Featured Post

Fatal Attraction or Bad Decisions – A Retro of a 30-Year-Old Classic

In September of 1987, fresh from college graduation and new to the city of Los Angeles, I decided to take refuge in a movie the...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fatal Attraction or Bad Decisions – A Retro of a 30-Year-Old Classic

In September of 1987, fresh from college graduation and new to the city of Los Angeles, I decided to take refuge in a movie theater to relax. Caught up in the hype and anticipation of Adrian Lyne’s post 9 ½ Weeks effort, I went to see Fatal Attraction. I remember thoroughly enjoying myself. It was a great diversion for 2 hours.

Segue to 30 years later and I am channel surfing. What appears on my television set? Yep, you guessed it. So, I settled in to see if this film has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, it has not. What kept me on the edge of my seat in an LA theater three decades ago, made me laugh hysterically today.

We all know the premise of this movie. It has become cemented in popular culture as a cautionary tale for married men to stay on the straight and narrow. In other words, you get some strange, there will be hell to pay.

Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) meets Alex Forest (Glenn Close) at a gathering. The two are instantly attracted to one another. Since Dan’s wife Beth (Anne Archer) and his daughter Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzin) are away for the weekend, Dan takes advantage of it by having a dalliance with Alex.

What happens during this little adventure? Well, sex. Sex in an elevator. Of course, it is an old cargo elevator. That seems structurally safe and sound. After banging each other in that, let’s talk about the most famous scene of all. Getting busy in a kitchen sink.

Yes, you heard me. Dan places Alex in the sink and she turns the water on and they do it there. Seriously? This sounds like a 911 call waiting to happen. Can you imagine that scenario?
“911. What’s your emergency?”
“Hello, could you please send an ambulance?”
“What has happened, sir?”
“Well, I was trying to screw my girlfriend and I threw my back out. Yeah and she’s hurt too.”
“What exactly did you do, sir?”
Sighing. “I put her in the kitchen sink and one thing led to another….”
“I get the point. What’s the address?”

While all of this sounds hot and steamy on paper, it is pretty ridiculous on celluloid. Those scenes instead of getting me fired up made me roar with laughter. I kept thinking who does that?

So, after all this passionate love making, things start to get a little crazy for Dan. He leaves while Alex is sleeping. Of course, the first thing he does is call his wife and act real nonchalant like he’s been reading the Bible or something. Alex, waking up alone, immediately calls Dan demanding that he come back to her. After some cajoling, Dan capitulates and rejoins Alex for more fun and games plus a meal.

As with anything in life, the good times have to come to an end. Dan is getting dressed to return home. Alex is rather petulant with him and he explains that they both entered into this liaison with no expectations. Angered by his casualness, she boots him out of bed and he gets dressed in the living room and prepares to leave.

He goes to say goodbye and Alex approaches him very apologetic. The two embrace and in the midst of her fervent kisses, we see blood streaks across Dan’s face. He sees the telltale red and notices that Alex has cut her wrists. Okay, let me stop this kooky train for a moment.  

This should have been a big red flag for Dan to ghost this chick while he can. Instead, wracked with guilt, he stays with her throughout the night and even bandages her wounds. The entire time I am thinking, shouldn’t she go to the ER and get some stitches?

Finally, Dan is free to leave this situation and get back to his life. Once he has returned to his apartment, he doesn’t have time to go to bed so instead, to make it look like he has slept in it, he jumps underneath the covers and starts rolling around like an idiot. This was another laugh out loud moment for me. I guess he thinks this will make his wife think he has been home the entire weekend.

Beth and Ellen are back and all is right with the world. Not so fast! As much as Dan would like to move on from those crazy days of volatile pounding in Alex’s apartment, she won’t let him. She starts barraging him with phone calls, showing up at his office and stalking him. As if this isn’t enough, guess what? She’s pregnant! Good times.

Now, Dan is really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Being a standup guy, he offers to pay for Alex to have an abortion. Are you stupid, Dan? Wait, don’t answer that. Of course, she doesn’t want that! She wants to raise the baby thinking that you will divorce your wife and live happily ever after with her.

The harassment continues and even escalates. Alex totally wrecks Dan’s Volvo. Now, she shows up at his apartment under the pretense of wanting to move to the city. Let me tell you, the scene where the one night stand and the wife are together shouldn’t be amusing but it is, especially since Lyne has them framed in the same shot standing next to one another. Uh-oh, Dan. Time to make a choice….

