Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie. George Sidney. 1963. ⚄

So I just watched a George Sidney movie… so now I’m watching a George Sidney movie.

But two decades later.

[fifteen minutes later]

This is the loopiest thing I’ve seen. What makes it so strange is that… it’s like… it’s like a silly 30s musical… but it’s made in the 60s, so everything just seems surreal. It seems so unlikely that somebody would make something like this in 1963.

I guess the 60s didn’t start until a couple years later?

Or everybody involved with this movie were dropping acid way before everybody else.

And the least crazy thing about this movie is that Maureen Stapleton (38) plays the mother of Dick Van Dyke (38).

IT”S THE LEAST CRAZY THING

[twenty minutes pass]

I… er.. wha… uh… uhm.

So, obvs, this movie is a commentary on Elvis and his popularity. But… it’s also a free-flowing parody of just about everything else, too. It’s almost a John Waters movie. It just needs Divine and fewer scenes with Dick Van Dyke and you’re there.

And this is Ann-Margret’s second movie? Actually, she’s more of a name than an actor I know… I just looked at her imdb, and of the 50+ movies she’s done, I think I’ve seen… two? Possibly three?

[the end]

This movie is a lot of fun… it’s strange that it’s not a huge cult classic, to be totally self-contradictory.

The main problem with this movie is perhaps the guy playing Elvis I mean Birdie. He’s not all that, so his scenes become more like “yes, I can see what they’re going for” instead of “yee-haw!” But he does dance swell. (Not very surprisingly, he only got one further movie role (the next year) and then had to move to TV.)

But the dance scenes are incredible. In-credible. I mean, they’re more feats of incredible gymnastics and precision than, like “dance dance”, but they’re flabbergasting to watch.

So I’ve seen two George Sidney movies in a row, and they were both exceptional. And he’s a guy I don’t think I’ve ever heard of before. Perhaps I should look into his filmography…

Bathing Beauty

Sweet dreams are made of brie.

Bathing Beauty. George Sidney. 1944. ⚄

I continue my er blog series of “movies directed by people named George”. This time it’s Sidney.

George Sidney. His name isn’t really that familiar? Hm… Oh, he did Show Boat!

Anyway, this is from a box set of Esther Williams movies, and it’s called “Bathing Beauty”, so I’m assuming there’s going to be some swimming in here…

Heh heh… that’s a good start.

I recognise Red Skelton’s name, and he does look familiar… but looking at his IMDB, I don’t think I can have seen more than a couple of his movies. Like Ziegfeld Follies. But wasn’t everybody in that one?

[fifteen minutes pass]

Oh, this is the most delightfully contrived pieced of silliness I’ve seen in quite a while. Must have been exactly the right thing to show a depressed audience in 1944: Lots of skimpily clad young people, some nice tunes, and a totally nonsensical easy-on-the brain drama.

[an hour passes]

I’m still plenty amused. This reminds me of B-movies a decade earlier: The plot is just there to fill time between music numbers and vaudeville acts. But the musical numbers are filmed with such panache: It’s like watching a deranged MTV video director out of time… It’s not like Busby Berkeley where everything is meticulous and spectacular; instead it’s just these odd ideas vaguely strung together.

But the fun bits are fun and the musical bits are good, so while I think it totally succeeds on its own terms.

I mean… how could you not like repartee like “We do not waddle like a duck!” “That’s the only way I know how to waddle.”?

[the end]

THERE”S A FLAME THROWER IN THE SWIMMING POOL ENDING.

Man, that’s value for money.

Anyway, I laughed, I didn’t cry… it’s a perfect little nonsensical movie.

La chambre

La chambre. Chantal Akerman. 1972. ⚄

Oh, right, this is a short. That explains why it ended so fast.

I’m really clever aren’t I?

Anyway, it’s a silent short, and it’s a camera swivelling around a room 360 degrees (for half of the short), and there’s a woman in the bed. Eating apples.

It’s oddly intriguing. Much of the interest comes from the captivatingly cluttered room itself, and the gorgeous colours…