Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jackie and Cleo go boating

Over Exposed 1956

No this isn’t a film about Marina Abramovic, but another potboiler starring that little spitfire of a sex pot Cleo Moore. The film opens with Cleo who plays Lily Krenshka being asked by the police to leave town because she was working in a clip joint, not that Lily knew it was that kind of place. “I’m... innocent “Lily yells, but she still has to beat it out of town on the next bus one two three or go to jail. As she’s leaving the police station she is approached by a old down and out photographer who snaps her mug, and an incensed Lily wants the picture. “Come over to my studio and I’ll give it to you,” he replies. Lily being Cleo is distrustful of the old guy who appears to be a bit in his cups, but she goes anyway. Nothing dirty happens, and instead Lily in impressed with his photographs and what can be done with a camera and a darkroom. Lily then comes up with the idea that the old photographer should teach her the tricks of the trade so that she can become a photographer too and tells him that “photography is a good racket for a dame“. So Lily in a couple of months and some nice montage sequences turns into a regular Margaret Bourke-White. She changes her name to Lila Crane and takes off for Columbia Pictures New York City. No sooner has she arrived when in a blink of an eye she meets up with a very young and very bland Richard Crenna (the transfer is so good that you can see the acne scars on his face) who works for a photo news agency and falls for Lila in a big way. Very quickly Lila gets a job as a photographer in a high society nightclub called Club Coco snapping pictures of the rich and famous and selling some of her photos to a low life gossip columnist for publication in one of the tabloids. Lila is doing swell and well and before we know it she’s snapping her way into fame and fortune or as she says “Where there’s money, there’s Lila-green becomes me” Lila starts doing fashion spreads and what not and is making a fortune, and she even hires her old mentor to come to the big apple and work for her. But Lila soon becomes greedy, testy and starts acting like a diva "you'd use your grandmother's bones to pry open a cash register" someone says to her and she gets entangled in couple of bad scenes and scandals. She gets kidnapped and beaten up by some mobsters because of an incriminating photo she took and has her reputation ruined because she accidentally took a photo of a high society old dame dropping dead on the dance floor doing the Mambo. The photo falls into the hands of the gossip columnist who publishes it in a Confidential kind of rag. and Lila is in trouble. What next Lily/Lila /Cleo? But in the end it all ends happily (or does it?) as Lila gives up her lively career to marry dull Richard Crenna. Fool. This is more of a woman’s movie than Film noir, more gray than black. What I found intriguing about the film was not only it’s crumminess, and crummy it is, but it’s unconventional tough feminist storyline that was pretty brave and unusual back in the early and mid fifties. Sure Lila sells out and plays it safe at the end giving up her career and identity for a safe little life with dull Richard Crenna, but at least for a while she gave herself and me one hell of a ride and those Jean Louis gowns are nothing to sneeze at either. Part of the Bad Girls of Film Noir Dvd set.

Nurse Jackie

It takes no effort for me to easily recommend the new cable series Nurse Jackie season one, which I just finished watching. I’m not a big fan of hospital shows, in fact I never watch them, and I wouldn’t know one from the other, but because of Edie Falco and because a friend lent me the dvd set I gave it a try. The plot itself is simple enough life in an emergency room in a big New York City hospital and the lives of the doctors, nurses and the patients that they tend to. The extraordinary Edie Falcon as the title Nurse Jackie who is one of the most conflicted characters I have seen in quite a while heads the cast. Looking at times like a bruised piece of fruit her character is a liar, a drug addict, a adulteress but at the same time she's a compassionate soft caring woman and nurse, and a loving mother and wife. Go figure. I am convinced that these cable series are our new “B” movies and offer me the same pleasures that I use to get from the on the cheap movies that happily are now once again appearing on dvd. Nurse Jackie looks like it was filmed fast and cheap but with wonderful writing and great acting. Lets see besides Falco there is the superb Eve Best as the fashionista Dr. Eleanor O'Hara, a tall drink of water who I was lucky enough to see in the revival a few years back of “The Homecoming” and she doesn’t disappoint here. Her Dr. O’Hara happens to be best friends with Jackie and they both know all the secrets and skeletons hiding in their closets and it’s a pleasure to watch these two great actresses playing their roles and scenes together. I just sat there I purred like two of my facebook friends Ross Freedman and Joyce Godsey little kittens. Also marvelous is the taller than I thought she actually is Anna Devere Smith as Gloria Akalitis, the administrative head of the emergency department who can show distain and disgust better than anyone around by scrunching up her face into a tight little ball. The show is also very gay friendly and features the very handsome and hunky Haaz Sleiman who plays Mohammed the gay male nurse, who at times I thought was going to jump out of my TV and into my lap. I should be so lucky.


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