Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Chick flicks

TCM's offering for tonight is Now, Voyager, which probably contains Bette Davis at her most obnoxiously over-the-top characterization. I've commented on Davis' hamming before, and how fun it is to see, but the bigger problem with Now, Voyager is that it's one of those movies that scream "Chick flick!" and won't shut the hell up. It's usually presented as this great love story, but I can't help but think of Davis' character as pathetically weak, even after spending time at Claude Rains' sanitarium. There's the famous scene in which Davis starts blubbering in Paul Henried's arms, and telling him that "these are only the tears of an old maid's gratitude for the crumbs" he's offering her. Every time I try to watch Now, Voyager, I want to smack Davis at that point.

It might have something to with the fact that I'm a man. Come to think of it, there are a lot of treacly love stories that make me want to retch. (And then there are those, like The Great Lie, which I don't even think of as love stories.) Perhaps the worse of these is Random Harvest, in which Ronald Colman plays an amnesiac World War I vet falls in love with Greer Garson, hits his head and develops a case of reverse amnesia in that he can remember everything that happened before his first case of amnesia, but nothing that happened after it. And you thought Hollywood only had good ideas back in the day.

Then there are the "drawing room" movies of the early days of the talking picture. One example that aired yesterday is 1930's Let Us Be Gay, in which a large portion of the action takes place in and around the same mansion. These seem to me to fit in better with the sensibilities of today's women than they do with the sensibilities of today's men. Sadly, most of the examples I can think of off hand aren't available on DVD. It's probably because these movies play out like filmed versions of stage plays, and seem terribly stilted nowadays.

It could be worse, though: I actually sat through an airing of An Unmarried Woman once so that I could comment on it for another site. I have absolutely no desire to hear Jill Clayburgh talking about getting her first period, thank you very much.

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