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Author Topic: BritBox
Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: BritBox
on: May 29, 2018, 15:25
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I’m watching the 1975 version of “The Stepford Wives” right now. Forgot that it had Tina Louise in it. Everyone in Stepford appears to drive a Ford Grand Torino wood-paneled wagon. That’s one humongous chunk of metal. Two chicks get in an accident in the grocery store parking lot…despite the fact that one of the box boys was directing traffic. One assumes they would need someone there full time. I’m sure you’ve all seen jokes like this.

I had always thought this was a made-for-TV movie. But it’s widescreen. It has that 70’s made-for-TV look. I’m so glad we evolved out of those wide collars.

Timothy-
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Post Re: BritBox
on: May 29, 2018, 16:49
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That was a nice joke, and I can certainly see the connection. I recall seeing the movie preview (decent, but the best movie preview I ever saw has to have been the one for Man's Favorite Sport, which made clear the point of the title without ever explicitly saying it -- obvious even to a kid like me), and then the movie itself. Remember that the women were robots, so they shouldn't have gotten into an accident unless they were programmed for bad driving. Was that the one in which the "injured" one was taken to the Men's Club rather than the hospital?

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: BritBox
on: May 29, 2018, 21:56
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I finished the 1975 version of “The Stepford Wives.” One reason I thought this was a TV-movie is because it has the low-budget look of one. And at 115 minutes it’s like a Twilight Zone episode that has run on too long.

But the setup — the first hour or so — is pretty good as you watch “normal” Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss encounter the Good Housekeeping Seal girls and slowly begin to wonder if something is up. But unlike, say, the original Westworld, you don’t get much deeper into the sci-fi aspects of it. The final hour is rather dull as it really does offer very little new or interesting. It’s just blah blah blah. Talk talk talk.

The best moment in it was when Ross and Prentiss were going around the Stepford neighborhood trying to recruit wives to join their feminist organization. One of the wives (I think it was my favorite…Carol Van Sant played by Nanette Newman) isn’t buying what Prentiss and Ross are selling and does a very good job explaining that she is happy doing just what she is doing. She’s so genuine and convincing that Prentiss and Ross wonder if they aren’t the weird ones themselves.

Tina Louise is great in this and looks wonderful. I’ve never seen her look or act better. Her role isn’t huge but she is effective. All of the men in the film are pretty much interchangeable and forgettable, including Patrick O’Neal as the ring leader. The plot is just too thin for the men to have much to do.

But Prentiss and Louise, in particular, add some sparkle to the film. Ross is okay as the main wife getting roped into all this, but I wish (as the IMDB trivia notes) that Diane Keaton hadn’t turned down the role. I think she would have brought more to it although Ross was more than fine.

From what I’ve read, the 2004 remake is a dog. But this is a concept (based on a book…which is apparently a dark comedy) still waiting to be filmed well. This simple-minded script would have worked better in about about 90 minutes or slightly less. A longer runtime is just begging to add some intricacies to it. Maybe all of the men didn’t like the tame housewife. Maybe others liked something else.

But I guess the “social” message is that rich white men want beautiful, compliant homemaking babes. The funny thing is, from reading his biography, Frank Sinatra had just that in his first wife but chased after the problematic and definitely non-Stepford Ava Gardner. Yes, I get the feminist message in this movie. But it’s wrapped up in a very simplistic story.

Timothy-
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Post Re: BritBox
on: May 29, 2018, 22:14
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Was Tina Louise the one who played Charmaine Wimperis? Sounds like it from the description, and those 3 (and I guess Carol Van Sant) are the main female characters. (In Phyllis Ann Karr's parody sequel, "The Steptoe Husbands", she was Charming Whimpering, as I recall. The most appropriate parody name she came up with was Wally Everhard.)

Ira Levin is/was generally leftist, and certainly seemed to write a lot about men victimizing women (as in both A Kiss Before Dying and Deathtrap, though both are very fine works).

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: BritBox
on: May 29, 2018, 22:16
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She was indeed Charmaine. Please squeeze the Charmaine.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: BritBox
on: June 21, 2018, 12:30
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I watched 3-part detective mini-series from 2011 called Zen. It’s rather good. Catch it if you can find it. It’s on Britbox at the moment.

Rufus Sewell plays a near extinct species of male star. He speaks softly and carries a big stick. Or at least a gun, although he mostly peddles around in one of those little toys that in Europe they call “cars” which doesn’t help with his macho image, at least from an American perspective. But, hey, they’re used to downsizing in Europe. Still, Zen has the art of the Kiplingesque keeping his head while all those around go a bit daft.

It’s too bad that they did not extend this series. It’s most unlike nearly everything else on TV. It’s not perfect but it meets my first threshold: It’s not stupid. And it certainly exudes an air of sophistication and understatement.

Aurelio Zen is a Venetian on a police force further south. He stands out because he’s one of the few in the police force known not to be corrupt. And the push-pull of this series is, try as they might, he remains defiant and incorruptible in his own quiet way.

The gist of the show is that higher-up ministers (and who knows who) tap the known uncorrupt cop, Zen, on the shoulder for special-assignment work. This work would appear to be mostly about covering the tails of an alleged secret organization and/or just the rich and powerful in general. Zen is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t on these cases. He has to try to split the baby and make everyone happy.

Clearly this was written to play out in more than three episodes. I suspect that because it didn’t appeal to today’s mindless Yuteanderthals that it wasn’t extended to a second season and beyond. Too bad. But it is another good reason to check out BritBox.

Timothy-
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Post Re: BritBox
on: June 21, 2018, 13:11
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If Zen (which doesn't sound like a very Italian name) is a cop in southern Italy, then it's no surprise that he's surrounded by corruption. (Mostly this isn't the Mafia, which is important mainly around Palermo, but other organized criminal gang.) The miracle would be that he isn't personally mired in it, and apparently that's likely to happen soon. Maybe that's why they didn't continue the series.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: BritBox
on: June 24, 2018, 19:32
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If Zen (which doesn't sound like a very Italian name) is a cop in southern Italy, then it's no surprise that he's surrounded by corruption.

It’s interesting that Italy has so many kidnappings that they have a law that freezes the bank account of the family and business of the kidnapee to try to disincentivize this type of crime. The third (and last) episode of Zen (and the best one of the three) deals with a kidnapping.

Alas, only three episodes were made. However, fear not, detective series fans, I’ve found another that is suitable for viewing for the dedicated crime enthusiast: Wycliffe.

First off, I’m not really sure why I like it. Jack Sheridan, as Det. Supt. Wycliffe, is a sober, perhaps boring, main character. He’s completely unexcitable, methodically professional, and scrupulously steady.

For a detective show, the plots are solid enough, gaining a little from being a little more straightforward instead of a series of roller-coaster-like twists and turns as is typical of the genre.

I suppose in the end what is appealing is that it is sober and not stupid. Dedicated crime-show watchers should at least give a couple episodes a try.

Timothy-
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Post Re: BritBox
on: June 24, 2018, 19:46
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According to the wikipedia entry on Wycliffe, the series (which lasted 5 seasons with 7 or 8 episodes each) was initially based on the original books, which were typical detective novels with quirky plots, but later they focused more heavily on office politics. Apparently the police work is pretty accurate, though Wycliffe relies heavily on his knowledge of people.

Incidentally, there was a well-regarded remake of Ninotchka in 1960. There was only a brief description of it in wikipedia. The main characters were played by Maria Schell and Gig Young.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: BritBox
on: June 24, 2018, 20:00
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Let me warn you against the British police series, "DCI Banks." The main character is a brooding, shallow, over-emoting wimp who must be about 6'4" tall.

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