Monday, 22 December 2014



Elizabeth Gage goes out with a bang with the last of her five book deal with Simon & Schuster.  INTIMATE is one roller coaster ride of secrets and sins among the rich.  The main sufferers are three beautiful specimens (aren’t they all?) whose interconnections end up destroying one of the trio.  Jordan Lazarus has come from nothing and is now one of America’s richest men but he’s far from being happy, especially in the matters of the heart.  That is until he meets Leslie Chamberlain, a blue color type who also rises up to become one hot commodity in the advertising world.  But she has secrets of her own, big ones that will eventually destroy their relationship.  In comes Jill Fleming, a double-crossing sociopathic chameleon who uses men and women to satisfy her every need.  When she sets her eyes on Lazarus, fireworks, until he realizes the evil of her ways; then it’s cuckoo time as she becomes nuttier and nuttier for the sake of owning him.  Of course there’s more to the plot but since I don’t want to give away anything major, I’d better leave it at that.
What’s safe to say is that, whatever lies between the covers, you’ll end up devouring the book in no time—despite the sometimes flawed approach taken.  Because let’s be honest here.  I, being an old pro, can find some predictability in any printed work, and it’s no different with INTIMATE.  Every now and then I found myself guessing its outcome.  But since the novel works aplenty already due to its strong narration and characterization, not to mention a psychological depth rarely used in a fluff piece such as this one, I scarcely minded. Besides, I’d rather focus on the positive when it comes to a Gage.  It makes the reading experience all the more worthwhile.  Especially when the soap bubbles pop, and believe me they often do. 

As in her previous work, sex abounds.  So do well-thought-out plot twists in general.  There’s nothing better than an erotica novel with meat.  It’s all about effectiveness.  And Elizabeth Gage knows how to attain it.  She is, in a way, the E L James (Fifty Shades of Grey) of her time but with a better outcome (but not income, for sure) because she at least can write.  Or he can.  If you’re a regular here or simply a Gage fanatic you probably know of the debate regarding the author’s identity (Elizabeth Gage is a pseudonym).  I think she’s a he, some think otherwise.  But in the end does it really matter?
So why did Gage never became a household name if she’s such a talent?  There’s a back story to this, one I discussed in another post (along with her true identity).  But in a gist, she was underappreciated by her publishers, resulting in low sale of her work.  It’s probably the reason why she moved to Mira Books.  I have yet to read those, which I believe—if based on reviews—to be more toned down.  But it’s all right.  I’ll get to them eventually.  I still have PANDORA'S BOX, which is another big glittery door stopper, to get into.  You can be sure I will savour every moment of it—as I did with INTIMATE.  Find it, read it, love it.

 Until next time—Martin
UK edition


Monday, 8 December 2014


Season four of DYNASTY is all about Peter De Vilbis, the jet setting rogue. Well, not exactly but he does take center stage in regards to Fallon’s storyline.  She’s madly in love with him. Or so she says. But we all know that it isn’t true. How can it be?  The guy’s a total ‘mo.  But for the benefit of the plot, we’ll pretend he isn’t. Of course, I don’t have any proof of this but I have a hunch that he likes nothing better than hanging around West Hollywood when the itch beckons. Fallon seems to be fooled, though, except for Claudia and Jeff who, like us, know something’s wrong with him. OK, Jeff’s still enamored with Fallon and will do anything to get her back, including butting heads with the competition.  But that just doesn’t erase the fact that he sees right through Mr. De Vilbis, whose last name, by the way, couldn’t be more… devilish.  

