Down For The Dog Days


This may be obvious, but I’m not really posting for a couple weeks. First a wave of colds hit the house, and now I’m pretty much spoken for by work. Should be back up for real around Labor Day, filled to bursting with utterly frivolous things to say!

The Many Moods of John C. Reilly #5

Non-natural fabricky

Posters We Don’t Own #13

Lori and I were discussing the bedrock layer of misogyny that runs through ours and pretty much every society of the world. It shows up in things as mundane as movie posters of course, in ways both subtle and blatant. In horror and exploitation of the 60s/70s/80s, poster depiction of violence against women was so commonplace as to be hardly noticeable, such as below:


It’s so endemic to the genre as to make little impression beyond macabre comedy.

It’s common enough that when someone takes it in a direction like Black Snake Moan, we recognize it for the counter-provocation it is:


I can just hear you saying, “No shit, Sherlock.” And indeed, as you say, no shit. Sometimes, however, you see it jumping out from other corners of cinema, in ways that can take a person (well, me) off-guard:



This is your calculated marketing? You think we want to see America’s pal, Dean Martin, smacking down a broad? Just who are you selling this to? What kind of a guy was looking at this poster thinking, “yep, that’s the cinema of choice for me!”

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More major stars intimidating/hurting chicks. These are the heroes! These are fairly mainstream movies.



Above is the poster for Rocco And His Brothers. Are you ready for the spoiler? Rocco’s brother can’t accept that his girlfriend broke up with him awhile back, so he catches her out in a field, wrestles her down, and knifes her in the belly. Great, let’s sell with that! And let that be a warning to you, ladies! Never leave us, if you know what’s good for you. We’ll make a poster out of our bloody revenge.

Then there’s this great subspecies, the spanking poster. All these little fillies need are some swats on the bottom, that’ll set ’em straight!


Hey Marge! This movie looks hilarious! Let’s go, and maybe I’ll hysterically spank some sense into you later! Remember, I’m not just your husband, I’m your owner!




This is a French poster for a movie actually named The Second Greatest Sex. So take that, ladies!


Lastly, Bluebeard. If any of these posters has an excuse it’s this one, since the whole point of it is he kills women, in different and creative ways. Still, I don’t see a whole lot of stars signing up for this sort of thing these days.

Search For Beauty

Search For Beauty (Erle Kenton, 1934)

Search For Beauty is available on DVD in the newish “Pre-Code Hollywood Collection” from Universal. It teaches us that somewhere between Busby Berkeley and Leni Riefenstahl, there lives Erle C. Kenton.

Erle directed one certifiable classic before this, Island of Lost Souls, which come to think of it isn’t a million miles away from eugenics in it’s own right. He went on to herd some of the last classic Universal horror dogs and cats (like Ghost of Frankenstein). Here, in Search For Beauty, he’s got a comedy about con man Robert Armstrong trying to make a dishonest buck in the health and beauty game. To that end, he tricks 1932 Olympic swimmers Buster Crabbe and Ida Lupino into fronting the magazine he’s just acquired. With the magazine comes a hotel/health retreat that Buster makes his mission – he recruits the most physically fit young people from around the world to staff the Health Retreat.

When I say “around the world”, I mean white, english-speaking countries naturally. No one with color, a degree of swarthiness, or even a terribly deep tan need apply. Having gathered his Aryan nation, he gives the hotel a Grand Opening, featuring a fitness exhibition of his ever-so-fit, ever-so-white exercising shock troops. The film turns semi-musical, for this show, with music provided by the USC marching band. And so, the spirits of both Berkeley and Riefenstahl (and ol’ Joe Goebbels) are served:

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Yeah, look at all those nations represented in this “International” casting – man, not even the French get a look, and they’re allies.

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The top hat n’ tails, old caucasian rich folk getting catered to in this establishment.

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Natty Buster Crabbe, the one-time Tarzan and future Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, introduces his parade of international purebloods. The women, being athletes, naturally don’t wear bras. The men wear shorts that appear to have been designed by someone who was dreaming on the future invention of lycra. Actually, I suspect the men were cast for their genuine athletic appearance and the women for their ability to not wear a bra.

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Dig the anatomically correct, au naturel statuary in the back. Lily-white of course, no gray plaster/marble for these folks. Those would be mongrel statues (I know, I’m pushing it. Can’t be helped, sorry).

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Words fail. So I’ll not add any.

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The girls get hollow circles and the boys get long sticks. I for one can’t fathom what this might symbolize!

