Tony Curtis

Sextette (1978)

Sextette 1978Marlo Manners (Mae West), world-renowned screen siren, has just married Sir Michael Barrington (Timothy Dalton), her sixth husband. The world adores Marlo and her marriage is making headlines all over the world. But when they check into the hotel for their honeymoon, they’re faced with endless intrusions from the media, Marlo’s manager Dan Turner (Dom DeLuise), dress fittings with her costume designer (played by Keith Moon), an entire team of athletes, and her former husbands Laslo (Ringo Starr) and Alexei (Tony Curtis). Meanwhile, Marlo has been working on her memoirs by recording scandalous tales of her many, many lovers on an audio cassette. She then tells her manager to destroy the tape, but it falls into the wrong hands and its contents could have major implications for a meeting of international delegates going on at the hotel.

Oh, Sextette. Where does one even begin with a movie that opens with the line, “Hello to you, this is Regis Philbin,” and (almost) ends with Alice Cooper singing a song at a piano while hotel maids and bellhops dance behind him? And in between, there’s a baffling list of guest stars, Dom DeLuise tap dancing on a piano (yes, there is Dom DeLuise tap dancing on a piano in this movie), and a whole lot of 80-something year old Mae West doing her typical Mae West schtick. Oh, and there’s also Timothy Dalton singing “Love Will Keep Us Together” along with Mae West.

It’s not a conventionally good movie by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, when I bought this DVD, the clerk looked at me and said, “You do realize this is not a good movie, right?” If you can appreciate really bad movies, then Sextette is the kind of movie you could definitely have some fun with. While it is definitely a “so bad it’s good” type of movie, I’m kind of obsessed with it just because of the sheer fact that this movie even exists. Because when it comes down to it, trying to describe Sextette is kind of like describing some bizarre, star-studded fever dream.  “…And Mae West was there…and Ringo…and George Raft…and then Keith Moon showed up playing a fashion designer…oh, and Tony Curtis talked with a bad Russian accent and threw a cake out the window!”

Absolutely everything about Sextette makes it sound like such an incredibly unlikely film that the fact that somehow all of these things came together to make this movie a reality absolutely delights me.  I mean, who would have thought that Mae West, Ringo Starr, Tony Curtis, Regis Philbin, Alice Cooper, George Raft, Keith Moon, and Timothy Dalton all appeared in the same movie together? That fact alone was enough to sell me on the movie. Then there’s other gloriously insane moments like Tony Curtis hamming it up so much you’ll be looking for a “Honeybaked” label on him and the fashion montage that consists of Mae West trying on dresses and saying her famous quips while Keith Moon, who plays her fashion designer, looks on. I mean, this movie just made it possible for me to write a sentence that mentions both a fashion montage and Keith Moon in the same sentence! It’s all just so incredibly unlikely that I can’t help but love it in a very odd way.

Trapeze (1956)

At the height of his career, Mike Ribble (Burt Lancaster) was known as one of the greatest trapeze performers around.  He’s one of only a few people in the whole world who can do the dangerous triple somersault stunt.  During one performance, he attempts the triple somersault, but his timing is off and falls, crippling himself.  Even though he could still work as a catcher for a trapeze act, he stays with the circus, but retires into a behind-the-scenes position.  Even though Mike is gone from performing, he isn’t forgotten.  Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis) is a young, aspiring trapeze performer travels from Brooklyn to Paris to see Mike and ask him to teach him to do the triple somersault.  At first, Mike turns him down, but then he sees Tino perform.  He sees that Tino could be a truly great performer if he worked with him and agrees to come out of retirement to coach him and be the catcher in his act.

The two of them work hard and become very close, Mike even believes Tino could do the triple somersault.  They also catch the attention of Lola (Gina Lollobrigida), a trampoline performer.  She hasn’t been able to get her act into the circus, but sees Mike and Tino have a great act going and wants to get in on it.  She talks to Bouglione, the circus owner, and tells him that she’s going to get into their act, but is told that Mike is never going to let a woman into his act.  She sets out to seduce Mike, and although he is charmed, he says no to her being in the act.  So then she tries her luck with Tino, who lets her get on the trapeze with him during some downtime.  Tino sees she could be good and is also charmed by her.  Bouglione thinks audiences would like to see a beautiful girl on the trapeze and decides she will go on with them for opening night, much to Mike’s displeasure.  Even though he wants her gone after the first show, she proves to be such a hit with the audience that she stays.

