First, it's remarkable how closely Clue follows this template and that I can't remember having heard of them together before. I found the film because it's a Neil Simon I hadn't heard before and he, well, he just died.
The gimmick is the worlds greatest detectives---a Sam Spade, a British Nick & Nora, a Miss Marples, a Hercule Poirot, a Charlie Chan---are pulled together into a gloomy country estate and there ends up being a murder to be solved. The greatest thing about this movie has to be its cast: David Niven, Alec Guiness, Maggie Smith, Elsa Lanchester---it goes on and on. Peter Sellers as the Chinese detective is grating now, but it makes some logical sense as, I imagine, Charlie Chan was probably always done in yellowface. Though I'm not sure the movie is really mocking that....
Some very funny moments, a very meta ending, a scene that lets Guiness shine---worth watching once, to be sure. I doubt I'll feel much need to revisit it.
First, I know very little about the Decameron. Mostly that it exists and when it came to exist and how niftily early that date is. I have no idea how this movie is as an adaptation.
Second, although I know little about 1970s Italian exploitation films, I could see the references starting right from the opening credits. And so the eventual sex and witchery should not have surprised me. Probably it would not have earlier in the film, but the deadpan, modern comedic phrasing of the film, pushed me far away from exploitation expectations.
The trailer, in other words, is honest.
This is a movie I love and have seen many times---though not recently, and not since Sullivan's Travels. So it was fun to see with that in mind and notice echoes such as the theater scene.
One nice thing about watching it twice back to back* was, for viewing two, now all the music was back in my head and I could sing along.
Other small observations and questions:
What's with all the butterflies?
I'd noticed the Greek-ruins column before, but in the restaurant, there is a Greek bust. Homer?
When the cyclops says the word "psychology," he emphasizes it in a way to make one imagine he might be about to say cyclops. I don't think I'd noticed that before.
The clips of movie they see in the theater feel so familiar to me now I was sure I had seen the film. Not so.
Such a great movie.
I read about Helen Holmes and the The Hazards of Helen series in The New Yorker and I've been meaning to check her out ever since.
The plot was about a half-baked as expected (and some weird cultural things that have changed a bit in the last century), but I'm only disappointed that this feature did not include anything truly crazy/amazing in the stunts department. C'mon, Helen!
This movie made a splash in science-fiction circles a bit before I was born, but most folks don't remember it anymore---like Andromeda Strain it was lost in the wave of films that followed over the next ten years (Star Wars, E.T., Mad Max, etc). These days, I think, those who have heard of it would think: weird, (I mean, Harlan Ellison so obviously weird), weird sex, weird violence, postapocalyptic, too weird.
I'm basing this on what my impression is. Which largely comes from the back of VHS boxes.
They were pretty much telling the truth.
We're in a post-nuclear desert. People are scrounging about looking for canned food to survive on and women to rape to death: "Hell! They didn't have to cut her! She could have been used two or three more times!"
If you weren't already expecting ugliness, you should now.
The film offers two plots. The first is a classic love story: they fight and bicker but rely on one another and sacrifice all else for each other. That's the boy and his dog---a hyperintelligent "police dog." The second is another type of love story, a redemption story. Boy meets girl who shows him a new sort of life and together they make that life. This story is boy and actual girl.
They can't both end happily ever after.
We went to the New Parkway which had been rented out by the Bay Area Mormon Arts Council to see the nearly-done version of this film submitted to Sundance. It was much more complete than the version we had seen before, but it also lost a few of the nuances I liked.
(Incidentally, I haven't decided whether or not to reach out, but Nathan Florence? Matt Black? if you see this, the narration needs an edit. I would be willing to volunteer my time. If you haven't heard from me yet it's because I don't know your timeline and I'm busy and I just haven't decided if I can commit. [Or I've lost track of time and am on to other things.] But I'm good at this. I could help.)
Anyway, the turnout was good, the film was good. I really hope that it becomes something Mormon artists watch and share with each other. We need to stop believing, each of us, that we are the first and that there is no tradition and that we have to blaze a new trail alone. I hope this film helps Mormon artists find their community.
Which is one of the reasons, I think, the Q&A featured multiple questions about artistic women of the time. We are all hungry to know that we are not alone, that others have come before. This film can be that. Hopefully it can be that for many.
Since Son2 and I watched this in January, he showed it to Son3 and tonight they showed it to Son1. Although it is a bit cheesy, sure, it's a fun ride and a fair look at being a missionary that's less likely to traumatize, say, than, say, this.
The bits that I curl a nostril at don't matter so much. The boys like it and the elders and sisters are real people and this is something worth doing someday. That's enough.
Not every movie has to move the artform forward.
Previous films watched