But moving on… After rescuing Alexis and Krystle from a flaming cabin Mark—Krystle’s ex—is accused of starting the fire in the first place.  Though the real culprit is Joseph the major-domo, it takes a few episodes before Marky boy is off the hook. He then becomes Alexis’s bodyguard before someone pushes him off a balcony ledge to his death.  As for Joseph, well, after being discovered as the true firestarter (move over Drew Barrymore), he offs himself with a handgun, turning his pregnant daughter into a vengeful wimp when she discovers he’d been blackmailed by Alexis (over his wife’s—Kirby’s mom—rep). Yes, wimp, because her conscience takes over before she’s able to pull the trigger on Alexis even though the dragon lady deserves it so.  As if that wasn’t complicated enough, it turns out that the father of her unborn child is none other than debonair but rapist Adam.  But don’t tell husband Jeff that.   Though he’s already back shacking up with Fallon, he wants to be a good husband and father. Until he finds out the real deal about Kirby and Adam, that is. Then it’s every man for himself as he fistfights Adam on the rooftop of the Carrington plaza. Since it’s a double whammy for Adam, him being a rapist and a poisoner (tried to kill Jeff with it in season three and Jeff now knows) Adam is almost a goner but not quite. The show needs him to raise more hell, not to mention to support wimpy Kirby whose storyline has gone awry. 

But the best reason to watch season four, in my opinion, is to feast your eyes on newcomer Dex Dexter whom I call Sex Sexter on account of his rugged virility. I mean the guy oozes sex appeal even when he burps. “I don’t bend for anyone”, he warns Blake in one episode. Oh I’ll just bet you don’t. Where is Steven when we need him?  Oh yeah, he’s off fighting his dad and Sammy Jo for custody of his son, which he finally obtains after marrying cuckoo Claudia. Although this union doesn’t please mama Alexis she has other fishes to fry like bending for Sex Sexter for instance. Their hook up is the best thing that could ever happen to her.  It makes her almost likable. 

Since she got remarried to Blake (first one was annulled), Krystle wants to be a better wife, which means working for him as a publicist at Denver Carrington (why?  Just enjoy the wealth, honey). Enter Tracy who’s all sweet and doe-eyed as Krystle’s secretary but is really a woman scorned. She wants Krystle’s position and will stop at nothing to get it, even seducing Blake which he does not take very kindly and fires her. Then she changes camp to Colbyco’s but quits when Alexis wants her to bed a client. She is never seen again.

I could go on and on about the plots and subplots but let just say that season four ends up with Fallon as a runaway bride (bid adieu to Pamela Sue Martin who wants off the series), Kirby running off to Europe for good (bye-bye), Alexis getting arrested for the murder of Mark Jennings, and the revelation that a black wealthy socialite singer could be Blake’s sis (oh the shade of it all!); all in all, a strong season, even though the first Fallon will be greatly missed (hint, hint!).  And this goes even for you, Mark Jennings.  You were kind of a hottie yourself.


Until next post—Martin



Sunday, 23 November 2014


I’ve been meaning to review this book ever since I landed my hands on it, but here we are, almost a year later and nothing.  So I’m finally doing it. Here it goes: I first caught sight of Jilly Cooper’s megahit RIDERS in 1985 when it hit the shelves. I was close to my 20s and mostly a horror geek but the sight of that guy’s hand touching the woman’s derrière on that now-infamous cover made me want to flip the pages very quickly. Still it took me almost 25 years to finally do so, but when I did, it was fireworks, let me tell you.  

First and foremost, I’ve got to say that the novel looks like a door stopper. It’s over 900 pages, but contrary to other big books, this one goes by real quick. It’s all about horses and sex, rich folks and sex.  Did I say sex?  The author spends as much time dwelling on this as explaining the ABCs of show jumping, which is fun but less stimulating, if you get my drift. I mean, I was ready to light up a cigarette every time super stud Rupert Campbell-Black’s prowess as a ladies man came to an end. Oh, make no mistake, the guy’s a big douchebag, but what a piece of man candy he is; and he becomes somewhat less arrogant as you go along. All thanks to the author’s keen ability to juggle him and other colorful characters through their wicked ways which lead them to the Los Angeles Olympics for the final showdown.

Truth be told, Rupert Campbell-Black isn’t as much the lead character as he is part of an ensemble team that starts with good guy Jake Lovell who’s on a quest to steal the spotlight from Black. Of course the novel has a few flaws, the biggest it being somewhat predictable, like (BIG SPOILER AHEAD) having their team win the big championship in the end, for instance. I mean, duh. But overall it is a great reading experience that has an impressive enough plot, strong characterization and a cheeky sense of humour only the British can excel at. I’ll definitely move on to Cooper's second novel. Let’s just hope that my review of it will appear sooner this time around. 

