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Weekly Mishmash: March 23-29

Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs. Amid a marked down candy buying spree at Walgreen’s, I spotted this variant on my favorite Easter treat for only a quarter each. Man, where have these babies been all my life? P.S. I miss the classic bunny commercials.
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937). On the 24th, TCM ran a 24-hour Joan Crawford tribute. Two films never seen before, including this jewel robbery comedy, ended up getting recorded. Slogging through this labored and overly-scripted affair, “What were they thinking?” was the only thing that came to my mind. As much as I love and admire Miss Crawford, she never was a very effective light comedienne (The Women was the great exception). The movie is actually well-cast and beautifully mounted with all the gloss that MGM could buy, but what came out of all that effort was a snail-paced antique that gets way too bogged down in its frou-frou fake Britishness. Joanie, ya let me down again.
Spring Fever posterSpring Fever (1927). My other Crawford viewing was this little-seen silent starring the gay and not hiding it well William Haines. Looking like a completely different person a decade earlier, the fresh and appealing Crawford made the best of a nondescript “girlfriend” role here. Silents are always interesting in a way because they’re a window on their time with a unique point of view not seen in sound films. This one is no exception — even though it also drags a bit, switching from fluffy golfing comedy to heavy relationship drama to whiplash-inducing effect. On the plus side, Crawford and Haines play wonderfully off each other. And isn’t this a lovely poster?
The Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection, Vol. 3. Tom & Jerry fan Christopher bought this for his DVD collection and we were enjoying it all week. Well, “enjoying” is a strong word. How about “watching”, instead? Volume one was packed with classic, award-winning T&J cartoons, while the second volume benefited from having most of the earlier (and therefore better) shorts co-starring the controversial Mammy character. The third and concluding volume of this series was meant to cover all the remaining classic-era MGM cartoons not covered in the first two sets, but Warner Home Video left off two cartoons with “objectionable” scenes in a bit of spineless corporate p.c. behavior. Most of the cartoons here aren’t even true Tom & Jerry vehicles anyway, with Spike and Tyke and that annoying little duckling taking up much of the screen time. The only mitigating thing on this set is a making-of documentary that includes several nightmare-inducing clips of the weird, weird Gene Deitch-directed Tom & Jerry shorts from the early ’60s.

3 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: March 23-29

  1. John H. on April 1, 2008 at 7:30 am said:

    We managed to catch some of the Joan celebration, too, but somehow missed those ones! Harriet Craig was a hoot, so was Torch Song. I keep meaning to get the Crawford Collection II…

  2. I enjoyed those, too – for very different reasons! Harriet Craig was surprisingly good and non-campy.

  3. Christopher on April 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm said:

    I admire Crawford’s work for many reasons, not the least of which being the wide variety — from good to camp, bad to fantastic. The films mentioned here provide a good sampling of that. However, if you had time to only see one Crawford film — the one that shows all her talents in one compact piece of work — look no further than “Mildred Pierce.” This is the film for which she won an Academy Award. She is subtle, calculating, worthy: transforming into a real human being the “shop girl” role she virtually patented. Facinating.

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