Thursday, December 31, 2015

Music Love: "Polaroid" by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons is one of those bands that the teenager inside of me feels like I shouldn’t like. “They’re popular, so they can’t be good!” 15-year-old me insists. Well, it turns out that 15-year-old me was wrong about a lot of things (40-year-old me probably is too), and one of the things that she was particularly wrong about was that it’s bad to like popular music. As I’m fond of saying now, “It’s popular for a reason,” i.e. it has mass appeal, and that’s not a bad thing.

So I like Imagine Dragons, and I like them without reservation. I was skeptical that their sophomore effort would be as good as their debut, but it may actually be better. The jury’s still out on that. I like both albums a lot. I would say that Night Visions has more songs that resonate with me, but it also has more songs that I don’t really like, whereas Smoke+Mirrors is basically flawless to me; I don’t think it has a single song I don’t like.

By far, however, my favorite song on Smoke+Mirrors is “Polaroid.” I’m not particularly inclined to playing songs on repeat, but if I were, this would be one of them. It has all the standard elements I love in a song: great vocals (by lead singer Dan Reynolds) and a catchy beat. That it happens to be an uptempo song with not-so-happy lyrics is a bonus. And of course, the best part: the lyrics themselves, which basically give voice to every doubt in my head.

The first thing that really drew me into it was the line, “I am the color of boom.” On the surface, it’s nonsensical, and yet, in a strange way it makes perfect sense. What is the color of boom? It’s the color of failure, and while I couldn’t tell you what that color is, I can see it in my head. A few months ago, my husband, who is not an Imagine Dragons fan, heard me listening to this song and asked, “Why is love a polaroid?” So I looked up the lyrics to make sure I explained it right and when I read them aloud, “Better in picture, but never can fill the void,” it was such an “OMG, yes!” moment for me.

As I read all of the lyrics to him (“I’m a reckless mistake, I’m a cold night’s intake. I’m a one night too long, I’m a come on too strong.”), I related to them so strongly. Who hasn’t, at least once, felt like this much of a colossal screw up? Why, my husband, of course. He’s a man who has seemingly never had a moment’s self-doubt in his life. When I finished reading the lyrics aloud, he opined, “He sounds like a whiner.”


So here’s to us, my fellow whiners, those who often feel socially awkward, who are never sure if we’ve said or done the right thing, who secretly worry that everyone else sees us as we see ourselves. This song is our anthem. Let’s all thank Imagine Dragons for showing us that we’re not alone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

AFI Top 100, #44: "The Birth of a Nation" (1915)

Movie Stats:
Released 1915 (USA)
American, in English (the film is silent but the scene cards are in English)
Director - D.W. Griffith
Stars - Lillian Gish, Henry B. Walthall, George Siegmann, Mae Marsh

Plot Summary:
A rather slanted look at the Civil War and Reconstruction. Gish co-stars as Elsie Stoneman, a U.S. senator’s daughter; Walthall as Ben Cameron, a Stoneman family friend, Southern colonel, and Elsie’s one-time paramour; Marsh as Ben’s sister, Flora; and Siegmann as Silas Lynch, a biracial Reconstruction politician.

Violence; use of a racial slur.

Bad Stuff:
This is the most ridiculously racist pile of poop I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching in my life. All of the biracial and black characters are either dumb, lazy, evil, or a combination of all three. The KKK members are the good guys in this. Let that sink in for a moment. The KKK is the hero of this movie.

The acting is terrible. I’ve seen silent films that have good acting, so I know it’s not the medium.

At 190 minutes, it’s way, way too long. Many scenes are interminable.

Good Stuff:
I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to see a movie that’s 100 years old. It’s difficult to believe that full length feature films have been around for that long.

A lot of the practical effects were well done. I frequently found myself wondering how many of those poor stuntmen got hurt, since this was made before the days of labor standards.

The Verdict:
This movie offends me on every level imaginable, to the point where I’m seething with so much rage that I can hardly type. It showcases every terrible (and inaccurate) stereotype about blacks imaginable. It’s white supremacist propaganda.

This movie has no business on a modern-day (compiled in 1998 if you’ll recall) list of “best movies ever made.” Even if you ignore all the racism (BTW, any black or biracial character that has a “foreground” role is played by a white person in black face), it’s objectively not a very good film. While the practical effects are impressive, the acting is bad, the editing is lacking (it meanders endlessly), and I have grave doubts as to its historical accuracy, particularly in regards to Reconstruction. Just because it’s one of the first feature length films ever made doesn’t mean it deserves a place in the top 100.

