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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Honey West is gone

The late Leslie Nielsen with Ann Francis in "Forbidden Planet" (1956)

One of my all time movie heartthrob babes left us this week when Ann Francis died. When I was a kid, my friends and I drooled over any film Ann was in whether it was Glenn Ford’s wife in “Blackboard Jungle” (1955) or the gorgeous daughter of Walter Pidgeon in “Forbidden Planet” (1956).

Her most popular years were the 50’s although one of my favorite roles from her was a “Twilight Zone” episode from 1960 where she played a mannequin trapped in a department store.

In 1965-66 she won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of “Honey West”, a female private detective, on television. Ann Francis was 80. I will miss her!

I recently saw the ballet film “Black Swan”. As a man, I’m not the type of demographic that the makers of ballet films expect to see in their audience. But, my wife wanted to see it plus I like Natalie Portman from other films and heard she plays an Oscar nominating role in the film.

Although it’s a decent film, it doesn’t match “The Red Shoes” (1948) as a great film about the ballet. Nothing ever will as that film stands by itself. “Black Swan” also contains the typical gratuitous sex scene that we have come to expect from modern films. I usually refer to it as the “obligatory f--- scene” because you know it is coming at some time.

This time it was a lesbian scene that Portman herself said was the “hook” used to get an audience. It’s too bad modern film makers feel they have to incorporate those scenes but they are in the business of making money and that’s what gets butts in the seats. Personally, I like my sex and violence at home but, hey, I guess that’s just me.

I still like the old films the best. They didn’t need sex scenes to draw an audience. The other night I watched “The Sting” (1973) and enjoyed it as much as ever. Paul Newman and Robert Redford were big with the ladies at that time but that film was a huge hit without any gratuitous sex scenes. Imagine that: a film getting by on pure acting and a good story! What will they think of next?

If you would like to leave a comment or read some of the 32 other comments, click "Jim's azcentral blog" in the right column under links. You will not receive a virus. Jim McAllister writes for The Arizona Republic newspaper in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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