Tuesday, 20 March 2012

MY 'SUMMER LOVERS'




It took me three long decades to finally catch the 1982 camp classic SUMMER LOVERS; 30 years; and it wasn’t because of a lack of interest on my part, trust me (Of course I could have rented it many times over but I much rather own it). The film just came and went when it was first released onto the big screens here in Montreal. I swear, I didn’t even have time to check the listings. That’s how fast the film disappeared. Or so it seemed at the time. But I remember thinking while looking at the poster add in the newspapers how fetching the stars looked. I still do.



And the film? Well, now that I have seen it, let’s just say that the wait was definitely worth it. Peter Gallagher and Daryl Hannah play a young couple vacationing at a seaside villa in Greece who more than befriend (hence the title of the film, of course) French neighbor Valerie Quennessen. Before long, they’re frolicking in the nude, experiencing bliss in a series of ménage à trois positions, even lips-synching for their lives to the beat of Your Love by Lime—until one of them develops herpes… huh… second thoughts. One of them develops second thoughts. Oui. Oui.


GREASE and BLUE LAGOON director Randall Kleiser spares no expense in delivering eye-catching camera movements (with the help of cinematographer Timothy Galfas), whether of the Greek Islands or of the beautiful people in action who, by the way, only have sex and sun on their minds. And why shouldn’t they? What’s to talk about besides one’s over-saturated libido in this type of flicks? Better stick to his or her partying ways and hear things like: “You have beautiful tits—pull them back,” in reference to Hanna’s hunched shoulders.


Cheesy moments aside, SUMMER LOVERS still manages to work to its advantage, due mostly to the strong performances of the trio. I’ll go even further and say that SUMMER LOVERS sparkles because it reminds me of those little French films (like Claude Pinoteau LA BOUM, for instance) that look like nothing at first glance but pack a big punch when everything’s said and done. I dare anyone not to feel a tad envious of these characters when the end credits start rolling (to the sound of  The Pointer Sisters  I’m So Excited, no less).


On a sad note, French actress Valerie Quennessen is no longer with us, having fallen victim to a car accident in the late ‘80s. FRENCH POSTCARDS (1979) was her first foray into American films. CONAN THE BARBARIAN was another one. SUMMER LOVERS was the last movie she made before heading back to France to raise a family. To me, this Kleiser flick will always be the epiphany of her short career. It may be imperfect in many ways but highly deserves its cult film status—even if it took me 30 years to confirm this.







Until next post—Martin



 
 



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

WILL THE REAL DAVIDYNE SAXON MAYLEAS PLEASE STAND UP?




Over the years I’ve come to love or hate the work of Davidyne Saxon Mayleas. Take her 1991 NAKED CALL, for example, about Hollywood and the mob. It was a fab read from beginning to end. Her previous work THE WOMAN WHO HAD EVERYTHING, on the other hand, I could have done without. It is a tepid account of a Wall Street queen who suffers and suffers just like its readers. Then there’s MAJESTIC DREAMS, supposedly written by her husband William Saxon. Which may or may not be true, since both are narratively similar in structure, style, even in plot twists. MAJESTIC DREAMS is about the rise and fall of a brother and sister team who makes it big in the real estate business. You know the drill, they love, they suffer, they loose everything, and one of them gets it all back and then some. Nothing new here. Except this one is well-written. So much so in fact that it’s almost a crime that it is not more compelling.


The main problem with MAJESTIC DREAMS is that it’s barely a woman’s novel. The book is more centered on the real estate aspect, putting the personal life of the female protagonist on the back burner which ultimately tarnishes the end product. Nothing in MAJESTIC DREAMS reminds the reader of, say, a novel like SCRUPLES, and therein lies the book’s biggest flaw: it being tagged as a Judith Krantz-type of a read (just take a look at that cover) when it’s actually far from it. But hey, novels like this one were a dime a dozen in those days. It’s just misleading to make it look like a female-oriented offering.


That said, if you like the work of Arthur Hailey or Jonathan Black, or even Harold Robbins for that matter, you may end up digging MAJESTIC DREAMS. It’s not a bad book; it’s just not as involving as it leads us to believe. Be conscious of that, plus the fact that sometimes book covers can be deceiving (as synopsis can) and you’ll be fine. Though, I agree, the only way sometimes to be sure if a novel rocks is to read part of the damn thing. And that’s where I come in, to help sort through the many trashy selections being offered. And based on what I have gathered so far from this Saxon fellow (that includes his perhaps “alter ego”, of course), you’ll be more satisfied with a novel like NAKED CALL or Mayleas’ first hit, DARLING, NO REGRETS which has the same MAJESTIC DREAMS account of poor girl on the rise but delivered with more panache.






Until next post—Martin


US hardcover edition