I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Guide For The Married Man (1967)

Happily married Paul (Walter Matthau) discovers his buddy and neighbor Ed (Robert Morse) has been cheating on his wife.  Paul is curious -- a little too curious, in fact -- about how Ed has been able to get away with it for so long.  Ed makes the process look effortless, and it's not long before Paul is considering stepping out on his wife, Ruth (Inger Stevens).

Paul's decision seems kind of crazy, considering his wife is very personable and attractive.  Ed regales Paul with stories of how other guys have done it and how well or not they handled situations that came up.  The stories are presented in scenes featuring various actors in cameos, including Joey Bishop, Phil Silvers, Jayne Mansfield, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Ben Blue, Louis Nye, Sid Caesar, Terry-Thomas, Carl Reiner, Polly Bergen, Sam Jaffe, Hal March, and Marty Ingels.  Some of the stories are mildly amusing, others are more humorous.  The film goes along at a fast pace, leading up to Paul planning to have an affair with an attractive client.

Reportedly, this was the last film that Jayne Mansfield actually did before a fatal accident took her life.  In the version of this film that I saw, it appeared that the story Ms. Mansfield appeared in was edited.  Perhaps to cover up how much of herself she was showing; but by late 1960's standards in comparison to today, the scene is very tame.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Oliver! (1968)

Based on Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, this musical opens in a depressing location, an orphanage that doubles as a factory.  The boys are forced to do hard, long labor, and none of the kids are treated well.  When Oliver (Mark Lester) dares to ask for more food, he is taken out of the orphanage and sold to a local undertaker.  The undertaker's family doesn't treat Oliver any better than the orphanage did.  After an incident where Oliver is locked in the cellar as punishment, the boy escapes and makes his way to London.

Oliver isn't in the big city long when he's befriended by The Artful Dodger (Jack Wild), who introduces him to Fagin (Ron Moody) who's the head of a gang of young pickpockets.  Fagin participates in fencing stolen items with Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed), a dangerous sort who's in a relationship with the good-hearted Nancy (Shanni Wallis). A botched pickpocketing effort by The Artful Dodger and another boy ends with Oliver being accused of the crime.  But the well-to-do man who was the intended victim takes pity on Oliver and takes him into his home.  But Oliver's good fortune is in danger of being short-lived when Fagin and Sikes start worrying about whether Oliver will say something that will lead the cops to them.

I was surprised to learn that Lester's singing was dubbed by a female singer.  There had been a huge talent search to find someone to play the title character, but when they found Lester, it was learned that the kid couldn't sing well.  These days, Lester works as an osteopath.  Jack Wild, on the other hand, was a natural; he had played the role of Oliver Twist previously onstage.  The late Wild was better known to American audiences via his role on Sid and Marty Kroft's "H.R. Puffnstuf" (1969-1970).

Plenty of good songs in this one ("As Long As He Needs Me", "Where Is The Love", for example), and the movie does a good job of showing the life of the working class and poor in London of a couple of centuries ago.  Swarthy Mr. Reed is appropriately malevolent in his role as Sikes.  Lester's innocence is the heart of the film.

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How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1967)

Having nothing else to do on a Saturday night, I decided to watch How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.  I hadn't seen it since I was a kid.  The only thing I remembered was Robert Morse's puppy dog look, and Rudy Vallee cursing constantly.

The story involves a window washer named J. Pierpont Finch (Morse) who buys a how-to book that explains how to move up to the top in business.  Following the book's advice, Finch immediately gets on the good side of several in a corporate company, including the CEO, J.B. Biggley (Vallee).  Finch also catches the eye of a pretty secretary named Rosemary Pilkington (Michele Lee) who becomes Finch's cheerleader.  But Finch has to contend with Biggley's nephew, Bud Frump (Anthony Teague), who has his eye on moving up as well.

A lot of the situations involving office politics still hold true today.  Biggley is surrounded by several 'yes' men, there's a totem pole mentality in the corporation, the women are regulated to the secretarial pool and treated like eye candy by both the married and single males on the job, etc.  Finch is not above using manipulation to get where he wants to go.  But overall, this is just a situation comedy set to music.  It's not exactly one of my favorite musicals because the songs aren't that memorable.

However, it was nice to see Morse, who originally created the role on Broadway and won a Tony Award for it, doing the role in the film.  Hollywood is notorious for casting the film versions of musicals and overlooking the people who performed in the Broadway versions.

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