Until next time—Martin 
US paperback cover

Sunday, 26 October 2014


Having been a connoisseur of glam fiction for a while now, I earned the right to be selective. But there was a time when I used to read anything from anyone as long as it was categorized as trash.  Not anymore.  I’ve been around the block too many a times and I need to concentrate on what makes my brain—and another bodily function—pop.  Hence Havana Adams’ ebook BLACK DIAMOND, which centers around a set of twins, who, under nebulous circumstances (at least they are to them), are torn apart at a young age, only to be reunited almost two decades later. It’s in between those years that the novel focuses mostly. In one corner we have a spoiled rich Hollywood celebutante who makes all the wrong choices; and in the other a poor overweight but strong-willed black sheep who yearns more out of life in the UK.  Cheating lovers, two-timing friends, drug taking, and child abuse are just some of the heartaches plaguing these girls before coming face to face eventually.
What I like most about BLACK DIAMOND, besides its strong but clear narrative, is the sure way the author handles her plot.   She isn’t afraid of getting into the psyche of her characters, digging a little deeper than we’re used to even, to tell her story. Not only are her heroines completely fleshed-out but she throws in a few (believable) curve balls that make BLACK DIAMOND an even more compelling read. Though she could have done without the big kidnapping denouement of one of her girls (and some omnipresent typos), which to me blemishes the essence of an already strong story, this is an overall impressive first novel—a rare attribute in this era of overindulgent e-books.  Now if her second novel REMEMBER MY NAME is as exciting as this one, I’ll definitely move her up as a must-read novelist.

BLACK DIAMOND is published by Carina UK and you can get it wherever ebooks are sold.



Until next post—Martin


Monday, 6 October 2014


Oh papa, I do love you”.  This line taken from the big-screen adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s second novel THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT somehow stuck with me throughout the years.  Whenever I think of the movie or its stars, I always blurt out the line, which ultimately became a catch phrase in my entourage (meaning my boyfriend).   It certainly sets the tone for the film ridiculous but so addictive story of love gone wrong.  In fact, most of Sheldon’s adaptations are about bad relationships.  Whether set in WWII (THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT) or in Hollywood (A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR) or in Romania behind the Iron-Curtain (WINDMILLS OF THE GODS) no one is left unfazed, which to trash connoisseurs like you and I is pure joy. 

The first time I ever laid eyes on a Sheldon book was when RAGE OF ANGELS was topping the paperback best-seller lists, which was around 1981 if I remember correctly.  I was in my late teens, having spent my youth reading solely horror.  But I had a friend who introduced me to the author swearing I was going to have as much of a swell time.  At first I was a bit hesitant.  How could he ever top the likes of King, Koontz or Saul (yes, Saul)?  But ultimately he did.  That’s how I came to know about fast-paced, sexually-charged roman à clefs that could literary blow my mind.  Strange that it occurred during my tumultuous bouts of my own sexuality, but it did, in a big way.   From then on I was a Sheldon man, grabbing any work of his I could get my hands on.  When I finished with him, I switched to Jackie Collins, then after her, Harold Robbins.   I mean, I was on a roll. 

In 1983 I became even more ecstatic when I found out there was to be a mini-series adaptation of RAGE OF ANGELS on NBC, and it was going to star my fave Charlie’s angel, Jaclyn Smith.  Suffice to say I had the greatest time watching her in it.  The TV event was such a rating success that it spawned a sequel (the only one not based on a Sheldon novel) and many other adaptations like MASTER OF THE GAME in ’84, IF TOMORROW COMES in ’86, MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT in ’91…   Speaking of MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT, this one is the sequel to the megahit THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT released on the big screen in 1977.   I saw it on TV some late night in the mid-80s.  The late Marie-France Pisier does a fabulous job playing mega-bitch Noelle.  Her journey from the slums of Paris to the beds of the most powerful men around the globe makes for a fun trashy experience.  And no one does it better than Sheldon since he wrote the screenplay. 

