Friday, June 05, 2015

All Men are Dogs... and some even have Dog Names!!!!

Boy!  These 1910-era cartoons are so tawdry.  Of course, the world is being completely rocked by two recent events from the Chauvinist realm.  One, the comments of... let me look that up... Tim Hunt, a NOBEL-PRIZE winning scientist, said in jest that female scientists are a distraction to their male counterparts.  He swears that it was in jest, anyway.  Now, were I a younger man, sure, I'd be howling for his blood, as it were.  But I play Devil's Advocate more and more, these days, and not just the pinball version from The Simpsons.  The dude's 72 years old, he resigned from his post at... some college, and... HE'S 72 YEARS OLD!!!!  See, people forget that you're not allowed to say anything anymore, at any age.  Well, the youth always like some fresh meat to sink their teeth into.  Time to degrade his accomplishments, time for all his victims of harassment, sexual or otherwise, to step forward... hmm!  Wonder if he did that just ahead of a Cosby-esque scandal break.  Oh well.
So, there's that, and then there's the hot new review of 25-year old GoodFellas.  So let me be the first to apologize to all my reader(s), in Russia or otherwise, and to my ten followers... how does that work, anyway?  Do you get an email every time I post a new... post?  I want to apologize for that as well, as I finally bit the bullet and started subscribing to "i suwannee."  Oh, all you bloggers out there know what I'm talking about.  It's the hot new blog for the last three years; that and cats that look like Hitler, you know the drill... I'm sorry, it's "Skipjack's Nautical Living" and "i suwannee."  Blogs of note for the past five years.  Boy, some people couldn't take their fingers off the national/international pulse if they tried!  But I want to apologize to my readers.  Clearly you've all been wasting your time with me.  It's the New York Post that's the place to be.  Now, sure, some may say that this Rupert Murdoch-based publication is trying to reduce film criticism to the lowest level possible, discussing plot points just in terms of testosterone.  I try to be a positivist and say hey!  At least he's using English; his original plan was to use Neanderthal grunts, and posting Vine videos in which he points to various bodily orifices to express the film's emotions.  And sure, you could point out that the film reviewer seems to refute his own claim by pointing out that Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco) makes her own bid to join the world of testosterone when she confronts Henry about standing her up on that one date.  Maybe this female character does in fact understand the world of gangsters and their groupies like Henry Hill!  Now, I didn't read the whole article, but this can probably be explained away because Karen Hill is a very butch Lesbian... something like that.  In any case, I'll be the first to admit, I must be a lady too, because I always thought that Joe Pesci's character was just a psychopath.  Turns out he just has big balls.  I thought Billy Batts had big balls too, and I think the article begrudgingly acknowledges that, but he 1) belongs to another crime family, and 2) he "breaks ball-busting etiquette" with the whole shinebox comment.
Anyway, clearly I've spent too much time analyzing this.  The douchebag reviewer ends his "review" by asking all of us, "What would 'GoodFellas' be like if it were told by a woman?"  To which I say, well, I'll bet Kathryn Bigelow would've made it just as awesome!  I think this guy just doesn't want to admit that he skips over all the depressing parts where Henry and Karen have domestic squabbles.  I will, though.  Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems to me that GoodFellas is one of those rare mob movies that is kinda gender-equal in a way.  We see Karen's side of things too!  Then, of course, there's Diane Keaton in the Godfather trilogy, but I guess she slows things down too much or something.  Anyway, I think my response to this idiot's in-your-face postulation is that, women do understand GoodFellas, but they're just a little disappointed in it, that's all.
Which brings me to our next "From the Vault" short, a Mutt and Jeff animated cartoon called Domestic Difficulties.  It's basically like Laurel and Hardy's classic, Blotto, but came a decade and a half ahead of it!  Also, the print of it that survived is in really really good shape... I'm sorry, I mean crazy good shape.  Hella good, scary good, double-plus-good, what have you.  I kinda like that the Popeye DVD doesn't add music to it.
Okay, better get to the plot.  We see Augustus (AKA "Mutt") sitting in the living room, playing his banjo.  You know, regular guy stuff.  And then, the plot point that will drive the rest of this damn pic: Mutt's wife is headed out for the evening, and she issues her edict: "I want you to stay home, and go right to bed!"  Something like that.  Hmm!  Wonder what she's up to?  Alas, we don't get her full story, as this is a Mutt and Jeff joint.
