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A course in comparative government will help, 17 November 2017

George Bernard Shaw was to the English language plays what Irving Berlin was to English language songs, good and prolific. When you're as prolific as both these guys were chances there will be a play or a song that won't be quite up to snuff. The Apple Cart goes most definitely in the category of the lesser work of George Bernard Shaw.

It certainly doesn't get much play in the USA and I think that one has to at the very least live in the United Kingdom to understand all the governmental references and just how the royal family fits into the structure of British politics. To the average American a lot of this will go right over their heads.

The Apple Cart was written in the late 20s and in one sense I think Shaw was a prophet. The King as played by Nigel Davenport was most likely based on Edward VII and also on the future Edward VIII. Already the current Prince of Wales then was giving cause for concern by his not sticking to the role laid down for him as British tradition evolved. Davenport's King Magnus certainly has the libido that the Edward VII had as witness by lovely young mistress Helen Mirren in her salad days and a wife a whole lot like Queen Alexandra. Acting honors go to Prunella Scales who plays the queen who like being queen with all the royal prerogatives.

You'll see some fine acting in The Applecart, but you can't truly enjoy a play that you have to have studied comparative government.

She learned the accent at home, 16 November 2017

Half the problems in the marriage of James Ellison and Lucille Ball are due to the fact there's the mother-in-law from hell living with them in the person of Emma Dunn. I could identify with that, my parents had one of the grandmas living at home and it wasn't pleasant for the odd one out.

Taken partly from The Guardsman and partly from The Awful Truth, You Can't Fool Your Wife is an amusing domestic comedy showing some of the talents of Lucille Ball in that direction. She plays a dual role here, Jimmy Ellison's who fears the marriage has gone stale after a year and a South American bombshell. No need for a voice coach to get the accent right, she had the best teacher in the world in that newlywed husband she had at home.

Also in the cast is Robert Coote playing a droll English visitor who runs the London office at Ellison's business. The man likes to party hearty and wants a companion to share the romping with. He really unknowingly starts all the marital discord.

The last 15 minutes with the two Lucys at a masquerade party has a lot of good laughs in it.

You Can't Fool Your Wife holds up pretty well after almost 80 years.

The first of the dumb blonds, 16 November 2017

In 1930 taking advantage of the fact that sound demanded that the movies now have lots of dialog what was better than a play where the title character keeps a constant stream of chatter. Not So Dumb was the first sound version of the George S. Kaufman-Marc Connelly play Dulcy and had Lynne Fontanne as its star on Broadway. A silent version of the play was made in 1923 that starred Norma Talmadge.

Every reassessment of Marion Davies has always said that William Randolph Hearst's obsession with Davies had to do roles as the heroine in such costume drama as When Knighthood Was In Flower and Janice Meredith. Her real talent lay as comedienne and the role of Dulcy is a natural for Davies. Best line in the film was her ever so innocent put down of Franklin Pangborn about "it's the early worm that gets the bird". You got to wonder who actually thought up that gem, Kaufman or Connelly.

The play is set over a 24 hour period and it deals with a small party that Dulcy is hostess. It's to put over a business deal that her husband Elliott Nugent is trying to get William Holden to agree to. Nugent is repeating his role from the stage.

Dulcy was prototype of the dumb blond, a character Marie Wilson honed to perfection in several film and on radio and TV. In our modern era Jessica Simpson is the successor.

Watching this I also wonder why Burns&Allen never did a version of Dulcy for the screen. This was the perfect vehicle for them, Gracie was born to play the title role.

I'm surprised that this is never revived it seems. It would have been so right for Jessica Simpson.

Still adjusting to sound Davies really hones this one to perfection. Having not seen a later version with Ann Sothern I wonder how it compares?

Shaw's feminist treatise, 16 November 2017

Watching The Millionairess my mind wandered back to a few other plays by George Bernard Shaw and the one that came closest to this is Major Barbara. Many of the ideas that lead character Epifania has could have come from the mouth of Edward Undershaft.

But being a woman this puts a whole different dimension to it. Shaw was born during the Victorian Age when women were put on a pedestal, but had few legal rights on either side of the pond. Our Creator/Deity may have made women different, but he did endow the same percentage of them with the same quotient of intelligence. I always thought that the crux of feminism was that group of the female population who did not like the roles assigned them, had the intelligence to see it and the will to do something about it.

Maggie Smith is such a woman as Epifania. She's got a husband in James Villiers who is cheating with Patricia Smith. That's OK because she's got the indolent Charles Gray on the side. But when he makes a crack about her sainted father she loses it good and Gray goes down a flight of stairs. More hurt in the dignity than anything else.

The nearest doctor around is an Egyptian immigrant played by Tom Baker and the two are intrigued by each other and put themselves to a money making test. It's what happens in the testing and with each that The Millionairess tells its story.

When The Millionairess opened it must have shocked British sensibilities. Just the idea of one of their wealthiest female citizens kanoodling with a Moslem doctor would have made the most complacent soul get alert. Just remember at the close of the last century how some felt about Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. But Maggie Smith knows her mind.

Maggie Smith leads a fine ensemble cast in this production of The Millionairess. She is surely the daughter Edward Undershaft the self made munitions tycoon would like to have had.

Who would have thought George Bernard Shaw was a secret feminist?

Rape therapy group, 15 November 2017

In this episode the squad catches a rapist without too much effort and caught dead to rights the perpetrator decides to rat out another man he says confessed to three rapes over the past year. They both belong to a therapy group.

