Monday, 29 July 2019


I picked up THE FIRST WIVES CLUB (1993, Pocket) by Olivia Goldsmith only after reading FLAVOR OF THE MONTH. I found the latter to be an absolute gem and I couldn’t wait to get into her first work. Now, to say that THE FIRST WIVES CLUB is in the same league as FLAVOR OF THE MONTH would be unethical of me. Yes, it is lively and witty and the pages almost turn by themselves, but still, it’s far from reaching the perfectness that is Goldsmith’s second novel. What we have instead is a well-delivered tale of women’s revenge that basically is in symbiosis with what we came to see on-screen a few years later. Yes, I agree, the novel is far darker and funnier but overall you do get the feeling that the film did the book justice. 

The premise is about the same. Four longtime female friends, all miserable in love and who have lost touch over the years, come together when one of their own commits suicide. Revenge mode is not far behind as they set up plans to make their other halves suffer for screwing with them. What follows is one zany situation after the other, laugh out loud moments, and a pull of the heartstrings here and there as the trio become more and more dependent on one another.  That’s about as much as I can remember about this book. I read this in the late ‘90s and never went back to it. What I do recall is having had a good time with it.  I also remember a chapter where it involves doo-doo as an art form which I found to be completely disgusting (it was meant to be). But for the most part the novel did entertain me.  

When it was announced that a movie version would be made I was definitely ecstatic, especially when it was mentioned that Elizabeth Berkley from the cult classic SHOWGIRLS would be in it. I was hoping that she would get a meatier role but I had a hunch that she would end up playing one of the mistresses. She nonetheless made the role her own and it was fun seeing her in it, as it was fun spotting the author in the chapel scene giving the deceased woman’s husband the eye as he shows up with his second wife. All in all, I would say read this title but don’t expect to be as wowed by it. First novels are mostly sketchy and THE FIRST WIVES CLUB is no different, even underneath its funny scenes, strong narrative and fast-paced delivery. 

For some strange reason, this one has yet to be available digitally. Probably a copyright thing since the rest of Olivia Goldsmith’s backlist is alive and kicking on Kindle or Kobo.

Until next time—Martin   
UK PB Edition

Monday, 15 July 2019


I admit, the only reason I ever approached this novel is my interest in the spectacular miniseries on which it is based. Mind you, I did read the novel before watching it all played out on TV. I wanted to savor the story from the get-go. Besides, I was so enthralled with glitz and glam at the time that I sort of made a rule to never watch an adaptation before reading the book. I never succeeded completely but I did try my hardest. 

ROSES ARE FOR THE RICH (1986, Signet) is a gripping tale of passion and revenge set in Texas.  Jonell Lawson's heroine is a strong-willed young woman who will stop at nothing to avenge her husband and baby from a ruthless rich man who may have caused their untimely death. And boy, does she succeed at it. I won’t expand too much but hold on to your copy because the lives of the rich and the rotten in ROSES ARE FOR THE RICH are a torpedo of glamour, sins and dirty little secrets that’ll make you smile from cover to cover. Lawson's plot takes you on a wild ride of a girl's self-discovery who sets her mind to have it all no matter what, even at the cost of her own happiness. You may not end up agreeing with her choices, but one thing's for sure, this gutsy woman's journey definitely makes for an impossible to put down read.  

Alas, this is the only work available by this author. She passed away in 1987 at the young age of 51. She never got the chance of seeing her work on the small screen when it aired in mid-May of the same year. A shame, for I think she would have been proud of the results. I will definitely review the miniseries one of these days. I’ve been meaning to but never got around to it. In fact, if everything goes according to plan, I intend to focus even more on hidden gems such as ROSES ARE FOR THE RICH. They’re what really set my motor going. I sometimes have to remind myself of that. Anyways, pick up this title if you ever cross paths. The connection will likely be worth it.

Until next post—Martin

Tuesday, 2 July 2019


After gushing over WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE on-set rivalry in Shaun Considine’s BETTE AND JOAN: THE DIVINE FEUD in one of my last posts I found myself catching one of Crawford's early projects called PAID, which, come to think of it, is exactly what the audience should have gotten sitting through this hammy of a film. Indeed, released in 1930, this pre-code revenge flick is far from being Crawford’s silver screen glory but has just the right amount of craziness to render it quite tolerable if not delectable in a sordid campy way. Now, before you devoted Crawford fans go suddenly cray-cray on me, let me just quote a knife-wielding Nomi Malone on her way to Vegas in SHOWGIRLS: chill! It’s just a movie, a very silly movie.   

In it, Crawford plays Mary Turner, a down on her luck department store clerk who, after being accused of wrongly theft, is put in jail for three whole years. Her time there is presented, or should I say, represented, by a soapy doo-doo floating on the shower floor. Crawford, as the viewers, is disgusted by it, despite the nonchalance of a fellow black inmate who turns her way and says, ‘Don’t fret, honey, it all goes down the drain’. With revenge still on her mind, Crawford finally gets out and, with the help of a former fellow convict, schemes her way to the accuser’s turf and marries the man’s wealthy son. Of course, falling in love is never in her plans but she does, big time. You can see it just by the way she looks at actor Douglass Montgomery (Kent Montgomery for this film). Her big beautiful eyes are always sad and teary—or are they as such because she knows she is trapped in a mess of a film? Either way, she seems always tormented and oh-so torn.    

Cut to a major heist at the house of her tormentor that goes awry and the viewer is left again with a teary Crawford in a final confrontation at the DA’s office. It all plays out like a mediocre dinner theater where everyone howlers and screams, and unless you’re very attentive you will find yourself lost in the scene. One thing is certain, though, Crawford is spared the slammer this time and, still teary-eyed, is hurt and devastated by all that she had to endure. We would be too if we had to sit through this turkey once again. 

PAID is directed by Sam Wood who went on to helm 1939 GOODBYE MR CHIPS which earned him his first of many Academy Award nominations. He even wound up being uncredited for his work on the troubled GONE WITH THE WIND which ultimately went to Victor Fleming (though many were used). Judging by talent alone, it’s fair to say that he made a big leap after the release of PAID.  Yes, I may be a tad too harsh on this one, for I have seen worse films, but I expected more from what I’ve got. As you all know I’m a serious cinephile now. Oh, who am I kidding, I just wanted to see the supposedly Crawford’s five minute fight scene in the shower that was supposed to be a riot but shamelessly cut by the studio. Now, THAT would have elevated the film to an all-time high campfest. As is, I can only recommend it to die-hard Crawford fans.

Until next post—Martin