SNARK WEEK RECAP: North & South (1985), Episode 2

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Because I live to entertain, and because I make bad life choices, I have decided to recap 1985’s Civil War classic, North and South. Look for a new episode recap each day of Snark Week, and enjoy the frosted lipstick!

Patrick Swayze POPS HIS CHERRY WITH THE LOCAL WEST POINT HOOOOOR. She has a lot of frizzy hair. He is hand-staple-forehead afterwards because, of course, he’s still in love with Tits.

I feel like her dress came from the local Wild West park.

Tits is sad, but actually wearing a chemise and corset so I cut her some slack. Maum Sally continues to be the most accurately dressed female character in this sucker — great print on her cotton dress.

“If only my lipstick weren’t so frosted, maybe we could be together!”

Bent continues to be a sadist, basically trying to kill nice country boy Fisk by making him ride a horse named “Satan.” He gets court-martialed, but denies everything. To get their revenge, Swayze and George set him up: Bent likes to visit the local prostitute, but an upperclassman thinks she only sees him. They arrange for Bent to shag the prostitute while the upperclassman catches them. Bent gets booted from West Point, but not before vowing to Swayze and George that he will have his revenge someday!

In case seeing Bent’s naked chest is important to you.

The boys graduate, but it’s a lot of uniforms and I’m bored with screencapping them. Instead, let’s move on to the party thrown by Swayze’s family for the boys, who are off to fight in the Mexican-American War. Swayze’s mom, who I have just discovered is Jean Simmons (Young Bess), rocks the blue acetate and while she doesn’t get the girls out, is essentially wearing an evening dress. As are most of the other ladies.

Love dumpy extra in green (top). Jean Simmons is also applying makeup with a trowel.

Finally, Swayze’s younger sisters have grown a bit! Thank god, I was worried they weren’t feeding them.

Tits shows up with hubby David Carradine in tow, and she is ALL PEACH, ALL THE TIME, with the glorious addition of silver lace. Her bodice appears to be in constant danger of falling off, fits shittily, and just to reiterate, IS TOTALLY AN EVENING GOWN. Not, like, a historically accurate evening gown. Just, low neckline and short sleeves? For day? In the 1840s? NEVER.

Oh, right. Swayze and Tits are sad b/c of LURVE, Tits speaks out against annexing Texas as a slave state, Carradine takes her outside and smacks her around, Tits and Swayze discuss their forbidden love.

Don’t 1980s bridesmaid outfits make SO MUCH MORE sense now? Also love purple extra at the bottom: “yes, please, tell me more!”

Priam, slave to Swayze’s family and current favorite whipping boy of their very sweaty overseer, is tricked into getting drunk. He ends up sloshing into the white folks’ party, demanding more booze. Everyone is horrified, and Swayze’s dad tells the overseer to punish him as he sees fit.

Guys. Not only have NO African-American characters been anything more than footnotes in a story that is supposed to be a SWEEPING EPIC OF THE DIVIDE OVER SLAVERY AND THE CIVIL WAR (I dunno, maybe African Americans might be central to that story?), this poor actor (David Harris) is forced to do the most minstrel-y performance ever. He’s a total caricature, first of fear (of the overseer), then drunkenness, then fear — all trembling lips and rolling eyes. It’s really gross.

Sweaty overseer is evil, enslaved man is a minor plot point in a story about the white people’s lives.

The overseer brands Priam’s face, Swayze argues with his father against brutality, George Hazard (who’s visiting for the party) is horrified, Swayze and George argue about slavery. Swayze sort of gets the abolitionist argument, but argues that slaves are no more than children and can’t make their own decisions, and it’s just the South’s way of life. George thinks slavery is wrong, but is happy to make up with Swayze. I screencap none of this, because it’s not in any way interesting from a costume perspective.

Swayze and Tits have a secret meeting in an abandoned church, and WHERE ARE TITS’ TITS???!!! My whole world view is rocked. They discuss their forbidden love, with Tits initially all “you must forget me!” and then all “let’s make out!”

