Today Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting a Worst Movies Ever Blogfest, in which participants list up to ten of the worst films they’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, this means you have to have actually seen the films instead of only seeing awful previews or snippets of films. Hopefully, I will have some terrible films to add to the list. Some of the comments are lifted from my “Movies That Suck Rocks” page at my old website, one of the pages I was able to recover in time after that nutcase and her sycophantic friends had the entire website deleted. (And keep in mind my taste in movies is pretty dinosaur. I’ve only seen so many modern movies recently because my fiancé took over my Netflix list and bumped all the modern crap he wants to see to the top, leaving me deprived of the classics I put on the queue before I even met him. I’m waiting on my Tyrone Power movies, dammit!)
1. 1. Dr. T. and the Women. I’m told Robert Altman usually directs good movies, which would explain why eight big-name stars happily climbed aboard this dismal sinking ship, and why I hear in one of the special features of the DVD they’re talking about this piece of steaming dreck like they’re proud of having acted in it. I saw about the last half on television and hear from multiple other people that the first half is just as dog-awful, if not more so. This movie bites goats on so many levels, it’s hard to pinpoint just one garbagey moment, like when the good doctor, in his car, gets picked up by a tornado and lands in Mexico without a scratch on his body, just in time to deliver a baby, in a very graphic birth scene. And how about when the woman his about-to-be-married daughter has been having a lesbian affair with, one of the bridesmaids no less, picks him to go to to determine if she has a yeast infection, and for her first obstetrical visit no less? Could there be any worse possible choice for the person at the other end of the table than your best friend and lover’s father?!
2. Life Is Beautiful. I actually kind of enjoyed the first half both times I saw it, but the second half made me sick to my stomach. I love dark comedy, even comedy that can have a bit of a meanness to it (I am after all a huge Three Stooges fan!), but this movie did not work at all in making the Shoah into a dark comedy. It was very historically inaccurate, as in real life, Guido would’ve been beaten or murdered any number of times before he actually was at the ending. I was sick to my stomach at some of the “jokes” Guido is telling Giosuè to put his mind at ease. There have been essays written on the subject of humour during the Shoah, but I’ve never read anything about inmates talking jokingly or cavalierly about their friends being burnt in Kremchies or buttoning themselves up with their friends and fellow prisoners. I sincerely wanted to vomit. And what about Guido’s pretended “translation” of the guard’s orders when they arrive at their Barracks? Like hell they wouldn’t have seen some little kid standing there, and what about the other men who might be interested in knowing this information which is literally a matter of life and death?!
How the hell is this kid supposed to escape detection, let alone getting gassed asap?! You think of the brave Dr. Janusz Korczak and his loyal assistant Stefa going into the gas chambers of Treblinka holding hands with the frightened orphans, of mothers stuffing their babies into the sleeves of their clothes which they hung up before getting gassed, in the hope of saving their babies, of live newborns being thrown into the Kremchies, medical experiments done on children, inmates getting shot, beaten, or otherwise severely punished when caught walking around when and where they shouldn’t have, the brutal “delousing” process the terrified new inmates went through, the constant rain of cudgels, whips, dogs, and kicks as they marched to the gates, almost all children that age getting sent to die immediately, being forced to undress in front of the SS, getting all bodily hair brutally shorn off, forced into a freezing shower or a tub of green disinfectant (or having a mop of the stuff rubbed on your stinging naked hairless body), forced into ill-fitting shoes and rags, being tattooed, the endless counting of the prisoners twice a day, the Barracks being searched to detect any people trying to evade the day’s excuse for work, how tight and brutal security really was, and then you see a stomach-churning farce like this, spitting in the face of history and memory.
Yes, I should just suspend my disbelief and knowledge of what really happened, because it’s supposed to be some sweet heartwarming tearjerker about a father’s love for his son and how he’d do anything to pretend to him it’s just some elaborate game, that everything is normal. The kid who played Giosuè was a total cutie-pie, but honestly, you expect me to just throw aside everything I know damn well about what transpired so I can feel all warm and fuzzy inside about the lengths to which a father will go to protect his small son from the truth? Just knowing that the relatively small amount of children who were selected to live in the extermination camps found out almost right away what sort of place they were in and had no illusions about it being some sort of game makes it unbelievable and insulting from the get-go.
