If A Man Answers

Last night I watched If A Man Answers.

3 stars @ Netflix.

Long boring explanation will now ensue :)

When I was a kid growing up in So Cal I used to spend most of my Saturday mornings/early afternoons watching Tom Hatten on KTLA (not the original show he had, of course -- for goodness' sake I wasn't born until 1975! But, I do think my dad (also a So Cal native) watched that one as a kid).

I believe, if memory serves (which it often doesn't), the way it went was that he played things like the Our Gang/Little Rascals series (which I didn't know was racist drivel until I grew up) and the Three Stooges (I think I'm the only woman I know who genuinely loves the Three Stooges, even to this day!) in the mornings, along with those classic cartoons. I remember sitting at the table in my grandma's den, in my robe and jammies, eating my Grape Nuts or Rice Crispies (with gobbs and gobbs of sugar thrown on it) and drenched in Mocha Mix (I'm the second generation of that family born allergic to milk so it was always nothing but good, wholesome, non-dairy creamer in that house! LOL) . That was weekend morning bliss for me at that age.

After the cartoon/Three Stooges/Our Gang show, I do believe KTLA (deciding we hadn't had enough of Tom yet -- bless them) immediately followed it with the greatest show ever to air, IMHO, the Family Film Festival. It was brilliant stuff. You not only got to see great old movies (this is where I learned all about Hepburn and Tracy, Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, and the coolest guy in any room, at any time, Mr. Cary Grant (ah, for to swoon!), but you also got fascinating commentary. Tom knew all the history, trivia, and best gossipy bits -- despite the fact that they never played a movie made past 1966 and half the people he referenced were already dead.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the place I first saw If A Man Answers. I could be wrong -- I used to watch old movies at my other grandparents house also because they had cable (fancy of them!), which meant that Mecca of movie fans everywhere, AMC. But most of that exposure to old movies came in the form of silent films that they played between about 2 am and 6 am (I would sneak out into the family room and watch them when I couldn't sleep). That was where I fell in love with Charlie Chaplin, and wanted to grow up to be Clara Bow. So, I'm pretty sure it was the Family Film Festival that is responsible for putting If A Man Answers, gem that it is, permanently in my psyche.

What I remembered about it was:

Not much, really. I was certain that part of the plot was a young married woman, being advised by her mother, to try to 'train' her husband using a book meant for training puppies. I was also vaguely certain it had Sandra Dee in it. The reference to training a man with a book meant for dogs is something that has stuck in my head (only in the best of ways, I assure you) as a sort of peculiar cultural reference. Things always come back to stories for me, and those stories are usually movies or music, and sometimes tv. Things get emblazoned, and are forever on the tip of my tongue. Sometimes, it's actual dialog from a film -- line for line, completely verbatim (and yet, half the time I cannot locate my cell phone on my way out the door, go figure!). So it has come up many times -- the reference: Did you ever see that movie? ... or ... Remember that movie where the girl trains her husband with the dog book?

It came up again about a week ago -- I don't remember why (I suspect it was some pearl of wisdom uttered by somebody's baby-mama on Judge Judy -- that's usually the sort of thing that sparks that reference), and I decided I wanted to find out what that movie was (since I couldn't for the life of me, remember the name). So I did a bit of interweb sleuthing -- which is to say I Googled: woman train husband book dog, and pulled up nothing informative, then added Sandra Dee to the search and bingo -- name of movie discovered, and film added to the top of the Netflix list.

So I watched it for the first time in like 20 years, and I thought it was cute. Silly, yes, and excruciatingly fluffy, and obviously tainted by that obnoxious early 60's sexism that haunts films from that era having anything to do with love, marriage, sex, or gender roles -- but it was also smarter than I expected, much funnier, and tres chic!

Quelle surprise?


La Yen said...

My favorite thing about Tom Hatten was that on Saturday or Sunday mornings, in between the LIttle Rascals and such, he would draw things on his art pad, and then tell us to buy his 50 markers marker set. I begged for that set, and one day I got it, and it did not dissapoint, I tell you. Also that he would show Pippi on Sundays. Almost every Sunday.

LuluBunny said...

Oh yeah, I remember his drawings. I don't remember the marker set though, hmmm, must be senility setting in.

But oh man, did I love Pippi (especially with all that really awful dubbing they did) -- but I completely forgot that it was Tom who played those movies!

I am Pippi Longstocking Hope and a Hey and a Sha-na-na, I am Pippi Longstocking, watch out here I come!

Annika was such a wet blanket :P

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