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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Old film review

Boozing, alcohol, units and the like are something I’ve blogged about a little too much recently. But heh, why let that stop me. I’ll be having a proper drink tomorrow among beer geeks, so I’ll blog about that soon. A weekly ritual of mine appears to have developed. One of reading through the TV guide and setting the telly recorder for any films I fancy watching. I spotted an old black and white film called “The days of wine and roses” on at about 2 in the morning recently, one I was vaguely aware was about alcoholism but I’d never seen. I quite like old movies and am quite happy to watch black and white films, not requiring a contemporary remake in colour before I’ll touch it. It starred Jack Lemmon & Lee Remick. One old movie I really do like is called “Some like it hot” with Jack Lemmon, a comedy that breezes along at a pace and has men dressed as women thrown in for good measure. Marilyn Monroe plays a drunk in that one, but with amusing rather than dark consequences. Despite the dark subject matter of the late night film I decided to underline it in red on the recorder and give it a go. After all, boozing is in the news and it might be interesting to look at an old black and white view on the subject.

When I got round to watching it, the first things I noticed were the points that make many old films inaccessible. I watched the film with contemporary eyes, having no direct knowledge and experience of the era the film was made in. The fashions stand out, the hats all the guys are wearing; the fact the guy works in an office but has no PC on his desk. What did he do all day with no t'internet to piss about on? The fact that all the executives are white males and the only women are secretaries. All of this type of stuff stands out to me and detracts from the drama. I even notice the lighting black and white films have, lighting up faces to show the actors expressions when the only way that lighting could realistically occur was if when the actor is looking into his child’s cot, the baby is shining a torch back at him. But that’s old black and white films.

The story starts off with Jack Lemmon as an obvious boozer who starts to date Lee Remicks “dozy lass” character. On the first date, he’s knocking back whiskey from a bottle in his coat pocket. She isn’t a drinker but he gets her on the booze with a chocolate cocktail. They marry, have a kid, and both sink a lot of booze. This leads to her burning down the apartment when drunk and him losing a series of jobs after getting the sack from his executive PR job. At this point I almost turned off. It appeared to me a run of the mill flawed morality tale about weak characters fucking up their lives. The bloke was obviously a controlling drunk to start with, she a weak willed dope that should have thought twice about him on the first date. But as I was halfway through, I continued. The film got slightly better before falling off a cliff into the realms where it was impossible to suspend disbelief. To engage in a film you have to accept what is occurring, essentially to believe and engage with the plot, even if it involves crap with aliens with pointy ears. At least temporally for the duration of the film. I could believe the point where Jack Lemmon sees his own reflection in a window, decides he’s a bum and rather than go into the bar he goes home and talks to his wife. I could believe it when they go and live with her Dad, go on the wagon and life looks up. I liked the bit where he walks into the kitchen and his father in law is having a beer, offers him one and he declines, instead going up to his wife to secretly get drunk. At this point the film was subtle in the points it was making and more effective for being so. He then ends up in a straight jacket in a looney bin, and a young Quincy from AA offers him help, which he takes. A looney bin? That happened quickly. Really? The drama fell off a cliff at that point. I accepted early doors that I was watching a propagandistic morality tale, but that for me this was the point where we found out the pointy eared alien was half human, begging the question how 2 species from 2 planets can mate, when we know that 2 species from the same planet cannot mate even if closely linked in an evolutionary sense. My belief could not be suspended and the film fell apart. Quincy saved it slightly as the AA guy, helping our main protagonist with a character that served to narrate the proceedings with his actions.

The films continued with the bloke joining AA and getting his life together, and the woman refusing AA and falling into a life of alcoholism and casual sex. He tries to help her but she doesn’t take it, misery ensues for all. In the closing scene we see the woman walking away past a neon “Bar” sign as the bloke looks forlornly on. The misery of drink in case we’d missed the point. The only redeeming feature of the final act was the coy way the film dealt with the woman’s sexual promiscuity. Inferring it in the way films of that era did with anything sex related. It made me think of those Doris Day films where a married couple share a room but sleep in two separate single beds.

All in all, what did I think of the film? Absolute tosh. Complete crap. The pudding was over egged to the point of getting an omelette. Was I more informed about alcoholism? Not in any discernable sense. What did I learn from it? If you go on a date, and your date is swigging whisky from a bottle in the coat pocket, decline the second date even if the bird in question is Alesha Dixon.

What did I drink when watching this tosh? Two 275ml bottles of Carlsberg Export. Figure the units yourself.


I am Stan said...

Yo CL,

I`ll give the film a miss then, moving on to Miss Dixon, well thanks for the link to her new single "Every little part of me",

Well the song is crap although I imagine seeing every little part of Miss Dixon would be an enjoyable experience.

Presently enjoying a large glass of Chardonnay and two cheese toasties.

Budget cuts you know...BAH!

Cooking Lager said...

It is piss poor, Stan. Thumbs down from me. It can be fruitful looking through the late night films and recording a few. You can get some foreign language filth on Film4 and BBC4 if you can tolerate "art". You can't argue with filth if it art.

Sid Boggle said...

Jack Lemon? Any relation to Keith Lemon?

Professor Pie-Tin said...

I started watching this film the other night but fell asleep because I was pissed.
Thanks for telling me what I missed.

Cooking Lager said...

It was miserable, Pie Tin, you missed nowt. Far better off with a DVD of Harold and Kumar get the munchies.

Tyson said...

I like Jack lemmon and Lee Remick, but not a film I care for, I fear. Good (oscar winning) theme tune by the great Henry Mancini, though.