1955 must’ve been a fun year to be at the movies, a heyday of widescreen and color in Moonfleet, Rebel Without a Cause, Lola Montes and even This Island Earth. This one looked great even on my portable player. Watched it about one and a half times, and would watch it again – full of bright color and good jokes and completely forgettable songs (sorry, Dean) and good characters (except for Dean, sorry Dean).

Jerry plays a grown adolescent (big surprise) addled by his addiction to comic books, and Dean is his friend/roommate trying to break into the art world. Dean’s an okay artist but also a ladies’ man in the creepiest, most stalkerish way, and the object of his lusty affection is successful (until she gets fired halfway through) comic artist Dorothy Malone (one year before she stunned in Written on the Wind). Dorothy’s Batgirl model, less hollywood-attractive but with a much cuter smile, is Shirley MacLaine (whose film debut was just one month prior in Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry). It’s complicated, but Dean lands a job for Dorothy’s ex-boss drawing super-violent action comics written by Jerry in his sleep (he dreams aloud) the same day Jerry attends a panel as a witness against comics as a corruptive influence on young minds, while Dean tries to get Dorothy as hard as Shirley tries to get Jerry (via an awful music sequence, the low point of the movie). Then totally out of left field, spies and government agents are after Jerry, and the plot gets so mad that I already don’t remember how it’s ties up, except that Dorothy & Jerry give in to their stalker partners and fall into last-minute “love” (a la Cary Grant in Bringing Up Baby) and get married, all in a single few-second shot, the movie’s way of saying “WHEW!”

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Cameo by George Foghorn Winslow, the kid from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, nine years old and already halfway through his Hollywood career. I didn’t recognize Jack Elam (I keep doing that… gotta notice him next time I watch Kiss Me Deadly to see what he looked like in the 50’s). Eddie Mayehoff was wonderful as semi-hysterical Mr. Murdock, the somewhat pathetic boss at the comics company with no creative drive or ideas of his own – he appeared in a few other Martin & Lewis movies but sadly not anywhere else. I love how Dean and Jerry take turns doing impressions of his character.

Eddie Mayehoff:
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Tash made this a couple years after Son of Paleface with Bob Hope, and a couple years before Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. I think this was the second to last Lewis/Martin flick – a few years later Dean would be starring in Rio Bravo and Jerry would get into directing with The Bellboy.

So this has got narratives written by dreams, the struggle to be an artist in a corporate world, an appreciation and condemnation of comics, government cold-war idiocy, and more attacks on television (after seeing this and Rock Hunter I think TV is a favorite punching bag of Tashlin’s). TV had already been mentioned as the downfall of the comic industry when this scene came along (right after Dean’s so-glad-to-be-employed song) with Jerry testifying against comics from inside a television (color, no less) while Dean discovers the futility of arguing with TV:
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The writers have some more fun with comics when Jerry’s love life takes an super/spider-man angle, as he’s in love with Batgirl but not her real-life “secret identity” Shirley MacLaine. Also some terrific bits with mirrors and frames and distortions. Jerry gets to sing most of a song, and in the other room Dean takes off his shirt and pants and sings to himself in the mirror (maybe this was to stall walkouts of female Dean fans who did not come to hear Jerry do the singing). But when Dean’s mirror image starts singing harmonies and looking back at himself in an unwholesome way, Dean splits. The music starts out okay and gets worse – sorry, songwriters Jack Brooks and Harry Warren (“That’s Amore”, “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “We’re in the Money”).

Rosenbaum says: “Five cowriters are credited along with Tashlin, but the stylistic exuberance is seamless, and this film eventually wound up providing the inspirational spark for Jacques Rivetteā€™s late, great New Wave extravaganza Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)”

Weird 1950’s Thing I Noticed: the want ads are divided into men’s jobs and women’s jobs. Suppose there was a separate page for negro jobs? More likely a whole separate newspaper.

