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18 February 2011 @ 09:42 pm
A Sort of Review or Something: Anchors Aweigh  
There are some older movies that are an absolute joy to watch, that keep you totally riveted. After they're done, you turn to your partner and say, "Why don't they make movies like that anymore?"

This is not that kind of movie.

Anchors Aweigh. Oh, Anchors Aweigh. I first realized we were watching something truly stupendously special during the scene where Clarence is sitting in a rocking chair, staring happily at Joe's underwear-clad ass - said ass having been carefully positioned outside the covers by someone who surely had some good reason for it - as Joe sleeps. Clarence also glances from time to time at the clock, which shows it's after one; Joe had a date at twelve. Clarence is making sure he misses it.

There is a name for that, Clarence. It is cockblocking, and I don't care if you're a naïve choirboy from Brooklyn (no, I am not kidding), dude, you don't get a pass. In all honesty, there's no pass in the world that could put an innocent interpretation on that maneuver.

The rest of the scene - including the crotch-cam shot, as Clarence lies on his back with his legs in the air, while Joe tells him he will have to be Joe's slave forever (really not kidding) - follows logically from that opening, stopping just short of the actual assfucking.

Although you can tell it happens.

But I don't want you to think this review is a recommendation, because here's the thing: to get to the undeniably slashy bits - and they aren't so much "bits" as "any scene in which Clarence and Joe are alone together" - you have to suffer through the rest of the movie, which is mostly so skeevy it made my skin try to crawl off my body.

Like, there's a scene where a policeman brings a runaway kid home in the company of two just-off-the-boat Navy sailors he picked up off the street. (Don't ask.) The kid's guardian, Aunt Susie, isn't home, so the policeman leaves him there with the two sailors, whose names he doesn't even know. He just knows they have uniforms. Later, when Aunt Susie gets home, she reacts like this is all perfectly normal and aboveboard. Who doesn't occasionally come home late from work to find her eight-year-old nephew alone with two random sailors? Gosh. Happens all the time! The obvious thing to do is make these strange men some coffee!

Although the problem there may simply be that Aunt Susie has some kind of inability to express or feel emotions of any kind. She may in fact be a robot. Because when those same two sailors ruin a date - and her only chance at a job she badly wants, and no, 1945 Hollywood, that isn't at ALL revolting! - by announcing, in song, that she's had sex with the entire US Navy, her reaction is to say, "I know you didn't mean it." Then I think she offers them coffee again. I, myself, would have handled things differently. Especially if I'd been armed with hot coffee.

Or it may be that Aunt Susie actually was hoping they would take her nephew and never bring him back. I could understand. Donald is the most annoying child I have ever beheld. And kids don't normally annoy me. But this kid - oh my fucking god. I just wanted to shriek, "I hate you! SHUT UP! I HATE YOU!" every time he opened his mouth. (I managed to hold it in two times out of every three, though.) He's the kind of kid who you know, you know played on his "Aw, shucks, I'm so adorable" shtick to get away with setting fire to buildings and eating his classmates' still-beating hearts. There was visible evil in his gaze; he somehow managed to reside in the uncanny valley even though he was, as far as we could tell, human. (Best Beloved was actively rooting for his horrible death until I revealed that he was played by Dean Stockwell, who also starred in a 1980s TV series called Quantum Leap. BB has an abiding love for Quantum Leap and will hear no wrong of it or of the people who starred in it. Also, she assures me Stockwell was considerably less irritating in that. So she's prepared to forgive him. I still haven't.)

Here's how much the non-gay parts of this movie bothered me:
  1. You know how there are editors for most movies, to take out the unnecessary parts? They were all working on war propaganda, apparently, because this movie has scenes that start an inexplicably long time before anything actually happens, and also random interludes where Jose Iturbi plays lengthy pieces in their entirety, apparently on the "We might as well get our money's worth" principle. This movie is 143 minutes long and at least 40 of those minutes are padding. But I loved the padding, because when Jose was playing, Donald wasn't talking, and Joe and Clarence weren't gaily conspiring to ruin some poor woman's life.

  2. I knew one thing going into this movie. I knew eventually Gene Kelly would dance with a mouse. I spent the first hour pinning my hopes on this, hoping it would be awesome, hoping it would at least partially redeem the skeeviness, and, above all, hoping it would be long. When the mouse dancing was over - and it was not nearly long enough, let me tell you - I was honestly downcast. Usually I can find something better to do with my evenings than wish a mouse would come back for an encore.
But this movie has its high points. And they all revolve around the gay naval love of Joe and Clarence. If you think I'm kidding - early in the movie, Joe and Clarence get leave. Joe is immediately off to see Lola, who is his "girlfriend." (Quotes inserted because I doubt Lola even exists. I really, really doubt it.) Clarence follows Joe and, when caught, asks if he could just watch Joe with Lola. You know. To pick up a few tips.

