No Calamity, This Movie: “Calamity Jane”

Initially, Doris Day‘s acting in the 1953 Calamity Jane is self-conscious, rather phony, but it improves as the movie goes on; and needless to say she performs outstandingly in her musical numbers.

The choreography for the song, “Just Blew In From the Windy City,” really has Day travelling, doing everything but jumping through hoops, and the tune resembles the other tunes by being snappily fun.  The nice ballad, “Secret Love,” is a truncated “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” but both it and another ballad, “The Black Hills of Dakota,” deserve their places here.

Doris is a lot cuter than the real—and homely—Calamity Jane, although for a long time zero femininity emanates from her.  Enter the undeniably feminine Allyn Ann McLarie to balance things out.  A good singer, she arouses the interest of a great singer, Howard Keel (as Wild Bill Hickok).

Most of the films of David Butler, who directed CJ, I’ve never heard of, but I’m glad I’ve heard of this one.  It is a winsome entertainment.

Calamity Jane (film)

Calamity Jane (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


More About Last Year’s “The Americans”

I finished watching on DVD the fourth season of The Americans.

Like so many other Communists, from Lenin to Mao, from Beria to Che Guevara, Elizabeth and Philip are murderers.  Out of self-protection, they kill people.  It’s pretty gripping when the distraught black woman insists that she and Elizabeth confess (not to spying but to another crime) to the police, and this prompts Liz to kill her.

Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin) gets spared, though, albeit his wife Alice (Suzy Jane Hunt) hotly and frantically accuses Elizabeth and Philip of having had the dude rubbed out in Ethiopia.  Mom and Dad really appreciate your telling Pastor Tim that they’re Russian spies, Paige.

Oh, well.  Be that as it may, 15-year-old Paige (Holly Taylor) is a pleasant girl.  Indeed, we all thought she was a Christian, but . . . is she?

Also: sorry to see good-looking Annet Mahendru (Nina) go.

The Case For “The Case for Christ”

A woman, Leslie Strobel, converts to Christianity in the new Pure Flix film The Case for Christ (2017) and, wisely, it is depicted with subtlety.  Her husband Lee also converts (at the end of the film), but by then subtlety is gone.  The unbelievers in the audience squirm.  The Case for Christ is ALMOST squirm-proof, however, as it proffers some interesting material about a busy atheist and his uncommon marriage.

Lee and Leslie are real-life persons, Lee being a former Chicago journalist.  Selfish and loutish, he cannot accept Leslie as a Christian and he tries to discredit the faith through interviewing skeptics and Bible experts about the Resurrection.  The info in the interviews supporting the Resurrection we have long been familiar with, but Lee Strobel in the late 1970s was not familiar with it.  To be sure, it isn’t quite as intellectually strong as screenwriter Brian Bird and director Jon Gunn think it is, but it is strong.  All the same, Kevin McLenithan is right that “Brian Bird’s great contribution [to the film] is to make Strobel’s marriage, rather than his investigation, the centerpiece of the story.”  It is this that is interesting.  Leslie tells a frustrated Lee that now that she has found Jesus Christ, she loves her husband even more than she did previously, and it rings true.  The very thing, this, that no atheist or agnostic can possibly, truly understand.

As Lee and Leslie, Mike Vogel and Erika Christensen are splendidly persuasive, and effective also are Alfie Davis and Robert Forster.  The movie has a knowing, talented cinematographer in Brian Shanley.

Onward, Pure Flix, and next time, more subtlety!

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