You consider yourself open-mined, yet (fill in the blank/this old movie)still made you say "WTF?"

I know it’s from a different time with different attitudes, but Bing Crosby in blackface in Holiday Inn is still WTF?

One of us must be misremembering this movie (and it is quite possible that it’s me), because that’s not how I remember it happening. No one important really cared about the photos or serious believed that the Demi Moore character was a lesbian, they were just looking for an excuse to get rid of her. There was going to be some sort of official investigation over the photos, but she voluntarily drops out of training before this can happen; there’s a big scene where she rings the bell to indicate that she’s quitting. She later discovers that she was a political pawn all along, and that even the female senator who’d pushed to get a woman into the SEALs did not actually expect or want her to succeed.

Yeah, some of them have entirely healthy relationships with their mamas’ corpses.

Skald, I have seen some back road motels where I fully expected Mrs. Bates to be mounted in the back office.

Continuing on the G I Jane line: Lamia, you do not remember wrong, she was being set up to fail by whatever means necessary. I suppose some of the “WTF” effect may have been mitigated had the fabrication been of any other type of questionable conduct but the scriptwriters may have used the “gay” angle precisely because DADT was relatively fresh in the public consciousness.

Or Judy Garland in Everybody Sings. Careful. Cannot be unseen.

Also, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Aside from being, IMHO, a terrible adaptation of the book, WTF, Mickey Rooney? And Audrey Hepburn is way too old for that role; granted, she does the best she can, and plays it the way it is written, but it’s one thing for a 19-year-old to live like that, and another for a 32-year-old.

What was the what the fuck?

Completely different.

Without spoiling the otherwise trite narrative of the film, the premise was that a female US Senator picked the protagonist to be the first female US Navy SEAL. The protagonist was then photographed fraternizing with a group lesbian friends at the beach with out her male companion being present.

“Fraternizing” is a military euphemism for relationships which would be normal and acceptable in the real world, but anywhere from problematic to illegal in the military one. It was a subtle trap ( if she had fought charges that she was a lesbian she would have risked losing her security clearance anyway and being ejected from the program anyway) which the only narrative’s need for the success of protagonist allowed her to avoid.

Comparing this to a Black man is logically fallacious. Besides the fact that a Black man being Mexican wouldn’t be that difficult (after all “Mexican” is a nationality, not a race. And there are over 2 million Afro-Mexicans in Mexico), it also wouldn’t illegal or problematic under US military law. And it would be doubtful that a Black man would have to defend himself against charges that he mislead others about his race or nationality unless he actually lied about them.

I’m not seeing why there should be any “WTF” effect about this plot point at all. The movie is about a woman who proves to be good enough to make it through training as a Navy SEAL. The villains attempt to destroy her career by suggesting that she’s a lesbian. If there’s a contradiction there then I’m not seeing it.

The leader of the dam raid used the code word “Nigger” which was the name of his dog to indicate that the Moehne Dam had been breached. Since the film was made in 1955 and first released in the UK, the term caused a great deal of discomfort in audiences as the word was becoming a cultural taboo even that time.

In later releases, the word was altered or even bleeped. When I was a kid, the film was shown intact with the word uncensored. However, a few years later in my teens, the versions of the film that I saw had the word bleeped out or changed to “Trigger” although the character’s mouths clearly do not say that.


I assume you’re talking about the Sidney Wang character (as played by Peter Sellers). I think the movie is making fun of the way Asians were portrayed in movies, not of Asians themselves. Charlie Chan was played by Warner Oland, a Swede made up to “look Chinese.” Man of Charlie Chan’s lines were fortune cookie aphorisms. Mr. Moto was played by Peter Lorre, an Austrian who, again, was made up to look “Asian.”

Hmmm. Someone who watches Murder by Death, and isn’t familiar with the old Hollywood films its making fun of would probably find it offensive as a stand-alone movie. Or at any rate, not especially funny, and therefore, many of the stereotypes unnecessary.

Holy Sambo and all the Golliwogs at sea! I should have heeded your warning! Mein Gott, that was abominable!

I was thinking of that, but also of the humor at the expense of Richard Narita, who was the target of a couple of racial jokes, and one (wry) ethnic joke, when he is shown wearing a USC sweatshirt. (In the theater when I first saw that movie, that one visual joke got the biggest audience laugh of them all!)

(Mind you, who among us wouldn’t give anything for the joy of co-starring with that star-spangled cast! You could make all the jokes you want at my expense! Peter Sellers, David Niven, James Coco, Estelle Winwood, Maggie Smith, Elsa Lanchester, Alec Guinness… Narita must have felt himself the luckiest guy in the world to have been cast in that movie, even if solely for his ethnicity!)

By the way, the original Charlie Chan books, by Earl Derr Biggers, are remarkable for their open-mindedness and tolerance. Far ahead of their time, considering that Sax Rohmer’s blatantly racist Fu Manchu books were published more or less the same era. H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, even G.K. Chesterton fall behind Biggers in terms of respect. Yes, Chan did speak in an absurd pseudo-dialect, but the Anglo characters respected him, and the author never patronized or condescended. Good mysteries, too; Biggers played fair with the reader.

