Category Archives: Rants

Irony and The Seven Year Itch

**Fair warning: this review/essay contains spoilers and assumes a basic knowledge of the film’s events**

For more years than I care to admit, I deliberately avoided seeing The Seven Year Itch. The overwhelming popular culture perception of the film (this and this) just put me off and I couldn’t stand the thought of watching it. But when I had my Marilyn revelation (explained here) I decided to give the film a chance. After all, I could fast forward the yucky Tom Ewell scenes I just knew had to exist. And that’s when I discovered one of the greatest (yet not discussed) misconceptions of classic film.

You see, on the surface, The Seven Year Itch looks like a film glorifying extra-marital affairs. You think it’s about Tom Ewell blatantly moving Marilyn into his apartment while Evelyn Keyes* is away. Well, at least that’s what I thought.

While it’s true that the majority of the film is seen from the perspective of Tom Ewell’s character (the creepily annoying Richard Sherman**), the film remains a wry, truthful window into the life of a beautiful woman (Marilyn Monroe, simply named The Girl). TE blunders around in this selfish little fantasy world imagining how much better his life would be if Marilyn was his girl. And every so often, the viewer gets these little glimpses into The Girl’s thoughts, usually occurring at the same moment TE is off imagining.

As is so often the case with relationships, Richard Sherman sees his friendship with The Girl as his one chance to be “the big man.” In all their encounters, he spends most of the time plotting how he will maneuver her into a situation of his design. And what is she doing? She’s absorbed by the fear that she’ll be enduring another sleepless night in an air condition-less apartment. Simple as that. She’s not in the fantasy land Richard Sherman created for her. She doesn’t even realize he’s thinking those things. All she wants is a good night’s sleep.

And miraculously, in spite of his overt lecherousness, The Girl actually enjoys his company and ends up making one of the all time best speeches in movie history concerning what women (at least nice women) actually want:

How do you know what a pretty girl wants? You and your imagination! You think every girl’s a dope! A pretty girl goes to a party and there’s some guy – a great big lug in a fancy striped vest, strutting around like a tiger, giving you that “I’m so handsome you can’t resist me” look. And from this, she’s supposed to fall flat on her face. Well she doesn’t fall on her face.

But there’s another guy in the room. Way over in the corner. Maybe he’s kind of nervous and shy – perspiring a little. First you look past him, but then you sort of sense he’s gentle and kind and worried. And he’ll be tender with you. Nice and sweet. That’s what’s really exciting!

After I heard this the first time, I stood up in my living room and clapped. It was singularly refreshing to finally hear a beautiful woman strike a blow for being treated with care: “tender, nice and sweet.” Yes, please.

So, in the end, I discovered that The Seven Year Itch is actually a hilarious look at how men relate to women. Even the all the awkwardness, mistakes, miscommunications and misunderstandings that can arise just from two people meeting make that interaction a worthwhile experience. It’s surprisingly family-oriented and the polar opposite of the unbridled raunch-fest pop-culture would have you believe. Do give it a go, if you’ve yet to see it. It now lives high atop the list of my favorite Marilyn films.

*Evelyn Keyes’ hair in this movie qualifies for most unfair hairdo in a film. It’s a hideous nest of poodle curls that she never did anything to deserve.

**I would also like to address the fact that Richard Sherman is quite the paranoid screwball. He’s a middle-aged, happily married man who incessantly talks to himself and leaps to insane conclusions based on his wild imaginings. Honestly, he’s incredibly lucky his wife hasn’t shipped him off to the looney bin already.

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Valentine’s for Real

This morning I made a routine excursion to our local Walmart for necessities and I was disgusted to find the place overrun with frantic and overtired men at 8:30 in the morning. Yup, it’s Valentine’s Day and apparently scores of the members of the male population haven’t bought their presents yet, on the MORNING of the holiday.  There were herds of panic-stricken men representing all ages and types hovering over the cards, flowers and repackaged Halloween candy. Each one genuinely agonizing over the purchase for their significant other.

At first glance the display may seem cute: “Aw look, hubby is trying to surprise his wife before she wakes up.” But keep in mind here, these “sincere, heartfelt” gifts are being purchased at the very last minute possible in Walmart. Isn’t this slightly horrifying? There is no thought, no sincerity and no happiness enjoyed in the choice of the gifts. They aren’t even shelling out the big bucks! It’s all begrudgingly bestowed because the men are obligated and afraid. I thought Valentine’s Day was supposed to be about mutual love, not the consequence of an insufficient gift. And another thing: Why would any woman want to receive such a gift? I for one, don’t.