And so, when the cat's away, the mice will play, so to speak, and as soon as the wife's gone, Mutt places the call to Jeff.  No fake telegram for Mutt, as Jeff is his Reconnaissance Man.  It's Jeff's job to see that the coast is clear, so Jeff hot-foots it over to Mutt's building, and watches as Mutt's wife ambles off into the night, to do God knows what... I know, she's leading her church group or something.  Anyway, when the wife's sufficiently out of the picture, Jeff calls out to Mutt, "She's gone!"  And so, Mutt makes the long climb down the four stories of his building on the rain chute... only to get to the bottom to find that GASP!  His wife's headed BACK HOME!!!  And so he has to CLIMB ALL THE WAY BACK UP  to his window on the fourth floor.  Alas, there's no time to get the wrong floor; that's for the director's cut maybe.  Ooh!  I forgot to mention that the wife looks in on "sleeping" "Mutt," smiles and shuts the door.  "Mutt" has to climb back into bed and feign sleep a second time, and the wife's animation loop is repeated, looking in on sleeping "Mutt," smiling, and leaving anew.  Does she not trust this man that she married?  Maybe she just forgot something, came back to get it and, what the hell, might as well double-check on the hubby.  You should ask the New York Post.
And so, with the coast clear anew, "Mutt" makes the long climb BACK DOWN THE RAIN CHUTE.  They don't see the wife returning this time, and so off "Mutt" and Jeff go to get stinking drunk.  Damn... I hate to spoil the laugh, but yup, the wife comes back a second time.  Okay, so the guy isn't as prepared or as technologically savvy as Ferris Bueller.  So what.
Now comes the part that women don't understand... I mean, married women of high moral fiber.  "Mutt" and Jeff go into "The Dutchman's" to get stinking drunk.  Dayamn!  Did you check out that fat boy's elbows?  Good thing Jeff's so short, otherwise he'd lose an eyeball or two!  Fortunately for the Hays Code-approved audience, we're spared the graphic details of the creation of a drunken night on the town, but we are treated to the aftermath.  Cut to 3 a.m., and "Mutt" and Jeff are walking past an infinite fence, singing God knows what.  Some fake Hawaiian song.  Boy!  Alcohol's better than acid, according to this film!  Meanwhile, while "Mutt" and Jeff are enjoying a platonic drunken romp around the city park, "Mutt"'s wife is sitting at home with a rolling pin, eyeing the clock on the dresser.  Far too sober.
Next scene: "Mutt" tries to make the climb back up his building's outer rain gutter... but alas, he's far too drunk to get off the ground... Lol?  Sorry, I'm a simple mind, I couldn't help it.  Always remember, kids: never drink and climb.  "Mutt" eventually gives up his drunken vertical pursuits and decides to TAKE THE STAIRS.
BUT THEN...... it's time for the masterstroke of drunken genius!  "Mutt" convinces Jeff to go upstairs for him and check to see if his wife's asleep.  Of course, it's an easier sell in the fog of alcohol.  Jeff goes up to the door of "Mutt," knocks, then tries to open it, only to be met by the rolling pin of fury, right on top of his head that's closer to the ground than "Mutt"'s.  Jeff heads back downstairs and, for several reasons, says "Yup!  She's asleep all right..." ...isn't that close enough to verbatim for you?  I forgot to mention that the dialogue in this cartoon are in their own bubbles on the same screen, as opposed to the usual silent movie format of having the dialogue in separate scenes on their own black cards.  And if it was a D.W. Griffith picture, the word "GRIFFITH" would be displayed prominently somewhere... probably.
And so, influencing the future TV shows Breaking Bad and Fargo, "Mutt" makes the confident, drunken climb up the stairs to his humble abode.  I guess it was an easier sell in the fog of alcohol.  Plus, Jeff's hat disguised his new-fangled head lump.  We see the carnage from afar, and I was reminded of that one scene in Schindler's List where machine gun fire lit up the windows of several buildings in that one long shot.  I'm sorry, but the scenes are emotionally and pictorially similar.


Of course, Jeff thinks he's safe on the ground below.  If only he knew.  And again, if only subliminally, the world of cartoons will end up influencing the plots of live-action film, because "Mutt" ends up flying out of his fourth story window, or third if you count the mezzanine, amid a hail of bricks, much like the explosive finale of Laurel and Hardy's Be Big.  "Mutt" lands atop Jeff, and the bricks keep coming, much like a similar scene in Laurel and Hardy's Hog Wild.  "My wife hates me," "Mutt" tells Jeff.  Well, women may not understand works of quasi-fiction like GoodFellas, but men will never understand the reality of why their wives hate them.  Jeff's response?  He removes his hat, shows "Mutt" the lump, and says "Oh, I don't know... she thinks the world of me!" (sic)  I guess that means men will never understand other men either!!!!!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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