Yes. I am not kidding. Clarence invited himself along for a threesome. Keep in mind that Clarence is technically the naïve sailor.

At one point, Joe takes Aunt Susie out for a Coke - and he calls her Aunt Susie, which, okay, he's older than she is and also not her nephew, but I could deal with it, given that for most of the movie he's not supposed to be her love interest (although I'm just going to spoil you right now and tell you he ends up with her), except that Clarence, who is supposed to be her love interest, calls her Aunt SUSAN. They'll be on a date (although it's rare that they actually go on a date alone, because mostly they drag Joe along, probably because they know if they don't he will - this is true - stand outside the restaurant pining) and Clarence will be trying to make time with a woman he calls Aunt Susan. It's horrible.

Anyway, Joe and Aunt Susie have this conversation:

"You're sort of Clarence's guardian angel, aren't you? You're always with him, or talking about him. Why?" AUNT SUSIE, I HAVE AN ANSWER. IT INVOLVES COCKSUCKING.

Joe thinks about and then says, no shit, "I figured he needed a girl." But we were at sea, so I figured I was the next best thing - I mean, he doesn't say it, but it's all right there.

She asks him various things, mostly along the lines of, "But what do you need, Joe?"

And he says, "I don't know, Aunt Susie. Right now, I'm a little confused about what I like." The slash is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE, people.

The thing is, we already knew Joe was a little confused about what he liked (Clarence, on the other hand, seems not at all confused; he's comfortable with his desire for Joe's ass), because much earlier, while Clarence is asking Joe for a threesome and Joe is trying to gently suggest that maybe he could find, you know, a girl, there's a scene where Joe offers to pretend to be the girl, so that Clarence can get in some practice.

I've read that story, too. It ends in assfucking. But every non-skeevy part of this movie seems to lead, obviously and clearly, to assfucking. It's like two fangirls went back in time and got stuck there, and ended up making this movie as a message to the future.

"How will they know we're stuck?" Fangirl A asked Fangirl B.

"Simple. We'll just include every slash cliché ever invented in one single movie. They'll realize it can't be anything but girls from the future, and they'll come back and get us."

And I, for one, have totally gotten the message. We need to mount an expedition to find those women and get them back here. I can't take watching another movie like this one. This has taken years off my life.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.
Still Waiting For My Jetpack: film geekazewewish on February 19th, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
Dear God, I haven't seen that movie since I was a kid, and all I remember were the songs & Gene Kelly dancing. With the mouse.

Clearly, I need to rewatch this with *ahem* adult eyes.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
You are happier this way. Trust me. I mean - yes, slashy. Slashy like you took Lex Luthor and Clark Kent (early seasons of Smallville) and distilled them to their purest fuck-me essence and then mixed them with Starsky and Hutch and Kirk and Spock and then threw in a giant buttplug for good measure.

But. The skeeviness. Oh god. It's - it's BAD.
(no subject) - azewewish on February 19th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - imkalena on February 19th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Admission to the Burning Ruins — 10¢: Hello Sailorlaughingacademy on February 19th, 2011 06:17 am (UTC)
I had the pleasure of seeing Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula at DragonCon this past September, and I can vouch that they are totally hilarious and charming people when dealing with a hall full of Quantum Leap fans.

...Okay, wow, I just looked up Anchors Aweigh. You did not mention that Clarence is played by Frank Sinatra. Which, just, wow. Really? As a naïve choirboy? Really, Hollywood?

Edited at 2011-02-19 06:17 am (UTC)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
I'm sorry. The trauma must have addled my brain. Yes, Clarence is played by Frank Sinatra, who, I must tell you, does not make the most convincing naive choirboy ever. But he really sold the part where he was asking to have a threesome with Joe and Lola, I tell you what.
(no subject) - gwynevere1 on February 19th, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amproof on February 20th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
vanillafluffy: iCacklevanillafluffy on February 19th, 2011 06:23 am (UTC)
This sounds so amazingly...camp...that I just reserved a copy online from my local library and am chortling with anticipation. OMG, vintage subtext, bring it on! (I had the same reaction to watching the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still", especially the train scene....)

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
I - you noticed that is was also a BAD movie, right? I mean, it's camp, yes - I would submit that it actually transcends camp - but. BAD. Let me repeat: BAD. The absolute best part is a man dancing with a mouse.
(no subject) - vanillafluffy on February 19th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
Everybody wants a thrill: tlgibbs/tonykelly_girl on February 19th, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
The slash is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE, people.

