Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Witty and provocative"?

My friend Shamus recently did a post for Epic Poker about the history of strip poker. It's one of his series on the role of poker in American culture, a subject about which he teaches a college course and is uniquely qualified.

The post refers to several movies I had never heard of before. Of them, the one I'd most like to see is the 1971 Milos Forman film, "Taking Off," but it is not available through Netflix. I settled instead on trying the 1940 production, "Mad Youth," which Shamus described as "witty and provocative."

I rarely disagree with Shamus as vehemently as I'm forced to here. The two adjectives I'd pick would be more like "execrable and soporific."

The whole thing is badly written and badly acted. The plot involves a lonely-hearts single mother who dates men through a male escort service, and her young-adult daughter, who likes to throw racy parties at home while mom's away. Strip poker is a part of these, though it occupies less than two minutes of the 63-minute feature. Not surprisingly, given its filming during the years of the Motion Picture Production Code, nothing is shown beyond the world's most unflattering and unrevealing underwear.

I guess we're supposed to be taught a lesson about how badly things turn out for youth as shockingly wayward as these, because the two principal female characters bizarrely end up forced into the sex slave trade in a locked-down brothel. Well, of course! Surely everyone knows that no other end is possible for people so shameless as to engage in showing their knickers to friends around a poker table!

Along the way, we have long detours for oddities like a guy pretending to be bullfighting his two dogs, and a falling-in-love story told through the turning pages of a diary. Really, the whole thing is just dreadfully bad. I'd even go so far as to call it unwatchable.

But if you want to decide for yourself whether it is better described as "witty and provocative" or "execrable and soporific," you don't even need to order the DVD from Netflix, as I did. You can just pop over to YouTube, here.

Don't say I didn't warn you, though.

1 comment:

Short-Stacked Shamus said...

I laughed at some of the lines.

And there are different meanings for the word "provocative" than "enlightening" (which the film is not). For instance, something that serves to provoke. Like the title and angle here.