We were all young, once? Those of you who are old enough to remember having your viewing options limited to what was on cable and what you had on VHS, raise your hand. If you ever wandered a video store in search of a movie, raise your hand. Kids, we didn’t have so many options back then! So when you got your paws on a possibly-shitty costume movie, you still found a way to love it and watch it over and over and over.
Then, you’ve got the slightly embarrassing to admit, “yes I have a world of options and yet I still somehow manage to watch this repeatedly” things. Hey, there’s no accounting for taste!
I talked about my childhood obsession with Anna Anderson and Anastasia Romanov in my review of the film. Mystery princesses, possibly murdered but even more excitingly possibly survived! Rewatching this sucker recently actually sent a few shivers down my spine, like when Anna is in the hospital and has to have her photo taken — the flash freaks her out, and she yells “THEY EVEN SHOT THE DOG!!” Which, ouch!
Then post-freak-out, she’s huddled in a corner, and the doctor asks if she’s remembered who she is (she’s been suffering from amnesia). She slowly lifts her head and says, “I am Her Imperial Highness, the Grand Duchess Anastasia.” GURL.
Original Sin (2001)
For one thing, stunning bustle gowns. For another, hot sex and a sizzling connection between leads Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie. I mean, HOT.
But then, at the end, one of the couple (trying not to be too spoilery here) thinks the other one is dying. And their freakout is emotional and passionate and seriously gets me every time.
And now we proceed to previously unconfessed faves…
Bad Girls (1994)
Does it help if I admit that I ALWAYS knew it was cheesy? Four gun-totin’, corset-wearin’, stickin’-it-to-the-man prostitutes in the late 19th century Old West! When prostitute Anita (Mary Stuart Masterson) is nearly raped by a customer, another (played by Madeleine Stowe) shoots the bastard (because, of course, we mustn’t actually show prostitutes prostituting). She’s sentenced to hang, and so Anita and two other prostitutes rescue her, and then the four become outlaws.
There’s so many tropes in this movie it’s hard to know where to start:
Madeleine Stowe as the ass-kicking former outlaw who rocks the pants and has a love/hate relationship with her super asshole/outlaw ex:
Mary Stuart Masterson is the good woman who was forced into prostitution by her husband’s death, and who, when push comes to shove, can’t actually go through with sleeping with a scuzzy guy:
Andie MacDowell is the Southern belle who is all flirting and jasmine:
And Drew Barrymore is the butt-kickin’, badass younger girl who nonetheless is Super Sexy and has Implausibly Perfect Hair:
Far and Away (1992)
Okay, this one I blame on limited options. Back in college, someone in my dorm had a VHS copy of this clunker starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as Irish immigrants, and since it was ye oldey timey, we watched it A LOT.
It’s ridiculous! Tom is the poor peasant with a TERRIBLE accent:
Nicole is the posh lady who doesn’t want to marry the shmuck her parents have picked out for her, and of course she’s too plucky for that and runs away.
The two struggle in America, pretend they’re not in love (which you only know because of the script, not through any acting prowess), and in the end use the whole trope of “we can be anyone in the New World!” Plus, Tom gets an “I’m upset so I’m showing this by running” scene, as he does in most of his films.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION. ORPHANS. ADULTS ARE BIG MEANIES. EXCELLENT MUSICAL NUMBERS. THE FANTASY OF BEING RESCUED BY FUN, FABULOUS, RICH ADOPTIVE PARENTS. Oh, and Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, and Bernadette Peters.
I present to you my childhood:
Spill the skeletons in your closet — what are/were your cheesy historical faves?