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Weekly Mishmash II: April 26-May 2

That Midnight Kiss (1948). Colorful hokum starring Mario Lanza (his debut), Kathryn Grayson, and pianist José Iturbi playing a pianist named José Iturbi. Everyone in the film behaves as if José is the hottest thing around since ration-free meat, so I suppose the guy was famous back then. A present day operetta, this film adheres so strictly to MGM musical formulae that it felt as if I’d already seen it on my maiden viewing. Although the curvy Grayson was utter cuteness in a variety of swell Helen Rose getups, mostly I watched it for beefy Mario Lanza. Even while wearing obvious lipstick, he was one of the sexiest men in old moviedom.
The TV Set (2006). Showtime taping. A scattershot but funny satire on the TV industry that called to mind Lisa Kudrow’s underrated HBO series The Comeback. This one follows the pet project of screenwriter David Duchovny as he pitches an autobiographical drama to a crass, UPN-like network. The show is picked up, and mercilessly picked apart by a cadre of network suits headed by Sigourney Weaver as a power suited Gorgon who says things like “Originality scares me.” The film is somewhat half-baked at times, and I wish it could have followed the show past the affiliates’ preview to its airing and critical reception. For something so brief (90 minutes), it also had too many extraneous scenes following the supporting characters’ private lives (gorgeous as he is, I didn’t really need to know about the tortured home life of Ioan Gruffudd’s exec). For all its faults, though, I enjoyed it as a “scary if it wasn’t so true” tonic.
Up Close & Personal (1996). Showtime taping. I decided to put this on the TiFaux after briefly catching a few scenes with Stockard Channing as a steely anchorwoman. As it turned out, Channing’s scenes are the best part of this otherwise dumb romance with a TV news backdrop. Michelle Pfeiffer is okay in the lead, playing a woman who elevates through the ranks with a new hairdo for each rung of success. Robert Redford was too old, however, and the Star Is Born storyline was too hackneyed to be believable. This film started production as a serious biopic on Jessica Savitch (which I would totally watch); what happened?
XTC — Nonsuch. Christopher bought this for me at the used CD store. I remember being annoyed at XTC’s song “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” when it got a lot of alternative airplay back in ’92. Fortunately, it’s held up better than memory. The rest of the album is made up of ingenious retro-’60s melodies from Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding (whose songs are, sorry to say, not quite as quirky or enjoyable as Partridge’s). This is the kind of album I can appreciate more now, at the age of 40, than back then.

2 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash II: April 26-May 2

  1. If you REALLY want to know what happened with Up Close and Personal, screenwriter John Gregory Dunne’s book Monster: Living Off The Big Screen will answer any questions you have.

  2. Cristiane on May 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm said:

    Jose Iturbi’s movie, uh, “stardom” is one of the enduring mysteries of 40s Hollywood.

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