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Something's Got to Give

Oh, For What Might Have Been, Maybe
This could have been one quite-good movie. AMC assembled the footage that was shot prior to MM's death-- but if you're reading this, chances are you know this-- and from every indication, it could have turned out to be an enjoyable sex farce, perhaps a groundbreaking one, as it pushed the envelope just a little further.

First, Monroe looked great in the tests as well as in the completed footage. She could get her act together if handled right. Second, and this fact cannot be overlooked, she was playing a MOTHER-- of children-- for the first time. And a sexy, mid-30s mother at that! Way back in 1962, 40-odd years before "Desperate Housewives," sexy moms were unheard of. Nobody considered that a woman was still a woman, even after having a kid or two.

Second, "Something's Got To Give" had a great cast. Both Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse were perfect as the other two angles in this screwball triangle, Martin quite convincing as a comic suburban dad and Charisse exemplary as Monroe's sexual foil. And the cameos from comedians ranging from Wally Cox to Steve Allen only added to the parfait.

But above and beyond Monroe and the casting, "SGTG" had George Cukor at the helm. Cukor knew a few things about comedy and could bring a presence to any film bearing his directorial touch. He knew what makes things funny. Think the Tracy-Hepburn classics. Think "The Women." Think "What Price Hollywood." No, DON'T think "My Fair Lady" nor "A Star Is Born."

There's talk about finishing this film digitally. Just one question: why? Unless someone can digitally resurrect George Cukor from the grave, there'd be no point.

Something's got to give? Something DID give, damn it. Marilyn Monroe gave into her demons, and what might have been a new start for Monroe's career as we witnessed maturing sexuality never got a chance.

Thirteen Days

Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk
I was beginning third grade when the events in this story took place. We were scared to death of the possibility of WWIII and Nuclear War, because it would have killed millions in one fell swoop, we were told-- as the movie here TALKS ABOUT. I also lived in Pittsburgh at the time, and we were told that Pittsburgh would be high on the nuke target list, given its then-prolific steel industry. In school, we were practicing what we would do if The Attack came. Neighbors were building fallout shelters. There was a heck of a lot going on for this scared eight-year-old to take in, none of which is reflected in this movie. The Washington bigwigs talk about this scenario then that scenario, none of which ever materialized, but some of us already know the situation first-hand or have studied it in school, so the writing comes off as flabby and over-expository. And we already know the outcome. WWIII didn't happen, Kennedy was assassinated the following year, the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan the year after that, LBJ got us involved in Vietnam, giving rise to the hippie movement-- and the Radical 60s were born. There's a great movie about the pivotal moment in we Baby Boomers' lives, but this wasn't that movie. I'm not a fan of critiquing a movie for what I think it should have been, but this flick's fatal flaw is that it chooses to ignore the reality of the time.

Flight of the Phoenix

Could have been great, maybe, sort of
Unconnected random comments... random, kind of like the movie!

-What kind of plot resolution is there? An unsatisfactory one, at best. Left me feeling cheated. Did their plane go down 30 second after the closing credits? -Great visual style, initially, though I was eventually done in by the computer-generated desert shots. -Who gives a rat's a** about the characters? Was there anybody to like? -The British woman was an unlikeable b***h. Opening with her one-note whining was a turnoff. She reminded me of women I work with who feel that they have to be "tough" to compete in a man's world. Why? Why emulate the worst of the male gender? -Why did Dennis' Quaid's character and the blond guy, Phoebe's brother, hate each other? A little backstory might have helped. -Pacing was off. -Who WERE these actors and why were they giving star turns? -Not a horribly bad way to spend a Saturday night, particularly if you've already seen everything that you've wanted to that's out there to see. -"Lukewarm" isn't a good word to describe my reaction.

Slaughter Trail

decent western in the classic sense of the word
Once in a while Turner Classic Movies will air a movie that most people aren't familiar with. Such was the case with "Slaughter Trail." Good on-location photography, a fast-moving script, characters worth caring about, and a look at life in the wild west all make the grade. Add an interesting color palate-- Cinecolor-- with its subtle tones, light-years from Technicolor, and you've got an sense of open-air realism to it all. The use of the narrative ballad, a la "High Noon", makes it well worth a look. TCM's Robert Osborne said that Brian Donlevy's part was initially filmed with Howard da Silva in the role, but da Silva got caught up in the Hollywood Blacklist and producer Howard Hughes, being the staunch anti-Communist he was, re-shot all of da Silva's scenes with Donlevy prior to its release. Interesting tidbit, not at all visible in the final product.

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