Rumor has it that Susan Sarandon, who plays the other lead (Catherine), refuses to talk about the film, that she’s even omitted it from her filmography.  A shame, for I certainly would be interested to know of her input; however negative it may turns out to be.  As for Sheldon’s later works, though not all slam-dunks, they always brought me joy.  They still do today with author Tilly Bagshawe taking over after his death in 2007.  But one thing’s for sure:  there will never be another one like him.  He was the best in the business.  So rest in piece, dear sir.  But you are surely missed. 


Until next post—Martin



Monday, 15 September 2014


As expected, style wins over substance in this Ann-Margret comedy from 1966.  In it she plays a fashion buyer who is sent to Paris (more like a Hollywood soundstage really) to purchase creations from hot fashion designer Louis Jourdan.  Of course he only wants to bed her.  In fact, every guy she meets wants a piece of la Ann.  But she refuses to give in, even to hunky Chad Everett, her boss’ son (for whom I would drop my trousers in a sec).  He is so into her that, when a fashion crisis arises, he takes no time in joining her to save the day.  But when she ends up having men trouble with both Jourdan and Everett, she quits her job and goes on a binge drinking with Everett’s womanizer friend Richard Crenna (who, of course, wants to do her as well).  It all ends up with Margaret having a heart to heart talk with her three gentlemen and choosing bachelor number one, Everett, as husband potential.

What’s left to say about this little piece of fluff?  A lot, starting with the fabulous wardrobe Miss Margret gets to wear (designed by Oscar great Helen Rose).  I swear it’s like watching RuPaul’s Drag Race all over again.  Every piece screams drag queen. Big hair, big hats, pointy beaded tits… and chiffons, lots of chiffons.  I could admire this shit all day, even if it’s only there to derive us from the no plot plot. Because yes, MADE IN PARIS is mostly depthless, awkward even —just like the performance of its leading lady.  OK I may be a little too harsh here.  ‘Cause even though she’s on the paste and copy mode from her last dozen films, she’s still a likable character.  The girl has star quality, no doubt about it. But it would have been fun to see a different side of her this time around. However, as this was during the star system craze where one had to be at the mercy of the studio, it took years before some big shot realized she had more to offer than her sexy self.


Nevertheless, despite these flaws, MADE IN PARIS is still a blast.  It reminds light fares such as WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960), THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954) or THE PLEASURE SEEKERS (another Ann-Margret vehicle made two years earlier, in 1964).  It may not be as soapy as VALLEY OF THE DOLLS or PEYTON PLACE but the bubbles do pop. As for Jourdan and the rest of the cast, besides being used only to elevate the star’s appeal, they do have a certain je ne sais quoi as they go at it with their eyes shut.  But it hardly matters.  For the importance is not to be overly impressed by riveting performances or intricate plot points but to be tickled by an overdone Hollywood production that should have known better from the start.

Until next post—Martin

Sunday, 17 August 2014



Like many of you, I read the best-selling novel BEACHES by Iris Rainer Dart before seeing the Gary Marshall film.  The year was 1987 and I had just gotten my first apartment near the gay village, and to quote Bette Davis in BEYOND THE FOREST (1949), what a dump it was.  No style no natural light just two square rooms.  BUT it was my dump and the best part was I could bring back as many guys as I wanted.  Not that I was the slut of all time but like many healthy gay men in their 20s I had a high libido. I didn’t have the luxury to have a serious boyfriend then (that would come five years later) so I loved playing the field. But back to BEACHES.  Just like the novel, the film caught the essence of what real friendship is all about, thanks mostly to screenwriter Mary Agnes Donoghue’s faithful adaptation which helped the leading ladies give riveting performances.  Of course I was already a fan of Bette Midler.  How could you not be?  She had been on our side for as long as I can remember, and for that we’ll forever be grateful.  I had caught many of her comedies on screen, her career being on an upswing since DOWN AND OUT IN BEVERLY HILLS in 1982.  But it wasn’t until BEACHES that I realized that she really could play serious too (by then, I had never seen 1979 THE ROSE for which she was nominated for an Oscar).    