The trim and bolo tie confuse me.

Guys, I have never seen shittier on-screen kissing IN MY LIFE. The two can barely find each others’ lips, and are kind of like two blind guppies using their mouths to feel their way around each others’ faces. It’s BAD.

“IF WE FEEL AROUND LONG ENOUGH MAYBE WE’LL FIND LIPS”

Okay, a lot of unscreencapped war happens (again, no costumes!). We finally figure out why Bent is such an ass, he’s the bastard child of a (northern) senator who was sent to be raised by a random family in Geor-juh. His father is just embarrassed of him. Bent blackmails dad into getting him an army commission in the Mexican-American War.

Swayze and George fight in said war. Bent comes across them and orders Swayze to take a contingent of men into what is basically a death trap. Swayze’s leg is seriously wounded, and almost amputated.

In finally-back-in-costume-land, George goes to a ball given for the soldiers, where he meets Robert Mitchum playing an doctor who has an Irish accent that only occasionally pops up. He instantly falls in love with doc’s Irish daughter, Perfect Blonde Constance. I actually kind of like Perfect Blonde’s plaid dress — horror of horrors! It helps that the bodice doesn’t look like it’s about to fall off.

Extras aren’t half bad. Lots of “Mexican” peineta combs and mantillas.

They’re testing me with those Leg Avenue nylon lace mitts.

Doc is headed back to Ireland and wants his daughter to marry an American, so he’s basically chucking her at various soldiers. To this end, he invites George for dinner. Perfect Blonde has flour on her nose, so you know where THIS is headed.

That’s an apron over her skirt.

George is IN LOVE! He proposes to Perfect Blonde, whose dress again I actually think is okay… if she were wearing it after dark.

You can totally see the ruffles of her petticoat through her skirt, which is not as bad as visible hoop line, but not good. We know Perfect Blonde is a good girl, because her hair is always styled! Also, evening dress for day, but no tits!

Gingham and eyelet lace. Where’s the frosted lipstick? I’m so confused!!

GEORGE AND PERFECT BLONDE GET IT ON. She fails to wear a corset (shocker).

Okay but I am kind of finding George hot, being tall and floppy haired and all…

Swayze is super depressed post-injury. George is all “war is hell” and decides to leave the army… but before he does, he beats the shit out of Bent, which is quite satisfying.

Swayze goes home. Bratty Brunette sister is all “Come see my new dress, big bro, it has REAL LACE.” As opposed to… ???? But Swayze haz a sad. Parents are worried about him, so now they haz a sad.

You don’t see much of mom’s dress on screen.

Here’s what she’s wearing.

Tits is worried about Swayze, so now she haz a (new) sad. SHE IS ROCKING THE MID-1980S, STRAIGHT FROM MY LOCAL MALL, RHINESTONE JEWELRY. And Tits, natch. She has trembly-lipped lines like “I heard Swayze was WOUNDED.” Maum Sally continues to be the best dressed woman in South Carolina, and warns Tits against “going to him” (romance novel speak).

I actually quite like what they did with the stripes on Maum Sally’s gown! BUT TITS’ JEWELRY. IS SO 1980S I CAN’T EVEN.

Okay, Priam runs away from the Swayze plantation. He is yet again forced to trembly-lip, rolly-eye overact, and I am pissed off. Tits shows up to try to talk him into going back, then gives him money to run away. THE POLY BAROQUE SATIN IS STRONG IN THIS SCENE.

SO. SHINY.

All the menfolk are hunting for escaped slave Priam. David Carradine is randomly whipping his slaves, despite them saying that they don’t know anything and him seeming to believe it. Tits is horrified and wants to intervene, but Maum Sally stops her. Swayze turns up as part of the Priam-hunting team; George has visited and cheered him out of his alcoholic, war is hell stupor, in part by asking him to be his best man.