I give it .25 star, but only because I don’t believe in giving no stars. Honestly, it deserves about -1,000,000,000 stars.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

AFI Top 100, #45: "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951)

Movie Stats:
Released 1951 (Italy)
American, in English (a tiny bit of non-translated Spanish)
Director - Elia Kazan
Stars - Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Plot Summary:
Down on her luck and mentally unbalanced, Blanche Dubois (Leigh) goes to live with her sister Stella Kowalski (Hunter) and her brother-in-law Stanley (Brando). Fireworks of the very bad kind ensue. Malden co-stars as Blanche’s love interest, Mitch.

Minor use of some ethnic slurs; violence; heavily implied rape (actual act not shown on-screen).

Bad Stuff:
I’m not in love with Leigh’s acting. Much scenery was chewed.

It’s a bit boring.

Good Stuff:
Brando is SO amazing. When you see him in his heyday, you completely get why directors were willing to put up with his BS. He had a rare talent, and he’s absolutely chilling in this.

I love how claustrophobic it is. Set almost entirely in the Kowalski apartment, you can feel those walls closing in on Blanche, the trap slowly settling into place. It’s done quite masterfully.

I really like the dialogue. The juxtaposition of Blanche’s long-winded, flowery prose with the casual, colloquial-filled speech of nearly everyone else involved is interesting.

The Verdict:
This is yet another movie on this list that’s not a comfortable watch. I don’t particularly care to see abuse, whether it’s in real life or on film. Just because it made me uneasy, however, doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it. It’s fascinating in that can’t-look-away-from-the-slow-motion-wreck sense. It was both difficult and infuriating to watch Blanche’s mental state deteriorate. The whole time, I kept thinking, “Can’t these people around her see that she’s not well? Why don’t they help her?” It’s anguishing. This isn’t a movie that’s going to make you laugh or smile, but it will move you.

I give it 4 stars.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Up with Geography: Bulgaria




Man, my map of Europe is terrible. I'm either going to have to redo it at some point, or finally invest in some whiteout. I made Kosovo twice as big as it is in reality, which makes it look like it shares a border with Bulgaria. It does not. That's part of Serbia, hence the squiggly line to the left of Bulgaria, partway through Serbia.

European continent. Bulgaria outlined in dark
ink and shaded.

A close-up of Bulgaria & its neighbors.

Romania, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia

Water Borders:
Danube River, Black Sea

Total Area:
42,823 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Ruse

Famous Geographical Point:
Danube River

Famous Person:
Vasil Zlatarski, historian

Book Set In/About:
Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria by Kapka Kassabova

This memoir is by a woman who was born and raised in Bulgaria when it was part of the Soviet Union. After the fall of Communism, she left to live in other countries, but returned when Bulgaria became a part of the European Union. These are her experiences.

Movie Set In/About:
"Yesterday (Vchera)" (1988), directed by Ivan Andonov

A coming of age tell set in the 1960s, where Bulgarian students in an English-language school struggle to express themselves under an oppressive Communist regime. Somehow it involves Beatles music, but I'm not totally sure how.

Headline of the Day:
"Over 60,000 Greek Firms Have Relocated to Bulgaria Since Summer" in the Sofia News Agency.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

AFI Top 100, #46: "A Clockwork Orange" (1971)

Movie Stats:
Released 1971 (Canada & USA on the same day)
American & British, in English
Director - Stanley Kubrick
Stars - Malcolm McDowell (plenty of other people are in it but I can’t really say that any of them “starred”)

Plot Summary:
In a dystopian future Britain, follow the life and times of dangerous hoodlum Alex (McDowell).

Extreme violence; gore; some blue language; rape (of women); consensual sexy times; full, extensive female nudity, plus numerous pieces of art that showcase the female form; brief full male nudity, plus a lot of penis artwork.

Bad Stuff:
It’s really weird, like everything about it from start to finish.

It feels pretty pointless. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get out of it. It’s one of those movies that make you think the seventies were a very strange time.

Good Stuff:
McDowell is fantastic. Everyone else is just background noise.

It explored some interesting questions about the nature of criminality, how far the government should be allowed to go to curb it, and the way we treat criminals once they’ve done their time.

