Year 9, Day 65 - 3/6/17 - Movie #2,565
BEFORE: Film 7 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - now that I'm planning to add two more films to the Astaire chain next week, my total for Fred will be 14 films, and now I've got 6 more to go, but at least I'm still past the halfway point.
And I'm feeling "Carefree" myself, since I figured out a path that gets me to my Easter-themed films, in just the right number of moves, even though I'm getting ready to take 6 days off. Plus the chain goes through some of the films on my list that I really, really want to see - like "Now You See Me 2", "Cafe Society", "Black Mass", "Doctor Strange", "Mad Max: Fury Road", and "The Revenant". All that, plus a lot more, in between now and April 16, which will be Easter Sunday AND Film #2,900. So it's all sort of coming together, but where I go after that is yet to be determined.
It seems like 133 is sort of the magic number for the watchlist, especially since I can't seem to get the list any smaller than that. But when the list is (temporarily) smaller, then it becomes difficult to make connections, and when it's larger than that, it feels like there are too many choices, too many linking paths to choose from. As soon as I added a couple of TCM's films with Richard Burton and brought the number back up to 133, BOOM, I got the connection I needed to turn a dead-end in the chain into something that would link to my Easter programming...
THE PLOT: A psychiatrist agrees to hypnotize his friend's girlfriend in order to convince her to accept his proposals of marriage, but she ends up falling for the psychiatrist instead.
AFTER: Ugh, I don't know where to start with this one, tearing it apart. Most everything here is just hard to handle, even when you take into account that this was released in 1938, and the dynamic between men and women was much different than it is today. But depicting a psychiatrist getting involved with one of his patients is just plain wrong, even though that forms the standard sort of love triangle that's common in these Astaire/Rogers bedroom farces.
Now, to be fair, at first the psychiatrist takes a stab at analyzing his patient's dreams, and going from there. But here Amanda Cooper (Ginger) is afraid to tell her doctor about her dream, because she had a dream where she was dancing and romancing HIM, instead of her boyfriend. So she makes up a tall tale about a more complicated dream where she's being chased, and she turns into a fish, and then a tree, etc. etc. and the doctor then labels her a psychotic. Whereas before meeting her, he'd sort of pigeonholed her as a standard, spoiled rich bratty woman who doesn't even know what she wants. This is somewhat horrible, too - a doctor passing judgment on a patient before he even meets her.
Honestly, I don't know which is worse - the doctor mistakenly treating her as a psychotic because of her rather inventive dream, or just writing her off as a "typical" spoiled woman, who just can't make up her mind and commit to marriage. The second theory manages to downplay ALL women by extension - as if to say, "Oh, they all want to get married, even if this ONE won't admit it." Way to stereotype a whole gender, doctor - I just can't imagine how you're still single. Or the other way to interpret it is to suggest that all women want the same thing, but some of them are just not in touch with their own desires enough to realize it. Why was it so hard to imagine a woman who wanted to love her boyfriend, but still have doubts about marriage?
They had something like this in a different film, a few days ago - "Oh, she's in love, she just doesn't realize it..." So, she's what, then - stupid? Unaware of her own feelings? There are just no good answers here, once you set up a situation like this.
Then, it gets worse - Doctor Flagg places her under anesthesia to "let her inhibitions run wild", to find out who she really is and what she wants, and then he LEAVES THE ROOM, allowing her to go out on the street and act in "uninhibited" ways. Incredibly unprofessional, at best. But there's also a distinct lack of medical knowledge exhibited here, because there doesn't seem to be a difference between "anesthesia" and "hypnosis", because both seem to allow the patient's subconscious in a similar way. But as far as I know, anesthesia only serves to put people to sleep, not to allow them to express their deepest desires.
Then, after learning that his patient had a romantic dream about him, the "Doctor" then uses hypnosis (and the science of this may have been in its infancy back in 1938, who knows...) to suggest to the woman that she loves only her boyfriend, Stephen, and not her doctor, who is a "monster". You can probably see the effects of this coming - it works, but a bit too well, and suddenly Amanda is keen on getting married to her boyfriend, but now we're unsure if it's what she really wanted, or if she's just acting on the hypnotic suggestion.
Plus, you guessed it, the doctor has a change of heart and realizes that he's really in love with his patient (which, if true, should really get his license revoked, if you ask me). And in his case, he knows he's in love when he feels that he's in love, you know, because he's a guy and guys are never wrong about things like this, where women just can't be trusted to be self-aware, if their feelings are in conflict with a man's ideals.
So Dr. Flagg has to get back to Amanda and re-hypnotize her, or un-hypnotizer her, only by this point her boyfriend has gotten his skeet-shooting buddy, a judge, to file some kind of restraining order so he can't get close to her. But that's OK, because somehow we've determined that if she gets knocked out, that will pretty much allow him to tap into her subconscious and fix things. The solution, let me be really clear here, is for the woman who's under hypnotic suggestion to marry her boyfriend to get punched in the face. Congratulations, it's a new low for feminism. Admittedly, it's not the usual solution to solving things in the Astaire/Rogers franchise, because dancing's not involved, but this is hardly an improvement.
The writers never did one iota of research into the real applications of psycho-analysis, dream interpretation, hypnosis, or medical ethics, but why let any of that get in the way of a story? It's not just junk science, it's harmful to the public. People generally believe in things like hypnotic suggestion now, and I wonder how much of it comes from science and how much of that just comes from movies.
Oh, and except for "Change Partners", this film features some of the lesser works of Irving Berlin - the song and dance number called "The Yam" is particularly heinous. Let's face it, the 1930's were a strange decade. Common wisdom back then (apparently) was that if you ate a lot of weird food, you'd have more vivid dreams, which is just nonsense.
Also starring Ralph Bellamy (last seen in "The Ghost of Frankenstein"), Luella Gear, Jack Carson (last seen in "Arsenic and Old Lace"), Clarence Kolb (last seen in "After the Thin Man"), Franklin Pangborn, Walter Kingsford (last seen in "Around the World in Eighty Days"), Kay Sutton (last seen in "Follow the Fleet") with a cameo from Hattie McDaniel (last seen in "I'm No Angel").
RATING: 3 out of 10 golf balls