I knew where this one was going because of over a quarter of a century of watching all the Law And Order franchise shows. The group is presided over by a mail order reverend played by Sean Patrick Reilly who works as a night watchman in a warehouse and does the reverend thing on the side. He has this group meet in a warehouse for some group therapy. The SVU squad wires their informant but he gets discovered easily enough and they have to run in and save him.

The theme behind the group is that these people think they have a rape gene. Which means they can abrogate personal responsibility so after the squad identifies the perpetrator played by Alex Hurt the evidence all gets tossed because of the bugging.

This is really hard on Mariska Hargitay with her family history but the case does get saved and Mariska has a lot to do with it, but more I won't say.

For years I swore I'd get myself a mail order divinity degree, that is such a racket.

Rangers don't show weakness, 15 November 2017

Sarah Booth is an American Ranger on leave home, presumably from Afghanistan and she's at that most masculine of leisure time activities a fight club. On the way home some other person participating decides to assert his male privilege and rapes her.

This episode is about the survivor more than the crime itself. Booth is a Ranger all the way and she struggles with the fact she's also a victim and hurting. But an army ranger is not supposed to show any weakness.

This is one of Mariska Hargitay's finest moments in the history of SVU and also Ice-T's because before he became a rapper and an actor he was also an army ranger. There are many ways to show strength of character and Mariska shows her how.

One to stand up and cheer Mariska Hargitay for.

Their younger selves, 15 November 2017

This has to be one of the silliest episodes in the entire Star Trek franchise history yet it probably is one of the most engaging.

Patrick Stewart, Rosalind Chao, Michelle Forbes, and Whoopi Goldberg while returning to the Enterprise in a shuttle craft encounter an energy storm and return to the Enterprise as they were when they were just about hitting puberty. Gates McFadden thinks with a little work, some genetic readjustment they can be restored. If that was possible Dr. Crusher would get a Universal Noble Prize and be honored more than the discoverer of Viagra.

When some Ferengi however take over the Enterprise it's these younger selves who save the day. It's all quite amusing.

If this is the secret of eternal youth. I'm not sure why these four want to be adults again. They get a chance to do something every one of us dream about, a lifetime do over.

It's that universal lament that I've said thousands of times, "if I knew then what I know now". These kids really do.

Just blown over, 15 November 2017

This is one Criminal Intent episode that will draw the viewer in and leave you emotionally drained. Mark-Linn Baker should have rated Emmy consideration for what he did. As for what he did in the episode only the eclectic mind of Detective Robert Goren could figure this one out.

Someone is killing the homeless of New York. But before doing that they are insuring them for some big bucks. That portion is found out almost by accident, but it sets Detectives Goren and Eames on a whole new line of investigation.

It all traces back to Baker who is a person with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. When the CI detectives meet up with Baker, the scenes with the quirky Goren and the quirky Wally Stephens, Baker's character are some of the best ever acted in the show's history. Kathryn Erbe's comments about the relationship that is seeming to develop between Vincent D'Onofrio and Baker are some of her best lines in the history of the show.

Baker's breakdown at the climax is at once frightening and saddening. There are very few murderers you feel sorry for, but Baker is definitely one of them.

A must for fans of CI.

Juxtaposing two Central Park cases, 15 November 2017

I well remember during the 80s the famous Preppie Killer case, how a drunk Robert Chambers lured a drunk Jennifer Levin into Central Park and killed her during what he described as rough sex. His inebriation led to him being convicted of manslaughter and he did a stretch in the joint. In real life Chambers proved to be an unrepentant jerk and is currently doing another stretch on a drug charge.

This case is juxtaposed with another crime, that of the Central Park wilding case where a bunch of black youths were convicted of rape after what was described riotous behavior for this episode.

Here and in real life mothers stood by their sons. But here mother Christine Jones is killed and son Adam Storke is looking good for it.

This one belongs to Vincent D'Onofrio who just has a gut feeling that Storke didn't kill the mother. But Jones before she died was looking into a wilding case in which four black youths were convicted for. Turns out Storke might just be the perpetrator there. All highly embarrassing to the criminal justice system.

Two really stand out here besides those already mentioned. Mike Starr as the original lead detective on the wilding case and Terry Conn as Storke's new girlfriend. As long as I live I will never understand groupies for murderers even one as good looking as Chambers in real life. Some go through life without being too tightly wrapped.

Rustic melodrama, 14 November 2017

There are a lot of similarities between Romance Of The Limberlost and such films as Shepherd Of The Hills, Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, The Yearling, and Spitfire all set in some truly rural areas All of those films had the advantage of much bigger budgets from bigger studios than Romance Of The Limberlost which was an item from Monogram.

Our main character is Jean Parker a free spirited lass who to escape the tyrannical bullying of her aunt Marjorie Main who has raised her since her mother died by going into the forest. She's got more critter friends than Elly Mae Clampett and a couple of human friends in Eric Linden who wants to be a lawyer and simple swamp kid Hollis Jewell.

Main is fixing to marry Parker off to the much older and richer Edward Pawley whose puss was in many a Warner Brothers gangster flick of the Thirties. He's a mean brute looking for a nice young trophy wife.

When Pawley is killed, it's Jewell who's arrested at the scene and it's Linden who defends him. During that trial a whole lot of hidden truths come out.

Limberlost is the name for the swamp area in Indiana where the action takes place. Being from Monogram this didn't have too much in the way of production values. But the earnestness of the players overcomes a lot of that.

Marjorie Main is almost a synonym for female rustic characters on screen. But the woman wasn't always comical as she was in the Ma&Pa Kettle series. She could do a dramatic turn with the best as witness by this film and her performance in that most urban of dramas Dead End as Humphrey Bogart's mother.

Romance Of The Limberlost is worth a look.

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