But BEACHES is more than just a drama.  There are many moments of hilarity (as expected since it is a Midler film).  But because of the subject matter (death and friendship) most of the wisecracks are played down.  Midler plays CC Bloom, the extraverted singing sensation from the Bronx who makes it big but crashes as hard throughout 30 odd years.  Early on as a young girl (played by BLOSSOM and THE BIG BANG THEORY Mayim Bialik) she meets demure Hillary Whitney, also a kid but from the right side of the track.  Together they embark on an unlikely friendship that will endure the test of time.  Then one of them is diagnosed with a deadly heart disease and, well, you probably know the rest.  But for those who have yet to discover the film, trust me, you are in for a swell time. Yes it’s a tad too melodramatic and yes Midler is often at the vocals (some à la MTV), but the film works 100% for the simple fact that both characters are very much appealing.   

Although it is clearly a Midler vehicle (since it’s her own company that produces the film), we can’t overlook the fabulous job Barbara Hershey does as CC’s BFF.   Her quiet but classy Hillary is the perfect antipode to CC’s wild antics.  She not only plays it with class but adds a dose of insecurity and frivolity just right for the character.  And I bet anyone to not feel sorry for her when she, alone at the public library, discovers the truth about her health.   Sure, the Midler tune helps the scene a great deal, but I’m sure Hershey would have nailed it without.  Heck, play the scene with no sound and you’ll see what I mean.  Truth be told, I was a tad sceptic when I found out she was going to share the screen with Midler.  I always figured her to be too “serious” an actress to be caught in this type of film.  But boy was I wrong.  It clearly looks like she’s having the time of her life.   

I went to the first screening in December of ’88 then again the next day (right before Christmas Eve’s dinner).  That just how wonderful I thought the film was overall.  Today?  It still holds up.  Quite well, I might add.  Sure it’s a bit excessive at times.  Many times if I’m being real honest, but I wouldn’t change a thing.   That’s melodrama for you.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be as much fun if played otherwise (imagine PEYTON PLACE or VALLEY OF THE DOLLS without the camp).  I certainly wouldn’t rave about it in this great blog of mine. So here’s to you, Midler, Hershey and Marshall, for bringing to the big screen one of the best soapy pieces of the late ‘80s.   May you return in full force real soon.  Just so you know, the author did write a follow-up called I’LL BE THERE if you’re ever in the mood for a sequel.  Besides, the Divine Miss M already has a name for it (via Twitter):  BEACHES 2: THE BEACH IS BACK.  I’m game.  Are you?


Until next post—Martin








Thursday, 24 July 2014



Krista Errickson in LITTLE DARLINGS wasn’t the only one who stroked my fancy during my quest for beauty when I was a teen.  Lori Loughlin (currently in WHEN CALLS THE HEART on the Hallmark channel) quickly came into the picture as well.  I think the first time I ever saw her was on the now-defunct daytime soap THE EDGE OF NIGHT which, if I remember correctly, was always struggling in the ratings back in the early ‘80s.  But how gorgeous was she even then?!  That face, that hair.   She truly was the epitome of the perfect girl—in my eyes anyway.   I’m sure if you talked to her in those days she’d humbly say how incorrect I was.  But boy, what a looker she was.  Anyway, after that soap went off the air, nothing major in her court until she was cast in the campy 1983 horror AMITYVILLE 3-D, playing the first girl who gets it.  I was kind of bummed by her quick demise but at least I got to see her in something else and in 3-D no less.  But a better role came her way two years later in the lovable teen comedy SECRET ADMIRER.  It featured a bunch of talented actors, some seasoned, some younger, but starred C. Thomas Howell who was a big thing to female teens (and to some males, I’m sure) back then.

In it Loughlin plays Toni, the girl next door type who has a secret crush on Howell.  Her anonymous love letter to him sets off a chain of events that make SECRET ADMIRER a fun if totally fluffy experience.  What I liked most about this film, besides connecting with the plot, is the staying power of Loughlin.  She isn’t tossed aside after her triggered mishap, which could have been easily made by director David Greenwalt (who subsequently ended up on GRIMM’s doorstep on ABC).  No, the script calls for her to embark even further into this comedy of errors and the result is quite engaging, I’m telling you. That is, if you can put aside the silly teen male bonding subplot.  How tiresome is that.   But, hey, this type of flicks were a dime a dozen in those days, not to mention specifically aimed at adolescent males with a high dose of libido.  Some were truly effective (FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, CAN’T BUY ME LOVE,  JUST ONE OF THE GUYS…) and some not so much (FRATERNITY VACATION, WEEKEND PASS, JOYSTICKS…).  And like its well-made predecessors, SECRET ADMIRER understood quite well its purpose: to be funny without going too far on the joke.   

