Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #205: Myths and Legends

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of Thursday Movie Picks, the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week the theme is myths and legends. There's a fair bit about Greek mythology and it would probably be easy to do this using three movies on Greek myth. But I decided I'd go with three different traditions this week, that is, one Greek myth and two others:

Down to Earth (1947). Rita Hayworth plays Terpsichore, the Greek muse of dance, who discovers that a Broadway producer (Larry Parks) is using the Muses in a completely bogus way for his show. So she insists on going down to earth and show him what the Muses were really about. Of course, Terpsichore falls in love with the producer along the way. Complicating matters is the fact that the audience doesn't want what Terpsichore claims the Muses are really about. This is a sort of follow-up to Here Comes Mr. Jordan, and the idea of a Greek muse going down to earth would be used again 30 years later in Xanadu.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Based on the legends surrounding King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his search for the Holy Grail, the members of the Monty Python comedy troupe inject all sorts of zaniness into the search for the Grail, including a knight who describes having an arm cut off as "just a flesh wound", and a nunnery full of nuns who want to be spanked.

The Manitou (1977). Phony psychic Tony Curtis finds that his ex-girlfriend (Susan Strasberg) has a lump on her shoulder that might actually be a "Manitou", a Native American legend about a spirit that has supernatural powers. Unfortunately, this one is an evil Manitou, and all attempts to deal with it will be hazardous to the people trying to destroy it before it destroys a large part of civilization. This is one of those "so awful it's funny" movies from the era, and Tony Curtis gets to go way, way over the top.


Wendell Ottley said...

MP & the Holy Grail is comedy gold. Haven't seen your other picks.

thevoid99 said...

I think Monty Python & the Holy Grail is a very silly film. It is stupid, nonsensical, idiotic, and... *gets whacked*....

CAMELOT! CAMELOT! CAMELOT! It's only a model... SHHH!!!!! Come my knights, let us all go to Camelot!

On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

joel65913 said...

Down to Earth isn't top notch Hayworth, mostly due to personality vacuum Larry Parks, but it is a splashy colorful flick.

Monty Python & the Holy Grail has many fine things in it though I don't love it as much as many.

The Manitou is just the worst! It's part of that terrible run of supernatural sludge that The Exorcist wrought on the world albeit with a better cast than some. Not that this movie did them any favors.

My three all connect to Greek mythology.

Iphigenia (1977)-Michael Cacoyannis’s (Zorba the Greek) intense rendering of the Greek tale of child sacrifice. King Agamemnon kills a deer in the sacred grove of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt which keeps the Greek fleet from sailing off to Troy. Turning to the oracle for a solution the message is handed down that the only way Agamemnon can restore the wind is to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to the goddess of the hunt. Summoning her under the guise of a betrothal and marriage contract to Achilles he is then faced with the bitter pleas and recriminations of his queen Clytemnestra (Irene Papas) and the defiance of Achilles, who discovers the plot and tries to intervene. Potent film with Papas a FORCE as the embattled queen.

Troy (2004)-While on an official visit Trojan prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) falls for Sparta’s King Menelaus's (Brendan Gleeson) wife, Helen (Diane Kruger) and she flees with him to Troy. Menelaus’s brother King Agamemnon (Brian Cox) sees his opportunity to declare war in his attempt to extend his control over the Aegean Sea. While stopgaps lead by Achilles (Brad Pitt) and Paris’s brother Hector (Eric Bana) are attempted at the behest of Trojan King Priam (Peter O’Toole) it all escalates into epic tragedy. Monumentally BIG production with an extremely starry cast is involving and compelling if overlong with good performances across the board save Bloom but Eric Bana stand out as Hector.

The Trojan Women (1971)-After the sacking of Troy Queen Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn) reflects on her ruined kingdom. Her son’s widow, Andromache (Vanessa Redgrave) is raising their son, Astyanax (Alberto Sanz) alone and Hecuba's daughter, Cassandra (Geneviève Bujold) dreads enslavement by their Greek masters. Meanwhile Helen of Troy (Irene Papas) risks being executed. All the women fear for Astyanax as he is now the focus of the Greeks' attention as the last male heir of the Trojan royal family. With that powerhouse cast and a dramatic story this should have been a riveting watch but its muddy photography, inert staging and despairing tone make it a slog.

Birgit said...

Holy Grail is hilarious and one forgets these men didn’t drop out of high school. I love the knights that say “knee” however it’s spelled. I found out there is an old English word pronounced just like they say it in the it! I haven’t seen the other 2 but would like to especially Manitou which sound beyond horrible,

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

When I think of Camelot, I think of the I Love Lucy episode where she writes an operetta on it. The relevant clip is here.