I'm always a little late to the game, but the other day I saw this awesome bit of news on Joanna's wonderful Christmas TV Companion blog: The American Life Network is airing Phyllis weekdays at 10 am!!! This rare spinoff to The Mary Tyler Moore Show featured Cloris Leachman in a reprisal of her role as the quirky Phyllis. It's not as good as Rhoda (which is airing on ALN directly afterwards), but Leachman's wardrobe is something to drool over! Phyllis has been hard to come by these years, so if you have the chance, do check out the clothes...uh...show!
With only one more day left before Amanda By Night goes back to the non-TV movie world of academia (boo!), I thought I'd post a few of my favorite moments with the beloved Bert oh-so-hot Convy from Super Password along with an assorted cornucopia of adorable! Mostly it's to keep me from breaking down in tears because I loved the winter break so much -- too much!
I can't say what kind of dedication I can give to my blog over the next few months, but I am hoping I can keep it going with some sort of regularity. I am thankful for all the people who have stopped by, commented, joined my Facebook group or whatever.
YAY! I have a review up at the awesome website Hysteria Lives! It's one of my favorite sites and I'm so proud to be a part of it. A big shout out to Justin for publishing my ditty on a little movie called Meatcleaver Massacre. It's got Christopher Lee, a creature named Borak and a deadly cactus! Read the review, see the movie and enjoy!
Network: CBS Original Air Date: October 15th, 1983
Now I get it.
In the years that have passed since I acquired a copy of Trackdown, I found myself mysteriously drawn to the opening main title sequence, which I’ve seen several times. At first I thought it was the pure kitschiness of it all - listening to Laura Branigan’s Gloria while watching a sea of extras boogie on a glittering dance floor. Of all the made for television movies I’ve seen, Trackdown’s opening remains the single best title sequence I have ever seen. But once the film moved past the opening ten minutes and into the meat of the film, which is a simple police procedural, I always lost heart. Well, I finally gave it the old college try, watched, and rather enjoyed, the whole film.
Where she starts
Where she ends up
However, it took a little background research to make me truly appreciate it. Trackdown asks not to be associated with the 70s shocker Looking for Mr. Goodbar, although it’s almost impossible not to connect these films. Both are about a school teacher leading a double life, and essentially Trackdown is the follow-up to the tragic ending of Looking. George Segal is Detective John Grafton – you know the drill, he’s that hard-boiled but likable guy who’s married to his job, much to the disappointment of his soon-to-be-ex-wife and daughter (Tracy Pollan in a good part). The film mostly follows Grafton as he works the ins and outs of a seemingly unsolvable crime. Along the way he meets the victim’s co-worker Logan Gay (Shelly Hack) and the two begin a casual relationship (slightly mirroring in a G-rated fashion the victim's free love lifestyle but with morals thrown at us). At one point they hit the club circuit in search of the killer. Aside from the opening sequence, this is the second best scene in Trackdown. In fact, it's not that gripping of a film, but because director Bill Persky captures something so vibrantly dream like in those club scenes and because it follows the true crime story of the capture of the killer with some accuracy (and respect) that Trackdown becomes better than it really should have been.
Don't pull no punches, K?
I have seen Looking for Mr. Goodbar once. It was a completely harrowing experience. I have never read the book, nor did I even know it was based on a real life murder. The victim was named Roseann Quinn and at the time, her life and death encompassed all that was spinning out of control in the early 70s. I think because Quinn’s murder occurred right at the beginning of the “free love” decade, people were not prepared for what her death symbolized. And to this day, Quinn continues to fascinate, which is why I’m pleased this movie kept to the facts without proselytizing.
And now I understand why that opening sequence has haunted me all these years. This scene manages to give the audience just enough insight into who the victim was. As the dance floor lights up, your eyes are drawn to one beautiful girl-next-door type who turns out to simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Throughout the film Grafton continues to remind us that she was like any girl anywhere. Dark secrets aside, she was just someone who picked the wrong guy and paid for it in the worst way possible. This is why Roseann Quinn's story continues to captivate. Who knew you could get all that from a guy throwing glitter?
