Monday, January 23, 2023

Taxed Out

I was so worn out, I didn't wake up until noon. Finished Blood Orange Brewing in bed and wrote in my journal until almost 1:30. Had brunch while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The gang is looking forward to "Mickey's Art Show" held at the Clubhouse, but Goofy doesn't know what type of art he wants to make. Minnie and Donald try to teach him how to sculpt, Daisy to paint, and Mickey to draw. Goofy's art never seems to come out the way he wants...but it's Clarabelle who finally teaches him that the important thing is to make your own style and have fun with it.

The rain continued to come down, even as I ate breakfast. I finally decided I'd sat inside for way too long. Grabbed my umbrella and my now-dry winter coat and went for a walk. The walk was a good idea. The umbrella...was not. Not only was the rain slowing down even as I took out the trash, but the wind was insane. It kept trying to snatch my umbrella away or blow it inside-out. Thankfully, neither happened. The worst was my hands were cold when I arrived at CVS.

For some reason, CVS is the only store where I can find the brush pick refills I use. I also grabbed a Diet Mountain Dew, since I don't often see those around, either. I hoped they would have Valentine's decorations, but they only had candy-filled hearts, bags of candy, and stuffed animals. They were having good sales on Nature's Valley granola bars, but they were out of the ones I like. 

Considered ordering lunch somewhere, but while the rain ended by the time I got out, it remained cold, cloudy, and windy. It was no day for lingering. I just went home, joining a few groups of children and their parents on their way back from school crossing over the White Horse Pike thanks to a crossing guard. 

Went straight upstairs when I got home and into lunch. After I ate, I did my taxes. I had a little trouble getting into TurboTax. I changed my laptop since I did my taxes last year, and I no longer had the password saved. I had to reset it. After that, it was smooth sailling. Took me an hour. I have no dependents, own no property, and work at one job. I don't even have the interest on my school loans anymore. I paid them off in early 2021. 

Broke for dinner at 7 PM and to finally take the laundry downstairs. Watched one of the best episodes of Match Game Syndicated while I ate. Ginger, the contestant from Friday, gave such a weird answer to "Cuckoo __" in the Head-to-Head, it sent Gene Rayburn spinning the Star Wheel, yelling "Run for your lives!" while the panel fell over each other laughing behind him. Poor Robert Walden, who was supposed to match her, just looked embarrassed. According to Bill Daily in Match Game 101, everyone laughed so hard, they had to stop taping. (And not only did Gene remember the incident for the rest of his life, but Bill recalled it pretty clearly too, even 40 years later.)

Things were only slightly more sane in the second episode. In the opening, they discussed how Robert had been Charles' student in acting class, and how much Charles did for him. (Charles' other students included Lily Tomlin, Gary Burghoff, and Liza Minnelli, whom Robert mentions. And interestingly, research revealed that Walden himself is now a well-regarded acting teacher.) There's also the production assistant who models what a high slit skirt is to the panel, and Elaine Joyce helping the winner with "Give __" in the Head to Head. Joyce Bulifant made a rather nice strawberry blonde here. 

Finished the night with Hollywood Cavalcade after a shower and putting the laundry in the dryer. Mike Connors (Don Ameche) is struck by Molly Adair (Alice Faye) when he sees her in a Broadway play in 1913. He invites her out to Hollywood to make a movie for him. Turns out he's a glorified prop boy, but what he really wants to do is direct. He coerces the producer Lyle P. Stout (Donald Meek) into giving him his chance. The planned action drama turns into comedy when a pie lands in Molly's kisser. Now Mike and Molly are making wacky comedies that end with her being covered in custard.

Mike, however, is full of himself and his talents and hard to deal with. After he gets fired for filming bathing beauties instead of melodrama, he and Molly start their own studio. Now he can film pratfalls and custard pies to his heart's content. Seeing Molly's talent, he finally puts her into a drama. She's in love with him, but is tired of his obsession with films and ends up marrying her leading man Nick Hayden (Alan Curtis) instead. Mike loses both his studio and his talent. After he's fired from every major studio in Hollywood, Molly and Nick insist he direct their latest picture. He's just as impossible there as he was in his own place...until tragedy and the release of The Jazz Singer makes him reassess his relationship with her and with the art form they both love. 

The first half, with the spot-on recreations of Keystone Cops, custard pie fights, and bathing beauties sunning on rocks, is both hilarious and a fairly accurate recreation of the era. The Technicolor production is gorgeous - it even fades into black and white during the Keystone Cops shorts. It's in the second half, when the melodrama comes to the fore, that this loses momentum and interest. 

It's also where it becomes painfully obvious that they're not going for realism. No one's clothes, male or female, reflect the 10's and 20's in any way, and other than some of the background songs from the time, it looks like it could have been set when it was made in 1939. Too bad, because Faye and Ameche are decent as the Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand-esque director and star, and J. Edward Bromberg is excellent as Mike's devoted assistant Dave who later becomes Molly's manager.  We even have Buster Keaton and several real-life Keystone Cops taking part in the comedy sequences and Al Jolson recreating a scene from The Jazz Singer. 

(Oh, and this is not a musical. No one sings a note, not even Faye. I think they lost a major opportunity here. This might have made a rather nice musical, an early Mack and Mabel with a happier ending. The plot isn't that far removed from some of the later Faye and Betty Grable films.)

I'm going to say this is really only for fans of Faye, Ameche's early work, or silent films. Everyone else is better off sticking with the musicals that featured this pair or the action drama In Old Chicago

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