I’d rather pass up all the Hallmark holidays and accompanying burdensome presents for random acts of kindness and love whenever the feeling strikes. Ladies, wouldn’t it be infinitely more exciting to find a tiny box loaded with special trinkets in your sweater drawer on a random Sunday? Or buy something simply because you know your man would like it and give it to him that very night, just because. Or perhaps write a little note during lunch hour and mail it to him, only because you were thinking of him at the time. What good is all this mandatory present giving doing us? I honestly don’t see the point.

I’m not saying I disapprove of Valentine’s Day and the sentiments it represents. In a conceptual sense, I wholeheartedly approve. It seems to me that our modern notion of it has strayed much too far from what it was meant to be. And far be it from me to advise anyone on relationships. I’ve never even had a boyfriend, for Pete’s sake. I know I’m a dopey Romantic who is more than likely living in a silly dreamworld. Even so, I just can’t help being appalled at this whole nonsensical rigmarole. It truly seems like everyone (men and women alike)  is getting a raw deal here. Why not hold out for something better?

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Commercialism and Classic Film

I’ve often pondered the reason why major marketing firms neglect classic films when designing campaigns for clients.  Classic films boast countless worthy scenes just waiting for an enterprising soul to transform them into commercials. Apparently, someone has finally hit upon this goldmine since we now have three campaigns designed around classic films and their iconic stars.

Mastercard is using images of Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne in their new “Perfect Jeans: Priceless” ad. Before I comment, have a look for yourself:

As a whole, I’m impressed with the treatment of the stars. One of my major concerns with the effort to “mainstream” classic films is that the films and stars would be mocked by modern barbarians who have no appreciation of greatness.   I was afraid after seeing such a commercial, my response would be, “How dare you!”    However, after seeing the current Mastercard ads, I discovered I rather liked them.  To my tremendous relief, the producer of this commercial understands the magnificence of classic film and most classic film actors. The producer handles classic film with care. The three legendary giants pictured (Brando, Monroe and Wayne) are glorified as the creators of (dare I use this dreaded and overworked word?) cool. Not cool in the revolting modern sense, either. No low-slung pants, foul language or violence needed to prove coolness. This is cool in the first and true sense of the word.  It’s the cool that means class.

Although, I believe there is room for improvement.  From a purely stylistic graphic design standpoint, the grunge layout is highly unsuitable for the subject matter. (If you don’t know what grunge is: it’s a copout shortcut graphic designers use when they either have no talent or have run dry creatively. It is characterized by excessive use of Photoshop brushes in the shapes of paint splatters and drips, dirt, ripped pages, sand and sometimes flowers.) In case you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of the grunge style. It’s so overused! Look around you right now. Flip open a magazine or turn on the tv – I bet you can find some piece of graphic design with elements of grunge on it.  As someone who hopes to enter this field someday, I have no respect for the designers who revert to this style for every project they work on. Aside from my own prejudices against the style, it just doesn’t convey the proper meaning about these fabulous classic films. These films are works of unbridled creativity, incredible talent and perfected skill. Using a two-bit modern design style as the vehicle of  delivery is a complete insult.

By the way, the font used for the word JEANS in the final scene with Marlon Brando is called Bleeding Cowboys. It is one of the most overused free fonts on the planet. Watch – now that you know what it is, I bet you recognize it everywhere. I find it inexcusable that it appears in this national campaign.

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Next, we have the new Direct TV ad using a clip from the recent remake of King Kong:

I never saw the  2005 Peter Jackson remake, so I don’t have much of an opinion of the use of this film for a commercial. Although, I do not feel the same indignation to see the remake used as a TV spot, as I would if Direct TV had chosen to spotlight Fay Wray instead of Naomi Watts.

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Finally, the ultimate insult – saved for last, of course. I refer to the Breyer’s Ice Cream commercials.  Apparently, Breyer’s isn’t content anymore with doctoring ice cream, they’ve decided to pair their “special recipes” with classic films.  In particular, I am talking about the Breyer’s commercials using real clips from Gone With The Wind and King Kong (What is it with King Kong, anyway?) with new footage of this modern actress named Jane Krakowski spliced in. Don’t ask me who she is – I have no idea. And after this abomination, I don’t care to find out.