At this point I almost choked on a sunflower seed shell. I need to see this for the subtext that is not really subtext.

Let me know when the expedition to get the two fangirls in the past gets going.

tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:51 am (UTC)
I am not sure anyone needs to see this. And I say this as a person who a) watched it and b) sincerely appreciated the we-forgot-to-put-the-sub-in-our-subtext parts.

I say we start now. Who has a TARDIS?
(no subject) - ariadne83 on February 20th, 2011 05:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Nora Bombaynorabombay on February 19th, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
There is a new commercial. Featuring Donald O'Connor & Fred Astaire dancing in the back of a Jetta.

Or possibly Gene Kelly. The point is, this movie is even gayer than that commercial, where they extole the virtues of a big back seat.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:54 am (UTC)
I just googled it, and it's definitely Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. I can't recognize anyone, but I know that anyway, because I recognize the DANCE. How sad is that?

But, yeah. This movie - so much gayer. So, so much gayer.
(no subject) - norabombay on February 19th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
I have a mitten and a chicken puppet!: quantum leap - al - dvd - shows on dvdtzikeh on February 19th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
Two things:
First Thing:

Dean Stockwell made a few unbelievably good movies, including Long Day's Journey Into Night, and Compulsion, based on the story of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, lovers who kidnapped and murdered a child in the early '20s just to see if they could commit "the perfect crime." (Rampant homoeroticism alert--the filmmakers couldn't show a homosexual relationship in a movie in 1959, but it's pretty much there.) He gave an iconic performance in Blue Velvet, lip-syncing to Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," using a standing cold lightbulb lamp as a pretend microphone. And he was fucking awesome in Quantum Leap.

Second thing:

That annoying little boy, 10 years later:

Can you forgive him now?
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on February 19th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Re: Two things:
...Let's put it this way: I am now entirely open to viewing additional Stockwell works. A man should not be judged by his eight-year-old self alone!

Also, maybe I should buy BB the Quantum Leap boxed set. Is there one? Does it hold up, or is it one of those things she should love but never revisit?
Re: Two things: - tzikeh on February 19th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - karitawyr on February 19th, 2011 07:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - tzikeh on February 19th, 2011 07:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - juliansinger on February 19th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
Box set! - tzikeh on February 19th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - filkferengi on February 25th, 2011 03:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - the_shoshanna on February 19th, 2011 02:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - tzikeh on February 19th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Two things: - travels_in_time on February 22nd, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Karita Wyr: Ava Gardnerkaritawyr on February 19th, 2011 07:10 am (UTC)
I haven't watched this movie since I discovered slash. However, I'm with Clarence...Gene Kelly's ass is worth watching.

BTW, if you want to a see an old movie that people thought was slashy when it was released in the 40s watch Gilda. It was written by a woman, enough said.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV bluethefourthvine on February 20th, 2011 05:22 am (UTC)
Ooo! I've seen an awesome vid for Gilda, but I've never seen the actual movie. *adds it to the list of movies to be watched*
(no subject) - karitawyr on February 20th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 20th, 2011 06:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
blushingflowerblushingflower on February 19th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
So, basically, Anchors Aweigh is the crappy West Coast version of On the Town?
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV brownthefourthvine on February 20th, 2011 05:28 am (UTC)
Apparently it was the warm-up act. (Further down this page, there's a link to the original theatrical trailer for On the Town, which promises it is "twice as gay as Anchors Aweigh."

I'm going to have to watch it just to see if that's true.
(no subject) - nakedwesley on February 20th, 2011 09:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
Rush-That-Speaksrushthatspeaks on February 19th, 2011 07:39 am (UTC)
The movie you actually want if you want slash coming out your ears is Broadway Melody of 1940, in which Fred Astaire and the other guy are so amazingly lovers going in that you kind of get the idea eventually that the girl's role in their relationship is going to be sitting on a chair watching them have sex and smiling happily. Since that also seems to be what she wants, more power to them. Also, it's the only musical I can think of that is about three-dimensional people, more than one of whom is actually a responsible adult, and all of whom have agency.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV dogtagsthefourthvine on February 20th, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
lamardeuse: Guadalcanal Diarylamardeuse on February 19th, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Ahahahahaha, yeah, the movie is pretty creaky when you watch it through the prism of 2011, which is why I try to put my 1945 goggles on when I watch it. Funnily enough, not much pings for me in that movie as a result, except for the line in one of the songs where they imply they actually threatened to beat up a woman for not kissing them. Anchors Aweigh was my go-to movie when I was in university - Gene Kelly's ass in flamenco pants was my reward for getting halfway through a paper.