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Stab those circles with your sticks, men! Stab them!

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The Buster Crabbe Youth conclude by kneeling before their masters, placing their Health and Beauty at the audiences’ disposal.

I just wish Jesse Owens would show up and challenge these guys to a race.

And to finish where I started, I don’t really mean to hang this Aryan wet dream around poor Erle Kenton’s neck – he’s a hired gun, he gets the script, he shoots the thing. So y’know, apologies to his heirs and all, but someone’s gotta take the fall for all this.

Let’s see, what else can we take away from Search For Beauty? Well, this is my second time seeing Ida Lupino as a young blonde ingenue (the other being Anything Goes). She’s pretty ineffectual at this sort of thing, and you would never in a million years guess at the hard-as-nails brunette she was to turn into in just a few years, such as in Moontide below. A startling transformation, not just of look but of Star Quality – from boring to fantastic, with a change of hair color?

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Gertrude Michaels is another high point – she takes the acting honors, playing the wisegal tough broad helping Robert Armstrong scam Crabbe and Lupino. Wise is the word, too – she’s got the same script everyone else has, but she’s the only one making a play for anything like subtlety or multi-dimensional characterization. Ahead of her time, at least on this production. The disc I viewed the film on shares space with Murder at the Vanities, a precode Mitch Leisen musical comedy in which Gertrude once again plays the bad girl. She should have gone on to bigger and better.

Lastly, there’s this: Towelsnapping! I bet you didn’t know that in the locker rooms of the Olympic Games, competitors from around the world went around snapping towels at their naked pals and chasing each other through the showers in the altogether.

Well now you do.

Euro Stairs of Horror! #7 (American Cousin)

Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)



I like baseball. I don’t follow it day-to-day as closely as I might like. But yesterday was the interleague trading deadline, and about 2/3 of the way through the season, making this a fine time to check in on how everyone’s year is going.

Starting alphabetically (AL over NL), and left to right (West Coast over East Coast), we see the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in first place in the AL West playing .600 ball, 60-40.


The Texas Rangers are in second, 3 games back, and attempting to survive their annual swoon in the searing Texas heat of August.


My own Seattle Mariners have wisely written off the year, 8 games back.


Bringing up the division rear, Billy Beane’s (Soderburgh film about him, Moneyball apparently went into turnaround at the last minute) Oakland A’s are buried 17 1/2 back.


The Detroit Tigers, 53-47, hold a two-game edge in the AL Central


The always competetive Minnesota Twins are right behind them.


A narrow half-game behind the Twins are the Chicago White Sox. They traded for Jake Peavy today.

dances whitesox

The Cleveland Indians are 12 back and blowing the thing up for some serious rebuilding.


The Kansas City Royals are being the Kansas City Royals, which is to say they’re in last place.


Over in the AL East, the hated New York Yankees are the hottest team in the American League, and two games in first place.


The Boston Red Sox are in second and trading wildly to try and make up ground.

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Defending AL champs the Tampa Bay Rays are 7 back and on the edge of getting knocked out.


The Toronto Blue Jays are 13 games back and playing out the string.


The Baltimore Orioles are 18 back, wondering when they’ll ever be a factor again in this division.


The Los Angeles Dodgers are 63-39, the best record in baseball. Naturall, they’re leading in the NL West.


The surprising San Francisco Giants are riding Timmy Lincecum, and 7 games behind the Dodgers. Theyr’re well-positioned to win the Wild Card.


The Colorado Rockies are right there with them, 7 1/2 back.


The Arizona Diamondbacks’ season is effectively over, 19 games out of it.


The San Diego Padres are even worse, 22 1/2 back and quite done.


As I write, Lou Piniella and the Chicago Cubs are tied for first in the NL Central.


The St. Louis Cardinals are tied with the Cubs.


The Milwaukee Brewers are still in it, 3 1/2 games back.

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As are the Houston Astros (it’s a tight division, as it so often is).


The Cincinnati Reds are 9 1/2 back and done.


So are the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10 1/2 back and selling assets.


The Philadelphia Phillies are 58-42 and having little trouble repeating as NL East champs.


The Florida Marlins are hanging around, 5 1/2 back.


The Atlanta Braves are 7 out, basically a .500 team.


The New York Mets are 9 1/2 back, yet again looking like the Yankees’ bullied little brother.


The hapless Washington Nationals, 32-71, 27 games back and the worst team in baseball.


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