This is offensive on so many levels. 1st- Replacing a perfectly cast classic era actress with one of our modern wannabes. How could anyone with a basic knowledge of classic films ever even attempt such a horrifying task? Even worse, if you submit yourself to the torment of viewing the “Behind the Scenes” video of this spot, you’ll see the crew boasting about the thrill of replacing dear Vivien with Jane. It’s like a nightmare from a parallel universe or something. How on earth can they all be so blind?

2nd – Jane K.’s dialogue. All that ridiculous modern innuendo, trying to photograph Gable with her cell phone, the crass references to her own body. Apparently, the writers are trying to “modernize” Gone With the Wind. From the info of the Behind the Scenes video: “Re-discover classic films with a new, modern twist” Heaven forbid! Who ever said it needed modernizing? Give me their email, I’ll set them straight. It’s perfect just the way it is! Who gave you permission to mess with it?!

Breyer’s wasn’t satisfied to defile only one classic film – oh no. They also took on King Kong:

I’ve got the same grievance with this one. “I’m so tweeting about this when I get home”? Ugh! Classic films are classic because they do not reference any modern inventions, people or popular culture. The makers of this ad actually think this “take” on King Kong is cute and sophisticated. Are they kidding?

The “Behind the Scenes” spot is even more disturbing for this one. One of the crew members has the nerve –the nerve!- to hope that this horrific practice of replacing a classic film star could become a trend. Oh…my…gosh. Get me a chair somebody, I’m feeling faint.

I promise, here and now, if a film is made either replacing or borrowing a classic film star and released in theatres, I will not go to see it. Even if Christian Bale is in it. I couldn’t possibly stand it. Even now, I’m practically throwing things at the TV when these Breyers commercials come on. I think I’d have to run from the theatre screaming in horror.

On a semi-related note: Why have our filmmakers become so creatively dry that they cannot dream up fresh, new, “modern” ideas for commercials and films? Why are they all constantly borrowing from the past? I’m not just talking about the commercials here. I mean rich and famous filmmakers like George Lucas, who brazenly admits Star Wars is a conglomeration of tons of other films, including The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. What the heck is wrong with filmmakers? Are they just opportunists masquerading as creative people who actually just steal ideas from classic films to make their fortunes? Or are they genuinely creative people who have found themselves stranded in the Desert of Ideas? It doesn’t really matter, I guess. We have a small group of extremely talented people who are making fresh new films, but the rest are forever recycling tired old scripts, stars and gags. This is why I find myself disinterested and detached from modern Hollywood. It’s nothing but an unfulfilling  illusion and it looks like the little man behind the curtain is running out of tricks.

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Spring Semester 2009 – done!

Just a quick post for all my dear readers out there – I am now officially done with school for this semester, and am going to be spending much time relishing the summer!  This has been a terrific semester for me, especially because I have produced several quality pieces of work that are “portfolio worthy.”  (I love that phrase, it sounds so important!)  But, I am so excited for a summer of reading, blogging, drawing, sewing and crafting.

I’m actually doing 3 summer classes (including the dreaded science courses required for my major :( ), but I still should have loads of lovely time for my other ventures.  Anyhow – this is my explanation for being such a recluse recently.  Many apologies, but it couldn’t be helped. :)

Stay tuned, exciting things are coming soon…

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Ronnie Heaven

I’m just reeling from the idea of Ronald Reagan being TCM’s Star of the Month.  Ronnie is one of my top favorite actors of the 1940’s. (see my top 10 list here) So, when I received my copy of Now Playing a couple of weeks ago and saw Ronnie’s handsome face gracing the cover, I nearly swooned!

Oh, Ronnie – how I adore you.

Well, on to more serious issues.  His films – winners one and all, I’d say.  And that’s not just my Ronnie bias speaking either.  I remember hearing Robert Osborne decry the misconception of Ronnie’s films, too.  If you have been avoiding Ronnie’s films because of the prevailing idea of their awfulness, please reconsider.

I’ve got some top picks for you, if you’re game:

Desperate Journey (1942) – A terrific war thriller starring Errol Flynn, Ronnie, Arthur Kennedy and Alan Hale.  The guys are American airmen who get stranded in Germany and have to fight their way out.  There’s several truly hilarious moments of comedy with Alan Hale. (TCM – March 25 @ 12.45am eastern, not available on DVD)

The Voice of the Turtle aka One for the Book (1948) – A truly tender love story with Ronnie and Eleanor Parker.  Ronnie can’t get a hotel room for his leave, so he stays with Eleanor.  Other cast attractions include the multi-talented Eve Arden and Wayne Morris.  (TCM – March 19 @ 4 am eastern, not available on DVD either!)

