Oh the Bad Movies & TV You’ll Watch 9!

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Those of us here at Frock Flicks have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, maybe a little broadcast TV (like Turner Movie Classics), and perhaps some, ehem, other sources to watch historical costume movies and TV shows. Hey, we might even see movies at an actual theater with real people ‘n stuff! So we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, attempting to watch our backlogged queue. Alas, not every flick set in the past is worth our time (though for ones we DO review, use the search box or menus to peruse the archives!).

Here’s some behind-the-scenes info: There are a lot of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows out there! We’re not talking Snark Week-worthy travesties — we LURVE watching those. But some movies are just weak tea. These are the boring flicks, the dull shows, the ones with mediocre costumes and stories that can’t even rise up to the level of camp entertainment. Or the ones that are mildly entertaining, maybe have ‘good-enough’ costuming, or are moderately snark-worthy, but we can’t be arsed to work up a sweat about it.

Thus, this is an occasional series with our one-line reviews of things we’ve tried to watch but just don’t care enough about to write a whole blog post or podcast. Your mileage may vary!

 

Agatha (1979)

Agatha (1979)

Good cast with Vanessa Redgrave staring as the famous mystery writer and Timothy Dalton as her pompous, cheating husband husband. The film tries to explain Agatha’s 11-day disappearance in 1926, but the story is slow and meandering. I just couldn’t get into it. — Trystan

 

Alexander (2004)

Alexander (2004)

I threatened to watch this, so I did, thinking it might be laughably, entertainingly bad. Guys, it’s just BAD. Clearly it was one of those “director went crazy/studio cut him off” productions, because you get some feels-incestuous bonding between child Alexander the Great and his mother (Angelina Jolie), a big fight between adult Alexander (Colin Farrell) and dad (Val Kilmer), and then we’re told in narration about Alexander becoming a great general and conquering the world and suddenly we’re in some big battle (with the Persians I think). I noped out at that point. If you’re not going to show Alexander the Great being, uh, Great, then what’s the point? Mullets and incongruous Irish accents abound, btw. I need to make better choices. — Kendra

 

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Battle of the Sexes (2017)

Enjoyable and fairly historically accurate recounting of the iconic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, as well as King’s push for gender equality in her sport. The handling of King’s affair with Marilyn Barnett is sensitive and engaging as well. It’s post-period for us, although the jazzed-up tennis uniforms are cute and would make a splash even today, when players like Serena Williams still get criticized for not wearing “traditional” tennis whites. — Trystan

 

De-Lovely (2004)

De-Lovely (2004)

I wanted to like this biopic about Cole Porter and his wife Linda and his gay affairs. The flashback setting interspersed with musical numbers is usually something I enjoy, but the production falls flat here. Kevin Kline works well as Porter, but the pacing of the entire film is just off, which feels criminal when set to Porter tunes. — Trystan

It’s been years since I watched it, but I do remember really liking Ashley Judd’s 1930s wardrobe, so that’s something? — Kendra

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017)

Being a huge Winnie-the-Pooh fan, I wanted to like this story of how A.A. Milne wrote the books. And the part about the author’s PTSD from World War I was interesting and seemed like it might give some deep, meaningful background. But so much of the film is about how Alan and Daphne Milne were terrible parents to Christopher “Billy Moon” Robin, other than giving him the stuffed animals that inspired the stories, it all feels kind of icky. — Trystan

 

Lady Macbeth (2016)

Lady Macbeth (2016)

I was intrigued by the description of a woman in the 1860s in a loveless marriage who has an affair with a servant. But when this “affair” began with the guy raping her and then she seems to enjoy it, I noped out immediately. Sorry, can’t go there, I don’t care what else happens in the flick, that’s just gross. — Trystan

 

Lola Montes (1955)

Lola Montes (1955)

