Tuesday, 28 August 2012

THE LONELY “MISTRESS”




Victoria Principal is Rae, a disillusioned kept woman who, after losing her man (Don Murray) to a heart attack, just can’t seem to get it together. Oh, believe me, she tries, whether by working at a department store or trying to get back into show business—but screwing (pun intended) everything up is more to her liking, or so it seems. Thank goodness she still has friends and relatives to help her through this rough stage, friends like Joanna Kerns who’s more concerned over Principal’s drinking problem than charging her rent for the studio in which she stays, or her unhappy widowed mother who just can’t stop nagging her every chance she gets, or how about her trampy BFF, a kept woman herself, who just wants her to get back into the swing of things, if you know what I mean. But none has a clue as to how desperate our little rascal has become. She’s an ex-mistress on the edge; a screw-up, as they say, and watching her potential downfall has never been this much fun, I’m telling you.


MISTRESS is Victoria Principal post DALLAS. It’s the actress’ first project under her own production company. No one really believed she’d have a career after leaving the long running series, but she did, at least for a while. TV movies after TV movies, and a return to glitz on NBC short-lived TITANS (a sure contender for a blog entry) in 2000 did the trick before she finally hung her acting gloves to become sort of a recluse, if I can express myself that way. Last that I heard, she was still selling her stuff on QVC, but the Victoria we adore, the one who rhymes with bellĂ­sima, is gone for good—probably due to age and lack of “good” roles. But in 1987, she was still on a roll, hence MISTRESS.


The fun really starts when Principal looses her sugar daddy. Before that it’s all about the loving relationship these two share, despite him being “happily” married. When she’s left with nothing (she omitted to sign a contract, you see) she returns to her hometown penniless and tries to start anew. “You know what happens to little creatures on the great sidewalk of life!? Some man comes along and steps on them. Well, not me, not anymore!” she hurls after numerous but highly enjoyable bad breaks (one involving two strangers in an outside pool). The message the film so clearly conveys is that bad girls do finish last… until they get a hold of themselves and go back to expensive whoring, that is.


Principal gives all she’s got and comes out of this unscathed, surprisingly. The girl can really act when she sets her mind to it. Sure, this role isn’t really a stretch for her, meaning she’s not playing Anna Karenina. But in her own ways, she does sparkle. Her character’s raging fit at seeing herself in home movies as a then-beauty queen is worth the price of finding this film alone (it as yet to be on DVD). She succeeds hands down in drawing the pain and suffering of this middle-aged lost soul. Just like Pia Zadora’s Jerilee in THE LONELY LADY, Victoria’s character “never did learn the meaning of self-respect”. And for that we thank her tremendously.
 
 
 
 

Until next post—Martin





Monday, 6 August 2012

DYNASTY—SEASON ONE



Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve never been a real DYNASTY fan, preferring to keep company with the Fairgates and the Ewings of KNOTS LANDING. But my hubby, thinking I was devoted to the long-running nighttime soap, gave me the complete first season on DVD a while back for my birthday. I put it away, thinking I would get to it soon enough, especially on a rainy day. As it turned out, it took me a couple of years to revisit the Carringtons but when I finally did last month, the results were more rewarding that I had ever imagined.



First and foremost let’s get right down to business and declare that this is the one without Alexis, played later on by the ever-so effective Joan Collins. Yes, the character does make an appearance at the end of the 13 episode arc, walking in court where Blake, oil guru extraordinaire, is on trial for having killed his son’s male lover; but the woman impersonating her is just a day player (hence the big sunglasses and the bigger hat to hide her face since the producers had no clue who’d play her subsequently). Nonetheless everyone is stunned by the woman’s presence, as they should be. After all, she is Blake’s first wife. You can already feel the tension brewing.


But back to season one as a whole. I have to say it is a rather fetching one, with a strong script, keen performances (especially from weak Claudia Blaisdel), not to mention a well-defined gay theme plot which was considered very bold at the time. If I remember correctly, it even caused some backlash from religious groups and advertisers alike, but ABC held on (by a hair, but that’s another entry) and struck gold. Even more so when Collins joined the cast later on. Suffice to say, the whole Steven and Ted hook up, non hook up (such drama!) was a joy for the gay community. You didn’t even have to follow the series to know about it. It was on everyone’s lips.


Of course, I did take a peak once in a while just to satisfy my curiosity. Yes, I admit, like many of you, I sort of had a crush on Al Corley (and his number one Europop song Square Rooms). How could you not when he seemed to be the only good-looking, not to mention warm-hearted, homosexual on TV at the time. Yes, his onscreen drama was melodramatic at best but that didn’t make him less an effective spokeperson for gays everywhere. Oh, how much we wanted him to be avenged of his lover’s death, and on that spring of 1981, even I tuned in to see the outcome. Well, it proved inconclusive since the verdict never came to be (it was resolved on season two), but it barely mattered, for we too were much stunned by that sophisticated veiled woman arriving in court just before the end credits.


Even though I was around for judgment day the next season, and watched the series sporadically afterwards with the addition of Adam, Dex and Sable (just to name a few), I eventually lost track of the Carringtons and their over-the-top antics. But fast forward to this year and I’m proud to say that these rich folks are back in full force on my flat TV screen. I surely intend to continue on following their troubling lives. If the subsequent seasons are as addictive as the first one, I’ll be geared up for the long haul, you can count on that.





Until next post—Martin