Blume in Love
When this film came out in 1973 it was a pretty big deal. A
young whippersnapper of a movie reviewer named Roger Ebert gave the film his
highest rating of four stars. The script for Blume in Love was nominated for
the Writers Guild Award for the best original comedy screenplay of 1973, and
it lost to another George Segal film (A Touch of Class). George Segal himself was a
major star at the time, and the 1973-4 period was probably the pinnacle of his
career. This film came out at about the same time as A Touch of Class and
Altman's California Split, and it was by no means considered the ugly
stepchild of the other two.
I suppose what I'm saying here is that this was an A-list
project. You probably wouldn't guess that if you watched it today without
knowing what I have just revealed. You'd probably think it was sort of OK, but
kind of quaint, rather politically incorrect by today's standards, and too
slow to develop its themes.
To be honest, it would not be hard to nod off during this film.
Although I no longer find it to be a very good film
(assuming I probably did back in 1973), and I have no idea why it was ever
considered a comedy, I still find it interesting to
analyze. It's a film caught in a time warp. On the surface it is a classic
1950s-style love story. A divorced husband sits alone in Venice, thinking back
to his honeymoon in that same romantic city, recalling what went wrong in his
marriage and the period just after it. He narrates from the present time, and
his narrations merge into flashbacks. He was unfaithful to his wife. She
caught him and would not forgive him. But, dammit, he loved her and he
realizes how badly he screwed up. He pined for her, and did a of of begging,
but she took up with another guy, and he found consolation with an
ex-girlfriend. And still he loved his ex-wife, and thought of her constantly.
They did get together briefly, and she got pregnant, but they did not reunite.
Then the other guy split, but she still didn't want her ex- back. At the very
end, as he mopes around Venice watching all the happy young lovers and wishing
he were still in love, she shows up totally unexpectedly, they embrace, and
they experience a happy reunion, having both learned from the experience.
Pretty straightforward Cary Grant stuff, eh?
But wait! As Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the
story. Even though the filmmaking is 1955, the characters are filled with
in-your-face hippie-era attitude. The "other man" is an itinerant musician who
lives in his truck and smokes reefer all day (Kris Kristofferson, pretty much
playing Kris Kristofferson.) He collects welfare, but has no intention of
working. He's just sticking it to the man.
And mainly smoking reefer.
The wife chooses not to forgive her husband for the
infidelity because she was starting to realize that she needed room to evolve
and grow. After the split, she starts to take yoga and guitar lessons, has a
lot of sex and and smokes a lot of reefer. Meanwhile, the husband and the
"other man" bond, become close, and ... er ... smoke a lot of reefer. And the
sympathetic ex-girlfriend who helps Segal through his pain knows that there's
nothing permanent in it for her, but she likes the sex and companionship, and
doesn't need it to turn into anything permanent. And the chick Segal picks up
in a bar immediately wants to get him into a foursome. Oh, and remember how I
said the husband and wife briefly got together and she got pregnant? Well, the
specifics of that encounter are that he raped her and the boyfriend showed up
during the act. And why did the boyfriend leave? Well, he just figured it was
time to move on, because that's what itinerant musicians do. Besides, once she
got pregnant, he figured she won't let him smoke as much reefer.
Rape and reefer. Definitely not Cary Grant stuff.
There is nothing in those characters or storylines that
seems so daring today, but those characters were all new types of screen
archetypes for that era (except for the philandering husband, who was an
old-fashioned guy trying to figure everyone else out.) This film is a
perfect example of how the counter-cultural characters and attitudes from the
late sixties had, by 1973, slipped completely into the mainstream of the
culture itself, and thence into films with middlebrow stars like George Segal
and Marsha Mason.
There's some nudity from some obscure woman named Erin
O'Reilly (the foursome chick), but the real point of covering this film is the
topless nudity from Oscar nominee Marsha Mason. She earned four "best actress"
nominations between 1974 and 1982, but no wins. If you met Marsha at a party
and she told you she was a famous movie star, you would never believe her
unless you already knew of her career. She was an ordinary-looking person, not
unattractive, and shapely enough, but not glamorous, beautiful or sexy. And
she never did any gimmicky things to earn her nominations. No impersonations
of famous people, no dramatic weight gains, no weird accents. So without
anything to attract people's attention, how did she get all those good roles?
Well, being married to the hottest scriptwriter in town helped, but in ironic
fact, it was her very lack of star quality that made her a star. Turn a camera
on her and she could convince you that she was a real person doing whatever it
was the script called for. She never seemed to be acting at all, and audiences
"bought" her completely. I can't think of many movie actresses like her today.
