Monday, April 28, 2008

Alice in Wonderland

There really aren't any "good" versions of Alice, in the sense of being faithful to the original, but there are some that start with the books and then spin off into some crazy director's vision (Jan ҆vankmajer leaps to mind, and I'm fond of the Max Fleischer cartoon "Chess Nuts"). Sadly, the version I just watched was a made-for-TV version, featuring mostly horrible televison and Las Vegas performers, and it never took flight. I mean, really, did the world need to see a great performer like Sammy Davis Jr. in a blue caterpillar costume? Inexplicably famous Telly Savalas as the Cheshire Cat? Frickin' Steve Lawrence and frickin' Eydie Gorm√© as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum? Even the members of the cast whom I like (Jonathan Winters, Imogene Coca, Robert Morley) are not exactly at the peak of their powers here. If you, like me, suffered through countless awful talk and variety shows in the 1970s, this movie is an all-too-familiar reminder of the many has-beens and never-weres who populated that world. In fact, the whole thing would have been much better as an SCTV sketch -- Sammy Maudlin as the King of Hearts! Bobby Bittman as the Mad Hatter! Johnny LaRue as Humpty Dumpty!

Oh, and Alice had an American accent!

Oh, and yet there's a fan tribute page.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Desk Set (1957)

Tracy and Hepburn again. He's an IBM computer expert, she's a researcher at a TV network, and they fall in geek love, of course. The chemistry is the whole reason to have a movie, as usual, and there is one of those scenes they always do where he keeps giving her those silent, mildly irritated looks he does so well that say, "Hmm... you're pretty amazing... maybe I underestimated you..." The film chugs along mildly realistically until the last few reels, when the gigantic computer finally arrives in the office -- it looks like something Batman might have in the Batcave, and is prone to freaking out, making boinging noises and emitting smoke. Overall, a fun movie, but not the pair's best.