Framed by a circus act telling her life story and revealing details with flashbacks, we see a fractured, fictionalized, frankly misogynistic view of this famous courtesan as merely a heartless whore, more used by men than using them. There’s no sympathy for her or any redemption arc. It’s Moulin Rouge with neither the fun nor the pathos. Costumes are OK for ’50s Victorian. — Trystan

 

The Sword and the Rose (1952)

The Sword and the Rose (1953)

Disney does Tudor, so obviously there’s not much historical accuracy, just a lot of pretty pretty princess-ing and flashy swordplay. Nominally, this flick tells the story of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor who was married off to King Louis XII of France but was actually in love with Englishman Charles Brandon. One of the many inaccuracies is that Mary introduces the volta dance to the English court, which wasn’t popularized until Queen Elizabeth’s time, but hey, who’s counting? — Trystan

 

 

Do you love one of these movies or TV shows? What other stuff should we remove from our queue? Have you searched our site recently to see if we’ve already reviewed your faves?

12 Responses

  1. Kaye Dacus

    As they say, it takes all kinds… I love De-Lovely. It’s actually #4 in my personal list of top five musical movies. From a blog post I wrote about it years ago:

    What I adore about De-Lovely is that though Cole and Linda’s marriage is shown as “unconventional” (at best), they make it work; and toward the end of the film, after an estrangement, it’s apparent how deeply these two characters love each other. (Yes, even though they’re based on real people, let’s be honest—these are characters.) This is my go-to film when I need a good cry, because there’s just something about the love story told in this film that touches me in a very deep place—influenced by the fabulous music.

    Reply
  2. Liesl

    Two thoughts: I saw Alexander in theaters. My husband knew he was in trouble when I looked at his watch 8 minutes in, then sighed heavily. De-Lovely is one of those I could watch any time, but it has started bothering me that all the costumes are in the 30s. It shortens their story in a way that cheapens it, as well as taking away some of the history they were a part of (WWI, the ex-pats in Europe, etc.).

    Reply
  3. Bronwyn

    Oh I love De-Lovely. We had the Robbie Williams version of the song sung at our wedding.

    Goodbye Christopher Robin was pretty good but just devastating. I cried through a lot of the last few scenes.

    Reply
  4. Saraquill

    I saw you did a short review of Land Girls way back when. I’m still going to recommend against it. There’s a clueless subplot in the first or second episode that’s supposed to showcase how “enlightened” on of the major characters is. What it actually shows is that the series doesn’t think British PoC existed, and dark skinned characters only serve as accents to the titular white “Land Girls.”

    Calling that bit a turnoff is an understatement.

    Reply
    • Sharon in Scotland

      They missed a good plot-line. There was real life case of a black woman called Amelia King, born in London, third generation Afro-caribbean and a British citizen. She applied to be a land girl and was turned down. A farmer heard about this and was more than happy to offer her a job, but she wanted to join the Land Army and after positive press coverage she was able join up and work.

      Reply
  5. Mari

    I really liked Battle of the Sexes. Not sure why it’s in the “Bad TV and Movies” post? Your review seems pretty good.

    Reply
  6. LisaS

    Serena does not get criticized for not wearing traditional “tennis whites”. She gets the criticism because she’s not one of the traditional “tennis whites”. Serena is the empress of the courts and it upsets the privilege carts.

    Reply
  7. Victoria Hannah

    I too have to be on the De-Lovely fan club. I write and I so want to find a way to make a character be and sound like the way Ashley Judd did Linda. I think it was one of her best roles ever, so classy and poised.

    And though I haven’t seen it so I cannot criticize or praise the film either way, but at least Mary Tudor in Sword and the Rose only introduced the Volta a few decades too early, unlike other Disney films (Sleeping Beauty, I’m looking at you!) which introduces the waltz several centuries too early. lol.

    Reply
  8. Kelly

    Is that Glynis Johns in The Sword and the Rose? Is she still wearing one of her costumes from The Court Jester?

    Reply

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