Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Wild, Wild Comedians

Slept in again today. I was up way too late last night! Finally got in for the last of Classic Concentration. In fact, I arrived just in time to see the contestant win a car and Marjorie act pretty goofy in a strange gray wig.

Sweet Bertha, the older lady who won big on Match Game '77, continued her run in the episode I watched during breakfast. Tom Poston and Mary Ann Mobley got to join in and see Richard help her with "__ Crackers" in the Head-to-Head. Richard had a toothache and was probably still upset about the School Riot incident, but Bertha's sincerity made him smile.

Headed out after the episode to run a few errands. I mainly needed vitamins at Target. My fitted summer-weight sheet is no longer fitted. It keeps coming loose when I sleep. I've had it for so long, I bought it from the linen store behind the Acme that closed at least five or six years ago. I looked around Target's home department, but I didn't see anything I liked. (I eventually bought one from Amazon's Prime Deals Day. Also picked up more printer ink.)

I thought of doing some other errands, but it was just too darn hot. Though it still wasn't humid, it was already in the upper 80's and climbing by 1:30. At least there was a nice breeze and only a few cotton candy clouds in the bright blue sky. Stopped at the pretzels shop for a very simple lunch. Bought one pretzel for now, one pretzel for later, and opted to try their pepperoni and cheese pretzel pocket. 

Rested with lunch and My Little Chickadee. In the 1880's, Miss Flower Belle Lee (Mae West) is visiting her relatives in Little Bend, Texas. She's held up by a stagecoach and is kidnapped, but turns up unharmed, to the shock of the townspeople. Fussy busybody Mrs. Gideon (Margaret Hamilton) accidentally discovers why she turned up unharmed. She's the lover of the Masked Bandit, the mysterious stage coach robber. The judge (Addison Richards) runs her out of town for not being "respectable."

She thinks she's found respectability when she runs into con-man Cuthbert J. Twille (W.C Fields) on the train to Greasewood City, Nevada. They get married by a passenger (Donald Meek) they think is a priest. Twille claims that he stopped the natives who attacked the train, but it was really Flower Belle who held them off. The grateful townspeople name him their new sheriff. Jeff Badger (Joseph Calleia) is just happy the new sheriff is too busy boasting to pick up on his criminal activities. He and crusading journalist Wayne Carter (Dick Foran) pursue Flower Belle, while Twille tries to consummate their marriage with no success. When Twille is mistaken for the Bandit, it's up to Flower Belle to make sure he's not the one who ends up dangling from a rope.

It's pretty obvious West wrote most of this. While the possibilities of West's double entendres butting up against Fields' whimsical mutterings seem tantalizing, in truth, they're mismatched and don't really have much screen time together. Fields sneaks in a few good solo scenes, including his turn as the funniest bartender in the west and him sleeping with a goat. West's best sequence is her attempt to teach a classroom full of unruly boys, including future Bowery Boy Billy Benedict. I do appreciate Flower Belle deciding in the end that she's better off taking her time to figure out what - and who - she wants. Most westerns would have gone with the obvious ending and probably dropped her with Foran.

This is probably not the best place to start if you want to know more about West or Fields' solo vehicles. If you're already a fan of either star or satirical westerns that don't take themselves seriously for a second, you'll want a hop a train with the most unlikely comic duo west of the Mississippi.

Switched to The Legendary Super Powers Super Show while making my bed. The first three episodes of the series introduce its main villain Darkseid and its new hero, the high school atom-bender Firestorm. "The Bride of Darkseid" is Wonder Woman...or he wants her to be. His minion DeSaad creates a mind-altering ray that makes her fall for him and lead the Justice League into a trap. Firestorm is the only one who can resist Darkseid, thanks to him actually being two minds fused into one.

We meet another infamous Superman villain in "The Wrath of Braniac." The infamous robot has created duplicates of Wonder Woman and Superman and enlists Darkseid's help after he mistakes the clone Wonder Woman for the real thing. They do manage to capture the Justice League...but they end up spending more time bickering with each other than doing any damage. 

Worked on writing for a while after that. Brett admits that yes, she knew for a long time, even before their separation, that their marriage was crumbling. She also envies how well Betty's marriage is going. She has a husband and stepdaughter who love her and jobs she enjoys doing, including Match Game. Betty reminds her that she almost turned Allen away...but she's glad she changed her mind. He's the best thing that ever happened to her.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Watched Match Game '74 while I ate. Penny Marshall joined Orson Bean and the others for her only week on the show. She was kind of shy and seemed awkward answering questions. Brett constantly imitating her likely didn't help matters. 

Let it continue into Match Game '79. Daryl Anderson of Lou Grant, Donna Pescow of Angie and Even Stevens, and impressionist Richard Paul join in. Charles' cowboy hat comes in for some ribbing and Gene calls out cue card boy Roger Dobowitz, who looks like he may have had a rough time with the camera. Gene does his own idea of ballet towards the end of the next episode, prompting more macho jokes from Charles.

Finished the night on Tubi with The Big Mouth from 1967. Gerald Clamson (Jerry Lewis) is on a fishing trip when he pulls up the last thing he expected - a gangster in a wet suit who looks like him. The gangster hands him a map to missing diamonds right before he's gunned down. No one believes Gerald's wild story, prompting him to search for the diamonds alone. He dresses as a nerdy eccentric to get into the hotel where the diamonds are hidden after he accidentally injured the manager (Del Moore). The last thing he expected was to fall for pretty and sensible stewardess Susie Cartwright (Susan Bey) or to be targets for two sets of gangsters, including the bizarre Asian Thor (Howard J. Stone).

This may be Lewis' strangest released vehicle...and given what some of his movies are like, that's saying a lot. On one hand, Lewis gets a rare chance to play a relatively normal adult man for a change, and we have some nice location shooting in and around the San Diego area, including the still-existing Sea World and Hilton Inn. I like Bey as sweet and smart Susie and John Nolan as the odd man who claims to be an FBI agent. We even get to see Lewis reprise his Professor Julius Kelp persona from The Nutty Professor in a hilarious sequence involving the only female gangster (Jeannine Riley) trying to teach him to play tennis. 

The plot, however, is too weird for its own good. It doesn't make a lick of sense, even for what I suspect is supposed to be a Hitchcock spoof. This time, Lewis is supposed to be normal while everyone around him talks in gibberish, gets stuck in a squat, or is literally nuts, and it doesn't work as well as him being the man-child in a normal world. They never even find the diamonds in the end. There's also the rather ridiculous Asian stereotypes that are played for broad comedy and just come off as annoying.

I thought it was bizarre but kind of fun. For everyone else, I wouldn't come here unless you're a huge fan of Lewis. Check out The Nutty Professor or his solo films from the early 60's first. 

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