Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Pick-Up Artist

Year 8, Day 33 - 2/2/16 - Movie #2,234

BEFORE: Robert Downey Jr. carries over from "Two Girls and a Guy" for his fourth film in a row, and I think I've had enough of him, at least until "Captain America: Civil War" rolls around.  But a new chain of four also starts tonight, as I start batting clean-up on some films from the 1980's that I didn't see when they were first released. 

Now here's the TCM line-up for tomorrow, February 3, with the added actor connections:

Samuel L. Hinds carries over from "Blossoms in the Dust to:
"Little Women", with Frances Dee carrying over to:
"Of Human Bondage", with Reginald Denny carrying over to:
"The Lost Patrol", with Boris Karloff carrying over to:
"Five Star Final", with Frances Starr carrying over to:
"I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang", with Glenda Farrell carrying over to:
"Johnny Eager", with Van Heflin carrying over to:
"Madame Bovary", with Jennifer Jones carrying over to:
"Love Letters", with Joseph Cotten carrying over to:
"The Third Man", with Bernard Lee carrying over to:
"The Fallen Idol", with Michele Morgan carrying over to:
"Joan of Paris", with Alan Ladd carrying over to:
"Captain Caution", with Victor Mature carrying over to:
"One Million B.C."

Wow, 14 films in one day, and I've only seen one of those, "The Third Man".  But I think I'll take a pass on "Madame Bovary", because I've already scheduled 3 Jane Austen films, and isn't that enough culture?  And I thought maybe that "One Million B.C." was that caveman film with Raquel Welch, but no such luck.  I have a couple films with her on the list, that would have fit right in.  So overall, I'm down to 9 for 25, my stats are falling fast.

THE PLOT:   A womanizer meets his match when he falls for a woman in debt to the mafia.

AFTER: Well, this was at least a slight step up from "Two Girls and a Guy" - though Robert Downey Jr. plays another despicable character.  And not because he tries to pick up girls, but because of the way he parks - double-parking outside a coffee shop in Manhattan?  He deserves the death penalty, but I'd at least settle for him getting his car towed, which didn't happen.  Driving his Camaro over the walkways in Central Park?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's a capital offense.  

I think I know why I never watched this film back in 1987 - I was in film school at the time, and I was trying to concentrate on my studies, so I only had time for important films, like "Platoon".  And in production class I was put on a rotating team of four people, with three people on a crew.  That's one director and two assistants, with the fourth member working in the editing room.  One of the people on my crew later became a famous Hollywood director (I'm sure I've told this story here before) and when I was the director and he was supposed to be my assistant, he never EVER showed up.  And when he was the director and I was his assistant, the majority of his time was spent hitting on girls in Washington Square Park.  Not that I'm bitter or anything (wait, yes I am) but I'd also got in into my head that this film was somehow based on him, so I really had no interest in watching it.  His signature move was offering women a stick of gum, and that doesn't even happen in this film - but mentally, the damage was done.  

There is more to the story here, because 80 minutes of a man hitting on women doesn't really make for a spectacular movie.  But our womanizing hero suddenly gets interested in one woman in particular, because although they have a make-out session in his car, she seems immune to his charms.  And nothing drives a Don Juan crazier than finding the one woman who he can't seem to charm.  There is a certain truth to this, because in the early stages of a relationship, there's nothing more off-putting than desperation, and a true pick-up artist is desperate with a capital "D".  Women can sense desperation the same way dogs can smell fear, so the only thing to do is to play it cool, like it's not even a thing.  

But our hero here loses his cool, and goes into full stalker mode, trailing this redhead from her job at the Museum of Natural History all the way to her apartment in Coney Island.  Because that's not creepy at all.  And when he finds out she lives with an older man, he jumps to the conclusion that this man is her boyfriend, instead of the much more obvious possibility.  The film then takes a giant right turn when he realizes her goal of earning enough money to pay off her father's gambling debts.  

Now, I'm not against the gambling.  I favor slot machines myself, because they're fun and I'm not comfortable with table games.  But one thing I know about gambling is that if you're in debt, you can't keep betting bigger and bigger trying to dig yourself out of the hole.  By sticking with the slots, and limiting myself to $20 per machine before moving on, I feel like I've managed to have fun and minimize my losses.  (Honestly, my real goal at a casino is just to win enough to cover the cost of the buffet.  Because that's where the odds are in MY favor.)  

And gambling's been something of a repeating theme around here lately, what with "Maverick" and "Support Your Local Gunfighter" featuring poker and roulette, respectively.  Kids, the only real way to win over time is to not play, or at least to be in control of the amount you're betting.  Never bet money unless you're prepared to lose it.  It's only in movies like this one where people bet big and win big without much effort.  I've been to Atlantic City several times in the last two years, and it's very different there now from the way it's depicted in "The Pick-Up Artist" - like I'm pretty sure that the casino bosses hardly ever hold your family members hostage anymore while you're placing large bets.  

Also starring Molly Ringwald (last seen in "The Breakfast Club"), Dennis Hopper (last seen in "EdTV"), Danny Aiello (last seen in "Jacob's Ladder"), Harvey Keitel (last seen in "Moonrise Kingdom"), Victoria Jackson (last seen in "Family Business"), Bob Gunton (last seen in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"), Victor Argo (last seen in "Shadows and Fog"), Fred Melamed (last seen in "Get On Up"), Tony Sirico (last seen in "Hello Again"), Mildred Dunnock (last seen in "The Trouble with Harry"), with cameos from Christine Baranski (last seen in "The Odd Couple II"), Polly Draper, Lorraine Bracco (last seen in "Medicine Man"), Vanessa Williams. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 dinosaur skeletons

No comments:

Post a Comment