Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rant #1,321: "John and Mary," On a Sunday Yet

No, I am not talking about anything biblical here.

Over the weekend, on Sunday, my family had nothing doing after having a house full of people--my wife's side of the family--on Saturday.

It was a slow day.

I am not into football, as I am sure you know, so how was I going to spend my time on Sunday afternoon?

I was flipping from channel to channel, finding nothing to watch, and then I believe I came to the Fox Movie Channel, and lo and behold, I finally found something ...

and it was called "John and Mary."

This was a somewhat notorious film when it came out in 1969. It featured two of moviedom's hottest young stars at the time--Dustin Hoffman was just coming off "Midnight Cowboy" and Mia Farrow was just coming off  'Rosemary's Baby"--and the film was directed by Peter Yates, who was just coming off  his own success with "Bullitt."

After having the soundtrack in my collection for years and years, I finally sat down and watched this movie, which, even with its star power, is kind of obscure, certainly nothing more than a footnote on Hoffman's career.

Even though the film got mixed reviews, I kind of liked it, even if it is nothing more than a period piece from a different era.

I am drawn to movies and TV shows that depict New York City at that time, even in brief glimpses, and this film certainly does that.

It centers on "John," played by Hoffman, who is what came to be called an urban yuppie, a furniture designer who is young, has a lot of money, and knows the right people.

He goes to a party where every inch of real estate is taken up my another partygoer, and he innocently meets the shy--at least on the surface--Farrow, playing "Mary," who was dragged to the affair by some friends.

Mary works in an art gallery, and she is having a long-time affair with a much older politician with a wife and family.

Hoffman and Farrow's characters hit it off, and in 1969 movies, when two people of the opposite sex hit if off, well, they end up going to bed.

And for peeping toms, yes, you do see brief, full rear nudity of both Hoffman and Farrow.

Anyway, then we get right into the late 1960s thing, where each one wonders why they slept with each other, surrounding the meaning of life as we knew it back then. We hear them talking amongst themselves about everything from the origins of an organic egg (yes, in 1969, this is not a new concept) to the music that John likes, and we also hear their thoughts in their head ... why did he/she sleep with me, do I really like this guy/girl, etc.

Hoffman's character is drawn to clingy girls, which he doesn't like, because he is somewhat of a private person. Of course, it has to do with his mom, who was into causes, all of which she schlepped her son to.

He had been in a relationship with a model, and she basically took over his house, and he didn't like it. They weren't together anymore, but were still good friends.

Farrow is a waif, but sexually aggressive, and she does cook a meal for him, on a whim, which he kind of likes, kind of doesn't like, because it brings up memories of his former crush, and probably of his mother, too.

One thing leads to another, and they argue, and Farrow eventually leaves.

Before she leaves, she writes her name and phone number on the bathroom mirror, but Hoffman washes it off--only to realize that he wants to see this girl again, and that he only knows what part of Manhattan she lives in, but he doesn't know her name--and she doesn't know his.

This is all spurred on by Hoffman going to a party held by his old girlfriend, where he feels completely like a fish out of water.

He knows he wants Farrow now, for sure, and takes a cab driver (not my father) on a whirlwind tour of Manhattan in the 1960s, which is really pretty interesting.

Anyway, one thing leads to another, and the two meet up again, very innocently, and yes, as happens so often in movies from 1969, they go to bed with each other once again.

And they finally find out each other's names. John and Mary. No last names. They laugh, and go at it.

The end.

The film received generally poor reviews, but the acting won raves, and both Hoffman and Farrow won various plaudits and award nominations for their roles.

But looking at it in 2014, if there was ever a period piece of a different time and place, this movie was it.

The film isn't long at all--maybe 90 minutes--and it keeps your attention, even though a lot of the sentiments are of a different era.

I kind of liked it, it kept me going, and for once, I see that Farrow was a pretty good actress in her younger days.

You really have to drop any preconceived notions of her as we know her today--wrapped up in the tangled web of many foster children and being Woody Allen's former better half--but back then, she was sort of Twiggy and Katherine Hepburn rolled into one.

Hoffman, we all know, turned into one of Hollywood's finest actors, and to this day, he is still a name that almost guarantees a fine performance. Farrow, on the other hand, has been so enmeshed in the Woody Allen saga that her acting skills aren't even recognized anymore.

So there you have it. Something to do on a boring Sunday afternoon.

And what's even better is that I have included the video, below, if you are interested in watching it.

And using another late 1960s-early 1970s catchphrase ...

"Try it. You'll like it."

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