The Verdict:
This film is very weird, and it’s an extremely uncomfortable watch, but it’s supposed to be. My main issue with it is that, with so much shock value to distract you, it’s hard to get anything out of it other than a sense of unease. I don’t think it’s a bad film in any traditional sense. The acting is well done, the pacing is good, and, once you get used to the weird terminology the characters use, you realize that the dialogue is also quite good. At the end, however, all I could think to myself was, “Why is this considered one of the top 100 films ever? If I were to recommend it to anyone, what would I say to them about why it’s important to see?” The answer to that second question is, I don’t think I would ever recommend it to anyone but neither would I dissuade anyone from seeing it, and I would be interested to see what they thought of it once they were done. So, make of that what you will.

I give the film 3.5 stars.

Bonus Fun Fact: Late-in-the-film character Julian is played by David Prowse, aka Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films (James Earl Jones only provided the voice of the character). I had no idea that he was once a well-known bodybuilder.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

AFI Top 100, #47: "Taxi Driver" (1976)

Movie Stats:
Released 1976 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Martin Scorsese
Stars - Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster

Plot Summary:
Mentally unstable Vietnam Vet, and cab driver, Travis Bickle (De Niro), slowly gives in to his urge to commit violence. Shepherd co-stars as Betsy, the object of Bickle’s affection, and Foster as Iris, the preteen prostitute that Bickle is convinced he must save.

Graphic violence; gore; lots of blue language; heavily implied sexy times; brief nudity (when Bickle views a porno in a theater, you see some of what he sees, but it’s a quick flash and it’s an orgy scene so it’s a little difficult for me to say exactly how much you see, only butt I think).

Bad Stuff:
The saxophone song that’s used repetitively throughout is both terrible and annoying. I didn’t like most of the soundtrack in general.

The ending is so unbelievable as to nearly ruin the film for me. I’m just going to pretend that it ends with the shootout.*

Good Stuff:
All of the performances are great. De Niro does most of the heavy lifting, and he does an excellent job of it. Bickle is clearly dangerous, there’s an anger simmering under his surface that’s impossible to ignore, but he’s also compelling. De Niro does such a magnificent job of conveying that.

It’s surprisingly funny. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Betsy and her friend-zoned co-worker, Tom (Albert Brooks).

It’s the kind of movie that just grabs you. It’s relatively spare. There’s not much action, and most of it comes at the end, and yet you can’t look away. It grabbed me from the start. I was never bored.

The Verdict:
I really liked it a lot. It’s a fascinating look at one man’s descent into darkness. I felt so much compassion for Bickle. It’s clear that he doesn’t know how to behave like a normal human, but he tries so hard. When he actually manages to charm Betsy into a date and then [SPOILER] takes her to a porno [SPOILER], I was like, “Oh god, why Travis? Why?” He genuinely doesn’t understand what he did wrong, but that’s the problem, isn’t it? Because he doesn’t understand how to interact with other people normally, he’ll always be frustrated, and that frustration will build until it explodes. While you may pick up this movie to see the eventual explosion, it’s the journey to get there that’s the truly interesting part. This film is very well done, and it came before Scorsese got longwinded, so it’s fairly concise. "The Departed" may still be my favorite Scorsese, but I think "Taxi Driver" is his masterpiece.

I give it 4.75 stars.

*Upon further reflection later, I began to suspect that those final scenes are all a delusion of Bickle's. If so, then they make perfect sense and are in fact rather brilliant.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Up with U.S. Geography: Pennsylvania

State Name:


Date of Entry:
December 12, 1787


Map of the USA. Pennsylvania shaded dark & tagged.

A close-up of Pennsylvania & its neighbors.

Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia

Water Borders:
Lake Erie

Total Area:
46,055 square miles

Five Largest Cities:
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Reading

Famous Geographical Point:
Appalachian Mountains

State Nickname:
The Keystone State, because it was the middle state of the original 13 colonies & because it was a major "key" to the development of the USA.

Famous Person:
David McCullough, author & historian (The Johnstown Flood, which I've read, it's excellent, John Adams, 1776, etc.)

Book Set In/About:
Rabbit, Run by John Updike

A man, missing his high school heyday and bored with life, has a quarter-life crisis. I know it's famous. I've never read it. Based on its Wikipedia synopsis, it sounds pretty brutal and bleak.

Movie Set In/About:
"Silver Linings Playbook" (2012), directed by David O. Russell

A man with bipolar disorder, recently released from a psychiatric hospital, slowly begins to stabilize with the help of a young widow, who has mental health issues of her own. I considered choosing the more famous "Rocky" or even a perennial Christmas favorite of mine, "Trading Places," but I went with this lovely, touching film & its great performances instead.

