12 December 2019

Thursday Movie Picks -- Super Long Titles

I'm playing this week...for the first time in a long time...because I want to get back in the game. My grad school journey is winding down, and I'm ready to start talking movies with everyone again.

So...welcome back...and welcome me back! I'll be around to everyone's blogs soon, reading and commenting on your great writing.

I love a good, long movie title. And I have some gems to offer up this week as part of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks.

Here are my picks:

To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
dir. Beeban Kidron, 1995

Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in drag? Sure, Mom, let's go. And she loved this movie, and so did I. It's a sweet film about three drag queens on a journey to the "Miss Drag Queen of America Contest." They get sidetracked in a hick town, and make life better for everyone there, especially the oppressed women, one of whom (played by Stockard Channing) is a victim of domestic violence. I have nothing but fond memories of this, a light comedy with a strong, progressive message in many ways ahead of its time.

Don't Be a Menace to South Central while Drinking Your Juice in the Hood
dir. Paris Barclay, 1996

If you came of age and the '90s and didn't watch this on repeat, you're a liar. Right? Or was that just my crew? Anyway, Shawn and Marlon Wayans play two characters walking through a spoof of the various "hood" movies of the era, most notably the films of John Singleton and the Hughes Brothers. It's hilarious, bending all the tropes of the genre into near-breaking points at times, but mostly landing with a light in all the darkness of race relations at the time.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
dir. Andrew Dominick, 2007

Quite simply, it's still the most gorgeously shot film I've ever seen. It has a Nick Cave and Warren Ellis score to match. And what's more Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck (as the title characters) give career performances. Too few people saw this movie in theaters, where it really sang its tragic song of violence, celebrity, and obsession on an American frontier in flux. Its opening rhythms, Hugh Ross' voiceover narration of Ron Hansen's prose are burned in my mind, and its languid pace (the detractor for some) allows the narrative to breathe, settle, and inject you with the melancholy of being an outsider to the very world you feel destined to inhabit.


  1. Welcome back! The only one I've seen is Jesse James. Did I fail as a 90's kid by not seeing Don't Be A Menace? I like the title. I probably should see it.

    1. Thanks! Not really a fail...I'm just surprised. I watched it so much. It's a silly spoof and really works if you've seen the movies it references.

  2. We match on Don't Be a Menace! I shamefully only watched it this summer just gone but it's my husband's favourite movie of all time!

  3. Welcome back! I’m so glad to see you’re back in the game. The Assassination of Jesse James is the only I’ve seen and it’s such a brilliant film. Your first pick sounds interesting so I’ll definitely check it out.

    1. Thanks! For sure. Do check it out. It's a fun little comedy.

  4. We share a pick with Jesse James as that is a great film.

  5. Long time no see! Good to have you back.

    I liked Wong Foo rather than loved it. The cast, especially the three leads who never condescended to their characters, was excellent and the film's heart was in the right place but ultimately I found it too prosaic to completely captivate me. It has been a long time since I've seen it though so perhaps I might feel differently now.

    Jesse James looks to be the title of the week, I had expected it to be Dr. Strangelove but ya never know, and when I finally sat down and watched it I found the film worthwhile. But that aptly referred to languid pace really is a big challenge. If the story and acting don't engage you right away the ultra deliberate unfurling of the tale is a deal breaker. I know several people who never made it past the first hour for just that reason.

    Don't Be a Menace is something that's been on my long list of to watch titles for years but I've just never gotten around to it. Someday.

    I reached back to that wacky period in the 60's when the studios were desperately trying to understand the changing times and so greenlight some real avant garde material (with preposterously long titles) to try and connect with a crowd that I'm not sure existed.

    “Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad” (1967)-Madame Rosepettle (Rosalind Russell) arrives at a Caribbean resort for a vacation with quite a menagerie, her 24 year old son (Robert Morse) who acts like a 5 year old, his stamp collection and telescope, a pair of Venus Flytraps, her tank of pet piranhas and her dead husband (Jonathan Winters-who serves as narrator) who she’s had stuffed and travels with them in his coffin that she keeps in the closet. While they are there the hotel’s babysitter Rosalie (Barbara Harris) falls for the infantile young man while Madame is pursued by a crazy ship captain, Commodore Roseabove. Got that? Its theatre of the absurd and the kind of whack-a-doodle thing that could only be produced in the 60’s.

    “Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?” (1969)-Superstar Heironymus Merkin (Anthony Newley) is filming a movie of his life surrounded by piles of junk and a bed on a ribbon of beach as his mother and children bear witness. While the Greek chorus of devil’s advocate Goodtime Eddie Filth (Milton Berle) and The Presence (Georgie Jessel) battle for his soul Merkin works his way to the top of show biz becoming a drug loving sex addict along the way. Yet he longs for his lost true love, Mercy Humppe (Connie Kreski) despite his marriage to Polyester Poontang (Joan Collins-Newley’s wife at the time, their real life children play their kids in the film-Thaxted and Thumbelina!). Watching the uncompleted footage in a parallel time the producers of this opus scream for him to come up with an ending. Merkin shuffles through his memories to find some value in his life while singing a couple songs and screwing like a rabbit.

    Confused? What with a title like that you were expecting coherence? Watching the film won’t clear anything up for you! Newley directed, produced, wrote & composed the music (all badly) for this exercise in vanity which was originally rated X.

    “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?” (1964)-I really can’t better this IMDB description: "Jerry falls in love with a stripper he meets at a carnival. Little does he know that she is the sister of a gypsy fortune teller whose predictions he had scoffed at earlier. The gypsy turns him into a zombie and he goes on a killing spree."

    Or the tagline:
    SEE: the dancing girls of the carnival murdered by the incredible night creatures of the midway! SEE: the hunchback of the midway fight a duel of death with the mixed up zombies! SEE: the world's first monster musical!

    It’s not good but it’s unique!

    1. Thanks for coming by, man! It has been awhile. Was very close to going Dr. Strangelove, but thought the same thing about it begin popular. Alas, it's Jesse James.

      You went deep on this one. Real deep. Can one even find the movies you mentioned? I would be willing to check out your 2nd pic. Sounds crazy weird.

    2. It might be tough to find. I saw the Roz Russell film once when she was Star of the Month on TCM. I think the Newley/Joan Collins film as well (late at night on one of their avante garde weekend programs but I wouldn't be surprised if they only showed it the once). Neither of those two are on YouTube but the last is. Here's the link but I feel compelled to warn you that it is bargain basement junk, I'm not even sure its so bad that it's good bad.


  6. I love a good long title too. The only one of yours I know is Jesse James, haven't even heard of the first two.

    And welcome back....just in time as well with the new year and the new preliminary schedule is up.