In the audience that night is John Ringling North, who has come to see Mike come out of retirement.  Ringling is looking for acts for his circus in New York and makes a deal with Mike that if he can get Tino to successfully do the triple somersault within the next three weeks, he wants both of them for his New York show.  But Lola isn’t too thrilled about being left out of the deal and uses her power over Tino to mess with his concentration so he won’t be able to pull off the triple somersault.  Mike sees what’s happening and tries telling Tino about what Lola tried with him, but it only drives a wedge between the two of them.  To prove how fickle she is, Mike starts coming on to her.  But much to his surprise, he realizes that Lola not only doesn’t want to hurt Tino, but he also really does love her.  Meanwhile, Bouglione is getting worried that his star trapeze team will leave him for the Ringling show.  To ease his worries, Lola tells him that she’ll get Tino to take someone else along as his catcher if he leaves.  However, she never has the chance to tell Mike about this plan and he’s very surprised when he is fired before a show and Bouglione wants another catcher to take his place.  But since Ringling is in the audience, Mike isn’t about to let all his hard work go to waste.  He goes out there anyway and he helps Tino to finally succeed in doing the triple somersault.  The crowd goes wild and the press is eager to talk to Mike, Tino, and Lola.  Even though Tino says he wants the act to stay together, Mike realizes their relationship is too strained and asks a friend to take his place in New York instead.

If it weren’t for the cast and the spectacular trapeze performance scenes, Trapeze would have been totally unremarkable.  The whole movie is worth seeing if only for the trapeze scenes.  They were so wonderfully staged, very exciting, and it’s very much worth noting that Burt Lancaster did all his own stunts in those scenes.  Before becoming an actor, Burt had worked in a circus so he knew what he was doing up on the trapeze.  In this movie, he was just as good in his scenes on solid ground as he was up on that trapeze.  There aren’t many actors you can honestly say that about!  He and Tony Curtis made a good team, but that wasn’t a terribly big surprise since I loved The Sweet Smell of Success.  Without these factors, this would have been just another movie about a love triangle.  As it is, though, it may not be an award winner, but it kept me entertained well enough.

What’s on TCM: June 2011

How is it already June?  But anyway, it’s shaping up to be a fun month on TCM.  Every Thursday this month, TCM will be showing a night full of classic drive-in movies.  So if you’re like me and love cheesy monster movies, you’re going to love this month.  There’s also the return of Essentials, Jr. on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM, hosted this year by Bill Hader.  The Star of the Month is the lovely Jean Simmons, who I’ve always found to be a bit on the under-appreciated side.  With no further ado, let’s go on to my TCM picks for the month…


My Top 100, 10-1

We’ve made it to the final ten favorite movies!  I hope you enjoyed reading about my hundred favorite movies as much as I enjoyed writing about them.  I’m definitely thinking that I might have to do some more big lists like this in the future!  Thanks again to Colin from Pick ‘n’ Mix Flix Reviews for suggesting I do this list in the first place!  Now, with further ado, my final ten favorites…


What’s on TCM: October 2010

Happy Halloween!  Before we get to the TCM schedule for October, it’s time for a little site news.  To celebrate Halloween, I’ll be reviewing a different horror film every Wednesday this month.  I promise it will be a mix between some typical Halloween favorites and some more unusual choices, so be sure to check that out.

Now, back to the TCM schedule.  Since it’s October, I’m sure it’s not at all surprising that there will be tons of horror movies this month.  Every Friday night is a night of horror classics from Hammer Film Productions.  Fredric March is the star of the month, which I’m pretty geeked up for.  Every Monday and Wednesday night is Critic’s Choice night, where two notable film critics pick two of their favorite movies to play.  Some of the critics include Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert and Mick LaSalle and they’ve made some pretty great choices.