"ADVERSITY MAKES men, prosperity makes monsters," said Victor Hugo.
Well, in Hollywood, monsters make prosperity!
•AS we all know, Godzilla decimated the box-office over the weekend, and even pulled in a lot of favorable reviews. Movies like this don't always depend on reviews, but positive critique is always welcomed. (And most Godzilla fanboys seem pleased with director Gareth Edwards effort.)
As an amused admirer of the original 1954 Godzilla and some of the other Japanese monster movies of the era -- The H-Man, Rodan, etc. -- 2014's re-tooling is a worthy addition to the genre. There is enough "story" to keep adults alert, and enough chaos and destruction to please children of all ages. (The poor Statue of Liberty is once again battered. That beautiful woman needs to ask for a restraining order!)
There wasn't quite enough of Bryan Cranston to please me, but what he did as an anguished scientist was memorable. And there was even less of the divine Juliett Binoche. But, let's face it, who were we really sitting in the theater for? The other actors know their lines and don't bump into the creatures.
I saw it in 2-D and it was just fine, Godzilla still seemed to leap out at me. Despite what we sometimes say, movies are still movies and monsters never die!
•SPEAKING of old vs. new, on Sunday on TCM, I caught that patriotic all-star Warner Bros. extravaganza, 1943's Thank Your Lucky Stars.
This musical lured every WB star on the lot who could carry a tune (and some who couldn't!) It is the epic that famously displays Bette Davis croaking out "They're Either Too Young or Too Old," and also being tossed around in a frighteningly athletic manner by a WB chorus boy.
But even richer are Olivia de Havilland and Ida Lupino, hamming it up in a ribald vaudeville number...Errol Flynn hoofing and singing (not bad!) in, appropriately, a pub...Ann Sheridan, luscious in negligee and a glittery snood, huskily advising a group of startled young maidens that "Love Isn't Born, It's Made." (The subtext of this number seemed to be, "put out, girls, there's a war on and you'll be doing your duty!")...Alexis Smith dancing and looking like a goddess. (WB really missed the boat building Alexis up properly. As with MGM's Angela Lansbury, it took Broadway to finally reveal all her talents.)
And, in this movie, there is also the great Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, and a troupe of African American singers and dancers performing the controversial "Ice Cold Katie" number. It was controversial then because it had to be cut from prints of the movie shown in the South. It's controversial today because some find it too stereotypical. But it is the film's liveliest number. It shows African American men as U.S. soldiers, and the group of women who are berating Ice Cold Katie -- 'cause she won't marry her Army boyfriend before he ships out -- are as finger snapping and "uh-huhing" as any fine-looking no-nonsense ladies today. ("Attitude" is really nothing new!)
That was all fun. Then, later in the evening, I felt obligated to watch the Billboard Awards. I turned it on just as two young women in cheerleader outfits were running around in front of a frantic screaming crowd. The only fairly discernable lyric sounded like "doodoo." No, no, no.
Later, I saw Katy Perry on top of a giant birthday cake. She looked like she was having a good time. Still, there was too much I didn't know or couldn't understand. I gave up and missed the Michael Jackson hologram. And you know what? I didn't even go to YouTube to see what I'd missed. I knew Michael. Others can acquaint themselves with his hologram.
I just "thanked my lucky stars" that I've lived as long as I have, can appreciate what was past, a fair amount of what is present and know that I needn't be ashamed or alarmed I didn't know who the "doodoo" cheerleaders were.
Back in the day, bobby-soxers were the devils's playthings to many of the older generation. And if you don't know what bobby-soxers are, be modern, like me -- Google it!
•THE LOVE affair of Charlize Theron and Sean Penn continues apace! The goddess and the great actor might seem like an odd couple, but don't tell them. Don't tell Sean especially!
I was charmed by a recent photograph of the pair at the premiere of Charlize's new film, A Million Ways to Die In The West. There is Charlize, gorgeous in a black lace number, gazing out at the paparazzi. And there is Sean, gazing up at Charlize (she's a towering girl), looking like a kid who broke into the candy shop and can't believe his luck. Sweet, really.
•ENDQUOTE: "So what if it's 'Ishtar" in haute couture and a tiara, I can't wait to see it!" That's what a friend of mine, a great appreciator of movies so bad they are good, said about the now notorious Grace of Monaco, which recently opened the Cannes Film Festival.
Oh, it might not be as bad as rumored. And if it is, well -- who doesn't need a good laugh these days?