A Flask of Fields: W.C. Fields in NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (Universal 1941)

cracked rear viewer

I’ve professed my love for W.C. Fields before on this blog , and NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK is undoubtedly my favorite Fields flick. This inspired piece of lunacy is The Great Man’s commentary on getting films made in Hollywood his way. In fact, Fields wanted to title the movie “The Great Man”, but Universal execs nixed the idea, instead using a line from POPPY, his stage and screen hit. The change caused Fields much consternation, quipping that the movie’s overlong title would be boiled down on movie marquees to “Fields – Sucker”!!

Universal starlet Gloria Jean with “Uncle Bill”

The film’s plot (and I use that term as loosely as possible!) has Fields playing himself, delivering his latest script to Esoteric Pictures head Franklin Pangborn . The story he’s concocted may have the long-suffering Pangborn rolling his eyes, but it’ll have you the viewer rolling on the…

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Lisa’s Final 2017 Oscar Predictions

Since the Oscars are tomorrow, I guess now would be the time for me to make my final guesses as to what will win!  So, without further ado:

Best Picture — Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director — Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor — Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress — Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor — Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress — Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Best Original Screenplay — Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay — Call Me By Your Name

Best Animated Feature — Coco

Best Production Design — The Shape of Water

Best Cinematography — Mudbound

Best Costume Design — Phantom Thread

Best Film Editing — Dunkirk

Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Wonder

Best Sound Mixing — Dunkirk

Best Sound Editing — Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects — War For The Planet of the Apes

Best Original Score — Phantom Thread

Best Original Song — “Remember Me” from Coco

Best Documentary Feature — Icarus

Best Foreign Language Film — The Square

Best Animated Short — Negative Space

Best Live Action Short — DeKalb Elementary

Best Documentary Short — Heroin(e)


What Lisa Watched Last Night #175: Devious Nanny (dir by Devon Downs and Kenny Gage)

Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched Devious Nanny!

Why Was I Watching It?

I’ve got a long history with Lifetime nanny films.  I’ve watched films about Bad Nannys, Betrayed Nannys, Nightmare Nannys, Evil Nannys, Killer Nannys, and Dangerous Nannys.  So, how could I resist something called Devious Nanny?

(Actually, it was apparently also called both The Nanny Betrayal and The Au Pair.  Devious Nanny, though is an improvement on both of those.)

What Was It About?

Elise (Michelle Borth) and Brian (Antonio Cupo) have it all.  Elise works at an art gallery.  Brian works in … well, I think it was advertising but I could be wrong.  All I know is that he worked in an office and he was worried about landing a big account and he wore a suit to work.  Isn’t that what they do in advertising?  Anyway, it’s a good job.  Brian and Elise have a nice house and an adorable son.  All they need to complete the picture is … an au pair!

Enter Amber (Olesya Rulin), who appears to be the perfect nanny.  She loves kids and she’s even okay with cleaning up around the house!  Of course, Amber did lie a little to get her job.  And she didn’t tell her new employers that she grew up in the foster system and that she has a history of mental instability.  Soon, Brian and Amber are exchanging lustful glances and people are turning up dead.

But here’s the thing.  I’ve seen enough killer nanny films that I immediately realized that it was probably significant that the film never actually showed Amber killing anyone.  So, is Amber the murderer or is it someone else?  The film is full of suspects!

What Worked?

It all worked.  This was the type of Lifetime movie that made me fall in love with the unique Lifetime aesthetic in the first place.  Well-acted and full of snarky lines, Devious Nanny also featured a rather clever last-minute plot twist.  The end of the film also features a line of dialogue that is perhaps the coldest sentiment over to be offered up in a Lifetime film.

Needless to say, this was a fun movie to live tweet.  Those of us on twitter last night had a blast trying to figure out who the killer was and who was going to be the next victim.

All in all, it was a very entertaining movie.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  At first, I was worried that the film would turn out to be just another Lifetime Nanny film but the script, by Adam Rockoff, was full of unexpected plot twists.  I’m going to guess that Rockoff has seen enough nanny films that he knew exactly what most people would be expecting and he very skillfully manipulated those expectations.

In fact, my only issue is that Lifetime aired this on Friday night and it didn’t really seem like they made much of an effort to publicize it.  Sometimes, I think Lifetime doesn’t truly understand just how many people love watching their movies.  They’ll promote the Hell out of some forgettable (and often regrettable) celebrity biopic but entertaining thrillers, like this one, rarely get the fanfare that they deserve.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’ve been lucky, in that I’ve never had to work as an au pair.  I’ve also never been suspected of murder.  I guess I’ve just lived a sheltered life.  However, if any of that did happen to me, I would hope, when it was all over, that I could be as snarky about it as Amber.

Lessons Learned

Life’s not easy when you’re a nanny.

Eric Haven Delivers A “Compulsive Comics” Reading Experience

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

You’ve gotta say this much for Eric Haven — he may wear his influences clearly, obviously, perhaps even proudly on his sleeve (Jack Kirby, Winsor McCay, Charles Burns, Fletcher Hanks especially), but he filters them all through a singular lens that first blends, then morphs and metastasizes them into a “sort of work” that can well and truly be called his own. Omnipotent otherworldly forces, ancient terrors, Walter Mitty-esque dream lives, mutant super-creatures, high-flying adventuresses, and present-day ennui may seem, at first glance, to be incongruous (to say the least) storytelling tropes when presented in relation to each other, but the sporadically-active cartoonist finds a way to make them all not only work together, but to do so in such a naturalistic fashion that you can’t see them not functioning as precisely-placed elements in a kind of “slow-burn” absurdist crescendo.

That requires a deft touch and a singular commitment to…

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Music Video of the Day: Sweet Home Alabama by Caroline Says (2018, dir by ????)

First off, this not a cover of the famous Lynard Skynard song.

Though it is a song about living in Alabama, there’s a bit of sarcasm to be found in the title.  The song is about Caroline Sallee’s experience growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, a town that she would eventually leave for Austin, Texas.  The lyrics aren’t going to do much for Alabama tourism, if such a thing exists.

As for the video, the claymation was done by Sallee herself.

I just like trippy videos, especially when they’re done by people who live in Texas.