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GUILTY PLEASURES! (I don't care what they say, I love it!)


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We all have them, those films that do not have great reputations, but they've always given you pleasure, even if it's a somewhat guilty one. Of what they may have lacked in Oscar nominating material, we could care less.


These films may lack subtlety or good writing or convincing performances or special effects, or possibly even a combination of all those things. They may be films with a few gazillion flaws to which others have happily or derisively referred. Doesn't matter! These are the films that, for whatever reason, you would gladly revisit a lot more often than sit through another viewing of Gone with the Wind or Bridge on the River Kwai, or a few hundred other classics.


There are a lot of films that fall into this category for me. To select just one, or, in this case, one series of films, I would point to the colourful collection of escapist adventure films Universal churned out during WWII that featured Maria Montez and Jon Hall in the leads. With titles like Gypsy Wilcat, Arabian Nights and Cobra Woman, these unsophisticated Bs benefited from gorgeous Technicolour, great character actor support, relatively short running times and fast paced second unit work.


Yes, there were also the cornball story lines and less than subtle acting techniques of all involved but that only added to the fun of the films, as far as I was concerned. Jon Hall was a handsome if rather wooden performer (who later played Ramar of the Jungle on television), and Maria Montez's name has become synonymous with camp. They were not great actors but they were good looking screen presences, and they helped to fulfill the fantasy escapism that was required of them in those films.


But what about the rest of you? You all have them, too. It may be a small budget film or possibly a huge production that has become fashionable to attack. Whatever, these are the films that you enjoy unabashedly no matter what others may say about them.


So what are some of your guilty pleasures?




Arabian Nights




Cobra Woman: Now that's camp, and I love it!

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Mine are from my early days of movie going. I lived in a small town so I started going to movies by myself in the early 60's. Love Beach party movies, those Ray Harryhausen films, even though many times I was watching through my fingers cause those monsters scared me, and I didn't miss many Elvis movies. I always had to get a Chilly Willy which were those huge dill pickles for a nickel. I was a weird kid. Lol.


Edited by: helenbaby on Sep 2, 2012 10:23 AM

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Interesting you brought this up, just yesterday I was in a soap opera type film mood.*Parrish* , *Susan Slade* , *Peyton Place* *Summer Place* . All guilty pleasures for me. Just finished watching for the 100th time another guilty pleasure *The Opposite Sex*. While *The Women* is on my favorite all time film list, I still love this remake. Only wish that Dolores Gray had some songs( besides the theme song) instead of June .No arguments please. LOL

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Comedies are my pleasure. Anything that will make me laugh or even smile is what I enjoy. There are plenty of them. Comedies that everyone is familiar with and even some that most people are unfamiliar with. One that comes to mind is the 1972 comedy "What's Up, Doc?". This is a very funny movie with Barbara Streisand and Ryan O'Neal. I never realized until recently when someone pointed out to me that this is pretty much a remake of the Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn comedy "Bringing Up Baby" (which is another comedy I enjoy). If you haven't seen these, I would highly recommend them. But I can't believe there's anyone out there that hasn't seen "Bringing Up Baby". "What's Up, Doc?" may not be so familiar with some viewers judging by the lack of reaction it gets when TCM continues to show Streisand films like "Funny Girl", "Funny Lady", and "For Pete's Sake". I would think with all the other channels available that even if TCM doesn't show "What's Up, Doc?", someone else would.

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No laugh here, Calvin. It's what this thread's about, isn't it? I kinda like it, too.



*Soldier In the Rain* is a movie that usually gets slammed, but it's a long time favorite of mine. Also those hackneyed, seemingly plotless ALAN FREED "Rock'n'Roll" movies.






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calvinme, I've seen Dancing Sweeties, and I can understand (not that I have to because this is your guilty pleasure, not mine) the cham that you find in a little film as simple as this one. In every sense of the word, from subject matter to, of course, film technique, this little antique really is from another era.


I cannot say, however, that I was ever mystified that Grant Withers never became a major player.

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I KNEW it! I KNEW it!



Hungarians DO come from OUTER SPACE!









Let it be known to any forum members who might be of Hungarian descent, that my Step-Father, whom I dearly loved, was also of Hungarian ancestry, and would probably get a good laugh out of it. My apologies if YOU don't.



