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April 17, 2020:

WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT FEELING GOOD?

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, here is what you might call a rather surreal happening yesterday.  I went in the garage and pulled out some more DVDs to watch and I decided on What’s So Bad About Feeling Good, a movie starring George Peppard and Mary Tyler Moore, one of those late 1960s Universal movies where they seemed so out of touch trying to be hip, this one being 1968.  I saw it when it came out and found it nothing but weird but oddly endearing, with a really tuneful title song.  I hadn’t seen it since then until I got this homegrown DVD back in 2007.  I wrote about it back then, but I thought that thirteen years later it would be fun to watch.  I couldn’t really remember what the plot was but I’m about to tell you: It’s about a virus – yes, a virus – brought by a bird – and the virus causes nasty old 1968 New Yorkers to be – happy and carefree and loving.  Of course, the government can’t have that, because people stop drinking and smoking and it’s billions lost in sales tax.  But as if the virus thing wasn’t freaky enough, in order to not be infected, everyone in New York wears surgical masks.  I mean, my jaw hit the floor.  It’s got a certain loopy charm, trying to be all hip circa 1968 with what I presume are supposed to be hippies but who are actually beatniks.  I remembered the title song being this incredible dance number on a roof, but my memory was wonky on that point, as there’s merely some running around and leaping.  There are a couple of other things with a dance move or two – the choreographer of the film, even though there’s virtually almost no actual choreography, was some kid named Michael Bennett.  The cast is great though – Peppard and Mary Tyler Moore are fun and charming, and then there’s Nathaniel Frey, Susan Saint James, Dom de Luise, George Furth, and, in a one-scene unbilled cameo, the great Thelma Ritter, but the best is John McMartin as the mayor, doing a pretty perfect impression of Mayor Lindsay.  He’s laugh-out-loud funny.  The bird is also great – a toucan – real bird.  It’s a scope movie but this thing, which was taped off Comedy Central who knows when, is pan-and-scan and horrible.  I’m supposing a proper transfer of this will never be issued – I’d issue it for sure.  So, in the midst of stay at home because of a virus that’s affecting tons of people (in the movie there’s three million confirmed cases of happy people), I’m watching a movie about a virus and everyone in masks.  THAT, dear readers, is surreal.

Yesterday, I got about five hours of sleep due to a horrible allergy attack just before I went to bed.  I was up at ten, tried to go back to sleep several times, but in the end, couldn’t.  I did some work on the computer, worked on a song at the piano, ascertained there was no mail, then decided to have Islands again because it was so great the other day.  Well, not so great yesterday – the fries WERE great, but the burger tasted weird – I think it maybe wasn’t their usual bun or something – I don’t know – but also my requested medium well burger was, in fact, pretty red in the middle, more like medium rare – and maybe that’s why it was weird.  I ate it but I’m not gonna order from there again without making it completely explicit about the medium well – or I’ll simply order it well done.

After that, I started up the motor car and let it idle for about fifteen minutes, whilst I rummaged around in the garage for motion pictures to watch.  Then I watched What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?

After that, I began another Universal movie from that same year, 1968, this one called Jigsaw, starring Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman, Susan Saint James, Hope Lange, Pat Hingle, Michael J. Pollard, and others.  It’s yet another attempt by Universal to be hip circa 1968, so this one has LSD and trippy footage – in fact, it’s one of the worst-directed films I’ve ever seen, the culprit being the very not-so-talented James Goldstone.  Thanks to the inept screenplay by Quentin Werty.  Well, this is Mr. Werty’s only screen credit and that’s because there is no such person.  The writer was, in fact, Ranald MacDougall, the man who wrote and directed The World, The Flesh, and The Devil, wrote Mildred Pierce, and wrote Cleopatra (the Elizabeth Taylor version).  So, I’d have to imagine that Mr. Goldstone changed so much of it that MacDougall had his name removed.  No one escapes unscathed – you will never see a worse performance from Guardino, Dillman, Hingle, and especially Hope Lange – they’re all fine actors but in this they are HORRIBLE.

But here’s the real thing: What chutzpah is at play for Universal to do a remake of a film that had come out just three years earlier, the excellent Mirage, starring Gregory Peck.  That script, by Peter Stone, is great and Mr. Stone is credited and perhaps in what MacDougall’s original version was he kept to that story a bit more.  Here the story is so convoluted and ultimately boring and when all is revealed you don’t even care.  It’s like they said, let’s remake the excellent Mirage and change every single thing about it, including everything that made that film work.  There is another connection between the two films – composer Quincy Jones did both.  I wonder if he even realized that Jigsaw was a remake of Mirage.  And apparently this was made for TV but shown in movie theaters first, where it bombed completely.  This is another homegrown DVD from a terrible, faded 16mm print.

After that, I did a quick trip to Gelson’s and got stuff to make here for the next four days for sure.  Then I came home, listened to music, wrote some e-mails, and that was that.

Today, I’ll hopefully arise after a good night’s beauty sleep, I’ll answer e-mails, ascertain whether there’s any mail or packages (hoping the new book will arrive), make some telephonic calls, eat some faux chicken stroganoff, and then watch and listen and do whatever else needs doing.

The weekend will most likely hold no surprises.  It will be a tuna pasta salad weekend, and Saturday will be a dust and clean the bathrooms kind of a day, along with movie watching and mail getting.  And then it will be a new week and more staying home, which I think will bring me no paroxysms of pleasure.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, hopefully arise after a good night’s beauty sleep, I must answer e-mails, I must ascertain if mail or packages are at the mail place and if so I shall go gather them up, I must have some telephonic calls, and then I must watch and listen.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player?  I’ll start – CD, nothing, but lots of stuff grabbed from the Tube of You.  DVD, a ton of stuff.  Your turn.  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, where I shall take the positivity of that movie title to heart: What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?

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