As for Dean Stockwell, he was actually one of the more natural child actors in classic Hollywood - he's fricking Method compared to most of them. But yeah, the gay is definitely strong with this one - there's a reason that gay men looking for a good time in the first half of the century called US Navy sailors "sea food". :)
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV flowersthefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
My googles did nothing. Or possibly I forgot to buy 1945 goggles; I never label the things.

But Gene Kelly's ass in flamenco pants is an excellent reward. (Although now I wonder what your reward was for finishing a paper. I assume there isn't a movie with Gene Kelly's naked ass.)
(no subject) - lamardeuse on February 21st, 2011 10:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ladyvyola on February 21st, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
citizen tipuapplegnat on February 19th, 2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
Ugh COULD NOT SIT THROUGH IT even for delicious Gene Kelly / even for the slash that was radiating off the screen / even for Sinatra's voice, so I'm very grateful that you wrote it up. Thank you.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV glowythefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:39 am (UTC)
I hear you. The non-slash parts were PAINFUL. I only got through it by promising myself I would write this and SHARE MY PAIN.
shayheyredshayheyred on February 19th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)
Dean Stockwell worked all the time as a child actor, and he was insufferable IN EVERY MOVIE. As an adult he is adorable.
tried to eat the safe banana: TFV Katamari Damacythefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:40 am (UTC)
Thank you for the warning! Um. I should probably get a list of his child-actor movies right now, shouldn't I?
Time Is Like A Kiss: fraser & ray in the snow due south 21jenlev on February 19th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
*Word* to what's been said about Dean Stockwell as an adult.

Out of curiosity I wandered over to the Wikipedia page about this movie which says, and I quote and add a few italics too: "It was the first in a series of buddy pictures teaming the cocky dancing Kelly with the (against type) shy singing Sinatra, which culminated in 1949 with On the Town."


I second the recommendation of Broadway Melody of 1940. The "Begin the Beguine" routine is simply astounding. It's even got it's own wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begin_the_Beguine Fred and Eleanor together were quite something.

And for laughs as well as the dancing, Fred and Ginger's early movie 'Roberta'. It's got such hilarity that I'm giggling just thinking of it. And sincerely, some of the dancing is as good as it gets, specifically the routine they do to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Oh, and Fred's solo routine in the night club. I think that may be what people saw before he went to Hollywood when he was still on broadway, he just flies. Still, one must suffer through a very bizarre fashion show to get to that, but I think it's worth it.

I gather that Irene Dunne and Randolf Scott got the prime billing on this one, and they're part of why I call Roberta a comedy relief film for the ages. Perhaps that was not their exact intention.

PS. As for some of the other RKO Fred movies, always a treat to see Edward Everett Horton chewing up the scenery. There is quite a bit of sawdust on the set from him alone. Sorry to natter on so, I've adored Fred Astaire for all of my life and am rather fond of Gene's dancing as well. :)
chamekke: fred_and_ginger_laughingchamekke on February 19th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, I adore Roberta, it's my favourite Astaire/Rogers film ever. "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"! "I'm Too Hot To Handle"! "I Won't Dance"! Fred and Ginger look like they're having tremendous fun with the whole thing, too. They do romantic-comic dancing so very, very well in that flick.

And yes, weird fashion show, but you can always play spot-the-impossibly-young-Lucille-Ball as a way of passing the time.

(no subject) - jenlev on February 19th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jenlev on February 21st, 2011 11:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ladyvyola on February 21st, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - jenlev on February 21st, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
because you're the greatest, ted!holli on February 19th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
What is it with Gene Kelly and threesomes? Singin' in the Rain is nearly as blatant, if you ask me.

I mean, not that I'm complaining!
I have a mitten and a chicken puppet!: music - penguinstzikeh on February 19th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
Have you read the Don/Kathy/Cosmo story "And Write that Symphony?"
(no subject) - holli on February 19th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
Teeny Gozer: Dalek Mice say:teenygozer on February 19th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, film studies! This is one of those much-loved movie classics that fall further & further out of step with the public until it is, thankfully, forgotten, except for the clips of Kelly dancing with the mouse.

Someone mentioned it already, but IMO, "On the Town" is a (similar) much better movie because it has much stronger female characters. I never liked Anchors Aweigh.
gwynevere1 on February 19th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
Someone mentioned it already, but IMO, "On the Town" is a (similar) much better movie because it has much stronger female characters.

Well, the Original Theatrical Trailer for On the Town *did* promise that it was "Twice as Gay as 'Anchors Aweigh'!"
(no subject) - delurker on February 20th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gwynevere1 on February 20th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on February 21st, 2011 05:48 am (UTC) (Expand)