Wednesday, 25 January 2012

"SHOWGIRLS" OR THE EMANCIPATION OF NOMI MALONE



In 1995, we were barely into our third month as a couple, my partner and I. There were already ups and downs between us but the connection was so strong that somehow I knew we were going to make it. The same could be said about our next focus topic, SHOWGIRLS. Yes, as many of you, I knew beforehand that watching this flick was going to be an adventure, but I also knew I would stick with it no matter what. That’s how lovable I found SHOWGIRLS to be. I mean, I live for this crap. And believe me, this one takes the cake. If you have yet to see the film, I suggest that you strap yourself silly, for you’re in for the ride of your life.




Elizabeth Berkley is Nomi, Ninja fighter by day, exotic dancer by night. Follow me on this. We first meet her at some busy highway as she sticks up her breasts and thumb for the ultimate free ride to—where else?—Vegas, baby! She wants to dance, she admits gleefully, but from the looks of things, whoring is more like it. Oh, don’t fret, people. Even a casino bum trying to pick her up later on agrees with me. And as expected, Nomi gets screwed—figuratively speaking—very early into the film. First her luggage is stolen, then oncoming traffic almost kills her and, to make matters worse, chunks of her vomit fill up the screen. Precious, isn’t it? Anyway, she is soon rescued by kind Molly, a seamstress, who can barely thread a needle when thinking of a hot singer of the moment, or so she says. She will become Nomi’s savior, her confident; heck, even her Down-low hook up, BUT it is only suggested, so please do refrain from emailing me about it.



Nomi’s arranged meeting with Cristal (by Molly), the star of the Stardust hotel big show production GODDESS, is anything but smooth. But the two have so much the hots for each other that it’s almost a crime. Oh, wait, it is in some countries. Because it’s a movie and men do get off seeing girl on girl action sequences, the makers of SHOWGIRLS play around that theme endlessly and end up giving us some of the most over-the-top moments on film. Who can keep a straight face when the two flirt and admit over lunch to having once eaten dog food. Or how about when, at rehearsal, they wind up dirty dancing just before Cristal (an effective Gina Gershon) manages to bare Nomi’s perky breasts and purr: “You see, darling, you are a whore”.   Boobies, boobies, boobies !



Naturally, a love-hate relationship soon develops between our two gals to the point of one of them getting hurt physically. After whoring her way into GODDESS as a back up dancer, Nomi then sets her eye on the pivotal spot as—what else—Cristal’s understudy. For that, she’ll need the backup of Zack, the entertainment director at the Stardust Kyle McLachlan. What’s a girl to do? Easy. More whoring. In another cockamamie moment you have to see to believe, Nomi and Zack end up doing it in his outdoor pool, and their choreographed intercourse makes Nomi look like she’s having an epileptic seizure. And if that isn’t enough, just after Cristal humiliates Nomi before and during a GODDESS production number, Nomi, in a fit of rage, throws Cristal down the staircase to finally get her shot at the spotlight and—get this—it works like a charm. Only in movies, people.



It all comes down to Nomi finally Winning! but finding that success is barely what it’s cracked up to be; and channeling the Ninja in her for the ultimate revenge against the hot singer of the moment (remember him?) turned rapist who has also beaten Molly to a pulp (it’ll take a long while for this girl to thread another needle, believe me). And just like VALLEY OF THE DOLLS good girl Ann who’s way in over her head with all the back stabbings and dirty tricks to get ahead, Nomi chooses to leave it all for a chance for true happiness somewhere out of Vegas.



Yes, as expected, I’m still awaiting for the next chapter in her life. Surely a sequel is in the works, right? Wrong. Although there have been many rumors to that effect (which include mocked trailers), no follow-up has been given the green light. I guess we’ll just have to go on hoping that Nomi settles down with a good man and has a bunch of kids. On second thought, no freakin’ way. We prefer her all screwed up and ready to go. Remember, she is a whore. Rock on, Nomi, rock on!