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Sometimes I'll like film and I'll even have a hard time really being able to explain why.


One example of this is a 1952 programmer from Warner Brothers, Mara Maru. It was clearly a come down for star Errol Flynn who was being shoved off by the studio into a bit of a cheapie black and white production as a fulfillment of their contract with him. It would be, in fact, Flynn's last studio made film on his Warners contract.


While there are no particular surprises in the story line of this tale about sunken treasure, it is smoothly and efficiently directed by Gordon Douglas, who seemed to get saddled with a lot of the films with lesser scripts. Make it work, Gordon, they seemed to say and he did. The Curtiz and Walsh rejects seemed to go to Douglas.


Ruth Roman is Errol's leading lady this time out. No real sparks between them. Raymond Burr in his early heavy days (heavy as in villain, as well as weight) is the two faced opponent whose duplicity is pretty obvious right from his first appearance in the film.


Flynn goes through the motions in his role for the most part but even when Errol isn't really trying his understated performances still tend to satisfy me. Then, suddenly as the film approaches the end, Flynn starts to do some real acting. It happens in a scene in which he angrily slaps his Filipino assistant across the face and then shows remorse for his behaviour. It reminded me once again of what a good actor he could be when he put his mind to it.


Mara Maru is minor but a smoothly efficient production, with an interesting performance from its star, as well as some rather nice photography. It's a film that a lot of Flynn fans will probably reject because the star is past his prime. You haven't seen Flynn really past his prime, though, until you see him in some films made just a few years later (like The Warriors, just shown on TCM a few months ago). Mara Maru looks pretty good in comparison.




This is Flynn's outstanding scene in Mara Maru. If the rest of the film had been half as good, it would have been more memerable than it is. Still, it's a decent little film, even if it does have programmer status.

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EVERYthing Harryhausen and Hammer films with Vincent Price.



Lots of 1960s messes are my guilty pleasures!



"Love Story," "Fantastic Voyage," "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," "Valley of the Dolls," "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte," "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" "Carnival of Souls," "The Haunting."



Nearly all future dystopian films: "Logan's Run," "Soylent Green," "Omega Man," "Planet of the Apes," "The Stepford Wives"



Earlier: "Moontide," "Margie," "1984," "Suddenly Last Summer," "Cleopatra," "Demetrius & The Gladiators," "On the Town"



There are plenty more where these came from!



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Dargo, if this thread was about guilty pleasures in movie posters, we could have a field day just with a lot of the sci fi films from the '50s.


For me, any movie poster with Laurette Luez on it would always get my attention.




Laurette Luez - see what I mean?




And there she is with my man Errol. No wonder he's got such a smile on his face. Oh, to have been Flynn on the set of that film!




And there she is - Laurette Luez in a cat fight scene from Prehistoric Women. These are the kind of tense action scenes with Luez which always seized my attention!


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Lady Hamilton, I appreciate your list of guilty pleasures.


As a long time admirer of The Haunting, however, I would question calling it a "'60s mess." Now THAT is a good film, in fact one of the best ghost films ever made, don't ya think? And I'm sure that musical fans would say the same thing about On the Town.



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> {quote:title=lavenderblue19 wrote}{quote}: Just finished watching for the 100th time another guilty pleasure *The Opposite Sex*. While *The Women* is on my favorite all time film list, I still love this remake. Only wish that Dolores Gray had some songs( besides the theme song) instead of June .No arguments please. LOL

No arguments at all, the less we see (and hear) of June Allyson, the better.


I wish they'd reworked The Women as The Woman and had the whole thing revolve around Delores Gray just doing all the parts herself.


That would've been worth seeing.


Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on Sep 2, 2012 1:51 PM

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Capuchin, Jewel Robbery was Warners showing that they, too, could make a Lubitsch-type film, even if they didn't have Lubitsch. It's a great sophisticated comedy that most people have never heard of.


The same is true of those peppy little pre-coders you listed with Cagney, Blonde Crazy and Lady Killer. These are fast and funny programmers.


While it's no comedy, Taxi! is another slice-of-life street drama on which Warners and Cagney collaborated and it is fast and has a real feel of urban reality to it. The pre-code period produced so many great little gems.