Loughlin went on to make all kind of features, from big to small screens, but she truly found her niche when she joined the cast of FULL HOUSE on ABC in 1988.  Sadly, I never watched it.  There’s a limit to my following the careers on my fave stars.  I mean, FULL HOUSE is just too goodie goodie for my taste.  But I’ve heard that she was quite remarkable in it.  I’m not surprised.  Hadn’t she proved her comedic flair in SECRET ADMIRER already? One show I did follow for a while was SUMMERLAND which she starred and co-produced 15 years later.  I know, this one had kids in it as well, BUT it also featured pre-TRUE BLOOD Ryan Kwanten who of course was shirtless most of the times.  So here’s to you, Lori Loughlin, may your beautiful and talented self still be a permanent fixture on our screens for many years to come, just as long as you bring other hotties with you.  And from the way things are looking up (Hallmark has just renewed WHEN CALLS THE HEART for a second season) I wouldn’t be surprised. 


Until next post—Martin  

Sunday, 6 July 2014


Oh my.  Where do I begin?  There’s nothing redeeming in watching this over-expensive piece of fluff.  Except perhaps to chuckle at the many scatterbrained moments involving The Village People. Along with Valerie Perrine, Steve Guttenberg—and yes, the Kardashian dad himself: a young and quite dashing Bruce Jenner—the group sole venture into films is nothing to shout about.  But boy,  what a way to go.  That is, if you can stand two hours of overexposed bonbons shaking.  On the heels of making it big with GREASE, producer Allan Carr decided to bring to the forefront this celebrated disco sextet who’s popularity was already waning before the musical comedy even got released.  That, along with its overall awfulness didn’t help at the box office.  Indeed, the film tanked so much that it is still considered to be one of the biggest bombs to ever grace our screens, and with good reasons.  Starting with the director  of  choice:  Nancy Walker.

If you recall, this short lady used to be a celebrated comedienne, playing, among other things, Rhoda’s mom in the self-titled classic sitcom.  People can also remember her later on as Sophia’s feisty sister in NBC’s The Golden Girls.  Why did Carr choose her to be at the helm of this flick?  Who knows?  But one thing’s for sure: she’s either a lousy director or is the greatest thing to ever happen since Orson Wells, depending to whom you talk.  I personally think she was on the verge of senility.  There is no other explanation for what we’re seeing.  Grant you, after catching Carr’s remake of WHERE THE BOYS ARE a few years later, I’m starting to wonder who’s really to blame.  I mean, have you seen that one too?  Talk about horrible.  I nominate it for a full blown blog entry as well.  But back to our topic at hand.  I sure didn’t expect it to be this bad, but it was.  And not really fun bad.  Just plain bad bad.  And there’s a limit to my loving this type of shit, really. 

The plot—if you can call it that—centers around the making of the Village People.  Guttenberg plays this wet behind the ears songwriter who, besides having an impressive bulge, just can’t stand still when it comes to his career. He wants to make it big, and along with curvy roommate Perrine, who’s a former fashion model turned partner with connections, eventually gets there.  And that includes kneeling on the floor while taking Jenner’s pants off (don’t ask).  Contrary to that last part, it takes time for Guttenberg to assemble our six spotlighted gentlemen but when he does we are treated (?) with plenty of gay-oriented moments such as the YMCA music clip involving many boys in different states of undress.  When male bodies aren’t the sole focus, you can actually taste other avenues such as awful dialogues and situations and a slew of dumber characters after the next (sorry, demure Barbara Rush who plays Jenner’s mom).  Yes, all should be taken with a grain of salt but the slapstick here is just as awful and embarrassing as the off-pitched solo performance of the construction worker who, seconds before, claimed to have had talent.