And the math is also off; the first half of the movie is supposed to transpire in 1939, and Guido and Giosuè get deported on Giosuè’s fifth birthday, which, depending upon when in 1939 his parents got together and conceived him, would have made him turn five years old sometime in 1945; even late 1944 wouldn’t be feasible, since the first half looks like it takes place in the Spring, maybe early Summer. So therefore the Nazis would have already been thrown out of Italy by that point and there would have been no more deportations and surprise round-ups. The deportations came to Italy relatively late in the War, in 1943; the Italian people are heroes for having resisted turning in their Jewish population until the Nazis finally stepped in and did it for them. They only lost about 19% of their prewar Jewish population. And then this farce of a film goes and spits in the face of what really happened, on so many fronts, on so many levels. Still, I do want to at least believe Benigni’s heart was in the right place when he made it. It’s easier to believe he was genuinely well-meaning than to believe that that filthy racist D.W. Griffith and his leading lady Lillian Gish were completely stunned that people found The Birth of a Nation racist, reprenhensible, and repugnant.
3. I’m sorry, but I could never sit through the Laurel and Hardy four-reeler Beau Hunks; even the first time I saw it I didn’t like it. It starts out alright, but just drags on WAY too long. I don’t even remember any of the gags, just the fact that Ollie joins the Foreign Legion to forget his would-be-bride who jilted him, only to find all of the other guys there have also been duped by this woman. Then I remember the tedious scene of the boys struggling up the hill in the desert with the heavy backpacks on their backs. Simply not funny. I had no problems at all whatsoever abandoning this exercise in sheer pure boredom and tedium to go to the bathroom to throw up that Saturday morning in May of 1997 when I was having severe cramps. (My grandmother later came upstairs and knew I was really sick if I’d abandoned Laurel and Hardy to go throw up!) I love them dearly, but this particular effort, even though some people do like it a lot, just isn’t funny!!!
4 and 5. I’d have to go with The Three Stooges in Orbit as my least-favorite Stooge feature film, though Snow White and the Three Stooges is an extremely close second. I was sitting there appalled at how horrible both of those films are, and feeling really badly for Moe and Larry for having to waste their talents in these POS movies. I’m glad they lived long enough to finally get paid decent money and more widespread acclaim, able to take one final victory lap, but I just wish they’d had much better material to work with in their old age and hadn’t been forcibly watered down by concerned parents’ groups. And Joe DeRita is also my least-favorite Stooge, since he had zero chemistry with the others, and I lost what little respect I had for him when I found out he went on the record multiple times as saying he never thought they were funny and thought working with them was beneath him. He was even caught on film making such remarks at a Laurel and Hardy conference in the Seventies! As awful as most of the Joe Besser-era shorts are, at least Besser genuinely enjoyed his time as a Stooge, respected the company he was in, and is remembered for the solid comic reputation he built outside of that short period of his career. Besser was also a very, very nice guy, by all accounts, and I’ve heard the exact opposite of DeRita’s character.
6. While I can respect it as a technological breakthrough and a gripping story in spite of the repugnant premise, The Birth of a Nation made me want to throw up at numerous points. I also gasped and groaned aloud many times. It took me a really long time to like any D.W. Griffith films because of it (I really like his Biograph shorts from the Aughts), and I also had a hard time getting into Lillian Gish because of it. She was a wonderful actor and was great in the films she made after she got away from Griffith, but when you’ve been involved in one of the most racist movies ever made, it’s hard to look past that.
7. And while we’re on the subject of silents, one of the worst silents I’ve seen which springs to mind is Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1919 Leaves from Satan’s Book. Way too long and boring, and too many long intertitles. The best silents are the ones with short or minimal intertitles, or no intertitles at all, such as The Last Laugh. I started falling asleep numerous times while watching it. The opening section, the Crucifixion story, didn’t even have any new presentation or interpretation of that very familiar story. If you’re watching something you’ve read about or seen depicted in film many times, you can at least add a little something new to it to make your depiction stand out! (Some idiot at Amazon accused me of hating Christianity because I said that, which is blatantly untrue. Presenting an opinion that differs from yours isn’t the same as bashing.)
8. I absolutely hated the 1998 movie version of Brave New World. There were so many WTF moments in this piece of dreck that had almost nothing in common with anything in the book, foremost among them Lenina getting pregnant and then having a sappy reunion with Bernard and their baby on the beach.
9. I was also horrified by the movie version of Exodus, a book I’ve read twice and loved. I have to bite my tongue when I hear someone gushing about how “great” this movie is. It had so little in common with the book, like making intelligent, brave, brunette Karen into a vapid platinum blonde bimbo who says stupid lines like, “Ooh, Dov, you have such a beautiful name. I sometimes whisper it to myself at night.” They also turned blonde weakling Dov into some tall, dark, handsome young man.
10. I also thought the movie version of Catch-22 was pretty damn awful, not staying true to the spirit or plotline of the book at all. Had I not read the book, I would’ve had no idea what the hell was going on. It took out so much of what made the book so funny, and if I remember correctly, they also took out some of the characters.