I Saw A Film!

Starring Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda (debut!)

Back in the day, Perkins wasn’t the horror favorite that he inevitably was once he’d done Psycho. In this ridiculously Dobie Gillis-like love story a star basketball player falls for a gold-digging Jane as she pursues her chosen ideal man into his courses (chemistry and ethics) and onto the basketball courts (jumps into the cheer-leading squad). Lucky for her she’s a sparkling cutie. But imagine the story reversed and you’re right back to Psycho.

It’s a comedy of course, but many aspects of the film are played with the histrionics, especially in the music, of a melodrama a generation older. This was apparently a popular stage play, and it’s truly hard to imagine. I feel like we’re traveling so far back in time as to actually lose touch with reality.

Here’s the deal, Jane chases Tony, and before long they’re babysitting together (did I mention I feel like I’m watching Dobie Gillis? There was an episode almost exactly like this) and talking nonsense about elephant sex, and Japanese neck kisses before falling into one another’s arms with one lackluster kiss and immediately making plans to get married. I’m not sure if that part is actually supposed to be funny or just representative of the period but the lives of our parents were often so stringently whitewashed that we’re just supposed to imagine our immediate ancestors were as immature as eight graders at a dance. This same sexless and naive portrayal is super popular in most anime as well. That bizarre sexual denial makes anime hard to watch for me. Violence all day, but even the most meager reflection of love between two characters is treated like some kind of impossible chess puzzle.

There were probably censorship rules about sexual portrayal that rivaled Bollywood, and no doubt lawyers at the ready to jump all over the producer’s finances. So sexual interest piqued goes right to a discussion of marriage.

Lucky for the new couple a campus trailer park (with fire pits and guitars being strummed) has an opening as a couple (married) inhabiting one of the trailers is leaving to go manage a family store. What’s needed is fifteen hundred bucks. An impossible sum, but our heroes put their heads together and imagine there may be a means.

Custer College (fictional west coast co-ed education facility named after one of our most distinguished Indian-fighting ass-hats) boasts lowest pregnancy rate in California!

I have to admit to having witnessed a lot of family creation while working on my grad degree. I was a bit surprised by that sideline, but also heard that University insurance is cheap and makes having babies really cost effective! So be it!

In a surreal moment a Perkins’s taxi radio (He drives part time) starts telling him to throw the upcoming game against a Russian team (Russian in 1960! That’s pretty radical!). Left for him in his taxi glove compartment is exactly the sum needed for he and Jane to have that little trailer.

Conflicted, Tony instead purposely fails an upcoming ethics test so that he can avoid being on the court. In this world, the professors have enough clout to shut down a key player in a high profile game. When I was in school I watched the basketball players coast through courses and heard the coaches tell anyone who complained that “he wasn’t going to be a brain surgeon” I won’t name names, but it is frustrating that sports are given so much free reign in a world where us regular, non-special people have to actually stress and pass tests.

All this leads us to a scenario where the ethics professor is giving Perkins an oral exam as half-time ends with just enough time for him to answer ten questions, “Tell me everything you know about Socrates!”, and get his sneakers on and win the game. It feels a little bit like the late great Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.

There’s some more disconnections and happy coincidence type wrap-ups to make this thing Warner Brothers cartoon friendly.

All in all, it was fun to see these two stars behaving like twits in a childish romp that no one talks about. But I will still never be able to accept Perkins as anything but a harrowing monster.

Jane gets a lot of flack these days for having done some difficult to reconcile things in Vietnam that upset a lot of folks when she went off and posed on the guns and – in her mind – acted toward trying to make peace in what is almost certainly now understood to be an outlandish boondoggle that wasted so many young lives, let alone what it did to the South Vietnamese.

She actually apologized about it many times, but folks still like exercising their indignation. Fact of the matter is the real evil clowns were those sending the poorest of our nation’s youth off to a completely unnecessary conflict that never had a focus nor a set of conditions for finishing the job. Jane’s pictures in North Vietnam may have disturbed some gung-ho political morale but it wasn’t her pulling any triggers. It was a long time ago, the woman is in her 80s now, I think we can forgive her. Go watch some Barbarella.

Free ON Prime!

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