Taxi!, one of the very best of Jimmy Cagney's pre-coders. Loretta Young is his surprisingly feisty leading lady in this one. Keep your eyes open for a young George Raft to take Cagney on in a dance contest.

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Another interesting thread Tom.


One of my guilty pleasures is watching the MST3K guys. I don't care how blue, depressed or mad I might be, if I watch even just a few minutes of one those terrible B movies with the guys doing their thing on, I feel so much better! Crow T Robot is my favorite! If I could run a hospital I would have nothing but funny films for the patient to pick from. So if it is old "I Love Lucy" episodes that a patient finds funny or if it is the great "riffing" that the MST3K do, that causes someone to the laugh till they are almost crying I would schedule the patients to watch them. Works better than any anti-depressant around.



I also enjoy (God knows why) those old (pretty bad) Sandra Dee movies.






Edited by: Lori3 on Sep 2, 2012 2:34 PM


Edited by: Lori3 on Sep 2, 2012 2:39 PM

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Thank You Tom for that fabulous photo of Dolores Gray. Pretty sure that's from *It's Always Fair Weather* . She was so funny and wonderful in that film. *Designing Woman* is another one that showcased how great Dolores was. :)


The film *Taxi* has always been a favorite. I have 3 video copies of it. Not only was Cagney rattling off in Yiddish, but I'm pretty sure *Taxi* is the film that started the whole "dirty rat" quote., I don't think of pre-codes as guilty pleasures. I think of them as a necessity for classic film lovers. Nothing to feel guilty about there! LOL ;) Thanks again Tom, for the thread and the photo.

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Rosehips, I agree with you. The pre-coders (certainly the best of them like Taxi or Jewel Robbery) don't belong in a thread about guilty pleasures. They're really essential viewing for anyone who loves films of the depression era.


I think Cagney had a "dirty yellow little rat" dialogue reference in Taxi, the closest that he ever came to the "you dirty rat" expression in his films.

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Here are few more photos of Laurette Luez, who has been a subject of fasination for me in many a guilty pleasure moment of '50s movie fare. I'm posting these pictures because this is as good an excuse as I will ever have and because I reeeeally want to:






Kim, with Errol Flynn




D.O.A., with Edmond O'Brien




Laurette, seated on the left, has a way with her, doesn't she? Mind you, it was the one sitting at the front in the middle that became possibly the most legendary actress in film history. I think that's Betsy Drake posing like a model behind Laurette. I don't recognize any of the others.

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Alas! This would definitely be one of my all time favorite subjects to tackle. After all, everybody who has been a movie fan all their lives has to have a love for a film that was either trashed or thrown into the wayside of critical humiliation! Well, having been around show business for over 50 plus years, I’m about as guilty as anyone who shunned what the critics said and felt a certain motion picture was worth my time and even my money to go see. There has been for me, several choices along the way that have remained on my list of films, usually ignored for the way the movie obtained a reputation of vacuous temperament and a depleted sense of purpose. Yet, many of these films that might be considered tripe, have a merit in simply being entertaining and thus exult the whole idea of creating something magical to the point of having a long term identity; even if it be bad!







My all time pick in this category, goes way, way back to the time of 1953, when Hollywood was reminded of a once held, devoted union between a super movie star and a big studio. This marked what was supposed to be the triumphant return of the mighty Joan Crawford to her once home base of MGM! Just about every diehard movie fan, knows Joan’s story of having been asked to leave MGM in 1943, due to a bevy of films that had a poor box-office response. Most everyone will remember this event, by way of the biographic film, “Mommie Dearest,” coming off with a rather flamboyant treatment of Joan’s private life. I am not a fan of Christina Crawford, Joan’s adopted daughter who first wrote the story that was turned into the motion picture. There has always been for me, reason to question Christina’s action to writing her book. In showcasing her attitude to what was a turbulent time in her life and that of Joan’s, it all appeared to me to be exasperations, on exaggerations. Whatever the case, if anyone wants to believe Christina’s account of her life with Joan, one might want to turn towards viewing Joan’s 1953 potboiler melodrama, “Torch Song”







