Thursday, April 7, 2016

SS United States Silver Screen Review: Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)

Tonight, we're looking into Die! Die! My Darling! Well, actually the way she [Tallulah Bankhead, playing the crazy Mrs. Trefoile] says it in the movie is "You must die. Die, my darling," but exclamation marks must sell better. In the UK, the movie's title is Fanatic.

Everything about this movie going into it looked very campy. 1960's horror flick, crazy old lady, a weird title. I also thought it would be a slasher. Both accounts turned to be mostly wrong. It was mildly campy, as in the blood looked like Play-Doh and the *dead* body make-up was bright teal, but that was the extent of it. There are slasher moments (I cringed when Stefanie Powers (Patricia) fell onto a pair of scissors), but it felt more like a psychological thriller. The movie starts out very normal, but slowly gets creepier.

The story: Momma Crazy invites Patricia (her late son's fiance) to visit her. She does. Momma Crazy, a precursor to Carrie's mom, wants to save Patty so her son can also be saved. Patty eventually gets tired of Momma Crazy's crazy rules (ie no lipstick, no mirrors, not wearing red because it's the devil's color, "You are a virgin, aren't you?", etc.) and tells her she has a new fiance (breaking another rule) and she probably would've ended the engagement anyway. Momma Crazy goes extra crazy, and locks Patricia in her house. Mayhem and death ensue!

Bankhead was perfect as the croaking old lady taking religion too far. This was her last feature film (but not last acting work). I thought it was funny how everyone in town was friendly to her, but she was only grumpy back to them. The townsfolk just didn't get her. It was interesting how her character was in denial of herself. She said early on she gave up her life of theater, that her husband saved her. Later in the film, she goes into the basement, and all of her outfits from her shows were down there. You renounced your former life, but still have all your things? Oh, and everyone in this house (including the men) were really scared of Momma Crazy holding a gun. Like, seriously? She's an old woman, you can easily take her down.

Powers was good, nothing to critique on her performance (loved her distressed face). What I was more disappointed in was the material she had to work with. She seemed too easy to overpower. One moment, she was escaping, surviving a fall through a greenhouse roof; the next moment she would fight with the female servant, who always defeated her. I felt like I was going to start yelling at her like my dad yells at sports on TV. "Come on, Defense!"

Donald Sutherland plays a gardener with mental challenges, which was uncomfortable to watch how people with mental challenges were portrayed in the past. Especially when the character's first appearance is supposed to be a horror shocker moment.

Overall, the movie was okay. It did feel dated. The horror seemed tame, but that could be the change in the times. Jaws seems pretty tame nowadays.

Alright. Enough with the horror, where is this ship?

After the introductory credits (with shots of a cat chasing a mouse), the first shot is the SS United States in the distance! For around 10 seconds, you see her in action, her horn blowing.

Then there is a second shot of Patricia and her fiance (the alive one, her old one is dead before the movie starts) driving past the stern of the ship on the pier. Patricia is from America, and she is coming to England to live with him. So that's how the ship comes into play, a visual clue for the backstory.

Stern shot from Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)

Wait a minute... that's doesn't really look like the stern of the SS United States. Let's go back to the segue a few shots before and pause...

Segue transition from Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)

The "--lizabeth" of "--pool." There it is, folks! Surprise cameo of her royal majesty, the RMS Queen Elizabeth!

I think this says a lot about the popularity of the ships at the time. Implying the QE is the SS United States? That the SS United States is better/more popular than the Queen Elizabeth? Poor old dame.

OR, does the intro shot change depending on if you see the movie in England or the US? Did they change other things other than just the movie's title? Is the ship you see in the distance the Queen Elizabeth in Fanatic? There's no evidence online I can find. The person I watched this movie with doubted they would make a change that small.

Movie: Dated, but it was more entertaining than The Water Horse. 2/4
SS United States: 10 seconds of the ship sailing from a distance, briefly relevant to the plot. 2/4

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