more things I’ve watched

September 15, 2014

I finally finished the last season of Lexx.  This one dragged a bit, I think because there was a clear over-arcing storyline, but they kept digressing into one-off episodes — episodes that were hilarious, mind you, because they were parodies of things like Dracula and The Re-Animator and Survivor.  “ApocaLexx Now” left me bug-eyed, no pun intended. But these episodes did feel like a distraction.  Still — I love this show.  It felt like it was all leading up to this season, because we’ve previously spent three seasons exploring just how weird and crazy and messed up and awful various corners of the two universes are.  And then we get to Earth.  And it’s the worst of the bunch.  The craziest, most messed up, most incomprehensible off-the-rails planet they’ve been to yet.  The satire lands like a thousand pound anvil in a cartoon.  For all that, the last episode was absolutely perfect and made me cry.  Kai’s laugh?  Just perfect.

The Gold Diggers of 1933.  This is a famous movie musical that I run across every time I research the 1930’s or old Hollywood or anything like that.  It was an early film of Ginger Rogers — she sings the opening number, “We’re in the Money,” including a verse in pig latin.  Because Busby Berkeley, apparently.  Seriously, it’s worth watching any Busby Berkeley movie because the dance numbers are all pretty much insane. (One in this one features a 9 year old Billy Barty playing a trouble-making baby committing acts of sexual harassment through the whole thing.)

So when it popped up on TCM, I had to watch it.  The musical numbers are all kind of weird (I mentioned the harassing baby, yes?).  But the story?  The story was great.  I took notes, because I loved how it managed the characterization of the heroes and the antagonist.  This slice of the story, in a nutshell:  a Boston blue blood confronts one of our plucky showgirl heroines to inform her that she can’t marry his younger brother.  Trouble is, he’s got the wrong showgirl.  Plucky showgirl Carol tries to tell him that she isn’t Polly, the showgirl who’s in love with his brother.  But he won’t listen.  He interrupts.  He’s really quite terrible to her, going on and on about how awful and uncouth showgirls are.  So when Carol and another showgirl Trixie (this movie has a lot of showgirls) decide to have one over on the older brother, they pull out the stops. Carol pretends to be Polly, and she and Trixie really work over the guy and his lawyer, behaving just like the rude gold diggers he insists they are, as they try to get everything they can from them in exchange for not marrying the brother.  Meanwhile, Blue Blood thinks he’s conning them, luring Polly away from his brother.  But no, he’s the one being conned here, full stop.

So yeah, Carol and Trixie are being pretty terrible, but it’s okay and hilarious because a) the guy really, really, really deserves it, b) they tell everyone involved (like Polly and the younger brother) as soon as it’s happening and bring them in on the con, and c) Carol knows exactly when they’ve gone too far, even when Trixie keeps going.  The end result is our heroes looking smart and awesome and funny, and the antagonist totally earning his comeuppance.  And then of course everyone falls in love with everyone else and gets married.  But up to then the characterization as it’s tied to the plot is spot-on.

I like a lot of these old movies because they tend to be shorter and the plotting is often a lot tighter than we see in more current films.  This is one I’m going to remember.



2 Responses to “more things I’ve watched”

  1. My time to shine! (I am a hyooge fan of 30s movies.)

    The Pig Latin verse was all Ginger. She was practicing the song on set in Pig Latin (because she was really good at Pig Latin), and the musical director heard her and told her to do it on camera and here we are. My favorite number in that film is “Remember My Forgotten Man,” which gives me shivers, and which I wish had become the same kind of Great American Songbook standard that a lot of other songs from that period did. Not very happy, but certainly sheds light on a social problem of that period.

    If you haven’t seen 42nd Street, it’s really good, and dramatic as well as fun. Very good script. I always think of Gold Diggers of 1933 as sort of a companion piece to 42nd Street.

    Platinum Blonde is a pre-Code picture which is quite flawed, and doesn’t really pick up for half an hour, but which fascinates me. It’s nice proof that relationships between people don’t change much from era to era, but what Hollywood allowed on the screen sure did. The lead actor is way ahead of his time in terms of acting style, but he died suddenly after this film. Not a musical, though.

    By far my favorite ever is Footlight Parade, which has James Cagney singing and dancing and Ruby Keeler being the worst actress ever and three Berkeley numbers and just amazing stuff in it. (It, too, has a creeper-Billy Barty.) There is an uncomfortable racial moment, but if you can just wince and move on, it’s the best.

  2. elaineziman Says:

    This is a silly but great film. “Remember My Forgotten Man” always gives me chills, and I just love their dresses. I believe they did a few other “Gold Diggers” movies, but I’ve never gotten around to tracking them down. You might also enjoy “My Man Godfrey” with Wiliam Powell and Carole Lombard.

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