Robert Fryer

Robert Fryer

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Mame Review


Bad
Reviewing Mame, Lucille Ball's late-in-life stab at starring in an enormous movie musical, gives me the opportunity to pull out one of my favorite SAT words: execrable. I mean, I love Lucy, but...

One of Hollywood's most famous casting blunders, letting Lucy star as Mame instead of Angela Lansbury, who had conquered Broadway in the same role, was a mistake of epic proportions, not unlike the decision to deny Julie Andrews the starring role in the movie version of My Fair Lady. The legend is that Lucy wanted it really badly and even put up some of her own money to guarantee her spot. I bet Desi Arnaz could have talked her out of it, but something tells me she never asked his opinion.

Continue reading: Mame Review

Myra Breckinridge Review


Bad
The appropriate response to Myra Breckinridge is wide-eyed bafflement; anybody with anything resembling taste will recognize it as an awful movie within ten minutes. Released in 1970 and under practically Soviet-style repression until now, it is clumsily edited, horribly acted, and practically plotless. It is lascivious without being provocative, and it did damage to the public images of both Mae West and John Huston. No movie has worked harder to try one ironic gag after another and fail every single time; it is idiocy disguised as camp. Yet there's something transcendently misbegotten about Myra Breckinridge that makes it worth studying; the differences between the excellent book and a horrible movie has a few interesting things to say about Hollywood as it stumbled from the '60s into the '70s.

The film is based on Gore Vidal's bestselling 1968 novel, which gave us Myra as a magnificently over-the-top symbol of changing sexual mores, greed, revenge, Hollywood, and how they all intersect. In the hands of director Michael Sarne, the story became a messy sex farce; Vidal stepped away from the project, and for good reason. In the book, Myra romanticizes the great movies of the 1930s, arguing, in fact, that it was the best decade ever for movies. This inspires Sarne to raid the 20th Century Fox vault and cram in seemingly dozens of clips from Laurel & Hardy and Shirley Temple films, sometimes ironically, but mostly sitting there like a bad joke told at a dinner party. (It may be that Myra's sole usefulness is that it inspired a similar idea in the HBO TV series Dream On, actually done well.)

Continue reading: Myra Breckinridge Review

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie Review


Very Good
Miss Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) doesn't much care for the provencial attitudes of pre-WWII Edinburgh. She doesn't much care for traditional teaching methods, instead schooling the girls in her charge about art, love, passion, and so on. A primitive Dead Poets Society, Brodie encourages less-than-ladylike behavior, and not just because she's smooching guys in the classrooms when she thinks no one is looking. Smith is excellent -- and won an Oscar for the role -- helping to elevate the film above what can often be a somewhat stuffy character study.
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Robert Fryer Movies

Mame Movie Review

Mame Movie Review

Reviewing Mame, Lucille Ball's late-in-life stab at starring in an enormous movie musical, gives me...

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