Saturday, March 19, 2005

In Praise of Joanne Medley

This week brings the final installment in the Museum of Television and Radio's CASSAVETES series. Unfortunately, it goes out with a shrug. "Flip Side," a one-act teleplay that was produced for the CBC, saddles Cassavetes with pedestrian dialogue that insures neither he nor we can get a handle on the character. Simple question: is JJ the DJ afraid of losing his wife or not? His long, angry monologues plow right through whatever might be happening on her end of the phone conversation, and as he builds up steam we get the sense that he’s suffering from monomania. Only when it’s time for commercial breaks does JJ 180 into marital pleas. And then the cycle repeats. “In Pursuit of Excellence" is the story of a college student (played by 35-year-old Glenn Corbett, halfway in his career between The Crimson Kimono and Chisum) standing at the crossroads of dignity and success. Or so the script tells us—myself, I always thought the roads ran together for a stretch. Despite the best intentions of John “Chief Inspector in Dial M for Murder” Williams (whose office is the same set on which James Mason drugged Cary Grant in North by Northwest), Corbett chooses “dignity.” For added interest, there’s an inarguably homoerotic moment between Corbett and one of his stoic roommates, which actually takes place IN A CLOSET (another roommate, inexplicably nude, is later seen in the background, tastefully positioned behind a desk). Also features Ed Begley the First, looking his Clowes-rendered best, and Fred Draper, who seems to be seated at a long banquet table in every movie in which he appears.


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