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The Bottom Shelf #101

03.29.2007

Ever get that feeling like you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't? It kind of comes with the territory of putting yourself out there and inviting people into your world, exposing yourself for all to bear witness and then allowing them the freedom to pass their own justice. People make assumptions, predictions and judgments on everything from potential Oscar winners and their longevity in the movie industry right on down the line to simple little creatures whose mommy told them that they were a good writer. In the end, it's all about opinions. And as a good friend of mine once reminded me; An opinion can never be wrong. Here's a couple more of my opinions.

WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)
Directed by: Terence Young
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin

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Since I was going to need to figure a way to get over my anger with Alan Arkin for causing me to lose an Oscar bet, I decided to go looking through his older career choices and stumbled upon this little gem. One of the main problems that I have with older movies claiming to be intense thrillers is that many of the movies made before I was a twinkle in my parents' eye are acted out in such a laughable stage play manner. This movie really is no exception aside from the fact that Alan Arkin is having a blast chewing up the scenery whenever the camera lingers on him.

A doll constructed to hide heroin and transported by a woman traveling on a plane by Air Canada (You naughty little maple leaf lovers! Oh, and I love your idea of thorough inspection. Remind me to travel there more often) ends up in the hands of a photographer after the woman ditches it to avoid having to give it over to Arkin's criminal character. In an attempt to retrieve the doll, he hires on two heavies who are supposed to pull a number on the man's wife. She's not just some average dumbshit housewife of the '60's. This poor (but quaintly attractive) woman is also blind, a condition caused by a recent accident. Things get intense, the men rev their engines in confusing and frightening her and wrists are thrown dramatically across foreheads. It's quite the scene.

There are a number of problems that I have with the movie aside from the flamboyant performance by Ms. Hepburn. The fact that she never locks her door when all of the craziness is going on around her is a good place to start. The recent accident apparently was a convenient excuse to have her not have the developed senses that aren't impaired, like hearing and smell. In a lot of ways this movie is a mess. Yet it's a mess that's still interesting to watch, especially for Arkin's performance. He's the only actor involved who seems to be snickering at the other players as much as the movie watcher. 40 years ago and he was still the cocky son of a bitch that earned him his recent award. Damn him. That's right. Damn you, Alan Arkin.

Favorite Scene:

When Arkin is explaining to the two men what he wants them to do, including talking them into helping him cover up a murder.

Favorite Line:

"They lock the closet, but don't bolt the front door?"
"They're strange people; they lose dolls."

Trivia Tidbit:

When the film was released, the theatres darkened all their lights "to the legal limit" during the last twelve minutes of the film, each light going out as Audrey Hepburn smashed each light bulb. The one remaining light in the theatres would be switched off as the last light source in the film went out.

See if you liked:

DIAL M FOR MURDER, CHARADE, REAR WINDOW

HUSSY (1980)
Directed by: Matthew Chapman
Starring: Helen Mirren, John Shea

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Perhaps I'm just not sophisticated enough, but I'm not all that familiar with Helen Mirren's career. I hadn't paid her much mind other than getting a kick out of her prim attitude while tied to a bed in the movie TEACHING MRS. TINGLE. It wasn't until there was a big uproar about how great she was in all of her acting ventures last year, coupled with seeing her in that low cut dress at the Golden Globes and being told that she'd been a rather risque actress in her former years that I decided to go looking through her earlier career. I'll admit that I chose to watch this movie based on its salacious title. What can I say? I'm a pervert at heart.

Mirren stars as a single mother in her mid-thirties, working at a nightclub under the guise of being a part of their "entertainment." One of the men working in the technical crew spots her and is drawn to her for some unexplained reason. (That frizzy early '80's hair just wasn't happening enough to cause him to sweat from looks alone.) They begin a romance with the obvious drawback of her continuing to work in the club and him not knowing how well he can deal with the fact that she gets paid to sleep with other men. Add in a sub-plot of a drug deal, a jealous and mentally unstable ex-boyfriend and you've got what the British must think is a real pot-boiler.

There's the biggest issue that I had with the movie right there. While the lead male star is a Yankee, the movie is decided British. I've been able to enjoy other films from the opposite side of the pond in the past, but this one escapes me somewhat. The main reason why I was held captive is through Mirren's strong performance. Even when the scenes around her grow in their ludicrousness, she maintains this air of serene beauty and class. Being able to watch some racy love scenes also helps the flow as while Mirren captivates with her acting, her body will paralyze you. The movie does have a lift towards the end if you can hold on for it, the pivotal moment where you hear love declared, even if it's hard to understand where it culminated from. Still, I would have said anything to kept that rack in my bed as well. 27 years later and she looks even better. Long live the Queen.

Favorite Scene:

Seeing Helen Mirren on her hands and knees asking telling one of her johns that he'd been a very naughty boy.

Favorite Line:

"Do you have any bisexual dykes in here tonight?"

Trivia Tidbit:

Writer/director Matthew Chapman's first movie, he also went on to write the screenplay for RUNAWAY JURY.

See if you liked:

THE QUEEN, EXCALIBUR, THE CLEARING

Here's to one day getting hate mail over negative sentiments about romantic comedies. In the meantime, I'm going to find a wishing well and toss a few pennies in. And no, I won't tell you what I'm wishing for. Although if you're clever enough, you just might be able to guess.

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