Mar 25, 2006

Fine Flicks

As busy as I was this past week, I still carved out enough time to watch some good ol' sixties flicks and revel in the brilliant colors of Edith Head designs, lush theme-song orchestrations, and even those archaic views on courtship and the eternal 'battle of the sexes' that I still subscribe to - obviously, the result of years of watching Doris Day movies. Anway, here are some gems I uncovered starring three of my favorite actresses:

The Wheeler Dealers (1963) - Ahh, the film that made "widget" a household word. After years as TV's suave and studly Bret Maverick, James Garner brings his smooth, fast-talking highroller to the big screen - this time, as a wealthy Texas oil man who invents a grand stock market scheme on a trip to New York. Lee Remick is as charming and pretty as ever (despite her character's propensity for wearing large bows - I'll overlook it because she's darling) and stands her ground as the lone female analyst in her Wall Street investing firm, braving the onslaught of mindless tasks being dumped upon her. The supporting cast sparkles, too: Jim Backus as the bullheaded boss and John Astin as a manic investigator guarantee a good time.

Penelope (1966) - Edith Head, Natalie Wood and kleptomania - three elements of this film that excite and intrigue me far more than they should. But seriously, who could ask for more? Nat is endlessly elegant in a parade of Head-designed Givenchy and well-coiffed wigs as she holds up her husband's bank for $60,000, then nonchalantly shows up to her analyst's office to alert him of her doings. Numerous glitzy flashbacks chronicle her earliest larcenous larks and her early days of courting husband James (Ian Bannen), though none fully answer her question as to why she loves stealing so much. Peter Falk even joins the cast and waxes elements of his future Columbo persona as the police Lieutenant investigating the crime. Sure, it's no Splendor in the Grass, but for Natalie fans it's a decadent little confection of a flick.

Divorce, American Style (1967) You all know that Debbie Reynolds has always been, and will always be, my favorite movie star of the 1950's and '60's, so to see her in a film focused on her failing marriage to screen husband Dick Van Dyke is a tougher for me to take than, say, a lighthearted romance like Tammy and the Bachelor or The Mating Game. Nevertheless, the leads are quite compelling here, and while the plots gets mired down with some unnecessary complications that intend to satirize the state of a divorcee's lifestyle (note the looks pregnant fiancee Eileen Brennan's bulging belly gets), Dick & Deb manage to sparkle in the end. The cinematography is quite evocative and interesting and, paired with a lush score that completely paces the movie and the emotions it attempts to inspire, makes for a decent film.

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