Saturday, October 25, 2014

Haven't a Clue

I'm not above soliciting strangers, especially when it comes to warmth.

Today was one of those days that got away from me and when I looked up at the clock when the writing portion of the afternoon was accomplished, it was already well past 6.

Just enough time to powder my nose, grab a chair and head on over to Quirk Gallery for a movie in the courtyard, joining a dozen people already lined up in front of the brick wall to see the 1985 screwball comedy/farce/whodunit "Clue."

Admittedly, I'd been a fan of the game, always opting for Miss Scarlet as my character, but had I even seen the movie when it came out? I have no idea.

But if I hadn't, I was clearly in the minority. I ran into the friend who had suggested they show "Clue" and he confided they he could say every word along with the actors. Two of the women in the row in front of me shared that they quote lines from it all the time. A friend I saw afterwards told me that she and her husband shared a love of this movie. One trio popped a bottle of champagne to begin the celebration of "Clue."

It was obviously far bigger than I knew, at least to a certain generation.

While the guy from Backstage got the audio/visual set up outdoors, we listened to a terrific playlist that began with Irma Thomas and moved on to Fontella Bass and Chad & Jeremy. When the A/V guy cut off "A Summer Song," a guy near me complained loudly, "Hey! I love that song!"

By the time the movie began, the crowd had tripled with some brave souls sitting on blankets on the parking lot, a place far too cold for me. As it was, I was the idiot (who gets cold if it's below 70 degrees) who hadn't brought a blanket, unlike almost every female there.

I caught a break when the woman in front of me went to go get food and I offered to "watch" her blanket, wrapping its residual warmth around my legs and praying her food took a long time to prepare. When she returned, I tried to give it back (really I did) but she insisted she had a spare so I should feel free to continue using it.

Don't mind if I do. Without it, my teeth would have been chattering.

The film wasn't long and clearly I don't have the youthful fond memories of it that most of tonight's attendees did, but all I kept thinking about was how it seemed to replace comedy with corny and intrigue with plot holes.

And that doesn't even begin to address that it was an '80s version of a story supposedly set in the '50s, making for murky waters when this audience member tried to sort through incongruous elements and costumes.

But I didn't go for fine filmmaking, I went for camp and got it, sometimes via dialog - "Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong and disposable" - and other times with cliches such as when Miss Scarlet's car breaks down and she leans fetchingly over the hood, raising a shapely leg just as a car rounds the bend.

Voila, roadside assistance! And while I've never been so blatant as all that, I have been known to stand beside my disabled car on the roadside in hopes of availing myself of the kindness of strangers. Fact is, I've had many a tire changed using this method.

Considering the comedic talent in the film -Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean - the funniest bit in the whole movie was Madeleine Kahn's improvised reaction when her character Mrs. White is accused of killing the maid (because her husband had been schtupping her).

"Flames, flames on the side of my face!" was so odd, so unexpected that it could only have come out of her lips without the benefit of a script. Hilarious.

The movie had three endings, all of which began to wear thin, at least to me, as the cast raced around from room to room recreating all the murders. Even they looked a little bored with it all.

So while I didn't see a particularly noteworthy film, what's not to enjoy about watching a movie screened on a brick wall while cozily nestled under a blanket with the sounds of the city coming in and out of earshot?

Whether it's the voices of a nearby Saturday night party on Grace Street, an ambulance siren racing up Broad Street or an airplane in the night sky, it's all part of the experience.

Like the girls in front of me reciting the occasional line along with the characters. "Frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn."

Me, neither. Some evenings it's enough just to sit back and enjoy something different.

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