Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

kehr (old)It already has, says Frank Tashlin in his brilliant 1957 satire on the age of Eisenhower—even before Rockwell Hunter (Tony Randall) becomes the hottest ad executive in town by signing up a bosomy movie star (Jayne Mansfield) to promote Stay-Put Lipstick (“For those oh-so-kissable lips!”). As Ernst Lubitsch was to the 30s and Preston Sturges to the 40s, so was Tashlin to the 50s: a filmmaker gifted with an uncanny insight into the ruling delusions of his day. Loud and beautifully vulgar in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope, Rock Hunter is hilarious literally from the first frame.

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Kehr’s Weekly Recap: Explorers (1985)

Joe Dante‘s 1985 film seems to crystallize the tragic position of a strong directorial personality in the assembly-line 80s. With one hand, he builds up a slick, pseudo-Spielberg fantasy about a 12-year-old’s innocent dreams of reaching the stars; with the other, he slashes into the burnished, sentimental drama he has worked so hard to create with a savage satire that exposes those innocent dreams as grubby, media-induced hallucinations. When our hero (Ethan Hawke) and his two buddies (River Phoenix and Jason Presson) do reach the great unknown, it turns out to be a gyp — a drab, awful place populated by creatures even more cretinous and childish than those they left back on earth. But where Dante’s cynicism ultimately carried the day over Spielberg’s piousness in Gremlins, Explorers remains a hopelessly schizophrenic film, obscenely eager to compromise its own originality. With Dick Miller and Robert Picardo.

Kehr’s Weekly Recap: One Hour With You (1932)

One Hour With You (1932)

A musical remake (1932) of Ernst Lubitsch‘s silent The Marriage Circle, directed from a detailed Lubitsch plan by George Cukor. Maurice Chevalier is a doctor happily married to Jeanette MacDonald but temporarily distracted by Genevieve Tobin. Every so often, Chevalier interrupts the story to ask the audience for advice with the plaintive “What Would You Do?”—demonstrating that you could get away with things in a comedy that most people still won’t accept in a drama. Very funny and very highly recommended.

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