Oh the Bad Movies & TV You’ll Watch 10!


Here at Frock Flicks HQ we have access to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Turner Movie Classics, and some, ehem, other sources to watch historical costume movies and TV shows. Hey, we can even see movies at the old-fashioned theater sometimes! 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 a little 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 stuff is just weak tea. These are boring movies, 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!


The Catcher Was a Spy (2018)

The Catcher Was A Spy 2018

A perfectly decent airplane watch, but I don’t know that I’d go out of your way to see it otherwise. Paul Rudd plays real-life baseball player and World War II spy, Moe Berg, who clearly lived a fascinating life. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t delve too deeply into his inner workings — for example, Berg is presented as being bisexual (or gay?) and conflicted about it, but no clarity is ever achieved about this aspect of his life. Sienna Miller gets some nice slinky 1940s-wear, but otherwise, it’s not terribly shiny. — Kendra


Holmes & Watson (2018)

2018 Holmes & Watson

Guys, I tried. I have a soft spot for Will Ferrell — I’ve never laughed as hard as I did while watching Old School — and similar boy-riffic comedies. I was trapped on a plane for eleven hours, and I fired this up … and I Just Couldn’t. I think I made it about 20 minutes in before the ass-puckeringly unfunny comedy killed my will to live. It’s too bad, because aside from some overly-low necklines, Beatrix Aruna Pasztor‘s (Vanity Fair) bustle gowns were really well done. — Kendra


On the Basis of Sex (2018)

2018 On the Basis of Sex

I admit to not having (yet) watched the (notorious) Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary, which I’ve heard is great [Trystan’s Note: IT IS SO GOOD, WATCH IT, DAMMIT!], so I decided to make up for it by watching this biopic about the Supreme Court justice back when she was a lawyer fighting for women’s rights. Overall, I enjoyed the film, it wasn’t TOO biopic-y, and Felicity Jones played the lead role well. Jones as Ginsburg had some nice 1950s suits, but otherwise, there’s really nothing interesting, costume-wise, to review. — Kendra


Operation Finale (2018)

2018 operation finale

A really interesting movie about the capture of Adolph Eichmann by Israeli intelligence officers, with My Current Boyfriend(TM) Oscar Isaac as the lead agent and Ben Kingsley as Eichmann. However, there’s absolutely zero costume content. Check it out if the topic sounds interesting (it sent me on a rabbit hole of watching holocaust trial documentaries!) and/or because of my boyfriend. — Kendra


Ordeal by Innocence (2018)

Ordeal by Innocence (2018)

The BBC keeps churning out these one-off miniseries adaptation of Agatha Christie novels, and I’ll keep watching them! This one is set in 1954, and is basically centered around one very messed up family. Mrs. Argyll (Duckface Anna Chancellor) was murdered and one of her adopted children was accused, but a stranger turns up to cast doubt as to the identity of the murderer. Bill Nighy is the patriarch, Eleanor Tomlinson the eldest daughter who could never be good enough, and Matthew Goode her disaffected/paralyzed husband (THANK YOU BABY JESUS for the first shot of him, shirtless and working out). Nicely dark and creepy, with well done but unremarkable costumes by Star Wars costume designer Trisha Biggar! — Kendra


Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

True confession: I am a sucker for a Tom Hanks movie. I’ve loved him ever since Bosom Buddies. So him playing Walt Disney is awesome! I also adore Emma Thompson, and seeing her play an irascible character is great fun. The story is almost complete hogwash, except that the real P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, did hate what Disney did to her book. But it’s a fun movie none-the-less. — Trystan


The Seagull (2018)

The Seagull (2018)

Minus: Adaption of a Chekov play, set in 1904 Russia, with all the baggage that implies. Pros: Nice enough 1910s costuming and Annette Bening and Elizabeth Moss are pretty awesome in their weird familial and romantic entanglements. But you have to suffer through Saoirse Ronan being cute, plus a lot of predictable strum un drang. — Trystan


