I've Just the Word. Kee-rap.

I started a blog called Three Weeks in Another Town. It was about spending three weeks where I normally live but this time sans wife who was half way around the world, which made everything different. I may still write it, but I suddenly buried those misadventures because I looked up where I got the title—the movie Two Weeks in Another Town, produced by MGM in 1962, starring Kirk Douglas, Edward G. Robinson and Syd Charisse. It isn't worth wasting time on unless you are a connoisseur of really bad movies.

I mean, Really Bad.
In college I took a blind date to The Friday Night Flicks. We saw The Fly. The first one. It was made ten years earlier in 1958 and starred Vincent Price as a figure of stability (given the Prince of Horror's credits, the movie was already getting off to a pretty kinky start) for a woman whose husband does a low budget run-through of Jeff Golblum's character in the 1986 remake. Tens of millions were poured into the second one, but the first one wins the Integrity Medal with RVB Cluster for Really Very Bad. Happily, my date turned out to be a twisted little vixen who enjoyed the show as much as I did. Afterwards if one wanted to make the other break into insane laughter, all that had to be said was:

"It's turned into a whole stream of cat atoms."

Sure, you had to be there (and it helped if you ate something at the Student Union), but for what's below, you don't have to be anywhere but here.

When I saw
Two Weeks in Another Town in 1962, I was too young to appreciate the sheer awfulness. Where I grew up, you went to The Reel Joy Theater and tock the shows as they came. After loading up from the candy wagon in the alley outside, you paid 25 cents for a regular seat or 75 for one of the roomier loges at the back where you could smoke. Miss Hobbles patrolled the aisles with a flashlight, breaking up couples who were kissing. This forced you to pay attention to what was on the screen--Kurt Douglas playing a washed up alcoholic actor in Italy. His character is named Jack Andrus.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Andrus. My last name. Never before (and I don't believe since) has my last name been given to the leading man in a movie.

As this point in my life I had heard my first name once before. It was in a black and white western that has a sod buster drive a wagon into town. He's not riding a horse; he's not totting a .44; he's in suspenders. As he's loading up with supplies, a bad guy guns him down, sort of like Jack Palance shooting the dog at the beginning of
Shane, the difference being the dog has more of your sympathy. Then there is someone running and shouting, "Jeff's been kilt! They kilt ol' Jeff."

Well. You can see how the self esteem problems began. I started having dreams in which I was a cowboy hero about to save the schoolmarm on a run away buckboard. Everything would go fine as I galloped alongside, but as I dove off to grab the traces of her team, my pants would fall off, showing that I was wearing baggy polka dot underwear like a circus clown. Ol' Jeff had been more than kilt. He was traumatized for what would have been life if it hadn't been for Jack Andrus. Sure, ol' Jack was a has-been alkie, but just two years before he was the lead in Sparticus.

Two Weeks in Another Town was therapy. Like most therapy, it was all self-centered, which made me susceptible to overlooking so much crappiness. Perhaps there was another subliminal effect, namely the seed of a career idea: if this is the best of what Hollywood can do, why not ol' Jeff when the time comes?

But enough negatives.

Two amazing things happen in a scene I used to have on this site until it was pulled because of copyright enfringment. The first is a young man and a young women done up in 19th Century costumes sitting in rocking boat to argue and exchange slaps, and then standing to abruptly kiss, the actress at first resisting before giving into passion, at which point they lower themselves to a more comfortable position. The balance and co-ordination required war with natural clumsiness and choppy water, neither side quite winning. If there were a special Oscar for weird, this would have taken it. The second is like unto it. Once the director (played by Edward G. Robinson) yells, "Cut!," the actress does a scripted I'm-a-free-spirit turn by stripping off her dress, then balancing on the gunwale of the rocking boat before doing a combo swan dive/belly flop into the canal.

Yup, that's what a pro would do. A couple of hours in makeup, costuming and hair before dawn, then blow it all for a cooling dip into what has to be germ-and-trash infested water.

Finally, there is a line almost as good as "....a whole stream of cat atoms." The young man kissing the girl wants to know how he did. "Any word for me?"

"I've just the word," responds Robinson. "Nauseating."

P.S. The following trailer may have to be pulled too, but it does give a sticky sense of what the Edward G. was talking about.