TV Round-Up

There was no nudity in the final episode of Californication (s4e12), but Carla Gugino was sexy in her underwear. Given that Carla is approximately the sexiest woman in the universe, I'm disappointed that she never did any nudity in this series, but I sure enjoyed watching her strut her stuff. (720p; Sample below; third party video)

Laura Wiggins flashed the chest again in Shameless, s1e12. 720p. Third party. Sample below.


Mildred Pierce

(1945 and 2011-TV)

This is a rare disappointment from HBO, perhaps because it breaks one of the first commandments of remakes - don't remake something which was great and still plays well. Remaking Mildred Pierce is almost as sacrilegious as remaking Casablanca, which was directed by the same Michael Curtiz a couple of years earlier. Indeed, if you've ever seen an old black and white film and enjoyed it, it was probably directed by Michael Curtiz, because he had an excellent eye and a knack for smooth storytelling at a pace rapid enough to hold up to modern viewing. His job back then was not comparable to what directors do today. In the old studio system, directors did not create or write their own projects. They were hired hands, like the actors and the key grips. But a good one could really bring a project to life, and Curtiz was more than merely good. His filmography speaks for itself. He directed 93 films. 86 of them are rated 6.0 or higher at IMDb. 19 of them are rated 7.0 or higher. Some of the most memorable include: 

  1. (8.80) - Casablanca (1942)
  2. (8.10) - The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  3. (7.99) - Mildred Pierce (1945)
  4. (7.89) - Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
  5. (7.79) - Captain Blood (1935)
  6. (7.79) - Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  7. (7.78) - The Sea Hawk (1940)
  8. (7.65) - The Sea Wolf (1941)
  9. (7.39) - We're No Angels (1955)
  10. (7.20) - White Christmas (1954)
  11. (7.19) - The Breaking Point (1950)
  12. (7.18) - Life with Father (1947)
  13. (7.17) - Kid Galahad (1937)
  14. (7.17) - Marked Woman (1937)
  15. (7.09) - Essex and Elizabeth (1939)
  16. (7.08) - Dodge City (1939)
  17. (7.08) - The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
  18. (7.06) - The Unsuspected (1947)
  19. (7.05) - Four Daughters (1938)
  20. (6.97) - Young Man with a Horn (1950)

Like the best films of its era, the original Mildred Pierce is a masterpiece of economical storytelling. The script is genius.  (By the way, this is one of the films which William Faulkner worked on while he was making his ill-advised career stop in Hollywood, but I'm not sure how much Faulkner actually contributed.) It takes a story which could be a long rambling melodrama and hooks the viewer into it immediately by beginning with a beautifully storyboarded murder. Elegant setting, shots ring out, footsteps are heard fleeing away as we come in for a closer look at the body, tires screech as a car pulls away ...

The narrative then follows the police investigation of the crime, thus telling the story primarily in flashbacks. The audience is left to guess the identity of the murderer, which is not revealed until the film's final moments. The novel's many characters are consolidated into a number small enough so that we can feel that we know every one of them. Welcome comic relief is provided by the wisecracking, fast-talking, cynical minor characters played by Eve Arden (Oscar nomination) and Jack Carson.

Although the murder mystery is the film's basic framing device, the film moves toward its conclusion with a concise but coherent narrative, some snappy dialogue, some great supporting characters, wit, some music, atmosphere, the director's great eye for arresting images, solid performances, and star power. It is fast-paced, but the director never allows it to move too fast to make it confusing, or to suppress the colorful supporting details. It was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, and is currently rated 8.0 at IMDb.

It's not as good a film as Casablanca, but what is, dammit? And it might be considered just as good as the Bogart masterpiece if it had something equally important to say, but Mildred Pierce has no powerful, resonant themes. It's just a glossy, star-studded, multi-faceted entertainment picture, and a terrific one at that. I'd call it the L.A. Confidential of its time.

So what's wrong with the HBO version?

Well, remember how I mentioned above that this story had the potential to be a melodramatic snoozefest. Bingo. This version does not begin with a big action scene or a mystery of any kind, let alone murder. It begins with some domestic squabbling between Mildred and her husband, followed by a long, long, long overview of Mildred's subsequent job hunt, and a long, long, long exposition of the details of the restaurant business, all of which left me struggling for wakefulness and not liking any of the characters. 

What does the HBO version do better than the original?

Well, for one thing, Kate Winslet is a serious actress, not a movie star like Joan Crawford, so when she's supposed to look 40sih and frumpy, she does. Although Crawford was actually 40 when she made this film, she still looked glamorous and perfectly turned out in her pre-success scenes as an allegedly frumpy housewife from the lower middle class.

For another thing, there were parts of the story that could not be told or pictured in the 1940s. HBO is able to show us who is sleeping with whom. In detail. And in glorious color. The relationship of the seedy stepfather and his underaged stepdaughter had to be presented very cautiously in the 1940s, to say the least.

