Sex and the Single Girl (dir. Richard Quine, 1964) – A Tony Curtis marathon was obviously in order, following the old fella’s death recently at the ripe old age of 85. (Held off on Some Like It Hot for now on account of a relatively recent viewing.) This one is, well, very sexy indeed. One must try not to think of Natalie Wood as the cute little girl from Miracle on 34th Street during this one, at the risk of feeling quite awkward indeed. They call this “the poor man’s Pillow Talk,” but I don’t see what’s so “poor” about it. Quite funny, quite amusing, albeit completely formulaic. These films rely on gender tropes, and also on undermining them just enough to entertain/surprise the audience. Thank you, Netflix Instant.
The Amorous Mis-Adventures of Casanova, or, Casanova & Co., or, Some Like It Cool (dir. Franz Antel, 1979) – Must admit to turning this off after only 20 minutes or so. Even worse, must admit to watching the first 20 minutes or so. Thus ends the Tony Curtis marathon, with an unfortunately abrupt conclusion at Curtis’ softcore stint in the late 70s. This one is so bad from so many different vantage points. The male fantasy here gets to have a complete heyday without an ounce of brains stitching together disconnected, pornographic scenes. Thank you, Netflix Instant.
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (created by Shaun Pye & David Cross, 2010) – In a word, wow. In a few more, this pilot starts off about as great as a pilot can start out: love the courtroom scene followed by “14 days earlier” (or whatever). No one could play the clueless American as well as David Cross, who has made part of his living out of dissing the Larry-the-Cable-Guy-type American persona. Will Arnett’s character is Devon Banks (3o Rock) on crack. Some of this humor is distinctly “British” and not “American” (quotations tossed out there as an acknowledgment to problems with essentialism); the restaurant scene in particular just didn’t seem to end. Be reminded of this (and Monty Python) whenever we’re told that American humor is slapstick and British humor sophisticated.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1934) – It’s not an easy job to engage with these older British films, especially when the picture is so dark. Clearly, though, this is Hitchcock. Lots of little tools and frills are thrown out there for story cohesion, stylistic flare, and, of course, good old-fashioned suspense. The penultimate scene in a crowded theater is now so signature that you would know something’s about to happen there even without being told. Also, you have to appreciate the bookends of the mother firing a shotgun both for and in spite of her daughter. Will need to revisit the remake.