Headline of the Day:
"Budget Battle: Pennsylvania School Districts May Lose Ability to Borrow" by Pittsburgh's Action News 4 (

It's depressing how many of Pennsylvania's recent headlines were about gun violence.

Monday, December 14, 2015

AFI Top 100, #48: "Jaws" (1975)

Movie Stats:
Released 1975 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Steven Spielberg
Stars - Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

Plot Summary:
When an enormous, seemingly intelligent, great white shark terrorizes a small island community, police chief Martin Brody (Scheider), hunts it down with the help of marine biologist Matt Hooper (Dreyfuss) and professional shark hunter Quint (Shaw).

Extreme violence; lots of gore; minor blue language; brief female nudity (side boob only).

Bad Stuff:
It’s a little too long. Could have done with one less someone-gets-eaten-while-people-on-the-beach-panic scene. By the third or fourth, I certainly got the point.

I’m giving the “science” of this film a very hard side-eye.

It has a few of that type of scene that tends to plague horror movies, where people do dumb things in order to further the plot, such as when they send the guy who already dropped something once when startled underwater back underwater with the very important poison stick.

Good Stuff:
Really excellent acting from everyone, although Shaw was probably my favorite - Quint is such an interesting, complex character. Even a lot of the secondary characters are great, especially the mayor of poor decisions, Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), and Brody’s wife, Ellen (Lorraine Gary).

The special effects are SO good! I’ve heard that the shark isn’t actually shown much because they were having trouble with the prop, but what you do see of it, it looks great. There’s a lot of CGI these days that looks far, far worse. It’s not all about the shark, though. There were several scenes that impressed me by how realistic they looked. A particular favorite was the scene where Brody and Hooper go out on a boat together and are socked in by fog. It was very creepy.

It’s a lot funnier than I remembered it being. A lot of the dialogue had me chuckling, “Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women,” “string them up by their Buster Browns,” “What are you, some kind of half-assed astronaut?” Etc.

The Verdict:
This is one of those movies that I always expect to not like. I’ll think to myself, “It can’t possibly be as good as I recall.” Then I watch it again and I’m like, “Nope, it really is that good.” On top of the excellent acting (god, that look on Scheider’s face as he utters the iconic words, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” just magnificent), the great dialogue, and the impressive practical effects, it’s genuinely frightening. To me, it’s not scary so much as horrifying. It does a great job at ramping up the horror, leaving the viewer like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water. The music goes a long way toward helping build that tension. If all horror movies were like this, I’d watch more of them.

I give it 4.5 stars.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

AFI Top 100, #49: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)

Movie Stats:
Released 1937 (USA)
American, in English
Directors - William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
Stars - Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne

Plot Summary:
Snow White (Caselotti), a beautiful young princess relentlessly pursued by her jealous, evil stepmother, the Queen (La Verne), who wants to kill her, finds refuge with a group of dwarves.


Bad Stuff:
I hated Caselotti’s voice, especially her singing voice. Have you ever seen the Lemmiwinks episode of South Park? Her singing voice sounded like a song from it. If you’re familiar with that episode, you’ll know why singing like that has been ruined for me forever.

It’s so ridiculously over-the-top saccharine sweet. Seriously gag-inducing.

I’m really annoyed that these grown-ass men (the dwarves) couldn’t take care of themselves - wouldn’t even wash their own freaking hands - without a woman to watch over them. Like they needed a mommy. I can’t decide if that’s more offensive to women (Women must be nurturers! It’s their role in life!), men (Men are helpless babies without a mommy figure around!), or little people (Little people aren’t grown adults, they’re basically children!). Maybe it’s just offensive in general.

Good Stuff:
By today’s standards, the animation isn’t particularly sophisticated, but some effects were incredibly well done. Some standouts: the water in the wishing well, the scene where innocuous things turned into frightening things in the forest, and the jewels at the mine.

I liked the soundtrack.

I enjoyed how deliciously, unrepentantly evil the queen was.

