Friday, August 25, 2023

There's No Business Like Show Business

I slept late and got so caught up with Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors, Match Game '77 was on by the time I finally had brunch. In the first episode, Patty Duke is delighted to briefly read a question when Gene wants to answer it himself. Everyone else is unnerved by the big gentleman from Detroit who is the new challenger. Gene's more than happy to kiss Roz Kelly in the second episode, even though she'd been on the show before. The others help the big man with "Loaded __" on the Audience Match.

Checked my schedule online after breakfast. In good news, three days off next week and normal four and six hour shifts on Tuesday and Thursday. I also have two 7 and 8 hour days Sunday and next Saturday. It's to be expected with Labor Day Weekend coming up and the beginning of the month, but it does mean I'll have to miss the farm market next week.

Let it run into Tattletales while I made my grocery list and texted Karen to tell her when I'm available next week. Foster Brooks and his very smart and beautiful wife Teri really livened up this episode. Orson Bean and his sensible wife Carolyn were also having a lot of fun, and they ended up being the winners over Foster and Teri and Terry and Anna Carter. 

Headed out to run errands around quarter of 2. It was hot and humid, but neither was to the degree of earlier in the summer. At any rate, I really had to hit the Westmont Acme for this week's grocery shopping. Had online coupons for strawberries, the OGX shampoo and conditioner, their generic sparkling water, and their frosting-and-cake parfaits. Chobani yogurt and the Made Good granola bars were on good sales. Thought the larger Natural Jif sizes were a better bargain on sale than the smaller ones. Grabbed two packaged hardboiled eggs for lunch instead of a hoagie or salad. 

Took the long way home across Newton Lake Park. The hot weather didn't stop people from going for walks or taking their pooch or kids for a stroll. Despite our lack of rain lately, the park still looks gorgeous, all dusty greens and bright scarlets and sunny golds. The hazy sunlight sparkled on the bottle-green waves.

Went upstairs when I got home and put everything away, then had lunch while watching Stage Fright. Aspiring actress Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) ends up helping fellow actor Johnathan Cooper (Richard Todd) when he claims actress and singer Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich) came to him in a bloodstained dress after killing her husband. Eve and her father, eccentric former seaman Commodore Gill (Alastair Sim) are shocked when Johnathan destroys the bloodstained dress when they say Charlotte framed him.

Eve convinces Charlotte's maid Nellie (Kay Walsh), who saw Johnathan at her house, to tell Charlotte's she's sick and her cousin will be taking over. Eve poses as Nellie's plain cousin Doris and becomes her dresser, but more than her acting skills are put to the test when she discovers that Charlotte is really having an affair with her manager Freddie (Hector MacGregor), and she's falling for detective "Ordinary" Smith (Michael Wilding). It turns out that what's onstage isn't the only illusion, as neither Charlotte nor Johnathan are entirely telling the truth about the murder or their parts in it...

Wyman is really the thing here, aided by some of the best character actors in Europe in the early 50's. This is only the second movie I've seen Sim in after A Christmas Carol, and I think I like him even better as Eve's warm, yet commanding father. Dietrich puts in one of her better latter-day performances as Eve's eccentric employer, and Todd's attempted flight from the police in the finale is beautifully shot and riveting. 

This is a bit slow and meandering for one of Hitchcock's movies, but it does have enough to keep you entertained if you love older British films or twisty black and white mysteries.

Went online after the movie ended. I tried to buy the train tickets for my vacation next month from Amtrak last night. For some reason, the numbers they used to confirm my credit card weren't the same as my current cell phone number, and I couldn't figure out how to change them. I finally bought the tickets using PayPal instead. 

(So...yes, I'll be on vacation next month from the 18th through the 26th. It's a bit longer than usual, but I figured now that I have an extra week off I probably wouldn't use anyway, I can get away with it.) 

Worked on writing for a while next. Joyce stops to eat lunch across from a corn field on the Golden Road. It's her dog Rover who figures out that the scarecrow on a pole in the field looks mighty familiar. In fact, he looks a lot like Charles Nelson Reilly with a lot of hay stuck in him, toupee, glasses, and all...

Broke for dinner at 7 PM. Thought I'd do something different and go out for dinner. While it remained humid, it wasn't nearly as warm once the sun started going down, and there was a nice, cool wind. Oaklyn has its Final Friday block party on the last Friday of every month from June through October. They expanded it this year to include the parking lot across from the Oaklyn Elementary School. The parking lot mainly held lemonade booths and craft sellers. Most of the action was a block away, where all the food trucks and Tonewood Brewery are. 

Truth be told, as tasty as lobster sandwiches, extra-cheesy mac and cheese, and cheesesteak spring rolls sounded, food trucks tend to be horribly overpriced. I got a slice of teriyaki chicken and broccoli, a slice of basil, tomato, and mozzarella, and a can of Diet Pepsi for $8.50, much cheaper than anything outside. Managed to get a table between a family with a little girl sporting flowers and vines painted on her cheek and a group of chattering teenage girls enjoying their own pizza and cheese steaks. 

Finished the night at home, watching Bullets Over Broadway on Hoopla. Eve's not the only one who has a close encounter with murder onstage. New playwright David Shayne (John Cusack) is so desperate to get his play financed, he agrees to give gangster Nick Valenti's (Joe Viterelli) girlfriend Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly) a small part. Turns out no matter what Nick and she herself believe, Olive is a terrible actress. David is much happier to cast fading if still well-known star Helen Sinclair (Dionne West) and perpetually dieting Warner Purcell (Jim Broadbent). Not to mention, it turns out that Cheech (Chazz Paliminteri), the thug who is supposed to be watching Olive, has a lot of terrific ideas that make the play five times better. 

Things go haywire quickly when David's girlfriend Ellen (Mary-Louise Parker) catches him with Helen and Cheech gets so into the play's success or failure, he decides to do something about Olive and her lousy performance. David has to explain to Nick why his girlfriend is missing, tell Ellen he loves her, and dodge the bullets flying around backstage, before he ends up among the victims.

I think my stepdad did rent it at least once after it came out in 1994, but I'm not sure I paid attention then. I really missed something. This is a fast and funny look at New York and Broadway in the Roaring 20's, with pitch-perfect costumes and a terrific period soundtrack. West did so well as the star looking for one last blaze of glory, she won a Supporting Actress Oscar. Tilly and Paliminteri are also excellent as the gangster's moll who is convinced she has what it takes to be a star (even though she doesn't) and the tough guy who actually does have talent. 

Honestly, you'd never know this was Woody Allen if you didn't check the credits...or if the witty verbal repartee didn't sound like his style. If you love Roaring 20's tales, period comedies, or anyone in the cast, this is a highly recommended look at how one young man's attempt to become the next Allen of 1928 went supremely off the rails. 

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