Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sex and cigarettes

How is it that when certain movies come on TV, you drop what you're doing and watch them even if you don't like them very much? Or, at least, when said movies are seriously flawed.

This happens with Now, Voyager - EVERY time. Though I know it's nothing more than a semi-intelligent soaper with pretensions of a Heroic Journey (circa 1942), there's just something about Miz Charlotte and her travail (tra-Vale?) that sucks me in every time.

Speaking of suck. From the beginning of this thing, even before Charlotte Vale the sad little rich girl metamorphoses into Charlotte Vale the sad little rich WOMAN (having been screwed  in the tropics by Gerry, the biggest asshole to come down the turnpike since Jimmy Cagney shoved the grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face), there is smoking. Lots and lots of smoking. Charlotte the repressed spinster smokes in her room, and it's a wonder she doesn't set the whole place on fire by being so secretive with her butts.

Suck, suck, suck. Just picture all those cancer cells forming deep down in the lungs. Yet in that era, sex and seduction were all intertwined with cigarettes. In this movie, smoking is more ritualized than in any other I can think of. Gerry (a carnivorous bastard happily juggling two women, neither of which can actually have him) has a charming habit of shoving two cigarettes in his face, lighting them both in a great livid explosion, then handing one of them to Charlotte like she's being granted her last wish before being executed.

Ah, those smoldering looks. He can afford to smolder because he has no goddamn responsibilities whatsoever. This is one of several things that bother the hell out me about this movie - that, and the way he is portrayed as some sort of saint when he's really just busy cattin' around from woman to woman  and blowing lots of smoke. The other thing that sets my teeth on edge is that daughter of his, Tina, a whiny, clingy sort of lamprey whom Charlotte fastens on to as a DEVICE (no less) to force Gerry to stay in her life and not chase the next piece of tail that comes down the turnpike.

Ahhhh! Gerry in that tent or wherever-the-fuck they are! Out somewhere. Anyway, they're all bundled up talking (smoking, too, I think) and there's this big fire in the fireplace, and then the fire burns down real low and the camera pans back to them and it looks like she's wearing his pajamas. This means they must have had sex. Charlotte keeps referring to it over and over again in the most coy manner possible, i. e. telling her fiance (whom she rejects, maybe because he's too nice or doesn't smoke enough) that she "must sound depraved", which she does. But when you think about it, screwing around with a married man IS a form of moral turpitude and can't really be defended, even if Charlotte takes on the noble, selfless role of Tina's quasi-mother to save Gerry's family/keep him on the string. 

But ya gotta wonder. . . are these guys smokin', or tokin'?

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