I absolutely love this movie “Torch Song!” As crazy as this movie might seem to most fans, I have no qualms about admitting how much I enjoy the film. If anything comes close to capturing the hard-pressed imagery of Joan that Christina wrote about, it all can come to focus in some form with “Torch Song.” The film would become something of a sensation at the time it was announced that Joan would return to MGM, after a ten year absence. After having been let go by MGM, Joan swore she would never again set foot or work at the studio that had been her home for over a decade. What changed her mood or direction was that Louie B. Mayer, who had governed the studio during Joan’s time at MGM was gone, allowing for this easy return for Joan and there came this reconsideration of her past harsh feelings. The new management and staff running MGM, simply couldn’t resist the idea of taking advantage of an old situation that many knew would create a good amount of appeal or interest. They even sent so far as to utilize and revise an old MGM poster of Joan’s for this new motion picture venture! When Joan jumped at the chance of returning to MGM, she had been working regularly at Warner Brothers (the studio that hired her, after she left MGM) and it was there Joan was able to revamp her film career. The Warner years had been good for Joan, even winning for her the now famous Academy Award for the drama “Mildred Pierce.” One would have thought that perhaps her new venture at MGM would bring something of a similar success to when she left in 1943. Although she was middle-aged, she still had something of the glamour and fashionable style that had made her one of the most popular and admired motion picture stars of the 20th Century.







MGM decided on not holding back in the technical department, giving Joan a working staff and crew that was surely one of the finest at the studio. Handling the script was noted screenwriter John Michael Hayes (best remembered for his work with Hitchcock) and he pretty much relied on the original material the film was based on, a novel entitled “Why Should I Cry?, by I. A. R. Wylie that today nobody really remembers! The director chosen for “Torch Song” was studio-regular Charles Walters, better associated with some of MGM’s best musicals. Walters had started his career as a charter member of the legendary “Arthur Freed Unit.” The producer for “Torch Song” would be a veteran of the MGM family, Sidney Franklin, truly one of the most successful director/producers the studio ever had. He and Joan obviously knew each other well enough to come to some agreement on how the project would evolve to what was hoped would be a smashing success. Instead of a full fudged dramatic film, Joan would be showcased in a semi-dramatic musical story of a highly demanding, temperamental, Broadway singing star. Of course, everybody knew Joan not to be an accomplished singer, meaning she would be fully dubbed for this part of the role. However, she still had some good moves and capability as a dancer. This was especially important with director Walters, who himself was a trained dancer. If anything, “Torch Song” would be a reminder to millions of fans that the early part of Joan’s career was as a lively dancer in various films she first made at MGM. The basic background to the new film could be looked upon as a throwback to that time she was discovered in the chorus line of a Hollywood night club, later to become a huge movie star.







Starring opposite Joan was the rather elegant English actor, Michael Wilding. He was at the time, best known as Elizabeth Taylor’s second husband. Wilding was also just getting his Hollywood career underway, upon signing up with MGM. Most fans could agree that Wilding’s gentle, charming nature and smooth acting style had a charm that for the time he made his few films in Hollywood, had a nice sort of polished contrast, not seen since the glory days of fellow English actor, beloved Ronald Colman. The casting of Wilding opposite Joan appeared more like a definite typecast to what was a rather sympathetic role, as a blinded songwriter/pianist, who in the film Joan falls head-over-heels in love with. Wilding certainly adds a needed touch of sturdiness to the storyline that creates the aged old circumstance about opposites attract. In viewing the film, it’s almost as if Joan’s strong will of character is to some truth, intimidated by the presence of Wilding opposite her in the film. She gets more down to earth when pitted up against an old friend of mine, actor Gig Young. He plays what is essentially a gigolo sort of role, being called upon when Joan’s character as the Broadway star “Jenny Stewart” needs an escort or time spent creating an illusion of companionship. Gig’s performance is quite good, coming off with the shades of professionalism he had early in his career, despite the later tragic events that would overshadow his life. The male actors pretty much signify Joan has received the casting support of two reliable performers of the current movie business.







