Tuesday, August 9, 2011

May I Have the Envelope Please: Angels in the Outfield, Move Over Darling, Mommie Dearest

Having finally dispensed with King Elvis, the newest batch of films to arrive from Netflix via US Mail are all radically different, but still worth watching for one reason or another.  It’s not that they are exceptionally great films.   They aren’t.   In fact, one of them was widely panned when released but is now considered classic camp and a cult favorite, but yet tarnished the actress playing the lead role forever.  And the other two have a bit of history to them themselves.
Angels in the Outfield

I know what you said when you saw this!  Oh, Danny Glover is in this Disney movie.  Wrong on both counts.  This is not a Disney Movie and Danny Glover was only five years old when this was made.  I find this film so much more pleasing than the Disney remake just because the premise doesn’t hammer you over the head with a two by four.  Think of it as Field of Dreams does Pittsburgh.

No California Angels team here either (they didn’t exist yet), as these angels decide they are going to make Coach “Guffy” McGovern walk the straight and narrow by appearing only to a little orphan girl when helping McGovern’s Pittsburgh Pirates.  If you’ve never seen Paul Douglas, he was a great character actor for years, also co-starring in another great baseball film, It Happens Every Spring with Ray Milland, where he played Milland’s catcher and goofy sidekick. 

Donna Corcoran plays Bridget, the Orphan girl who sees angels that nobody else can.  Corcoran is the sister of Noreen Corcoran who starred in the series Bachelor Father, and is also the sister of Kevin Corcoran who was Disney’s go to cute kid, Moochie, in the late fifties and early sixties. He starred in everything from Old Yeller to Toby Tyler to Spin and Marty and then his own Mickey Mouse Club Serial, Moochie of the Little League.  If you know her siblings, you’ll see the Cocoran resemblance.  She’s certainly a lot less obnoxious than the overbearing know-it-all kid in the Disney remake of this film.

A young and beautiful Janet Leigh is on hand as kind of a love interest/newspaper gal.   Don’t forget to check out the cameos mentioned on the envelope as well.  Where else can you swoon over both Ty Cobb and Bing Crosby?  And if you rent it, there’s a bonus short about Donkey Baseball and a Tom and Jerry cartoon.  Certainly worth a rental and I give it a score a pretty healthy B+.
Picture 35

The history behind Move Over, Darling may be more interesting than the film itself.  This was supposed to be a film called Something’s Gotta Give, based on a 1940 film called My Favorite Wife  and was to star Marilyn Monroe and  Dean Martin.  In a dispute with 20th Century Fox over absences from the set, Monroe was fired.  Fox hired Lee Remick to replace her, but Martin refused to do the film without Marilyn.  Marilyn was eventually rehired by Fox, and for more money no less.  But she died of a drug overdoes before filming could resume.
 
Eventually it was reworked to more closely resemble the original film with James Garner and Doris Day replacing Monroe and Martin.  Garner and  Day have great chemistry as shown in their previous effort that year, The Thrill of it All.  Their scenes together are hilarious.

Not so Polly Bergen, who plays Nick’s new wife Bianca, and with a name like that you just know she’s going to be an annoying overbearing twat.  The character is half baked and overcooked, and she is such a polar opposite of Day’s Ellen, you have to wonder what in the hell Nick was thinking to hook up with  her in the first place.  I know variety is the spice of life, but you don’t drink arsenic because you’re bored with tea, do you?

Worse, the whole plot depends on everybody in the movie not telling the big secret, that being the fact that Ellen is alive, when the whole thing could be resolved rather easily if someone would just open their mouth and spill the beans.  The excuse given for not doing so is that it might be too traumatic for Ellen’s kids to suddenly find out she is still alive, that it has to be revealed with caring and understanding (about an hour and forty minutes later) but there’s no real reason for Nick not to tell Bianca.   Oh screw it, there’s no real reason they couldn’t have told the kids from the start either.

But as I said, Garner and Day’s scenes together help bring redemption,  and some really funny bits by Thelma Ritter, Edgar Buchanan, Don Knotts, and a hilarious all too brief appearance by Chuck Connors as the man who had been stranded on the island with Day can almost make you forget about Bianca and the idiotic plot premise.  But there’s not enough of everybody else, and way too much of Bianca Bonkers, which balances out to about a C-.  In case you’re wondering.  The disc also has some interesting trailers for other Day vehicles, and a segment entitled Doris vs. Marilyn.
Mommie Dearest

If you’ve never seen this film you’ve certainly heard about it.  When it was released, it was almost universally panned, and was awarded five Razzie Awards (Worst of the Year).  But Dunaway’s wild and crazy eye popping out of her sockets performance, some strangely ridiculous scenes of cruelty, and the fact that this was a  Joan Crawford tell all, has made the film a cult classic and a must see film for anybody.  Did the events really happen?  Later anecdotes from others including this one  suggest it probably is, as suggested by this trivia posting on the IMDB:
Little love was lost between costume designer Irene Sharaff and Faye Dunaway. "Yes, you may enter Miss Dunaway's dressing room," Sharaff once said, "but first you most throw a raw steak in - to divert her attention."
The film probably did as much damage to Dunaway’s career as Christina’s book inflicted on Joan Crawford’s legend.  I mean I still like watching Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and Mildred Pierce, but her guest appearance on The Secret Storm playing her daughter’s role ruined that soap for me.  No, not really.   But this is a one of a kind film that you have to experience before you die.  And remember, “NO WIRE HANGERS”.  My rating is a B, put based almost entirely on camp value..

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