Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Good Supply of Benzedrine

Watching CRITIC'S CHOICE from the Freudian angle this time. Rip Torn tells Bob Hope he wants to "make a monkey" out of him. "Overthrow the father image," Bob Hope extrapolates. "Sort of!" says Rip Torn, with an expression just slightly less maniacal than the one he wears in MAIDSTONE. Rip Torn later confronts Bob Hope in the nude! (Rip is in the nude, not Bob.) I can't recall whether this is before or after Bob Hope is about to bite into a hot dog when his son says something precocious about sex. "Sex? What's sex?" says Bob Hope, returning his attention to his hot dog with palpable dismay. Speaking of the precocious son, his best pal's dad is a psychoanalyst, and they sit in a part of the pal's apartment where they can overhear the dad (Jim Backus) with his patients, a conceit "borrowed" by Hope fan Woody Allen in at least two movies (see also). We are done with Freud for now. But I found some support for Megan's idea, stated long ago, that Rip Torn is kind of a beatnik in this movie. He boasts of having "a good supply of Benzedrine" at one point, Benzedrine being the stimulant of choice for beatniks as you know. Dr. Theresa shows the James Garner/Doris Day movie THE THRILL OF IT ALL in some of her gender classes (and wrote about it in her dissertation). That's the one where James Garner, as an obstetrician, gets more credit than the mother for producing a baby, according to Dr. Theresa's analysis. "I want to be a doctor's wife!" cries Doris Day (who has briefly become a "career woman") as the climactic epiphany of the film, if I am recalling Dr. Theresa's description correctly. There's something similarly creepy about CRITIC'S CHOICE, in which Lucille Ball, as the wife of the theater critic played by Bob Hope, is repeatedly mocked for trying to write a play. But you know, watching it this time I am struck by how much more realistically the situation is handled than it was in the TV show PARENTHOOD (which I used to call "the shoe factory show" because it used to take place mostly in a shoe factory) when Lauren Graham's character wrote a theatrical masterpiece without even trying and in fact without even realizing it was a play. That was an actual plot on PARENTHOOD! Now, when Bob Hope sits on a park bench and mercilessly rips apart Lucille Ball's first draft, he's very mean, but the words he says sound like actual words a person might say when critiquing someone's fledgling attempt at a form and, back to Freud, the movie seems to recognize his sublimated insecurity and rage. Ha ha ha, God I bore myself.