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"...Alice B. Toklas" essential?


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JJG. you may be right about Osborne being a Sellers fan (though I might pick "The Party"), my 1st thought was it might be Barrymore's choice ;)

Always thought Toklas was dated & kinda silly.


Article here: http://www.tcm.com/essentials/article.html?cid=961756&mainArticleId=961754


NYTimes review: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E04E7D71E31E034BC4053DFB6678383679EDE

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WARNER HOME VIDEO first released "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" in 1981 and re-released in 1992 with a different box description.  On the back of the 1992-release VHS box much is made of the fact that, yes, the movie is dated ("The film, from 1968's halcyon days of hippidom, radiates good vibes and mood-of-the-times fun."), and goes on to say "The times have changed, but not the goodtimes.  There's a lot to love about 'I Love You, Alice B. Toklas'.  I reckon Warner decided to just embrace the obvious dated-ness of the film when they released it again in '92.   


     (NOTE:  Peter Sellers' 1970 movie 'HOFFMAN' is definitely worth a watch, esp. if one is a fan of PS). 


     •The tagline at the top on the back of the 1981 Warner video box says this:  "Tune in, turn on-----and laugh your head off!"  (The videocassettes used by Warner back then were really heavy, too.  If you dropped my old 'Toklas' tape on somebody's head you'd hurt them!) 


     •The tagline at the top on the back of the 1992 Warner video box has this:  "Peter Sellers:  going like '60s in a comedy classic".

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iWAS Ms. Barrymore's pick) & Mr. Osborne politely disagreed


Comedy is so subjective. I could see 30-40 y/olds diggin' this film much the same way their parents enjoy stuff like Laurel & Hardy. It affords a glimpse of what was considered funny by previous generations. I bet when my Mom laughed at L&H her mom rolled her eyes & said "that's just silly."


I loved Toklas but my Mom thought it was awful, and she loves Sellers. But then again, my Mom was a Mom in the 60's whereas I was under 10. I only saw "hippies" at my older brother's school and on TV.


THE ESSENTIALS at best exposes you to try out some good films you may enjoy. You can't see the same 50 film "super classics" forever.

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At the beginning of the Essentials intro, Robert made it clear that he had talked to the producers beforehand to determine if Alice should qualify as an essential.   I'm paraphrasing, but he wanted to "protect the franchise" of the Essentials series.  Being the gentleman that he is, Robert made mostly positive comments about the film in the discussion that followed.


Not sure if I'm reading her properly, but it seemed to me that Drew later relented and said the film was an essential for "Peter Sellers fans."  (Robert was complimentary of Sellers' performance, saying that he played it straight without gimmicks and showed what a fine conventional actor he could be.)


You may have heard mention of the big disagreement Robert had with Alec Baldwin over his choice of Mutiny on the Bounty '62 as an essential, but I think Alice now ranks in the same category.

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> There are times when I can't help but think of a really bad movie as an 'Essential' simply because it's so bad it'll doubtless elicit a strong reaction (despite it most likely being a negative one).  Maybe that's just the mischievous part of my brain thinking . . . but still I think it!


     If I was an 'Essential' programmer for one evening the 1981 comedy 'GAS' would be aired even if I had to show it via my old VHS tape.  There's a good reason why even hardcore movie fans have never heard of this movie -- much less seen it.  But I chanced upon this movie over 30 years ago when I was 9 or 10 and never forgot it.  So years later I bought myself a new Paramount VHS of 'GAS' so I could watch it whenever I wanted.   


     This movie deals in stereotypes to the 'nth' degree and the plot revolves around a phony gas shortage created by oil baron Duke Stuyvesant (Sterling Hayden), who's decided to hold back gas by storing it in some long-forgotten tanks and involves a lady reporter on his trail who can't drive (Susan Anspach) along with two Italian pet morticians who want to tap into a gas line that runs through their basement and then get their gas truck mixed up with a milk truck, which then has an effect on  Mafia Don 'Uncle Leo' who runs a dairy company + a couple of Army privates who've stolen some gas already stolen by the pet morticians.  And there's more . . . lots more.  All of it mind-frying, including a girl-photographer with a sister-fixated lunatic brother (played by Dan's brother Peter Aykroyd).  See Peter Aykroyd try and make a 'citizens arrest' while driving a tow-truck whose brakes don't work . . . ("Watch out buddy, these brakes are bad news!").


