Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Year 9, Day 49 - 2/18/17 - Movie #2,549

BEFORE: Day 3 of the Debbie Reynolds chain, tonight we're headed for 1964, but really the story takes place in the late 1800's, and then up on to 1912.

Here's the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" line-up for tomorrow, 2/19, covering the letters N-P:
6:30 AM North by Northwest (1959)
9:00 AM Now, Voyager (1942)
11:00 AM The Nun's Story (1959)
2:00 PM Of Mice and Men (1939)
4:00 PM Oh, God! (1977)
6:00 PM On the Town (1949)
8:00 PM The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
10:30 PM Papillon (1973)
1:15 AM Pat and Mike (1952)
3:00 AM A Patch of Blue (1965)
5:00 AM The Patent Leather Kid (1927)

I'm back on top with this line-up, having seen 6 of them ("North by Northwest", "Now, Voyager", "Oh, God!", "On the Town", "Papillon" and "Pat and Mike") plus I'm going to record "The Outlaw Josey Wales" to pair with "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" from a couple days ago.  So 7 out of 11 brings me up to 81 seen out of 209.  12 more days to go (and 8 days until the Oscars...)


THE PLOT: A poor, uneducated mountain girl leaves her cabin in search of respect, a wealthy husband, and a better life.

AFTER: Surprisingly, this film is NOT part of TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" line-up, despite getting 6 Oscar nominations.  Geez, you'd think they would have needed more films beginning with the later "U", right?

The only thing I really knew about Molly Brown - the real person, anyway - was that she survived the sinking of the Titanic.  (Kathy Bates played her in the 1997 "Titanic" movie.). So I spent most of this movie wondering when she was going to set sail for America on that ship - turns out it doesn't happen until the very end.  

But if you look up the real Molly Brown, and compare her life to the one depicted in the musical, this film's story starts to fall apart.  For starters, when the real Molly moved to Leadville, Colorado, she didn't do so alone, she moved into a log cabin with her brother and his wife.  Then she did marry J.J. Brown (not a rich man at the time, which her father had instructed her to find) and had 2 children, who are not even mentioned in this movie.  And then J.J. did have success with a mining claim, and they did buy a big house and try to become part of Denver's high society, as depicted in the film, but this led to them pursuing different interests.  The film has Molly spending more time in Europe, and J.J. returning to Leadville alone, before they reconciled after Molly's Titanic trip.

The sad truth is that Molly and J.J. never got back together in real life, despite what Broadway and Hollywood had to say about their relationship.  This just seems to make more sense, considering how difficult it probably is for couples to get back together after separations.  Like, if Molly took up with that European Count, and I'm not saying she did (but come on...) would J.J. really want her back after that?  How is she going to be happy, living back in Denver, after time spent in France and Italy?

This is also a film about a married man and woman who just never seem to be on the same page - she's supposed to be finding herself a rich man, but she settles for love with a poor man.  So, she encourages him to work in his mine and BECOME a rich man.  He builds her a better cabin, with everything she said she wanted, and suddenly she wants to move to Denver.  Make up your mind, woman!  J.J. strikes it rich, and they move to a bigger house in Denver, then she gets it in her head that they've got to travel in Europe for a few months and get cultured.

Some people are just never satisfied.  I guess some people would say that Molly Brown was eager and driven, but to me she just seemed like a big pain in the ass.  Because if you can't be satisfied with what you have, getting more is never going to be the answer, because then you won't be satisfied with THAT.  And then where does it end?  Why can't people be more like J.J., who never wanted anything except a simple cabin, a good woman, and a bunch of mountains that he could sing to.  Otherwise, one day you might find yourself on a sinking ship, even if that's just a metaphor for your relationship.  

Also starring Harve Presnell (last seen in "Patch Adams"), Ed Begley (last seen in "12 Angry Men"), Jack Kruschen (last seen in "The Ladies Man"), Hermione Baddeley (last heard in "The Aristocats"), Vassili Lambrinos, Martita Hunt, Audrey Christie (last seen in "Splendor in the Grass"), Hayden Rorke (last seen in "An American in Paris"), Maria Karnilova, Harvey Lembeck, Herb Vigran (last seen in "Support Your Local Gunfighter").

RATING: 4 out of 10 picture postcards

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