It has to be said that the truly, one redeeming valuable factor for “Torch Song” is that of beloved character actress Marjorie Rambeau, playing the role as Joan’s voluble, witty mother. She dominates the scenes she is in. The simplistic beauty of her style of acting is absolutely breathtaking and has a loving spirituality that displays her long standing as a respected actress. Of all things that can be said about “Torch Song,” be they bad or tauntingly critical to the point of believing the film has no merit, Rambeau was surprisingly rewarded for her efforts with an Academy Award nomination as supporting actress. She wouldn’t win, losing out to Donna Reed. At best, Rambeau had been the odds on sympathetic favorite to possibly win. However, the overwhelming success of “From Here To Eternity” made it seem easy enough for Reed to walk away with the “Oscar.” Most critics agreed that Rambeau was the best part of “Torch Song” and perhaps gave the film its only type of justification to be taken seriously.







An interesting point that is of historical interest, concerns director Walters making what is a cameo appearance as the dance partner of Joan in the opening scene of the film. There are today some rather peculiar, if not, outlandish stories relating to the relationship of Joan and Walters as they set out to make the motion picture. One story has Joan showing up in a trench coat at either the house of Walters or his studio office. She is reputed to have then taken the coat off and revealed her naked body to Walters, in an attempt to fend off rumors Joan had heard that Walters didn’t believe she was good enough to take on the role! This sort of intimidation was said to be a control ploy on the part of Joan, so that Walters be subservient to her wishes during the making of the film. It’s also believed by some diehard fans of Joan that she was just getting into the character for the sake of the film. Over all, there are some striking similarities to the real Joan Crawford and that of the character she portrays in “Torch Song.” One of the most obvious is this sense of feeling in control of the environment she works in and always being on guard to whatever obstacle may occur or situation that would make her feel uncomfortable. This film marks the stamp of approval for Joan becoming or being seen as the archetype of a superstar motion picture diva. One has to wonder if its really art imitating life or vice versa.







One good aspect of the film that should be appreciated is its beautiful theme song, written by Walter Gross and Jack Lawrence, entitled “*Tenderly*.” The tune had actually been written and released eight years earlier. It would be singer Rosemary Clooney, who first made the biggest known, popular recording of the song. Within the storyline of the film, the song becomes instrumental to bringing together the two main characters, leading to a conflict of emotional passions. The song is what made the character of “Jenny” a star, when she sang the tune early in her career and is the one redeeming point the blind pianist remembers about her, since he knows what she looks like, because he initially wrote that very first important review of her career! This and other little tidbits throughout the story are what I love about the movie. However, most fans will look upon “Torch Song” as a rather over-the-top sort of Joan Crawford melodrama vehicle that becomes essentiality a one woman show. She is to put it mildly, seen as a glamorous figure throughout the film, dressed in colorful, ornate gowns designed by Helen Rose; some of which are today considered classics of motion picture costume design! The film is without question an expensive, extravagant Technicolor production that only a big studio could offer and exploit beyond reason or with any need of explanatory logic!







Upon its release, the movie received mixed reviews and wasn’t really considered all that bad. Yet, over the years, film historians have not been kind to the film, believing for the most part it was nothing more than an attempt by MGM to fill in the gap needed for a commercially successful film that could guarantee a good box-office response. Certainly, the movie gives off an inordinate flavor that lends one to feel nothing was left to chance, except that perhaps there could have been a more inspired form of entertainment, instead of a usual, nicely produced, typical studio film that can best be remembered for not having something of cultural value. Well, “Torch Song” is today a big, cult film favorite among the fans, especially those of Joan and what she has come to represent towards motion picture history. There is an ironic twist to “Torch Song,” in that the movie reaps with shades of nonsense, while offering something interesting to watch or has an addictive atmosphere that forces one to somehow accept the imprudence to what might happen behind the scenes of show business. And, while this film and story might connect to Joan’s real life in various ways, I know for a fact she wasn’t as unruly, presumptuous and intrusive as the woman she portrayed in the film. Joan was after all, a consistent professional when it came to her work in films. This I think is what makes her career so substantial to having its value. Maybe Christina might think “Torch Song“ is part of this macabre legacy to Joan, since she likes to tell friends her mother was a witch, spelled with a capital “B.” Anyway, as crazy as what I’ve written might seem and I know some of you out there have seen this movie on TCM, it only stands to reason that I’m as human as the next, in getting sucked into loving a movie that has no overall value to be considered a classic, other than I can remember it for what it does towards extending so many unusual aspects, theories and feelings about a legendary movie star.

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