The Verdict:
Okay, so here’s the thing. While I’m familiar with the story, I never saw this movie when I was a kid. In fact, this was my first viewing. And I have to say, I pretty much hated it. It was boring and sickeningly sweet and stupid. (I have so many questions. Where was Snow White’s dad in all of this? I don’t remember it saying he was dead. Who do the dwarves work for? If themselves, why don’t they have a bigger/better house, seeing as how they have millions of jewels at their disposal? Where did the prince go? If he was so in love with Snow White - after seeing her once without having a conversation with her - why didn’t he go looking for her after she disappeared? WHY ARE THEY GETTING MARRIED WHEN THEY'VE ONLY MET TWICE?) I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

However, I realize that I’m seeing it through modern, adult eyes. Most people watch this as children. They don’t see its flaws, and I can say with honesty that I understand why young children would find it funny. This is a kids’ movie through and through. I’ve hardly seen any of the early Disney films, but it seems to me like they were definitely more kid-oriented, whereas the modern ones have stuff in there for adults to enjoy as well.

Part of me says, “Write a scathing review and give it a bad rating.” The other part says, “Lighten up, it’s a kids’ movie, and a very old one at that, their social mores were different back then.” It’s been difficult for me to decide which part to listen to. So I think I’m going to split the difference: negative review with a decent rating, because I think that most people have warm, fuzzy feelings for it because it’s a piece of their childhood.

I give it 3 stars.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Out and About: The Integratron

I don’t consider myself the least bit “woo woo” (read: New Age-y), and I don’t tend to like “woo woo” things, but when my friend contacted me and said, “Hey, do you want to go get a sound bath at this place out in the middle of desert?”, I thought to myself, “This is SO California, I totally have to do it.”

And that’s how I ended up having one of the coolest experiences of my life.

Located at 2477 Belfield Blvd in Landers, The Integratron “is a resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert.” Which I guess is a fancy way of saying that it’s a building with absolutely amazing acoustics. It’s sort of out in the middle of nowhere, about 16 miles outside the town of Yucca Valley (and 42 miles from the nearest “big” town, Palm Springs). I loved the scenery, but then I’m a sucker for stark desert landscapes. We had no trouble finding our way there. Once we arrived, we found a lovely little oasis, complete with a gift shop, cafe, hammocks, and lots of cool artwork.

Me, chilling in a hammock.

Cool topiary.

Cute artwork.

The appointment ahead of ours started late, which made ours start late, but none of us seemed to mind because there was so much to do and see (plus those hammocks were pretty darn relaxing). You share your “bath” with a bunch of strangers (I’d say there were perhaps 30 of us max), but the site provides you with a mat and blanket. You just lay down and let the experience wash over you. The woman who did our bath said that it’s supposed to align the two halves of your brain. I can’t say that I felt aligned afterward, but I still loved every second of it.

My friends in front of the Integratron. Candid shot.

We’ve been raving about it ever since. All of us want to go back. I could see myself doing it at least once a year.

After the bath, we decided to head out for some lunch. One of my friends had a place in mind. On our way there, we stumbled across the Desert Christ Park. It was too unexpected for us to pass it up.

It’s a statue garden full of not only various Jesuses, but also several other characters from the Bible, some of which I recognized (Mary Magdalene, the disciples) and some of which I didn’t. (There is a map that identifies the statues. I didn't really look at it.) We took a turn around the park, took some pictures, and perhaps, in the process, solidified our respective places in Hell. In all honesty, despite the bad state of some of the statues, this place was really neat, and it had some amazing views.

Me, having a think with Jesus (?).

Arty shot of sunlight through tree.

Last supper.

View from behind Jesus's head.

View overall.

Then it was off to Pappy and Harriet’s, where the food was excellent, and the photos I got in the waning light were pretty cool too:

Arty sunset shot.

Desert view.

On our way home, we got stuck in terrible traffic, but it was well worth it. It was a fantastic day trip, one of the best times I’ve had since moving to California, and I can’t wait to head back out there some time next year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

AFI Top 100, #50: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969)

Movie Stats:
Released 1969 (USA)
American, in English (some Spanish, both translated and not)
Director - George Roy Hill
Stars - Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross

Plot Summary:
When the law gets too close, Wild West outlaws Butch Cassidy (Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Redford) flee to Bolivia. Ross co-stars as Sundance’s girlfriend, Etta Place.

Violence; minor blue language; heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
I find the pace a tad slow.

The soundtrack doesn’t fit the film.

It seems to me that the 1960s were a very experimental time in general, and that flair for experimenting extended to filmmaking. Often when I’m watching a film from the ‘60s, I find myself perplexed, thinking, “What the heck is going on here?” There were a few of those moments in this movie. Some of them, ultimately, worked for me (the picture montage to signify the trio’s trip to Bolivia, although it went on too long) and some of them didn’t (the clown music/bicycle scene). Stylistically, I simply find 1960s - particularly the latter half of the decade - films to be exhausting. (I’m pretty sure I’ve complained about this before.)