Shackleton (2002)

Shackleton (2002)

Kenneth Branagh goes down under, waaaaay down under. This is a fascinating story of the incredibly inept early 20th-century Antarctic explorer Sir Edmund Shackleton. Lots of ice, fur coats, shaggy beards, and rugged heroism, but fairly historically accurate and worth watching if you want a real adventure tale. — Trystan


Winchester (2018)

Winchester (2018)

I knew going in that this wouldn’t be a good historical movie. But I’m sad to say it wasn’t even a good horror movie.  Not atmospheric enough to really be spooky and definitely not scary. It was just boring! Poor Helen Mirren, such a waste of your talents. I hope you got paid well for this crap. — 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?

21 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I’m wondering what the new Little Women pic will be like. Emma Watson is Meg. Or is it going to be another adaptation of a book that’s had a gazillion adaptations to it?

    • Brandy Loutherback

      Probably horrible but we’ll see! I think Emma would make a better Jo IMO.

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I agree even if she’s a bit old for it. At least the early parts until she goes to New York.

        • EE

          She’s far too old for Meg, let alone Jo. Meg is 16 at the start of the book and 17 when she marries. Emma Watson is 29!

          • Nzie

            I think they generally didn’t get the ages right, but some are less hard to believe than others.

    • Rori

      Speaking of that, did Emma Watson suck it up and wore a corset? I tried examining the promo pictures, but can’t tell due to the sheer clothing.

  2. ljones1966

    The story is almost complete hogwash, except that the real P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, did hate what Disney did to her book. But it’s a fun movie none-the-less.

    What was complete hogwash about “Saving Mr. Banks”? I’m aware that it wasn’t completely accurate in regard to certain dates regarding the Travers’ contract and possibly her reaction to watching “Mary Poppins”. Is there anything else?

    The BBC keeps churning out these one-off miniseries adaptation of Agatha Christie novels, and I’ll keep watching them! This one is set in 1954, and is basically centered around one very messed up family.

    On the other hand, I thought “Ordeal By Innocence” was complete hogwash. Producer-writer Sarah Phelps had not only changed the killer’s motive, but also the killer’s identity. Along with the fate of one particular character.

  3. Brandy Loutherback

    I admit I wanted to see Ordeal By Innocence for Matthew Goode alone! MMM, he is scrumdiddlyumptious!

  4. Nzie

    Interesting to hear you describe The Catcher Was A Spy as a good airplane watch because my mom watched it on an airplane and told me I had to see it (I didn’t). Then the other day, having watched it again at sea level, she lessened her endorsement. :-) I love baseball movies and I love spy movies and I have a thing for Cold War history but… not in a rush. :-)

  5. Saraquill

    For some reason, looking at “Shackleton” makes me want an adaptation of “Sur,” the Ursula K. LeGuin story. Anyone else familiar with it?

    • EE

      Yes, isn’t it adorable? And it’d be fun to fill in the gaps about the funding they received but dare not declare to the reader.

  6. Roxana

    Shackleton was not inept, you are thinking of Robert Falcon Scott, who to be fair also had circumstances beyond his control against him as well as some seriously bad decisions.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      As an explorer, Shackleton was terrible; his expeditions failed, he never got anywhere he was trying to go. As a personal leader, he was excellent — he kept all his men alive. He’s a fascinating figure.

      • Roxana

        That’s true, but one of the reasons he never got where he was going was he didn’t take stupid risks. That he managed to save the lives of his expedition is an impressive feat.

      • Roxana

        Another Arctic explorer wrote about the strengths of his various colleagues. He ended with something like, ‘And when everything goes wrong and you’re up against it get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.

  7. Katie O'Donnell

    I really enjoyed On the Basis of Sex (especially the 50’s suits she wears) but I think it’s more interesting because of the amount of detail in RBG’s life (as it was written by a relative and she assisted with the details) than because of anything costume-related.