Let Us Now Praise: ‘Sex and the Single Girl’

Posted in Let Us Now Praise, movies, Sixties sex comedies by Diane on April 19, 2010

How much do I love “Sex and the Single Girl”? It’s so retro Sixties sex comedy: Light on carnal activity, but heavy on farce. Natalie Wood stars as Helen Brown, a cute but prim psychologist who has authored a book about single women; Tony Curtis is the lascivious magazine writer Bob Weston who wants to get the goods on her.

Already you can probably tell where this is going: The prim woman falls for the wolfish seducer that isn’t really that wolfish when you get right down to it.

Doris Day starred in a number of similar farces in the era, including “Pillow Talk.” Wood, better known for serious dramas leading up to “Sex and the Single Girl,” displays a nice comedic touch in the movie. Just watch her face as she tries to resist the charms of her duplicitous patient.

And let’s face it: She looks quite ravishing. (Walking through the room while I watched it on cable yesterday, my husband asked: How young was she? Answer: 26.)

Tony Curtis is also fine, but familiar to this terrain, as the filmmakers acknowledge with a few winks at “Some Like It Hot” in the dialogue. Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall also have fun with their roles as the bickering marrieds, though I doubt I appreciated their sublime presence when I first saw the movie on TV in the Seventies.

Nor did I understand the cultural significance of Helen Gurley Brown — my tastes ran to Mademoiselle, rather than Cosmo — and the book that provided the basis for the movie. Only yesterday I learned from TCM that Joseph Heller adapted it for the bigscreen. That still boggles my mind — the author of “Catch-22” laboring over an adaptation of a Helen Gurley Brown book.

My point is this: You don’t have to know any of that to enjoy “Sex and the Single Girl.” But if you do, you’ll like it that much better.


Let Us Now Praise: Sara Gilbert on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Posted in Let Us Now Praise, TV by Diane on March 29, 2010

Sure, he's tormented, but what about the dying girl?

Yes, I know it’s not cool to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” these days, let alone single it out for praise. But I must salute the writers for the Dying Cancer Girl storyline and Sara Gilbert for her performance as said patient.

Dying Cancer Girl has made her peace with death wants the doctors to grant her Physician Assisted Suicide. As usual, the case is used for character development of a series regular: While Iraq war veteran Teddy is fine with the request, Owen Hunt is not. Turns out he never got over the time he went along with a similar request on the battlefield.

This aspect was all very moving, but it was nowhere near as compelling as the patient’s plight. D.C.G. spoke exactly like my father did near the end of his long struggle with the Big C. He did all that he could to beat it, railing when the doctors at Sloan-Kettering told him there was nothing more they could do for him, but eventually he, too, made his peace with death, and did all he could to prepare us for it.

Owen’s guilty torment seemed a tad overwrought in comparison to Dying Cancer Girl’s concerns. Almost intrusive. Nothing like a Life or Death struggle to put things into perspective.