Good Stuff:
The relationships are the best part. I love the friendship between Butch and Sundance. Even more, I love the friendship between Butch and Etta. And while I didn’t exactly appreciate the way that Sundance often treated Etta, I really liked that their relationship wasn’t overly romanticized.

Great dialogue, some of it quite funny.

There are some excellent, exquisitely understated scenes. One of my favorites was the moment when Etta realized that it was time for her to leave, that her journey with Butch and Sundance was over. It was all on her face, heartbreak followed by acceptance, and spoken in simple words, “I think I’ll go on home ahead of you.” It was beautiful and touching, more so because it wasn’t overwrought.

The Verdict:
I liked it. It has a great cast, all of whom are easy on the eyes, that does an excellent job. The story is simple but interesting. It has a good amount of action. I enjoy that Butch and Sundance are “gray” in terms of characterization. In many ways, they are good guys. In many other ways, they aren’t, and they continue to do things that will hurt both themselves and others. Like Etta, you care for them and yet, at the same time, you want to smack them upside the head and tell them to stop being idiots. I enjoy complex characters like that.

I give the film 3.75 stars.

Friday, December 4, 2015

AFI Top 100, #51: "The Philadelphia Story" (1940)

Movie Stats:
Released 1940 (Brazil)
American, in English (minor non-translated French)
Director - George Cukor
Stars - Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Plot Summary:
Headstrong young socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn), on the eve of her second wedding, finds her life thrown into turmoil by the arrival of her former husband, C.K. “Dexter” Haven (Grant), who brings along cynical journalist Macaulay “Mike” Connor (Stewart).

Very minor blue language; very minor, non-graphic violence.

Bad Stuff:
Skip to the verdict below. There’s so much wrong with it that I can’t list all of it out for you in easy, digestible points.

Good Stuff:
I absolutely adored Virginia Weidler (as Tracy’s younger sister, Dinah). She lit up every scene she was in.

I always enjoy seeing Stewart play out of type.

Loved the scene where, when asked if he’d slept with Tracy while she was highly intoxicated, Mike replied that there were certain rules in society and that one of them is that you don’t sleep with people who can’t give consent. Heck, a lot of people nowadays don’t get that, let alone back in the 1940s.

The Verdict:

This movie is vile. Nearly all of the men are terrible, awful people (Mike isn’t that bad but he’s the best of the lot, and he still comes dangerously close to sleeping with a woman the night before her wedding). Dexter turns up with the express purpose of ruining Tracy’s wedding. Her fiancĂ© George (John Howard) assumes the worst of her without even bothering to get her side of the story. Her father Seth (John Halliday) is cheating on his wife with a young dancer. Her uncle Willie (Roland Young) gropes women without their consent (and of course is treated with an “Oh you!” attitude by everyone, women included). And yet all of these ridiculously terrible people spend the whole movie telling Tracy how terrible SHE is and talking about how she needs to be taken down a peg or two.

Why? She is, perhaps, a bit spoiled, but many wealthy women in fiction are. Other than that, the only “bad” things I see about her is that she’s strong-willed and opinionated. The horror, right? In the most vomit-inducing scene I’ve seen in the history of ever, Seth actually tells Tracy that if she had been a better daughter, he wouldn’t have cheated on her mother. That’s right, his cheating is his daughter’s fault because older men “need” a young woman to adore them so they don’t feel old. Therefore, if their daughters don’t adore them, they’re forced to chase after other young women. I wish I was making this up. I’ve never wanted so badly to punch a hole through my TV screen before.

The best part is that, after she nearly cheats on George with Mike (actually, in my mind, she does cheat emotionally and she kisses him but everyone acts like it’s all okay because they didn’t have sex), this somehow redeems her. Because now she’s as bad as all the men in the film, I guess? I give up. Seriously, I surrender to your stupidity, film.

Amusingly enough, my husband, who was around while I was watching it but not paying attention, happened to tune in at the end, after Tracy has already dumped George at the altar, right when Mike asks her to marry him instead (keep in mind that he’s known her for all of two days) and she turns him down, only to end up re-marrying Dexter. “Wait,” my husband said, “why is she getting married to Cary Grant? Didn’t Jimmy Stewart just ask her to marry him?” And as I struggled to explain to him why all of that had just occurred, I realized that this movie makes no sense and, quite simply, sucks in every way imaginable.

I give it 1 star.