March 12th, 2009

THERE GOES THE BRIDE (1980) ½ *

I was never a big fan of The Smothers Brothers.  To me, they were always kinda weak, especially compared to the antics of their contemporaries Rowan and Martin from Laugh-In.  Well, Tommy Smothers (the jackass that played with the yo-yo) stars in this inept and unfunny all-star comedy as an ad executive who gets conked on the noggin and starts seeing an apparition of Twiggy running around dressed as a flapper.  Since his daughter is getting married, his erratic behavior (talking to thin air, dancing by himself, etc.) gets his future in-laws understandably worried.

 

The cast (including Phil Silvers, Jim Backus, Broderick Crawford, and Martin Balsam) are absolutely stellar; in other movies.  Smothers looks completely lost without his show biz brother and flounders in this leading role.  His twitchy, stuttering performance will get on your damn nerves in record time and you’ll be rooting for him to experience excruciating pain at regular intervals throughout the film.  There Goes the Bride was based on a stage play and it often shows.  It feels claustrophobic and desperate and there isn’t a single laugh to be had anywhere in the flick.

 

I find most movies about weddings to be more or less intolerable.  Having the painfully annoying Tommy Smothers dancing around with an imaginary Twiggy like they’re fucking Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers just makes it that much harder to bear.  Director Terry Marcel also directed the much better Hawk the Slayer the same year.

SCANDAL SHEET (1985) **

A sleazy tabloid editor (Burt Lancaster) hires an out-of-work reporter (Pamela Reed) that is friends with a big movie star (Lauren Hutton) and her alcoholic husband (Robert Urich) in hopes that she’ll write a tell-all expose.  Burt showers her with lots of mullah so she’ll compromise her journalistic integrity for some quick cash.  This understandably causes a severe strain on Pamela’s friendship with the unstable stars.

 

Scandal Sheet is a predictable by-the-numbers made-for-TV melodrama (produced by Henry Winkler of all people) that at least has the benefit of some good performances.  Lancaster really does a fine job as the smooth-talking slimeball and Reed puts in a solid turn as the reporter stuck in a moral dilemma.  Urich isn’t nearly as good here as he was in Ice Pirates, but he’s pretty decent.  It was also fun seeing a young Frances McDormand in a small role too.

 

Director David Lowell (The Concorde-Airport ’79) Rich lays on the drama nice and thick and keeps the plot moving at an adequate pace for the most part.  (The subplot about dead Siamese twin boys unfortunately helps to pad out the running time.)  The film is still relevent nearly a quarter of a century later as paparazzi photographers and unscrupulous tabloid editors are still a dime a dozen.  Overall the flick is watchable, but not very compelling.  It’s better than most made-for-TV offerings from the 80’s, although that’s not say a whole heck of a lot.  I did get a kick out of some of the nonsensical tabloid headlines like “Bishop Decides Spaceship Baby Illegitimate!”

 

Reed gets the best line of the film when she bitterly asks Hutton, “When’s the last time you made a movie with all your clothes on!”

 

AKA:  The Devil’s Bed.

THE DRIVER’S SEAT (1975) *

Elizabeth Taylor stars as a mentally deranged woman who goes to Rome and is doggedly tracked by Interpol agents.  She also brushes off a greasy lothario, argues with a maid, goes shopping with an old biddie, watches a car blow up, and finally convinces a dude to tie her up, rape her, and stab her to death.  At one point Liz says, “Have you ever seen something so stupid?”  That about sums it up.

 

Liz wears garish make-up, bizarre costumes and acts crazy as a loon throughout the picture.  The things she says (“When I orgasm, I ORGASM!”) and does (like stripping down to her nightie and rubbing on her titties) are pretty outrageous in this flick, so if you’re a die hard Liz fan whose tastes run towards the campy side, you’re going to love it. 

 

Any other sane person is going to have a tough time sitting through this meandering mess.  The plot is confusing (purposefully I assume) and the supporting cast is lame.  Only Andy Warhol, who has a brief cameo as an English lord leaves much of an impression, but he’s only on screen for about a minute or so.  Basically this movie only exists as a vehicle for an out-of-her-gourd Liz to act like a batty bitch for 100 minutes.  Ultimately, those cheesy White Diamonds commercials are a lot funnier.

 

Naturally, Liz gets the best line of the movie when she asks a random guy, “You look like Red Riding Hood’s grandmother.  Do you want to eat me?”

 

AKA:  Identikit.  AKA:  Psychotic.

THE MISSOURI TRAVELER (1958) **

During the early 20th century, a plucky runaway orphan named Biarn (Brandon DeWilde, the little kid from Shane) wanders into a small town and befriends Tobias (Lee Marvin), a well-to-do sharecropper and Doyle (Gary Merrill) an easy-going journalist.  While Tobias teaches him how to work for a living, Doyle schools him on how to act like a civilized kid.  When Tobias swindles Biarn out of his beloved horse, Doyle steps in and makes a wager that Biarn’s horse can beat Tobias’ in a race.  It all ends with one long, good natured, knock-down-drag-out, Quiet Man inspired fight scene between Doyle and Tobias.

 

The Missouri Traveler is a pleasant yet slight family flick that has a handful of decent performances but little else.  I mostly sat through this flick because of Lee Marvin.  He really commands the screen and the film always perks up whenever he’s around.  The trouble is; he isn’t around nearly enough to make the movie worthwhile.  For the most part, the flick was just way too wholesome and syrupy (it’s the sorta thing you’d expect to see on The Hallmark Hall of Fame) for my tastes.  Grandparents and/or other recipients of Medicare will probably eat it up though.

 

Marvin gets the best line of the movie when he says, “A good farmer works from Can to Can’t…  From when he ‘Can’ see in the morning til he ‘Can’t’ see at night!”