Torn apart with guilt, Dan finally confesses to his wife about his bad decisions weekend and is kicked out of the house. Thus, begins his downward spiral. He gets just as mental as Alex by breaking into her apartment to see if he can dig up some dirt on her.

All of this cat and mouse culminates in Alex kidnapping Ellen from school to take her to an amusement park. When Beth arrives at the institution to pick up her daughter, she is told by the teachers, “She isn’t here. She left. We thought she went with you.”

Ah, the 80’s. I guess back then we just didn’t care about stranger danger and Amber alerts. Come to think of it, my aunts could just pick me up from kindergarten in the 70s and no one cared. They could have had paneled vans for all the nuns knew.

Distraught and searching for her daughter, Beth plows into the back of another car. She ends up in the hospital. Ellen is safely returned by Alex. Livid, Dan pays Alex a visit and this time they engage in hand to hand combat. All that throwing each other up against walls and tackling isn’t fun anymore. T
This time, Dan intends to seriously injure her.

He starts strangling the crap out of her but then realizes what he is doing and steps away from the madness. With the following parting words, he sends a clear message. “Leave my family alone or I will kill you.”

The final act of sheer dementia occurs when Dan and his family, who have now taken up residence in the burbs, leave for a day of fun. When they come back to their perfect home, something is amiss. Ellen immediately runs into the backyard to greet her pet rabbit.

Beth walks into the kitchen to find a pot boiling. Cut back and forth to Ellen to Beth and then finally, dead rabbit and screaming women. I guess dinner is already started. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Please forgive the poor taste.

In the end, Beth tries to cope with Dan’s indiscretion. However, while she is drawing a bath, out of nowhere, Alex starts attacking her with a knife. Dan happens to notice that water is dripping from the ceiling, curious, he goes upstairs to find out what is going on. He walks in on Alex being batshit insane and they immediately go at one another.

Dan strangles her in the bathtub. Think that is the last of Alex? Hell no! Like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, she rises up and attempts to attack Dan again. This time, she is shot to death by Beth.
The script is predictable and formulaic. While the acting is decent, in retrospect, this film has not aged well. Hook ups happen but at the first sign of trouble, people usually bail. Restraining orders are commonplace and schools take child abduction very seriously now.

However, I highly recommend this movie if you are thinking about taking your relationship to the next level.  You can use it a conversation starter. “So, babe, about that weekend trip that I am taking for work. Have any plans while I am gone?”

Or maybe it can be used as an instructional film in sex education classes to push students toward the downsides to random hookups…. that will NEVER work. Perhaps this film can serve as a mood lifter. Remember you may think you are having a rough time but there is always someone out there that is having a worse time than you.
Susan Leighton Woman on the Ledge  on My Trending Stories Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Weren’t the 80’s Awesome?!

This is a reblog of a post I did last year.  So, grab your wayfarers, a hoverboard and the DeLorean or the classic Olds Delta 88 and let's take a trip back in time to my formative years, the rad 80s.

I was feeling sort of Back to the Future so I decided to go back to the past and write a throwback post. What has caused this sudden bout of nostalgia you might ask? Well, it’s summer, the current political climate, social media, the list could go on and on. While I enjoy all of the benefits of this century I sometimes find myself longing for the days when all of life’s issues could be solved in one John Hughes movie.

During most of the 80’s, I was a teenager. My function in life was to go to school, play sports, get good grades and just have fun. Unlike today where those carefree days have been replaced with grown up concerns like paying the bills, job expectations, ad nauseum. Now whenever I revisit that time in my life, usually through watching popular movies of that era, I am struck by how totally unrealistic the situations depicted are and that in real life the repercussions would be very different.

Allow me to give you some examples to illustrate my theory. First, let’s talk about Flashdance.  What a feeling, right? The story centers around an 18-year-old welder named Alex who lives in Pittsburgh. She resides in a fabulous loft apartment in a converted warehouse and moonlights as an exotic dancer. In her spare time, she works out like a maniac to some cool tunes and hangs out with the boss of the steel mill in his killer Porsche 911. When I saw this film back in the day, I never questioned anything. Now as an adult, I have to stifle the laughter when I think of the implausibility of this plot.

