Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Pleasure Seekers

Year 8, Day 63 - 3/3/16 - Movie #2,264

BEFORE: Ann-Margret carries over from "Grumpier Old Men", and I must confess I had a crush on her when I was a teen.  Maybe it's because in every movie she was in from the 1960's or 70's, they found a way to put her in either a very tight dress or a bikini of some sort, and that's about all it took for me at that age.  Then I just had to rent "Carnal Knowledge" at some point, and hoo boy!  Then in the 80's she did a teen comedy or two, plus a TV movie where I think she spent the majority of it lounging around in interesting lingerie.  What can I say, I was a horny teen.  I sure wasn't watching "Wonder Woman" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" for the interesting plotlines, I was hoping for glimpses of female 70's stars in skimpy outfits.  Loni Anderson, Lynda Carter, Ann-Margret, I definitely had a "type".  

I never took the time to figure out why her name had a hyphen in it, though.  Turns out it's because she was using her two first names (born Ann-Margret Olsson) and no last name.  People probably misspelled it all the time as "Ann Margret" or even "Margaret", I bet.

THE PLOT:  Three American lovelies room together in Madrid and all manage to get themselves into seemingly unhappy relationships with fellows.

AFTER: I think I saw bits of this film when I was a teen - like I said, I would have watched just about anything with bombshell Ann-Margret in it - but I don't know if I took time to appreciate what was going on.  I probably thought, jeez, these women are older and sophisticated about love and romance.  But now that I'm an adult, I think that these same characters are quite young and stupid.  Maybe it's because I spent most of today formatting and spell-checking a screenplay for my boss, a very personal story about her relationships with her two ex-husbands, but one that really gets inside the main characters head and explains love and attraction on a biological level. 

By comparison, this story did almost nothing to get inside the girl's heads - it's sort of the opposite of "Inside Out", I guess (and remind me to get that film on the watchlist, real soon).  If we did get inside their heads, we'd probably hear echoes, because there's not a lot going on - one of the three women openly admits to being stupid and inexperienced about love.  She dates an Italian man after hearing from her roommates about how he's going to try and get her into bed, by pretending to propose to her.  So she ups her game by accepting his proposal, and then playing "hard to get" - but after that, she has no idea what she's doing.  It's like she started playing this chess game, got four moves in and realizes she doesn't know what the different pieces do.  

The other two girls aren't much better - one is pining over her married boss, while ignoring the very single man working for the same company (Umm, doing what, exactly?  Writing?  Do they work for a newspaper, ad agency, publishing company?  That's all a bit unclear.).  So she's stuck between these two guys, unable to take any action - OK, maybe stop having feelings for the married guy?  "Oh, but I can't!"  OK, well, try and get over him by dating the single guy.  "Oh, but I can't!"  That's it, those seem to be your only two options, other than being alone and shutting the hell up about it.

And the third girl, Ann-Margret's character, sets her sights on the handsome doctor who nearly ran her over with his scooter.  Because that supposedly means something - geez, that's as bad as pairing up McConnaughey and J. Lo just because he saved her from being run over by a dumpster when her shoe got stuck in a manhole cover.  Traffic accidents are a very lazy way to have two characters meet - whatever happened to being introduced by friends, finding out if they have things in common or share the same goals and outlook on life?  I guess that's just not as cinematic.  

But as a result, these three girls come across as some young Stepford Wives, without any original thoughts or emotions - they're just programmed to date men, because that's what young ladies do, to try and find a husband or at least "Mr. Right Now".  Personally, I blame the screenwriter, who never looked for a "Why" for anything, just kept barging ahead as if everything's fine, just playing a big game of connect-the-dots.  But just because you sometimes find women hard to understand, it doesn't mean that all of them are like that all the time.  

I'm reminded of back in Marvel Comics, when Peter Parker was married to Mary Jane Watson, and if a writer knew a thing or two about relationships, their marriage would be occasionally troubled, but more or less solid.  But then a writer who clearly knew nothing about men living with women would take over, and then M.J. would either be sent on a long modeling trip somewhere, or she'd be killed off (temporarily, of course, cuz it's a comic book) or worse, the entire marriage would be negated by a deal with the devil.  (Yes, that happened - I'm still upset about it.) This film seems like it was written by someone who didn't understand women's thoughts and feelings at all. 

But hey, Ann-Margret gets to dance around in a bikini AND a tight dress in different scenes, and who can forget those great hits she sang, like, umm "The Pleasure Seekers"!  And "Everything Makes Music When You're In Love" - or at least when you're dating someone and pretending to be in love, or whatever the heck it is we're doing, because we're girls and we don't think about things.

Mostly it seems like there's a set-up, and then they're stalling for time, which is why we end up watching a bullfight, a very long flamenco dance, and countless views of the Spanish countryside. 

Also starring Carol Lynley (last seen in "Under the Yum Yum Tree"), Anthony Franciosa (last seen in "The Long, Hot Summer"), Brian Keith, Pamela Tiffin (last seen in "Harper"), Gardner McKay, André Lawrence, Gene Tierney, Vito Scotti (last seen in "Cactus Flower").

RATING: 4 out of 10 toreadors

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