Pretty Painful

Pretty Painful

Tuesday Weld sucks her spoon in Pretty Poison. Her thumb wasn’t available.

My friend Val hipped me to 1968’s  Pretty Poison, notable to him because it was shot in and around Great Barrington, Mass.

Tony Perkins is Dennis the weirdo, out on parole for a juvenile arson/manslaughter beef.

Tuesday Weld is Sue Anne, the psycho high school babe.

And that chunky guy over there, half asleep in the armchair, is me.

See, Dennis is nuts. He tells ol’ Sue Anne some load of bull about being a secret agent and a sinister plot.

And she turns out to be crazier than he is.

Unhappily for this flick, the craziest of all are those who sit through it without once deploying the fast-forward.

After a long night in the woods, Dennis is menaced by a red newt.

Never mind too much plot getting in the way of the story. For that to be true, you’d have to know which story the plot is messing with.

And there are too many things happening here.

It could be a serious attempt at a topical thriller, except it’s not even a little bit thrilling.

It could be a black comedy, except the humor is unintentional.

Or it could just be a lousy movie.

“Helmut, please! Make the dog stop!”

Val reports that when Perkins arrived for the shoot, he visited the only openly gay men in the neighboring town of Egremont — two German furniture makers who wore tight leather pants. Their dog bit him, which might explain the way he runs in this film.

We’re talking extremely unlikely love scene between Tuesday Wed and Anthony Perkins filmed through the foliage. (Normally this would call of an automatic one-coil deduction but in this case I think it’s a blessing.) Psychedelic freak-out with the full moon, so lamely rendered that it would have me chasing down my dealer to demand my money back. Much examination of little bottles of some red liquid. Many fine character actors wearing bow ties, cardigans and stingy brim fedoras. Cops that say “Shaddap, punk.” Big Tony running festively through a field after being attacked by a red newt. Loud cigarette-smoking mother with shellacked hair. Incidental music by Johnny Mandel that he reused for M*A*S*H, correctly reasoning that no one would remember Pretty Poison.

Only watch this with a South Berkshire County, Mass., old-timer to point out the locations and talk about gay German furniture makers.

Otherwise this is pretty painful poison.

One coil.

(Click one the link for an entirely different take from an art-damaged ninny: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2012/02/another-dose-of-pretty-poison.html)

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