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Archive for the ‘Pierre de Plume’s film reviews’ Category

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The satirical comedy sketch program SCTV inhabited a universe unto itself, a small-town TV station that broadcasted mostly second-rate programming. A contemporary of Saturday Night Live, the program won two Emmy Awards for writing, including one for an episode titled “Moral Majority,” which satirized conservative Christian groups who placed economic pressure on television sponsors to withdraw advertising from programs they objected to on moral grounds

 by Pierre de Plume

“For us, art is not an end in itself, but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”— Dada poet Hugo Ball

If we entertain the notion, for a moment, that art mirrors contemporary society, we may find that the satirical sketch comedy series SCTV reflected —even uniquely so — the social and political upheavals of Western culture that took hold during the 1970s. This historical period underwent fundamental shifts in attitudes, for example, on social mores, marriage and sexuality. In North America, where memories of the Senate Watergate hearings and the downfall of President Nixon were fresh in people’s minds, we grew to regard our political leaders and institutions with not just cynicism but also as an absurd joke.

Overlaying these phenomena were fundamental changes in the delivery of our news and entertainment. Reporters like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein popularized investigative journalism to a degree not seen before. Films like All the President’s Men, Network, and Harlan County, USA each highlighted in some way the dichotomies of our prosperous, free society.

For television audiences in particular, our landscape of options took a leap upward as cable and satellite TV services, along with multiple basic cable and pay networks, became widely available. Augmenting this effect was the fact that vanguards like SCTV and Saturday Night Live placed on our screens — for the first time — artistic efforts of actors and writers who had grown up watching television. This generation was the first whose views and sensibilities had been imprinted by the new and ubiquitous medium, television. (more…)

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A smitten Marine corporal (Robert Mitchum) remorsefully comforts Sister Angela (Deborah Kerr) after his heartfelt but drunken advance has driven her to flee into a torrential downpour that leads to fever, delirium . . . and an epiphany.

by Pierre de Plume

Throughout this World War II tale of unusual love under extraordinary but credible circumstances, a huge elephant is left to linger in the room: The sexual tension between a streetwise soldier and an attractive young nun — marooned on a South Seas island — could not have been more strongly implied. The novel on which this film was based already had taken a plunge into moral turpitude, not just by portraying an explicit sexual relationship between the unlikely pair but also by underscoring their carnal activities in Biblical terms:

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [Galatians 5:17]

— From The Flesh and the Spirit, by Charles Shaw (1952)

“What’s this world coming to?”  Movie depictions of sexual expression during the mid-1950s were tame by today’s standards. However, that era’s primary agents of film censorship, the industry’s Production Code Administration (PCA) and the National [Catholic] Legion of Decency, were seeing their authority increasingly undermined with the release of button-pushing movies such as The Moon Is Blue, Baby Doll, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Island in the Sun. So no one was surprised, certainly not veteran filmmaker John Huston, that this tale of a pretty Irish nun alone in the South Pacific with a strapping, hairy-chested Marine would command the attention of censors. (more…)

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