Saturday, February 6, 2016

One From the Heart

Year 8, Day 37 - 2/6/16 - Movie #2,238

BEFORE: I have to link indirectly from James Spader, who was also in "Pretty in Pink" with Harry Dean Stanton, as seen earlier in the week.  I'm not proud of it, but then again, it's not my fault that I don't have other prominent films with Spader or Maggie Gyllenhaal on my list.  Blame the casting directors, they're also the ones responsible for the recent Oscars "So White" controversy, if you ask me.  Academy voters can't vote for performances that don't exist, if good roles weren't cast with black actors in them.  Actually, blame the screenwriters, too, before you go accusing the Academy voters of being racist.  They can't vote for good performances by black actors if the writers don't create those stories in the first place, right?  

Here's tomorrow's TCM line-up for Day 7 of "31 Days of Oscar":
Sterling Hayden carries over from "The Star" to:
"The Asphalt Jungle" with Louis Calhern carrying over to:
"The Magnificent Yankee" with Philip Ober carrying over to:
"North by Northwest" with Les Tremayne carrying over to:
"The Fortune Cookie" with Jack Lemmon carrying over to:
"Days of Wine and Roses" with Charles Bickford carrying over to:
"A Star Is Born" (1954) with Judy Garland carrying over to:
"The Harvey Girls" with Cyd Charisse carrying over to:
"It's Always Fair Weather" with Dolores Gray carrying over to:
"Designing Woman" with Lauren Bacall carrying over to:
"Key Largo" with Edward G. Robinson carrying over to:
"Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet" with Sig Ruman carrying over to:
"It Happened Tomorrow"

Once again, I've seen 4 of those already (#3-6) and 4 out of 11 brings me up to 26 seen and 54 unseen. But it's weird to see the really popular films scheduled so early in the day, it's almost like there's some big event happening in the evening that they don't want to program against.  Oh, wait...

THE PLOT:  After a five-year relationship, lustful and dreamy Fanny leaves down-to-earth Hank on the anniversary of their relationship.

AFTER: For a long while, this film was scheduled for February 14 of this year, probably because it has "heart" in the title.  But things shifted around, and other films joined the list, so ultimately there was no great place for it.  Direct linking would really place this film next to "The Black Stallion Returns", because it shares two actors with that film, which is now left out of the loop.  I'll have to track down the film "The Conversation" if I want to link it back in.  

The key to understanding this film is compatibility - a couple that once had it, but after five years, not so much. She wants to travel, to Paris and Bora Bora, while he just wants to keep things the way they are. But there are other forms of compatibility - like was Francis Ford Coppola a compatible director with the genre of romantic musical comedy?  I have to say no.  There's no soul, no feeling, no emotion other than frustration, among the characters and I daresay also the viewers.  We barely get to know this couple before they break up, so we don't even get the benefit of feeling the good parts of the relationship that are now gone.  

The two then wander the Vegas strip separately (Hmm, we had Atlantic City in "The Pick-Up Artist", now it's Las Vegas) and bump into new partners, a musician for her and a circus performer/model for him.  Just as Frannie's about to fly off to someplace exotic with her new lover, Hank makes a desperate attempt to find her and convince her to come back home.  

But what's the point of setting a film in Las Vegas if we never even see the inside of a casino?  OK, so there's one buffet shown, but no gambling, no shows, no slot machines...well, the truth is that this was all shot on set at Coppola's Zoetrope Studios, so no casinos were harmed in the making of this film.  There are some very wildly innovative scenes, like a woman doing a tightrope act over that neon graveyard where all the old casino signs get sent when they're taken down.  But think about that, they re-created Las Vegas in a Hollywood studio, when the real Las Vegas was just a few hours' drive away.  They built a second version of McCarran Airport, when they probably could have filmed at the real one for free.  So you start to get an idea how the film's budget grew from $2 million to $25 million, and why this became the film that bankrupted Coppola's studio.  He had to direct 6 films, including "The Godfather Part III", to repay the losses from "One From the Heart".  

What's worse is, we never really get inside the characters' heads.  What is it about being with the circus girl that makes Jack want Frannie back?  Does she remind him of Frannie somehow, or is it just that she says really stupid things like "Circus girls disappear, like spit on a griddle"?  And I suppose clowns stick around, like gum on your shoe? 

Also starring Frederic Forrest (last seen in "The Missouri Breaks"), Teri Garr (last seen in "Dick"), Raul Julia (last seen in "Tequila Sunrise"), Nastassja Kinski (last seen in "Your Friends & Neighbors"), Lainie Kazan (last heard in "Eight Crazy Nights"), Allen Garfield (last seen in "The Stunt Man"), with cameos from Rebecca De Mornay, Tom Waits (last seen in "Seven Psychopaths").

RATING: 3 out of 10 suitcases

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