Before getting to the weekly mishmashery, I need to spotlight a couple of links that I meant to post about earlier this week — but never did (this seems to be a recurring pattern here at Scrubbles.net). First is a neato collection of vintage Peanuts animation commented on by Cartoon Brew’s Jerry Beck. The post also links to the clips — the trailer for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, an intro to The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, and a preview of the 1961 Fords — without commentary. I love this stuff; your mileage may vary!
My second must-see is Mark Simonson’s post about the accuracy of vintage typefaces and props used in the first season of Mad Men. A fascinating examination of a beautifully produced show that — heresy alert! — I’ve never really warmed up to.
On to the mishmash:
Various — The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 7: 1967. When Mom and Dad gave me a nice big Amazon.com gift certificate for my fortieth birthday, I immediately went online and placed an order for a volume of this wonderful but expensive CD series produced by Hip-O Select. After hearing all 120 songs on five discs, I can now confidently say that 1967 was my favorite vintage Motown year. This was the time when Marvin Gaye first duetted with Tammi Terrell, Stevie Wonder was emerging as a major talent, The Temptations were coming on strong under producer Norman Whitfield, and The Supremes went glam-tastic with “The Happening” and the quasi-psych masterpiece, “Reflections.” It’s also the year of some of the most underrated songs Motown ever put out — The Marvelettes’ “When You’re Young And In Love,” The Four Tops’ “7 Rooms Of Gloom,” Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ “Honey Chile.” Surprisingly, many of the b-sides presented are as good as the flip sides. Here’s where the non-soul oddities that blemished the earlier volumes are ironed away: 1967 Motown was truly a nonstop hit producing machine. Fantastic stuff!
Iron Man (2008). This movie got mostly good reviews when it came out, didn’t it? Alas, both of us were pretty underwhelmed by the DVD. On the plus side, Robert Downey Jr. deserves all the credit for shaping the character of Tony Stark into something more than a teenage boy’s pastiche of a perfect man (filthy rich, gadget geek, and chick magnet!). On the minus side, this movie was awfully dumb and leaves an impression that’s distinctly more Transformers than Dark Knight. The usually reliable Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges were both pallid as love interest and adversary, and for that I blame an uncompelling script. I know that superhero films require much suspension of disbelief, but this sports one too many “oh, come on” moments to count. Hopefully the inevitable next film in the franchise will improve.
Prix de Beauté (1930). This French melodrama, filmed as a silent but dubbed in with a soundtrack for release, would be a minor footnote of a film if it wasn’t the final starring vehicle for the comely Louise Brooks. She’s the whole show here, playing a young woman who enters a beauty contest against her boyfriend’s wishes — suffering the consequences when she wins the title of Miss Europe. The storyline is nothing special, leaving one to notice the director’s odd fascination with crowds and mechanical objects (really, this movie is practically a love letter to the linotype machine). Brooks is startlingly modern in her trademark helmet hairdo and a variety of simple casual wear ensembles. She does her best in a boring story that turns unexpectedly potent in the final ten minutes.
That Darn Cat! (1965). Despite being somewhat long and slapsticky, this is the pinnacle of ’60s live action Disney. Should be an object study on how to make family-friendly films that appeal to both adults and children. And Hayley Mills? Cute as a button.