(One of my very favorite scenes involved a Boston lad, visiting Hawaii. He’s on a public bus, and notes that his pipe smoke is bothering another bus passenger, a Japanese woman. He says, “I beg your pardon” and puts out the pipe. The woman is astonished, as no one has ever begged her pardon before. That scene is a model of tolerance…and good manners!)

Well, sure, I am actually familiar with some of the movies. Not familiar enough; I’d like to see more Charlie Chan movies, and I’ve never seen a Mister Moto movie. I want to!

It was the blatancy of “Sorry, slanty” that gives me the WTF. It’s funny, in that it’s a very obvious “non-apology,” and Peter Falk makes it work. It’s perfectly in character. But that, and “Why don’t you and the Jap kid fall in love” just make me a bit squeamish.

I am only following the Stephen Colbert flap indirectly, but it appears to be similarly edgy. It’s making fun of racism by using racist language…ineptly. It also takes me back to the old National Lampoon, and their persistent theme of overtly racist jokes…to make it clear how damn stupid racism is.

Anyway, “WTF” is a milder reaction than outrage or condemnation. It’s more along the lines of “You’ve got to have a lot of guts to do that” rather than “You shouldn’t have done that.”

P.S. by a raw coicidence indeed, the cashier at the supermarket tonight could have been a young Peter Lorre! A definite physical similarity, and he spoke in a somewhat similar way, with a hint of an accent. And he chatted away cheerfully to me about his eyeglasses prescription, just the sort of not-quite-mad thing that Lorre did so often.

Those machinations turn out to be irrelevant, since the main character gets to go on the heroic mission and earn the respect of the male SEALs, etc. I don’t know where you get that the beach party was “a group lesbian friends [sic]”; wasn’t it just a bunch of women who held support roles in the SEAL training (nurses and such). I can imagine it being improper for a SEAL candidate (of either gender) to be drinking with the support staff, but I don’t recall that being considered, dwarfed as it was by the salacious if not prurient innuendo that was being forcibly advanced.

If the trumped-up innuendo against “Jane” had been more specific to her, i.e. there was a vague and manufactured hint that she’d cheated on or failed to complete some necessary earlier training that jeopardized her qualification to be on the course (if not her career overall), fine. I find it odd, though, that the movie challenges a perceived-unfair gender discrimination policy while being casually accepting of an unfair (and arguably far more arbitrary) sexual-orientation discrimination policy. The injustice to which the audience is meant to respond is not that it would be unfair to toss an otherwise-qualified lesbian off the course, it’s that the audience knows Jane is not a lesbian.

My point is that the character is depicted trying to overcome one discrimination policy and runs afoul of another, and nobody in the movie (including her) notes that neither policy is relevant if she can do the job. I find my analogy very on-point (and I don’t really care about nationality/race definitions - the issue is just that some categories of people are deemed unacceptable), if the hypothetical black character tacitly agreed that Mexicans should be kept out while considering it grossly unfair that there be any suggestion that he is himself a Mexican, while the belief that Mexicans were unqualified was just as arbitrary as the beliefs that blacks were.

If the movie had intended this with deliberate irony (i.e. Jane feels she’s qualified to take SEAL training and the barriers against women are unfair, while maintaining her own beliefs that barriers against homosexuals are valid), then I could imagine enjoying it on that level as a bit of black comedy. I get no such impression, though, and that’s why this movie gets a WTF from me. I get that it’s a product of its time, but its time wasn’t that long ago.

Mileage obviously varies, though, so this’ll be my last comment on G.I. Jane in this thread.

Military is one arena left in which superiors are NEVER questioned.

Personally, I think Falk’s Sam Diamond is by a fair margin the funniest character in the movie. I found Sellers’ Sydney Wang tiresome, though I did enjoy:

Sidney Wang: Very interesting theory, but, you overlook one very important point.
Dick Charleston: And that is?
Sidney Wang: Is stupid. Is most stupid theory I ever heard. Bwa-ha-ha-ha…

There were those weird Baby Burlesk movies in the 30s. Shirley Temple made her film debut in one of them. Really, really, weird. Not going to link to anything about them. You don’t want to see one. Just think about the second word for a minute.

I do not remember the details of this movie very well, but I do not see any reason to assume that the filmmakers were pro-DADT just because the movie acknowledges the existence of DADT.

They mentioned those movies in one of her obituaries. So I went to YouTube and watched one. I can imagine that some people might have found it “cute” at the time but now it comes off as really inappropriate.

The *Short Circuit * movies are cherished childhood memories and I can’t be objective about them. But watching them as an adult, there is a high cringe factor because the Indian-stereotype Ben is a white guy in brownface spewing the Indian equivalent of Engrish.

Not even that old either, first movie came out in '86.