In looking at the credits, I see one of the writers is Joe Eszterhas.  Mr. Eszterhas is known for two screenplays. Basic Instinct and Showgirls.  I must confess I do enjoy Showgirls because it is totally laughable.  It is almost like a 90’s version of Flashdance except it takes place in Vegas with nudity, crazy dancing, and tremendously bad acting. As for Basic Instinct, it gave us Sharon Stone.  Let that sink in for a moment. What is her claim to fame? A skin tight white dress and no underwear. I imagine she was the inspiration for countless starlets of today, (I’m looking at you, Kardashian clan). 

Back to the plot of Flashdance, I have questions. Welding is a very detailed discipline not to mention dangerous. When did Alex find time to study this technical job? In shop class during high school? Even if this was the case, would she be able to be hired by a steel mill after a year of making ash trays at the local trade school? Furthermore, at 18, where did she get the cash to foot the bill for that tremendous warehouse loft? Probably combining her tips as an exotic dancer with her salary. Now, I have been to strip clubs. I have never been to a club that involves a pull chain and a bucket of water.  

Nor did any of the girls run up to a wall and do a back flip. As for Alex’s dalliance with her boss, Nick Hurley, all I can say is really? He seems incredibly older than her (not that there is anything wrong with that) and isn’t there an HR department at that mill? Seriously? In today’s corporate landscape, Alex would sue Nick for sexual harassment and Nick would resign from his position.

Another beloved movie from that era was Footloose. Now, I love me some Kevin Bacon but in retrospect how did this concept even get greenlighted by a studio? Listen, the soundtrack was excellent and I spent many a night dancing to the theme song in college. One time, I even jumped on a table with some friends but that is a whole other blog. Getting back to the subject at hand, Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is a Chicago teen who is uprooted from his urban existence and transplanted smack dab in the middle of East Kadumptruck, Iowa. Okay, that is not the name of the town and if you are from Iowa I apologize. Des Moines is the best! In this Iowa burg, no one dances and no one listens to the devil’s music which would be rock and roll.

First of all, if it weren’t for small towns in the Midwest how would John Cougar Mellencamp have a career or even Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen? Is this town in “Little House on the Prairie” or just a weird cult haven that lets a minister (played by master thespian, John Lithgow) dictate how people choose to live their lives? Of course, Ren has the misfortune of taking up with the minister’s daughter and all hell breaks loose. I could go on and on about Footloose but you get the picture. In the end, that sinister rock music wins, everyone sees the light, and it is time to boogie! If only real world issues could be solved with some Duran Duran and the Electric Slide!  We could say goodbye to all the scary threats in our present day world.

The last film I want to talk about is the classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  This movie is the inspiration for a 90’s band called “Save Ferris.” “Save Ferris” had some brief success with a remake of an old 80’s tune, “Come on Eileen,” by “Dexy’s Midnight Runners.” In this story, Ferris is a high school kid who decides that he is going to take the day off. In an elaborate plan worthy of a bank robbery, Ferris breaks his girlfriend Sloane and his best friend Cameron out of school for some hi jinx. They take Cameron’s dad’s classic car for a spin, go to the art museum, have dogs at a Cubs game and even sing on a float in a parade in downtown Chicago. Meanwhile, the high school principal becomes obsessed with tracking Ferris down to prove that he is playing hooky.

Let me just say from firsthand experience, this guy would have been busted in the 80’s. I know this because I tried to sneak out of school in the middle of the day. Granted, I went to a lock down federal penitentiary Catholic school but my plan was thwarted. The vice principal grabbed me right as I was walking out the side door of the school theater.  Ferris definitely would have been busted today with all of the social media. Someone would capture his adventures and then put them on You Tube. Amazingly enough, he appeared on television while singing on the float and no one found out! It seems like everyone was blissfully unaware.

In today’s world, the principal of Ferris’ high school would probably be brought up on charges of harassment and stalking a student. This would lead to his public disgrace and a tearful resignation with his stalwart family by his side.  Cameron, Sloane, and Ferris would have been suspended from school and the consequences would definitely not have been feel good.

I still enjoy each of the films that I mentioned. They are fun and they are frivolous. Their main goal is to entertain. After all, that is why we go to the movies or listen to that new song or read that latest best seller is to escape from our lives. I am fortunate to have grown up in a time that was free of some of the issues that we face today. I will forever be a child of the awesome 80’s! 

Susan Leighton Woman on the Ledge  on My Trending Stories Follow my blog with Bloglovin