Network: NBC Original Air Date: November 1st, 1978
Key parties, free love, polyester and white guys with afros. It was the 70s and it was all good. Well, I can’t say the movie Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery is all good, but it’s mostly good… well, kinda good… especially when Bert Convy’s lothario is leering at the ladies.
Commit features Louise Fletcher as Sally Kimball, the sort-of-frumpy-sort-of-pretty wife of smokin’ hot Jack (Robert Reed), and boy do these two love each other. During a party at the beginning of the film, Sally gets the leer-on by Bill (Bert Convy) and she stumbles on a young couple making out in the coat room. She’s confused by such immoral acts, but goes along in the world because she couldn’t be happier with the hubby and requisite 2.5 kids. But on their way home from the party they get in a horrible car accident and Jack is paralyzed. A year passes and old Jack is learning to live life with his handicap, but he thinks Sally should go out and spread her wings… and her legs.
The realization this book doesn't apply to men:
The Kimballs own a golf club business and Jack sends Sally off to California to kiss up to a golf pro with the machismo laden name Vic (Wayne Rogers). However, I hardly doubt he meant for her to literally kiss up to him! But after an endless array of golf conversation, Vic and Sally hit the sheets. He tells her she’s a special kind of beauty (and I agree, all of her dresses have pockets!), and begs her to shack up with him for just one week. She begrudgingly agrees and then heads back home, that much the worse for wear. She tells a kindly stewardess about her situation and the stewardess returns the favor by telling anyone who will listen! How sweet…
Sally is greeted at the airport by Bill who guesses right off the bat that she’s slept with Vic, so he feels extremely comfortable propositioning her. Has Sally learned her lesson or will she take off with gorgeous Bill for one more night of wanton sex? If she’s smart, she’ll go for the meaningless romp!
Guess he ended up checking out her putter! **nudge nudge**
It’s fairly obvious that Commit isn’t really sure what message it wants to get across nor does it even seem to know what kind of movie it is. It starts off great, creating a realistic atmosphere of the free lovin’ 70s, but halfway in it veers towards tons of boring golfing scenes. I get that Sally and Vic work in the sport, but man, if I had to hear one more thing about a putter I was going to throw the television out the window! Also, Fletcher seems kind of lost in the part. She’s fairly unemotional about all of it, minus a few tears. And her character is terribly unlikable. She’s painted as a woman willing to forfeit her own wants for her beloved husband, but she ends up coming across as a fairly selfish woman who only seems to be acting under the guise that she’s making the ultimate sacrifice.
Commit was part of a mostly-unrealized series that was supposed to highlight each of the commandments by setting them in a provocative, modern setting. The only other film in the series was called Thou Shalt Not Kill, which was shot around ’78 but not released until ’82. This does not bode well for the series… But at least they got the two best commandments out of the way…
Network: ABC Original Air Dates: February 26th – 27th
Oh what a twisted and, uh, lacy, web we weave when at first we practice to deceive. Ummm, yeah. Lace was one of those awesome mini-series that was full of sudsy excess, and partially responsible for making the 80s so friggin’ memorable. We’ve got beautiful woman, studly dudes, a very bitchy Phoebe Cates, an epic tale that spans decades, exotic locales and so much save-the-drama-for-your-mama-over-the-top-emotional-overload, that it was destined to become a classic.
We are, how you say, sluts...
The movie begins in the 60s and features three lovely tarts-in-the-making who are best friends at a boarding school in the Alps. We’ve got Pagan (Brooke Adams) who is this semi-comuppity British chick, there’s Maxine (Arielle Dombasle) a beautiful French girl who resembles Jenny Wright from Near Dark and Judy (Bess Armstrong in that famous pageboy she’s had for a zillion and a half years), the smart American girl. Each one loses their virginity around the same time and guess what? One ends up with a bun in the oven. So the trio vow to have it together, give it up together and then fetch the child when one of them can get into a better situation and raise it properly. The first half of the movie basically sets up the mystery of who the mother could be and then after the unnamed vixen gives birth, we follow the three girls as they separate and pursue their own dreams. The child is named Elizabeth Lace and the mother is put on record as Lucinda Lace (harkening back to a romance novel the three women loved).
