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Weekly Mishmash: April 12-18

The Beales of Grey Gardens (2006). An addendum to Grey Gardens that patches together outtakes from the chronicle of Edith Bouvier Beale and “Little Edie” Beale in their crumbling Hamptons manse. What this means is lots of footage showing Beale pals Jerry and Lois (and her awful paintings), more of Edith’s wisdom and Edie’s tone deaf singing, and a fabulous montage of Edie’s unique outfits. The footage here makes Edie seem more needy and schizophrenic than she did in the feature film, but at least we get a tantalizing glimpse of her going to church outside of Grey Gardens. Scattershot but fascinating.
The Great McGinty (1940). The film gods have bestowed this comedy as minor Preston Sturges, but actually it’s a buzzy political satire that would do well on a double bill with All the King’s Men (1949). As a Depression era bum who rises to great heights in the political field, Brian Donlevy is an odd yet in the end compelling presence. As with other Sturges films, this has a dynamite supporting cast which includes the fiery William Demarest and Akim Tamiroff. One quibble: the film ends abruptly. It actually plays more like half a film, but since The Great McGinty 2 apparently never saw production, I will take this as it is.
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman - vol. 1Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman – Volume 1 (DVD set). Bought this last summer as “in between” viewing for whenever I didn’t have a DVD or something on the TiFaux to watch. This week, I finally completed every one the first 25 episodes contained on this set. What a bizarre, fascinating show this is. Louise Lasser strikes the perfect dead-eyed tone as a frustrated housewife in this soap opera parody created by Norman Lear. Like a real soap, this was produced on the cheap, overlit and often clumsily directed, and broadcast five nights a week. The pacing is so leisurely and the comedy is so dry that often an episode will go by with only a few obvious jokes. Personally, I loved how the show perfectly captured the defeated tone of mid-’70s America. I only wish Sony would get off their butts and release all 325 episodes on DVD (doubt it). Next “in between” viewing: Knots Landing, Season 2.
The Onion Movie (2008). I remember when I first heard about this. I thought “How could anyone possibly make a movie based on The Onion?” Now I know that the answer is “just barely.” Canned since it was made in 2003, this got a belated release on home video last year. We caught a bleeped out broadcast showing on G4. Although it has a few brilliant bits (the Goofus and Gallant style terrorist training video, for instance), most of it played like a deadly dull Saturday Night Live parody.

4 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: April 12-18

  1. 325 episodes of Mary Hartman x 2 on DVD? No, it ain’t gonna happen. You’re lucky that they gave us the first 25 episodes in digital format, as I doubt that there’s much demand for old MHMH episodes. I bet my old school librarian would want a copy. Every weekday at noon (or whatever time it was on) she would drop everything so she could catch the show. If you wanted to check out a book at that time, you’d have to wait for the closing theme music before you got any attenion. And thanks for steering me away from the Onion Movie. I keep seeing it at Hollywood Video, and have been tempted to rent it until now.

  2. One can dream, right?

    Actually, I’d be happy if Sony puts them on hulu or something like that.

    I’m also excited that Shout Factory is starting to put ‘Peyton Place’ on DVD. That one had 514 episodes!
    http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Peyton-Place-DVDs-Announced/11313

  3. Yvette keeps waiting for all 10,112 episodes of All My Children to come out on DVD. I tell her to keep waiting :)

  4. That reminds me of this discussion on the feasibility of putting entire runs of soap operas on home video:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htf/sd-dvd-tv-shows-tv-movies/204093-soap-operas-dvd.html

    Online streaming was practically invented for this stuff!

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