Last Friday morning, I was flipping through all the FaceBook noise I receive from all the things I “like” along with the Right-Wing diatribes and there was the announcement about Joe Bob hosting two movies Sunday evening Alamo Ritz! How did I miss the more advanced warning was beyond me. Once I got clearance with Somara over any weekend plans, I crossed my fingers on getting tickets; Elvira and “Weird Al” sold out in minutes. My Vegas-Birthday Luck carried over!
Many of you many have remembered him for his show Monstervision which was on TNT in the Nineties or his segment during the early years of The Daily Show. Maybe his cameos in movies such as Face/Off or Casino? It doesn’t matter because his true callings are writing and film history. His book Profoundly Disturbing made the Onion AV Club’s list for “books on mandatory reading if you want to know more about movies.”
He did a sequel a few years ago called Profoundly Erotic covering a dozen movies which changed people’s attitudes and perceptions about sex, or vice versa. Not necessarily the act of reproduction, more along the lines of relationships (Contempt), openness regarding the topic (The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek) or most often, cautionary tales over the careless (Kitten with a Whip, Picnic and Looking for Mr. Goodbar). Only two movies really delve into baser elements (The Immoral Mr. Teas, Russ Meyer’s breakthrough, what a shock; and I am Curious (Yellow) which unfairly gave Swedes their reputation).
For his appearance at Alamo, Joe Bob was the guest expert of the Cinema Club (highbrow, what we attended) and Zzang! (lowbrow). I must admit it was a tossup between sitting through a Preston Sturges flick and The Last Dragon but since he covered the former in his book, it was an easy decision.
Before we started watching, he gave a quick synopsis about the making of Morgan, the reviews it received (the negative ones mainly), how well it did (biggest box office draw of 1944) and the context surrounding it, namely the 650,000 unwanted pregnancies WWII spawned. The real miracle was how this movie ever got past the Hays Office (precursor to the MPAA). Joe Bob explained a key element my grandparents would’ve noticed immediately, the casting. The lead actors had appeared together in three earlier musical films so the audience had a certain expectation; think of what the expectations are when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are cast together. Sturges the writer-director utilized them differently for comedic effect and as Joe Bob’s book stated, Sturges had a thing for chaos.
How was the movie? It’s impressive. I can see why the Cohen brothers aspire to this director yet I still think their stuff is boring (only exception is The Hudsucker Proxy). There are some conventions Sturges created we take for granted too. Am I newly converted fan of the director they say was the Anti-Frank Capra? No. I would like to see more before passing judgment. Was it funny? Yes. Many jokes/gags remain effective despite being 60-plus years old.
When it was over, I spoke to Joe Bob briefly. He gladly signed my book (overdue review coming in a month, I promise). We spoke a little. I mainly told him that he knows so much, he should be a host on TCM (a cable channel, I dearly miss). He replied that he is friends with Robert Osbourne (cool, I dig his intros). I was surprised he didn’t know about the Onion giving him praise for his writing too. His helpers had a sign-up sheet to be on a mailing list so I’m hoping there will be new material soon, namely a third book covering another topic certain flicks shifted.