Tits and Swayze meet up again. Tits has once again put away her tits, leaving my world rocked, and accented things with some nylon Joann’s lace. Swayze is ROCKING THE LEOPARD PRINT CRAVAT. Balance is restored to the force.

The two make out again, this time with lizard-y tongues, but I care enough about you to not screencap this. Nope. I lied. I care about you SO MUCH, I made you a gif.

Oh god can someone speed things up around here?

 

 

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31 Responses

    • SarahV

      WOW.

      I have this engraved into my memory as this sweeping, glamorous and well-made epic romance with the Swayze at Peak Hotness (also James Read is also teh (sic) Hotness), and wonderful costumes, but….

      It really doesn’t hold up, huh? I guess the audience has come to expect much more accuracy and quality.

      Having said that, I still love it to wittle, wittle pieces and will fight over it.

      Reply
  1. Nzie

    How did Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum end up in this? Is schlocky tv fair where decent actors go once they’ve aged too much for the land of the perpetually young? (See also: Jane Seymour was a queen in A Royal Christmas. She is also still beautiful and a good actress but omg wrinkles!).

    The kissing is hilarious. But also gross. I’m ok never seeing that gif again.

    Also, I feel for all the people of color who worked on this. The slaves are basically window dressing to a plot supposedly all about slavery. What the what? I think this seals it—not watching again.

    Reply
      • Susan Pola Staples

        Has Maum Sally thought of writing an advise column on Life, Clothes and the Dark Side of polybaroque satin?
        Yuck on the kissing scenes.
        And this was done after Roots? It boggles the mind. All this makes me wish for a miniseries on both Marion Anderson and Leontyne Price. As well as other women of colour.

        Reply
  2. Liz H

    I am positive that in the 80s I owned barrettes decorated just like the one in Blond Bratty Sister’s hair. Probably with the exact same machine-made doily and poly-ribbon bow from the exact same JoAnns.

    Reply
  3. picasso Manu

    ROFL! should have been called Acetate & Polyester… But I recall it was prestige TV when it first aired…I also remember sister and I were not impressed by the characters and had some nasty names for them… not Tits, though (too young)… I’m a bit sad about that, but better late than never! LOL!

    Reply
  4. Donnalee

    I love it all, and love the photo where she seems to stare right at the unspeakable leopard-spot cravat-ish droopy item in that neck-fabric collection. Thank you for saving me from having to watch this, but you could have spared us the yucky makeout gif–that was pretty mean.

    Reply
  5. Saraquill

    Year’s ago, I read a southern white woman’s account of life during the war. It was a tragic tale of how impossible it was to acquire pretty clothing. Seeing the recap above, I believe her.

    Reply
  6. Kayla Vickery

    “Lizard-y tongues” ROFL

    That gif will be burned into my retinas for the rest of my days.

    Reply
  7. Katie

    I must ask what the hell is going on hat-wise in this show. The mom character appears to be wearing a lace cap upside down, while tits flashy satin bowler hat makes me think of that weird bridal hat phase of the eighties, which has filled many a thrift store. So much monstrous millinery.

    Reply
      • SarahV

        I shall never forgive my cousin who married in the 80’s and forced all of us female relations into off the shoulder peach-y sherbet-colored monstrosities with hoop skirts and parasols.

        mutha-effin PARASOLS.

        (I was a junior bridesmaid at the time – only thirteen – so my non-existent decolletage was modestly covered in scratchy, itchy peach lace.)

        Reply
  8. Lindsey

    Huh. I thought for sure that the slave had his eye put out by a hot poker instead of being branded. I haven’t watched it in years, though. I was terrified of that scene whenever I was little.

    Reply
  9. mother of ballots (@bad_wisdom)

    I completely lost it at the leopard print cravat. Wow.
    I saw this on the telly in the late 90s when I was a kid and now I must conclude that pre-teens are basically the only target audience that could reasonably be expected to like this unironically. But I’m loving this vicarious hate-watch through your recaps!!

    Reply

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