The Hasty Heart (1950) – This is an amazingly good film in it’s own right and with the stellar cast, it’s nearly perfect.  Ronnie, Richard Todd and many others are recooperating soldiers in a hospital in Burma.  Patricia Neal is their nurse.  Richard Todd is a Scotsman who is determined not to get involved with the other men.  The story revolves around the group trying to break him down and make him see how beautiful life can be.  It’s quite moving. (Sadly, TCM hasn’t scheduled this one.  I’m calling Bobby Osborne to find out why! ;) But, it is available on DVD in The Ronald Reagan Signature Collection)

Have a look at dear Ronnie’s films, if you get the chance.  I think you’ll find they aren’t half as bad as people say they are.  I’m off to spend some more time in Ronnie Heaven! :)

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Pick-me-ups

Hello to all my good friends in blogland!  It feels like forever since I last posted.  School is going well, especially the art side and I hope to have some 3D pieces to show soon.  My Vogue Jacket is unfortunately still on my dressmaker’s assistant looking quite lonely.  I will have it done soon.  It’s so infuriating to see something so beautiful just sitting there and not being able to wear it!  Although with all this cold, wet, messy snow, it’s a tad impractical for skirt-suits anyway.  *sniffle*  I have three dress-type things I’m just dying to wear, if only it would warm up a little!

Okay – enough ranting for now.  The reason for this post is because I found some little treasures (you know – the kind that make life just a touch sunnier?).  These kinds of discoveries are called “pick-me-ups” in our house.  Maybe you already know about this and I’m far behind the crowd, but here goes.

Crayola has a whole line of room paints for children through Dutch Boy.  The paint chips are in the shape of crayon tips.  (“Giant crayons now on display in aisle six!”)  Plus, they have those same terribly cute names that the crayons have like “Granny Smith Apple” and “Unmellow Yellow.”  The display in my local hardware store even had cellophane wrapped pairs of crayons for the young ones to sample.

Forgive the graininess of the back shot.  That yucky stuff is really on the card and it refuses to come off.  Ugh!

Here’s a little artistic swirl of the primary and complementary colors.  There’s tons more than these, but I was getting suspicious glances from the paint-mixing employee, so I could only take six.

Does anyone else out there have a fascination for paint chips like I do?  I have always just adored them.  When I was younger, I would steal tons of them from the paint department and bring them home to hoard.  Then, I’d tape little photos and illustrations from catalogs to the tops that matched the colors.  I still have them.  I hang them on my bulletin board.  I think it was the inner graphic designer manifesting itself.  ;)

I wish you all a happy day!

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The Trials and Tribulations of Small Town Shopping

22Mm  Imported Velvet Ribbon

Look at my new velvet ribbon!  I just ordered it in two widths.  I’m so excited about using it.  I have searched high and low in the sewing supply shops of my mid-size Midwestern town and have had no luck finding velvet ribbon in this shade.  The closest I’ve come to any VR at all is in Joann’s where they have some VRs in soft green, burgundy and light blue.  These will not do for my purposes.  So, I took my future sewing happiness into my own hands and found the thrilling M&J Trims site.  I have a little project I’m furiously working on as a Christmas present for a friend of mine and this ribbon is the finishing touch.  I’ll be posting photos of it soon.  I have another project I have almost completely finished for a different friend and you’ll be seeing that, too.

I’m getting tired of trying to satisfy my high fashion hopes in these small town stores.  We only have two around here that even sell anything in the line of what I need.  Those two being Hobby Lobby and Joann’s.  Hobby Lobby has some different, interesting fabrics sometimes but their stock is not rotated often, so a trip there once every two months is all its worth.  Joann’s is way better, especially in the line of terrifically priced, lovely fabric remnants that are perfect for purses.  Even Joann’s, though never always has everything I wish I could use in my projects (such as brass purse feet!).  I have several English books that I make projects from and they often use trims or findings that are not available in my stores.

So, all of this is leading up to my very first New Year’s Resolution:  I vow that I will never allow the limitations of my local fabric stores to stifle my creativity again!

Long live online stores with their limitless stock, 24/7 hours and non-existent lines at the checkout counter!

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