Am I too hard on this flick?  Absolutely not.  You really have to see it to believe it.  It seems to have become a cult favorite over the years.  Perhaps, but this then-15 year old in the closet gay boy who had first seen and enjoyed the flick back in the day can honestly tell you that, contrary to him, it has not aged well.  I suggest that you lower your expectations or be high as a kite before ever putting the film into your DVD slot.  Otherwise you’ll be left with your mouth agape the whole time wondering why you couldn’t make better use of it.

Until next time—Martin




Wednesday, 25 June 2014




Until next post—Martin


Thursday, 12 June 2014


The following may or may not get reviewed:

Until next post--Martin

Saturday, 31 May 2014



It’s always a chore for me to watch anything involving screen legend Joanne Woodward. Not that she isn’t a  good actress. She has shown her true colors in some of the most sought-after films ever (THE THREE FACES OF EVE, RACHEL RACHEL, SYBIL...). No, the reason I seem to steer clear of anything regarding her is that she is the spitting image of a girl I once knew. One who had made my life a living hell. To make a long story short, her helping me find my way as a gay man is the only good thing that ever came out of that so-called friendship. Fast forward to last night while I’m cleaning out some of my old VHS tapes and wouldn’t you know, one holds a label named THE STRIPPER. Thinking it couldn’t be, I pop the sucker in, and there you have it, the 1963 film starring Woodward, which automatically brings me back to that crazy chick of mine. But now that I’m older and wiser, I shake myself up and focus on the discovery. I had forgotten that I had recorded the film that many years ago and now I am salivating, and with good reasons. This film is a lovable mess. LONELY LADY lovable. Or so I think. Because when I sit my ass down to (re) watch the thing, I realize to my surprise how much better it actually is. And here’s why.
Woodward can act her way out of a paper bag. She’s sort of like the Meryl Streep of her time. In THE STRIPPER she plays a sweet but none too bright wannabe actress passed her prime. She wears her bleach blond hair à la early 60’s Monroe to remind us that she still got it but we all know that she doesn’t, and deep down she knows it too. When her hoodlum of a boyfriend leaves town with all the cash from her gig as a magician assistant, she is forced to stay with her former childhood neighbors, a widowed nurse (silver screen star Claire Trevor) and her troubled adult son Richard Beymer, from INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE and PAPER DOLLS fame. But of course, her bohemian ways disturb. Especially for Beymer who just can’t stop drooling over her. In fact, he secretly yearns to bed her but is too scared to even try. So in the meantime he settles for younger Carol Lynley who’s totally gorgeous but won’t put out.

When circumstances force Woodward to subsequently become a stripper, Beymer tries to put a stop to it but Woodward refuses. She has finally opened her eyes to the ways of the world—now that Beymer has given her up after finally making it with her—and wants nothing to do with him. This scene is the pivotal point of the story and is the film’s best moment. Woodward sparkles as she delivers her venom to a boy who represents all of her bad choices in life. When she succeeds in finally getting rid of him, as of her hoodlum of a boyfriend who’s back in the picture, she goes one step further in her epiphany. Just like Jerilee Randall does in THE LONELY LADY or Nomi Malone in SHOWGIRLS, she chooses to leave it all behind and start anew. So off she goes to another town in hoping to find happiness and herself this time around. But though we wish her the very best, deep down we have a hunch she’ll never make it. She is damaged goods, and we all know how girls like her turn out in Hollywood films.
THE STRIPPER is based on a play by William Inge (GOOD LUCK, MISS WYCKOFF) and is directed by Franklin J. Schaffner who afterwards helmed such hits as the original PLANET OF THE APES and PAPILLON. Even if it has its share of wackiness (like the magic show sequence which looks like a psychedelic bad trip on acid), it is an overall great movie experience. I wonder if Ms Woodward feels the same. I doubt it—since the film was bombarded with negative reviews at the time. But I for one love it and urge anyone to check it out—if you ever find a copy, that is. And please, don’t write to me about your disappointments over this film if you ever do find one, for I’ll set my psycho ex-friend on you. I hear she’s on the lookout for another in-the-closet gay boy/gal.

Until next post—Martin