And now, off to the Windy City for "Bleak Previews," another excruciating visit with those very windy movie critics, Jolly Roger and Tweedle-Gene (Note: Roger is the fat one, and Gene is the one with the creeping alopecia). This pair of balloons may actually know something about the movies, but to hear them chatter away on PBS, you'd think they were only the world's foremost authorities on what they like.
GENE: Roger, you are absolutely right, and I couldn't agree more.
ROGER: But Gene, all I said was, "Good Evening."
GENE: Well maybe it was the way you said it.
ROGER: Our first movie this week is "Psycho," starring Janet Leigh. It's a thriller about a woman who steals $40,000 which she invests in swampland. The film has a shock surprise ending in which we learn that the killer has been dressing up as his own mother. Now, let's take a look-see.
MOVIE CLIP: "Stab stab stab stab . . . shriek shriek shriek shriek . . . "
GENE: Well I don't know about you, Roger, but that certainly didn't scare me.
ROGER: Well I don't know about you, either, Gene, but that certainly didn't scare me either. I think this is just simply deplorable -- another cheap horror movie in which a female personage is the victim.
GENE: A very good point, Roger. Here you have a beautiful woman standing naked in a shower and a man stabbing her with a long sharp knife. Oh, it's just too, too vulgar for words.
ROGER: Yes, now why didn't the director concentrate more on the human relationships in this story? I wanted to know much more about Marion Crane's sister, didn't you?
GENE: Marvelous point, Roger. I never really got to know these characters. Who is Marion Crane? Who is Norman Bates? Who is Mr. Alfred Hitchcock?
ROGER: Er, I think he's the director, Gene. But now let's go on to our second movie, "Gone With the Wind," starring another Leigh, this time, Vivien. The picture is set on a plantation in the Old South. In this scene, Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable, is saying goodbye to Scarlett.
MOVIE CLIP: "Frankly, my dear . . . "
GENE: Well that certainly didn't scare me.
ROGER: Er, Gene, this isn't a thriller. It's a historical saga that I, for one, found very wanting. Nothing much really happens in this film -- the Civil War, the burning of Atlanta, the freeing of the slaves, Reconstruction, birthin' babies, and a tempestuous love story. We've seen it all before.
GENE: Right you are, Roger, and I for one am getting sick and tired of these dull old Hollywood cliche's. I just don't think this story has much to offer an audience. Who cares if Scarlett gets back to Tara? I certainly didn't! Why don't they make more witty, scintillating, intellectual comedies like "The Blues Brothers," my all-time favorite classique du cinema?
ROGER: Gene, I completely and utterly agree. I didn't like this film. I didn't care about the characters, and I didn't learn enough about their human relationships. Also, I don't think there were nearly enough scenes of Butterfly McQueen screaming and crying.
GENE: Yes, Roger, and I'm sorry, but I found the treatment of women in this picture just offensive. All they do is flirt, and dance, and run plantations, and seduce men, and get seduced by men, and wear pretty dresses, and fight, and birth babies, and make clothes out of curtains. Excuse me, but my highly tuned social consciousness just can't tolerate such blatant sexism.
ROGER: Gene, you're so, so right. And now for our last film this week, "Mal d'asperges," a new masterpiece by the underrated French director Claude Le Hack. In this scene, the two lesbian lovers, Beaujolais and Gauloise, are chopping a taxi driver to bits with their stiletto heels. Let's watch.
MOVIE CLIP: "Gauloise!" "Beaujolais!" "Gauloise!" "Beaujolais!"
GENE: Brilliant, brilliant. I just think this is an absolutely marvelous film. I particularly liked that marvelous moment where Gauloise sits alone in a room and contemplates some marvelous lint.
ROGER: Oh yes, great moment, great moment, how true, how true. And I thought the six abortion scenes were very tastefully handled.
GENE: Marvelous. And I felt I really got to know the characters -- the prostitute with the wooden leg, the leprous old Hottentot, the Tibetan ichthyologist. It's wonderful to see a movie with characters that you can relate to.
ROGER: Well, Gene, I'm afraid our time is up . . .
GENE: Roger, I couldn't agree with you more.
Enter Raoul, the Wonder Dog, who would bite them both but for fear of contracting a bad case of the galloping dumbs.