her head. The trip to the morgue turns up some pretty bad options. He confessed to Dr. Necessiter “I cannot F**k a gorilla.” Unfortunately, Dr. “H” decides to murder a woman for her body.
One of the funniest moments in this film is when jealous Delores follows her husband who goes out on a date with Annie’s stolen brain. Their confrontation is hilarious.
I am not going to spoil this movie but writing what happens from this point. I will say it has more surprises; and, it stays hilarious to the end. Michael Hfuhruhurr represents all kinds of scientist. He is good, mad and lonely. He is a perfect match for the Scientists Blogathon (2017). Again, thank you Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings for allowing me to add this post late, despite Hurricane Irma (2017). I have decided to watch all five of these horror flicks Halloween week, one for each day.
I hope you will enjoy watching this very funny horror movie. If you want to read more about a variety of film scientists in this Blogathon, please use the following links below.