The annual Artists & Models Ball. I’m guessing the kids at SCAD have parties like this all the time.
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Dean being creepy over Dorothy:
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Cover your ears, Shirley’s gonna sing:
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Jerry tries being a model:
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A good comic superhero movie, completely predictable and without anything special to recommend it over all other decent comic superhero movie except having totally likeable lead actors with lots of light humorous banter. Turns out that’s a pretty big deal, because the movie is being very well received. I certainly wasn’t disappointed… it’s a good time at the movies.

Katy appreciated the bits of Lord of War thrown in, with RD Jr’s weapons company making higher profits by selling arms (with STARK INDUSTRIES proudly stamped across them) to evil foreigners under the table. This is the work of transparently evil company man Jeff Bridges, who’s pretty good as a bad guy, and who eventually builds his own iron suit for a showdown that I don’t remember too well cuz it was 2am on a weeknight by then. Gotta hand it to Gwyneth Paltrow, in her best comic role since Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Don’t necessarily got to hand anything to Terrence Howard, who is very good, but keeps appearing in thankless sidekick roles in big movies.

Jon Favreau gave himself a bit part (think he had a couple lines). Funny, I thought he directed Swingers, but that was done by Doug Liman, who also had a big sequel-spawning sfx-action hit this year with Jumper. That’s something nobody saw coming in 1996!

Felt kinda empty and unexciting. Too bad. Bruce Campbell has a longer, funnier scene than usual, but otherwise it’s a big ol’ studio comic picture. The Sam Raimi that brought us Evil Dead is gone. Oh well, enjoy the aerial acrobatics and the sandman effects and wait in line for the next one.

Tobey is still our man, Kirsten is still better to look at than to watch, and Franco is still a rich and vengeful third wheel (feat. a welcome Daddy Dafoe cameo). But we need more baddies with half-assed excuses to dislike spiderman, so we’ve got Parker responsible for photographer Topher Grace losing his job, and we’ve got Thomas Haden Church who apparently killed spidey’s uncle and I think Topher convinces Haden that Tobey did something I dunno it doesn’t matter.

Coincidentally, Tobey turns the dude he fired into Venom, and the dude who killed his uncle turns into Sandman. but first, Tobey experiments with the Venom suit and goes all Chris Gaines in some horrible dance/club sequence. Sandy blows away unharmed, Venom “dies” strangely, and Franco dies by rocket sled, same as his dear daddy.

Also Theresa Russell was Haden’s wife but I didn’t notice at the time, and Bryce Dallas was Topher’s girl.

Anyway, there was some effects and stuff, and I dig Topher’s style. Movie was just good enough to keep seeing the sequels. This ranks somewhere between the grim and badly paced Batman Begins and the surprisingly decent X-Men 3.

Here’s me, running out to see the new Brett Ratner movie.

Kinda loved it, especially after all the badmouthing it got in the last few weeks… but did they have to be so brutal, killing and de-powering so many main characters? Have they no respect for the ongoing nature of the comic and the hundreds of x-men stories that have yet to be told? They just think they can kill off characters left and right because all the actors’ contracts are expiring, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more movies with different actors eventually. Still, super fun movie… intense.

Same ol’ good ol’ movie. Gets better every time. This time paid close attention to: Halle Berry’s acting (not great), Rogue’s hair (you can kinda see it turn white if you pause on the statue of liberty scene), overall pacing, Magneto’s costume. Waffling on seeing X-Men 3 in theaters or at all.

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Should this really be compared to Ghost World, which was a whole different kind of movie? Sure, why not. Both try to mix humor with failure and both have Steve Buscemi in ’em.

Art Con is disillusioned with the art-school crowd and has nothing nice to say about the students, their teachers, rich successful artists, or lonely bitter failures. Pretty harsh outlook (but of course). A few interesting bits – our kid being more accepted as a famous serial killer (not “innocent” since he did burn down an apartment building, killing many) than he ever would’ve been as an artist, and the “outsider artist” cop being celebrated for making daringly crappy paintings. Kind of an easy-target comedy, like Best In Show, but meaner. Angelica Huston didn’t have much to do. Katy didn’t seem too enthused.