     This movie never ceases to make me laugh when other "funnier" movies barely elicit a chuckle when I watch them.  I consider it an 'Essential' cos it deserves to be watched at least 1 time, even if it's just to criticize it.


     You can always watch good movies, but there are times when it's fun to watch something that's just bonkers.  :D    



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TCM has showed several Peter Sellers' films ("Dr. Strangelove", "Lolita" to name two) that can justifiably be labeled as "Essentials". One other I would include that most definitely is an "Essential" is "Being There". After "Dr. Strangelove", "Being There" is Sellers' best performance.  

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I believe these are all of Peter Sellers' theatrical features (or intended-to-be-theatrical features; I don't think all of them were released) + one UK Tv movie thrown in.


Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980)

Being There (1979)

Prisoner of Zenda, The (1979)

Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)

Murder By Death (1976)

Pink Panther Strikes Again, The (1976)

Return of the Pink Panther (1975)

Great McGonagall, The (1974)

Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974) (aka:  "Undercovers Hero", "Party for Hitler")

Optimists of Nine Elms, The (1973)

Ghost In The Noonday Sun (1973)

Blockhouse, The (1973)

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland (1972)

Where Does It Hurt? (1972)

There's a Girl In My Soup (1970)

Day at the Beach, A (1970-cameo)

Hoffman (1970)

Magic Christian, The (1969)

Party, The (1968)

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)

Bobo, The (1967)

Casino Royale (1967)

Woman Times Seven (1967)

Wrong Box, The (1966)

After the Fox (1966)

Alice in Wonderland (1966-UK Tvm)

What's New, Pussycat? (1965)

Dr. Strangelove or:  How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

World of Henry Orient, The (1964)

Shot In the Dark, A (1964)

Pink Panther, The (1963)

Heavens Above! (1963)

Wrong Arm of the Law, The (1963)

Lolita (1962)

Road to Hong Kong (1962-cameo)

Dock Brief, The (1962) (aka:  "Trial and Error")

Only Two Can Play (1962)

Waltz of the Toreadors (1962)

Mr. Topaze (1961)

Millionairess, The (1960)

Two-Way Stretch (1960)

Never Let Go (1960)

Mouse That Roared, The (1959)

I'm All Right, Jack (1959)

Carleton Browne of the F.O. (1959)

Battle of the Sexes, The (1959)

tom thumb (1958)

Up the Creek (1958)

Naked Truth, The (1957)

Smallest Show on Earth, The (1957)

Ladykillers, The (1955)

John and Julie (1955)

Orders are Orders (1954)

Down Among the Z Men (1952)


     Pick your own 'Peter Sellers Essential' (as Drew Barrymore called it a week ago) without having to go to the IMDb or Wikipedia.  I think I listed all his movies, but if I missed one let me know and I'll add it.


     He worked at quite the pace between 1957-64 being in 23 movies in just 7 years, not including the short subjects, Tv appearances and recording with Sophia Loren circa 1960.   

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On June 22nd, TopBilled wrote the following:


"This film did not even crack the top ten of most-searched titles on the database, suggesting it did not really appeal to most viewers. BLOW UP hit number one."


As far as I am concerned whether a film is searched or not does not in and of itself prove anything. Now if TCM showed the actual number of searches per film, then maybe that could be a fruitful discussion. As it is now for all we know the films listed on that search feature have no more than ten or so people searching. Which adds nothing to any discussion.


As far as Alice B. Toklas being considered an essential, I ask why not? To someone at TCM the film is considered this. Maybe not to the general message board member, but someone who works at TCM thinks it belongs on the essentials. Until TCM adopts a fan-based voting system for essentials we will just have to stand by and watch or not watch the essential.

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