Maybe Marcia Gay Harden, but she'd be about it, and she's more of a supporting
actress. The Marsha Mason style of leading actress is a disappearing breed,
Here's a film clip of her three topless scenes.
And here are the collages:
* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).
* White asterisk: expanded format.
* Blue asterisk: not mine.
No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
In Praise of Older Women
In Praise of Older Women (1978) could be thought of as an early soft-core
film, except that it has mainstream performers. Tom Berenger, as the film
opens, is a young man in WW II Hungary, which sided with Hitler. He escaped to
Austria, and hung with American Troops, where he became king of the black
market, and pimped for a POW countess, who took his virginity. When the war
finished, he went home to find his mother, and ended up back in school. He had
no luck romancing girls his age, and returned to older women, mostly married.
After the failed Hungarian revolution, he escaped to Canada, and continued
bedding older women.
Nudity was plentiful:
- Monique Lepage Breasts and buns
- Karen Black Breasts
- Marianne McIsaac Breasts and Buns
- Marilyn Lightstone Breasts
- Alberta Watson Breasts
- Susan Strasberg Breasts
- Alexandra Stewart Breasts and buns
- Helen Shaver Full Frontal and crotch shot
Berenger played both the teenaged and the adult version of his
character, both believably. The sex, while not explicit, was believable, and
not drawn out to the point of boredom. It drags in sections, but is mostly
IMDb readers say 5.8.
More of Marsha Jordan and her full frontal nudity in Sweet Georgia.
Marsha's still in the sack with her lover and then heads out to the barn for a
romp with the not too swift farmhand. (Film
While investigating the disappearance of her younger sister,
successful author Natalie Fitzgerald (Kim Tyler) and her ex-boyfriend
Bobby (Matt Borlenghi), a police detective, find themselves in the
middle of a murder spree at a psychiatric hospital with a sinister
history. Although it makes some claim to kinship with supernatural
thrillers dealing with long-ago crimes (à la The Ring and The Grudge),
Bloody Mary offers just enough breasts and blood to appeal to genre fans
interested in less atmospheric fare, and the story is fairly
Normally, when an A-list movie with 7 Oscar nominations like 2006's
Babel comes out, especially when it's well-known that it contains a big
nude scene (or in this case several), I lay back and let everyone else
jump on it because I prefer to do movies that people may not have seen.
With this movie, I'm doing it just to voice my opinion that this may well
be one of the most overrated movies of 2006. Furthermore, it's pretty
obvious (to me) that Rinko Kikuchi's character Chieko, which is the sole
source of the nudity, doesn't even need to exist to further the storyline.
Most likely no one will say it, but the character is there simply to add
sex and nudity to a storyline that otherwise would have none.
Make no mistake: I loved the nudity, but if I were the parent of a 15
or 16 year-old, and had made the decision to take my child to see it on
the basis of it's nomination, I might have a very different reaction to
the graphic depiction of a schoolgirl spreading her legs ala Sharon Stone.
As is often the case with the stupid rating system, the R rating is a
During a visit to Morocco, an American woman tourist is shot while on a
tour bus with her husband. Although the movie makes it very clear at the
beginning that the shooting is the result of accidental stupidity, all the
authorities immediately take it as a terrorist attack. Of course, this is
done for political purposes, and the couple is stranded in a tiny village
with her bleeding to death while the politicos argue over who has
jurisdiction, who should take care of her, who is at fault, etc.
The movie also deals with four different families that are
interconnected to the tragedy, although in the case of the Japanese girl
and her father, the connection is so tenuous that it's pretty apparent
their main role was to provide the bush and boob shots (in my opinion).
Others will disagree, of course. In fact, I suspect most people will
disagree with my review of this movie.
Babel was done in such a disjointed style timeline-wise that one of the
last scenes in the movie actually took place about a third of the way
through the story. The title is supposed to describe the communication
problems that the characters endured, but actually refers instead to the
makeup of the movie itself. It's a very good story, but the screenplay is
kind of a mess, filled with gimmicks and told in very jumbled
chronological order. Worth watching? Absolutely. Great nudity? Yes.
Academy Award material? Probably not.
Notes and collages
Battle of the Network Stars
...to wrap up my Lynda Carter series are these collages from "Battle of
the Network Stars;" I could watch her adjust her swimsuit in a clip loop all
day long...it's a sort of mellowing therapy....