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Jul 03 2014

Episode 21: A Bucket Full of Wrong

 

Actual photo of Windy, taken while recording this episode.

Actual photo of Windy, taken while recording this episode.

This week, we are joined by erudite comedian Kelvin Hatle as we unravel our feelings about “probematic media”: movies and shows that are great except for that ooooooone super offensive part. We go a little long on this one and hit upon some not-very-nice subjects, so buckle up with a bottle of Penascal Temperanillo or The Gaucho Club Oak Cask Malbec… because we certainly did!

If we make your blood pressure rise too much with this week’s episode, we apologize and offer How Animals Eat Their Food as a palliative measure.

Show notes behind the cut!


Movies mentioned:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
They Died with Their Boots On
De-Lovely
Night and Day
The General
Birth of a Nation
Song of the South
Game of Thrones (TV)
Cabin in the Sky
Wonder Bar (which actually wasn’t pre-Hays, like we say on the show)
Cole Black and the Sebben Dwarfs
Showboat
Porgy and Bess (stage)
Peter Pan
Annie Get Your Gun
The Searchers
Thoroughly Modern Millie
You Only Live Twice
From Russia with Love
Marnie
Miss Sadie Thompson
Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Descent
Evil Dead
Galaxy of Terror (a movie we discuss, but whose title we never actually mention)
Repulsion
Rosemary’s Baby
Purple Rose of Cairo
Zelig
Hannah and Her Sisters
Mighty Aphrodite
Apocalypto
Braveheart
Passion of the Christ

People mentioned:
Audrey Hepburn
George Peppard
Errol Flynn
Olivia de Havilland
Kevin Kline
Cary Grant
Buster Keaton
D. W. Griffith
Busby Berkeley
Howard Kiel
Julie Andrews
Mary Tyler Moore
Carol Channing
Sean Connery
Alfred Hitchcock
Tippi Hedren
Rita Hayworth
Jose Ferrer
Sam Raimi
Brian Keene
Roman Polanski
Woody Allen
Robert Downey, Jr.
Hugh Grant
Mel Gibson
Jodie Foster

If you’re interested in actual real details on the Roman Polanski case, Der Speigel had a fascinating interview with Samantha Geimer last year: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/roman-polanski-rape-victim-relives-history-in-new-book-a-924530.html

7 comments

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  1. @PedanticEric

    I was hoping you’d mention “The Palm Beach Story”. It’s a delightful Preston Sturges comedy with Claudette Colbert and Joel McCrea that includes one really horrifying scene. During a long train ride there’s a group of guys from a hunting club who are drinking in the club car. They get drunk enough that they start throwing plates and shooting at them right there in the car… their random destruction would have seemed like average comedy drunkenness but for the black bartender repeatedly dodging their shots in the background because he was in the line of fire. You know, because blacks hardly qualify as people so it doesn’t matter if they might accidentally get shot.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035169/

    1. Melissa

      Jaw Drop

      1. @PedanticEric

        https://myspace.com/maryastor/video/the-palm-beach-story/43133374

        Start at 35:00 and watch about three to four minutes. Seriously.

  2. Noel

    Was about to chime in with Galaxy of Terror, but I see it in the list. I have yet to watch the entire thing. Was forcing myself through it, got to the worm, was pretty much done. Between doing that worm scene and making a starship with boobs in Battle Beyond the Stars, James Cameron’s time under Roger Corman was a very strange stretch of his career. Which may actually be more Corman, who knows.

    On that note, as Corman produced the majority of these, I used to really be into sword & sorcery barbarian films, but they’ve been very difficult to revisit of late because pretty much every single one of them has rape in it, usually to a significant and unnecessary degree, especially if the lead is a female barbarian because that’s pretty much guaranteed to be her backstory. One can absolutely argue it’s a reflection of dark ages societal issues, but most of these films are escapist fantasy, essentially swashbucklers of a beefier and sandier variety, so it just comes off tasting sour.