THE FULLY EXPOSED EDITION of SHOWGIRLS is the one to get on DVD. In it you’ll have the NC-17 Letterboxed version of the film, an audio commentary by journalist and performer David Schmader (?), a video commentary by exotic dancers for the film strip club dance scenes, a lap dance tutorial by those same professionals, plus a storyboard to screen featurette and a trivia track revealing some info about the film. Phew! Yes, of course, I’m a bit bummed out that Elizabeth Berkley chose not to partake in the DVD release. It would have been heaven to hear her two cents, but apparently she did ask too much money. Still, indulge in SHOWGIRLS, and if you’re a cult movie enthusiast like I am, you’ll hope that Berkley’ll change her tune, either for her participation in another re-release of the film on DVD or simply for her involvement in the sequel, if it ever gets made.
 
 
 



Until next post—Martin

 





 


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

(THE) DISHONORED (LONELY) LADY




It took me a while to finally sit down and watch the fetching 1947 DISHONORED LADY starring Hedy Lamarr from SAMSON AND DELILAH fame. I have this thing, you see: once I start collecting stuff I never stop. My partner calls it an obsessive compulsive behavior, and he’s right, of course. Whether it’s movies or novels, or heck, even writing reviews like this one, I just can’t put a halt when the inspiration comes my way. So to make a long story short, DISHONORED LADY was in my possession for a very long time, having first discovered it on the Internet among public domain greats, then as one of the many titles in my Mill Creek’s 100 Hollywood Classics DVD collection. Suffice to say, once I popped the disc in I made a promise to share my thoughts with you all, so here it goes.



A grand film we’re talking about here, dear readers, one that even reminds me of the camp classic THE LONELY LADY. No, I kid you not. Both heroines have the same father figure issues, both are used and abused by men and both have a nervous breakdown at a pivotal point. But DISHONORED LADY is way better handled as a whole. For starters, Robert Stevenson knows how to keep everything and everyone in check with slick production values, a strong script and a leading lady’s solid performance. Unlike the Peter Sasdy’s film, we never approach DISHONORED LADY as a total joke, never feel like scratching our heads in bewilderment, and most importantly we never guffaw at this lady in a distress situation. Well, not totally, but more on that later.



Lamarr is very convincing as a corporate fashion editor on the skids. She truly embodies the lonely lady persona, even when she’s surrounded by friends (TV’s GILLIGAN’S ISLAND Natalie Schafer among them) and suitors. When she decides to leave it all to find herself, you can feel her need to be a better person, which was less the case with THE LONELY LADY Pia Zadora. Indeed, in between her hunt to get her film script produced, Zadora just wanted to have fun, period.


Another plus regarding DISHONORED LADY is its film noir status. Contrary to the Pia flick, this one borrows greatly from earlier Barbara Stanwyck films. You know, the ones involving smoky atmosphere and femmes fatales. All DISHONORED LADY needs to be truly dark is the rough ways of some male antagonist, one who only lives to swing drinks and dames. Oh, wait, we do have one but he’s  a bit… how shall we say… softer (Lamarr's then-real life hubby John Loder) compared to the hoodlums of those genre films. Yes, in DISHONORED LADY, the villain is more of a debonair-type rather than of a chewed-up cigar churning bum with a trigger happy gait.


But getting back to DISHONORED LADY versus THE LONELY LADY topic; though both films have many things in common, the latter has the highest form of camp. Yet, some scenes in DISHONORED LADY do end up being rather unintentionally funny, especially those having to do with Lamarr’s psychiatrist (Morris Carnovsky, overacting), and the sudden switch of tempo in the second half involving a murder trial does lessen the film’s appeal. But I can clearly confirm that, overall, DISHONORED LADY wins the better involvement award but NOT the lovable one. As much as I dig this film, it can never replace the Pia fare. We go way back, THE LONELY LADY and I. Still, I urge anyone to see DISHONORED LADY, if not for the plot line alone, then just to make the connection with THE LONELY LADY. It is worth the time and effort, I promise.

 
 
 
 
Until next post—Martin