Oh Pagan, you know you want it...
Well, life is just too damn good for these women - Pagan has an on-again-off-again romance with a middle eastern prince, Maxine marries this hot guy who has an incredible house, and then she has her own kid (or another kid, depending on your opinion at this point), and Judy goes to Viet Nam to report on the war, decides it sucks and then starts a magazine called Lace. They all keep coming up with excuses for leaving Elizabeth where she is and then one day they get the (wrong) information that she’s been killed. Of course, everyone feels all bad and stuff, but eventually they resume their lives pretty much as normal. Eventually means, like, five minutes later, but with some offset resentment and stuff (for the drama, dig?)... Then this wickedly bitter porn star turned A List actress named Lili (Cates, slinging an indistinguishable Euor-trash accent) shows up and begins to assimilate herself into their lives, in the most cold and cruel ways. She seduces Maxine’s son (or her own brother, depending on you opinion at this point... Yikes!), hurls Pagan back into the prince’s life only to jerk him away and, well, she gives Judy a pretty awesome interview for Lace. Well, that’ll teach her! Finally, she brings the three now-distant friends together and asks them, “Which one of you bitches is my mother?”
My friends, history has been made.
And now we can move on to… Lace: Volume II
Volume II continues exactly where the “which one of you bitches is my mother?” part leaves off. Again we track back through everyone’s life (although at this point Lili’s story is mostly done with dialog and less with flashbacks) and then there’s the money shot. You mean, she’s your mom?!? OK, I didn’t guess it at first, but right before the reveal, it does become fairly obvious.
"Wheech one of you beetches ees my muther?"
Volume II isn’t quite as much fun because at this point you’re just waiting around for whatever the revelation may be, but it’s a decent ending to the bang up, lush soapy extravaganza of Volume I. Bess Armstrong is terrific here as Judy and my favorite of the three girls. As a war correspondent she sucks, but she ends up writing a book called Rape in a Foxhole, which I’m simply dying to read! I think they spend a bit too much time on Pagan and her prince saga, but the locales are simply delish and of course Brooke Adams is in top form, especially at the beginning of her romance, before she hits the frumpy route. Now Phoebe Cates is another story. She’s simply breathtaking to look at but seems so lost in the role, not even a GPS could lead her to right side of her character. She’s so hilariously indignant! Nothing pleases her and as she emotes from one bitch session to the next, she’s just like taffeta gone mad. And I loved her!
This is Judy apparently going undercover as an airline stewardess
This mini-series was popular enough to warrant a sequel, aptly titled Lace II (but maybe it should have been Lace II: Volume I or Lace: Volume III or… oh, I’m so confused!)… In the sequel (which I have not seen... yet) Lili goes looking for her father! I mean, we kind of know who he is, right? Guess again...
Lace starts off strong, stays engrossing through the first three hours and then wanes into something slightly less engaging (not counting Cates’ ill advised bitch moments), before heading into the world of nothingness. It was a nice ride though, and of course being the glutton for 80s excess that I am, I’d take that trip again any day!
I reviewed one of my all time fave erotic thrillers for Horror Yearbook recently. The movie in question is called Party Line and considering I love about 98% of all the early 90s erotic thrillers I've seen, then you know you must seek it out!
Strangely enough, I'm not super big on remakes unless they are of made for televison movies (check out my post on the remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark). This time a new version of Hammer Films is taking on one of the scariest small screen horror films of all time. Made for BBC in 1989, The Woman in Black is some kind of bone chiller. It did enjoy a brief DVD release in the US, but remains fairly obscure (here's a link to an article I wrote on TV movies in dire need of a decent DVD release). I am really looking forward to seeing what's in store, however, it should be stated that the original filmmakers got it right the first time. Still, I do plan on checking this remake out...
At any rate, here's the down-low on Pretty Scary with all the the deets, yo!