And that's about it. People have argued that this production is more faithful to the source novel by James M Cain. That may be true, but it's not a positive thing. As Variety wrote, "James M. Cain's novel of the same title might not suggest screenable material." In other words, the original film was brilliant simply because it was not faithful to that source, but used the best parts of a complex, ambitious novel based on character development to form the basis of a taut story. HBO, on the other hand, decided to screen the unscreenable. Instead of a big, juicy story framed by a murder, they created some kind of art film that would have Bergman and Tarkovsky yelling at the screen to "get on with it, already."

I don't mean to be excessively critical of HBO. Just about everything they do is great. Even their weakest productions reek of class and diligence, and this is no exception. It's filled with impressive settings, elegant costumes, and snappy roadsters. The problem is that they took a great 100-minute story with no dull moments and turned it into a 300 minute story with, well, 200 minutes of unnecessary padding. Make that 195. I'm OK with the five minutes of hot nudity.

I've only seen the first two episodes, which were broadcast Sunday night, and there are three more episodes to go, so I reserve the right to change my mind if and when Evan Rachel Wood's upcoming frontal nudity gives me a massive boner.





The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday


I mentioned that I was going to watch this.

The story takes place in 1908 Colorado, just as the Old West is disappearing and the modern world beginning. The gunslingers are gone. Taft is running for president. Horses have to compete for the dusty trails with new-fangled roadsters. Into this bustling new century, two grizzled frontier characters re-emerge from the past to settle a score with the nouveau riche city slicker who cheated them out of a gold mine 15 years earlier.

Lee Marvin plays pretty much the same comic character he played in Cat Ballou and Paint Your Wagon, the crusty old tough guy who is no longer quite so tough in his twilight years as he was when the west was young, but still can occasionally dredge up traces of the heart and soul that once made other men admire him. Oliver Reed is absolutely hilarious as his partner, a "half-breed" native American with a Harvard education. Robert Culp plays the weasel who bilked his partners out of their stake, but the script makes him multi-dimensional in the "honor among thieves" vein, and Culp himself manages to infuse the character with a likeable down-to-earth quality that balances off his obnoxiousness.

Elizabeth Ashley is also funny in this film. When Culp walked off with Lee Marvin's gold mine, he took his woman (Ashley) as well. Marvin intends to settle both scores until he finds out that the sweet innocent woman in his memories, albeit still beautiful, has turned into a foul-mouthed shrew. Marvin kidnaps her, but loses all romantic interest when he sees what she has become, so he decides to hold her for ransom. Only one problem. Culp doesn't want her back, no matter how low the price. In a final fist-fight for all the marbles, Culp takes time out from kicking Marvin's ass to kick Ashley's as well. That distraction momentarily gives Marvin a chance to deliver a hard blow, but Culp declares, "It was worth it."

The author, Richard Shapiro, is one of the great TV writers (217 episodes of Dynasty, and about a hundred other episodes of some two dozen shows and TV movies), but this was his only theatrical film script, and one of his few efforts at comedy. He created a fun movie. I'm not sure why it got so completely forgotten. While it has no depth or social importance, it's entertaining throughout, with few slow moments, and for my money that makes it an excellent example of popular entertainment.


While my memory was correct in that there was no nudity from Elizabeth Ashley or from cute little Kay Lenz as Cathouse Thursday, there was some brief nudity from two of Lenz's colleagues in the mattressback profession:

Luz Maria Pena as Cathouse Holidays

Leticia Robles as Cathouse Saturday


  • * 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, here.



Tales of Ordinary Madness


Tanya Lopert film clips (captures below)

Katia Berger film clips (captures below)


Ornella Muti film clips (captures below)



Susan Tyrell film clips (captures below)






Colpo Grosso

BS wrote:

"In the days to come are clips from Polarscan, edited by me, of the Italian TV show Colpo Grosso. No plot - women strip and seem to score points somehow but who really cares? Some passingly well-known gals, all of them more than sort of attractive. And topless. "

Today: Veronika Zemanova

(Note: This may not be from Colpo Grosso. Seems more explicit than the usual from that show. Bottomless. But it's the same general idea.)



Film Clips

Leighton Meester in Country Strong in 720p (2010; see below; no nudity)

Arly Jover in Gigola (2010; see below)

Lou Doillon in Gigola (2010; see below)

Marie Kremer in Gigola (2010; see below)

Bimba Bose in El consul de Sodoma (2009)

Elena Serrano in Ingrid (2009; see below)

Emilia Fox in Consuming_Passion (2008; see below)

Carrie Minter and Casey Durkin in The Dukes of Hazzard - The Beginning, Unrated (2007)

April Scott in The Dukes of Hazzard, The Beginning, Unrated (2007)

Trishelle Canatella in The Dukes of Hazzard, The Beginning, Unrated (2007)

Christin Sawyer Davis in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (HD, 2009)

Christina Dare in The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Sasha Veldman (bonus: Mira Sorvino) in The Dutch Master (1994; see below)

Rebecca Miller in Consenting Adults in 720p (1992)

Willeke van Ammelrooy in De komst van Joachim Stiller (1976; see below)

Dagmar Lassander in The Laughing Woman (1969; see below)



Maria Sharapova camel toe at the Sony Ericsson open

America Olivo in Love Shack (2010)

Vida Guerra

Anja Rubik - photoshoot outtakes