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Memorandum No. 56: Watch Sex Hygiene, the movie wherein John Ford directed Superman and Batman

“Most men know less about their own bodies than they do about their automobiles.”

John Ford, who made Stagecoach and The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and who won the Academy Award for Best Director four times – not for any of the first-rate pictures I’ve just named – also made a sex-ed film for G.I.s in 1942, the same year he collected his third Best Director Oscar for How Green Was My Valley.

Okay, maybe that’s only funny to me. Anyway, if you think it’s worth 26 minutes of your life to learn how not to catch syphilis from – in the charming patois of Sex Hygiene – “a contaminated woman,” you can watch this not-so-casually misogynistic but highly informative short. Even if you’re already fully briefed on how to protect yourself from the predatory vaginas of dirty, dirty whores, this film has at least two other things to recommend it.

1) It features the greatest reaction shots ever captured on film.

2) Eisenhower-era TV Superman George Reeves and Robert Lowery, who played Batman in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin, appear together briefly in an early scene, so if you want a preview of what next year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be like, well… it will probably be like this, at least in hair-gel terms.

“I think it made its point and helped a lot of young kids,” Ford told Peter Bogdanovich, reflecting on Sex Hygiene years later. “I looked at it and threw up.”

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Race Bore: Supremacy, reviewed.

Joe Anderson plays a violent bigot in Deon Taylor's "Supremacy." My review of Supremacy, Deon Taylor‘s dreary thriller marketed under that meaningless, catnip-for-dim-people phrase, Based on Actual Events, is on The Dissolve today. It’s a deeply unpleasant genre movie that’s convinced it’s saying something bold about Race in America. I had to resort to quoting the film’s press notes. I don’t feel good about it, but if you read them you’ll see I had no choice.

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Reality Chekhov: Life Sucks, or the Present Ridiculous, reviewed.

I was excited to see Life Sucks, writer-director Aaron Posner‘s new variation on Anton Chekhov‘s Uncle Vanya, because my love for Stupid Fucking Bird, Posner’s 2013 gloss on The Seagull, was mean and true. And because I tend to like almost everything Posner does. My review is in today’s Washington City Paper. Continue reading

This Could Be the Beginning of a Beautiful Marriage: We’ll Never Have Paris, reviewed.

Writer/codirector/star Simon Helberg and Melanie Lynskey in "We'll Never Have Paris.".My review of Simon Helberg’s autobiographical romantic comedy – hey there, Buddy, are you sure you want to do this? – We’ll Never Have Paris is on The Dissolve today.

 

The Long Warm-Up to Heat

Heat opens with a botched heist, but it unlike every other crime picture that came out in the five years after Pulp Fiction, it's not a black comedy. I think that's Val Kilmer under the hockey mask.Michael Mann’s Heat, one of my favorite films, is The Dissolve‘s Movie of the Week this week. I contributed this essay about the sprawling crime picture’s many progenitors, including the short-lived-but-great late-80s TV series Crime Story.  Continue reading

Do You Want to Blow a Secret? Washington Stage Guild’s In Praise of Love and Studio’s Choir Boy, reviewed.

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My reviews of Washington Stage Guild’s sturdy revival of Terence Rattigan‘s In Praise of Love and Studio Theatre’s gospel song-inflected production of Tarell Alvin McCraney‘s Choir Boy are in this’s week’s Washington City Paper. Go find a copy; they’re free! Or read them here.

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On Around Town, talking In Praise of Love and Diner

http://watch.weta.org/viralplayer/2365398431

New year! Lightly refurbished attitude! Same old trouble smiling when announced and speaking in complete sentences!I am always happy to be invited to join host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz to talk theatre on WETA’s Around Town. Continue reading