    Which brings me to Conan the Barbarian. I love Conan. I love the Conan stories, the animated series, and most of the classic film, but I have a friend I’m about to introduce it to for the first time, and I’m tempted to skip over the majority of the opening backstory sequence (leave the kid in the village bit, but go over the slave pits and gladiator ring), at least until after the movie till we can discuss, then go back and give that portion a look. Because A) most of that has jack all to do with Conan and was just Milius doing his own thing, and none of it actually impacts the subsequent plot. B) There’s the scene of Conan being gifted with a slave girl, and while he’s very tender with her, he’s still very tenderly raping her as he lowers himself onto her while you hear her gasping with fright after having scurried into the cage like a terrified mouse. It’s a character ruining moment to me, further cementing an origin which is actually quite a contradictory take on a character I love, and it’s always soured the remainder of the film. Which is otherwise QUITE faithful to the character and captures him well.

    I have similar problems to what was discussed with Woody Allen. I recognize his talent, but his ookier views always crop up way too often for me to get into most of his work. With Polanski, I recognize the talent, but there actually have been other reports of assault from other young women he’s worked with. None of which have actually led to charges, but I’m just creeped out by the guy and that is a discomfort always in the back of my mind, even if the film itself is good. Another one is Victor Salva, who was convicted of his crimes and did time for it, but there’s still too much of a pedophilic gaze to his work, lingering over undressed teenage boys, that it takes a lot to get me to even try his stuff. The excellence of Jeepers Creepers aside.

    I have a much easier time watching problematic films than I do the films of problematic filmmakers, because even as repellent as some of the films themselves can be, it’s still a work of fiction. Whereas what some of these filmmakers have done have hurt real people in real life, and I have a really difficult time looking around that. (Don’t worry, though, I’m not one of those who’s jumping on anyone for being able to do so. They’re still some damn good films and it’s a really complicated issue everyone’s going to come at with different tolerance levels.)

    1. Melissa

      I have a love-hate relationship with Corman films. On one hand, he was certainly instrumental in fostering a whole generation of filmmakers who came after him. On the other hand, his work often features women in degrading situations, and then there’s the whole issue about filming in the Philippines while they had zero controls in place upon the safety of people working on movie shoots.

      Machete Maidens Unleashed is a pretty good documentary about the history of the Filipino exploitation film industry. It goes a bit soft on how people were treated on set, but still is a decent historical document:

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1623757/

  3. Elliott James

    What about one of those 1960’s and early 70’s movies with Christopher Lee as Sax Romer’s villain Fu Manchu?

    The source material is, buy our standards extremely racist, but they remain classics of their time.

    I would love to have seen the follow up to Grindhouse where they had the faux trailer for Nicholas Cage playing the Fu Manchu.

    Your comments on Bond films was interesting, if you have read any of the novels, the original material by Ian Fleming is worse.

    Finally, there was John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. But that fails for this topic I suppose because it was just irredeemably bad. The movie was notorious for being shot in the deserts of Utah, almost ten years after the United States Army conducted nuclear bomb testing there. Of the 220 people involved in the film, 91 would die of cancer, including Wayne, director Dick Powell, and every leading supporting cast member: Agnes Moorehead, Susan Hayward, and John Hoyt. Another star, Pedro Armendáriz would also be diagnosed of cancer, but commit suicide after hearing the news. The number does not even include the extras and other people involved in filming. Numerous American Indians who served as Mongolian warriors contracted cancer in later years, and even John Wayne’s son Michael died in 2003 of cancer, after visiting his father on the set at age 22. What is also even more mind-boggling is the fact that after principle shooting was finished in Utah, the production company had 60 tons of radioactive dirt shipped to Hollywood so filming could be finished on sound stages. Whatever became of this dirt is unknown; it’s probably been used as filler in a back-lot by now.

    http://gcaggiano.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/6_johnwayne.jpg

    1. Melissa

      Your Fu Manchu comment reminds me of The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), wherein Fu Manchu (played by not-Asian Boris Karloff) proclaims to a crowd of Asian minions that they should, “GO FORTH AND BREEEEEED.”

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0023194/

      Yeah, the Ian Fleming novels are pretty horrifying. I do have the whole series of books, mostly because the books belonged to my now-departed uncle. But man, do they contain some icky stuff.

      I totally forgot about The Conquerer. Wow, what a bad idea that was, on so many fronts.

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