June 18: Let's Hear It For the Girls. This was a series of performance videos and soundies featuring women. It was clearly limited by the material they could get: no Ella, no Billie, no Judy. Some good material though, including a few acts I hadn't even heard of before.
June 19: The Carey Treatment. I recorded this because it starred James Coburn. Turns out it's the first Michael Crichton adaptation. A young woman dies after a botched illegal abortion, a doctor who performs abortions is blamed, and a pathologist (Coburn) turns amateur investigator and tries to find out what really happened. The subject of abortion before Roe v Wade is handled more thoughtfully than I would have expected. A wide range of points of view are portrayed, some admirable, some not so much, and the movie is careful not to vilify (or glorify) everyone who either supports or opposes abortion rights. It's not all "surprisingly thoughtful" though: the death of the young woman is gruesome, she's shown collapsing with blood pouring out of her crotch. (Not at all like Men in White, which also features a woman dying from a botched abortion, and was edited so heavily to pass the Hayes Code that I had no idea what had happened, didn't even know the woman had been pregnant. She spends two minutes alone in a room with Clark Gable, and the next time you see her she's lying on a hospital bed mysteriously dying.)
On the downside, the movie shifts at the end into a sort of generic mystery-thriller, with people being killed left and right and it's a bit silly. Also extremely silly was the "evil Swedish massage" scene.
June 26: Kagemusha. Kurosawa movie about a king who dies, and his top retainers find a lookalike to impersonate him to hold the kingdom together. The king and the lookalike are played by the same actor who played the king in Ran.
June 27: Marnie. Hitchcock drama about a kleptomaniac (Tippi Hedrin) manipulated into marrying an amateur psychologist (Sean Connery) who wants to help and/or study her. It was interesting, with a few really good scenes, particularly one near the beginning where Hedrin is almost caught robbing a safe. However, I can't recommend this movie if you have any feminist sensibilities at all. The attitude towards gender and sex is appalling. Hedrin is portrayed throughout as some kind of animal who has to be tamed by Connery. Most difficult to watch is a scene where Connery rapes Hedrin. Most reviews call it "marital rape" but in my book, rape is rape. At least it wasn't a rape passed off as "seduction," as older movies sometimes did (like Gone with the Wind for instance). She tries to kill herself first thing the next morning; to me that seems clear that Hitchcock intended it to be rape.
June 27: Psycho. After all this time and so many viewings, this movie still has the capacity to shock me.
June 28: North By Northwest, Notorious, The Philadelphia Story. Three classics that I don't have much to say about tonight.
June 29: The Women. I never miss an opportunity to watch this. When the movie was made, they bragged that there were no men in the picture at all, not the actors, the animals, the books on the shelves or the art on the walls. Well I read on IMDB that it isn't true, and I confirmed it on this viewing: early in the movie the women have lunch together, and Joan Fontaine is reading a magazine which clearly has a man's face on the back cover. A few minutes later Rosalyn Russell flops into a chair, and behind her is a framed photo of someone who could possibly be a teenage flapper, but is probably a young man. Later on in the fashion show there's a cardboard cutout of a bull whose bullish attributes are clearly on display, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
July 1: The Case of the Howling Dog. Perry Mason mystery movie starring Warren William. There were tons of these detective movie series in the 30s. The Saint, the Thin Man, Mr. Moto, Philo Vance, etc. The Perry Mason series was very much a lesser example of the genre, and I only kept watching because I like William. In fact I'm watching one of the sequels now. Why? Because I'm not sleepy enough to go to sleep, not awake enough to watch a movie good enough that I would want to pay attention to it.