LOVES OF A BLONDE (1965) was an early film by Czech director Milos Forman that I wanted to like more than I did. Influenced by French New Wave and Italian neorealism, Forman’s protagonist Andula (Hana Brejchova) is a small town factory worker who along with her friends sits through an unenthused flirtation with middle-aged Army reservists (the government having stationed them in town in the hopes they’ll provide the factory’s excess women with boyfriends), then strikes up a relationship with the piano player at a dance. When she impulsively follows him to Prague, it doesn’t work out well.
Forman and his cast impart a feeling of reality to everything, but while that made individual moments compelling it didn’t add up to a movie I wanted to watch. Part of it is that the guys come off a little creepy by today’s standards, from the reservists pressuring Andula and her friends to drink to the pianist with his constant “don’t you trust me?” questions as he lures Andula into bed. In short, well-made but not quite for me. “A girl’s honor really exists — it isn’t just something you talk about.”
I’ve long been curious about A THIEF IN THE NIGHT (1972), a seminal film for a generation of evangelical teenagers and a landmark in evangelical pop culture. Patty (Patty Dunning) is a Christian who firmly believes she’s “good enough” to get into Heaven; while her husband completely commits himself to Jesus after a near-death experience, Patty’s faith is shallower. When the Rapture takes place (a fringe evangelical belief that Real Christians will be taken up to Heaven before the end times and the rise of Antichrist), her husband disappears (“Millions of people who were living on this Earth last night are not here this morning!”) but she’s left behind, trapped in a world where the totalitarian Imperiums requires everyone to accept the mark of the beast.
This is no worse than lots of low-budget crap I’ve seen over the years, but no better either, and the twist ending (It Was All A Dream … But It’s All Coming True!) makes no sense (if God sent her a warning, why not give her more time to act on it?). At times it comes off like the measure of true Christianity is simply whether you believe in the Rapture or not; those who believe get raptured, those who don’t are stuck here. The movie later led to several sequels but I think I can skip them. “You can be sure that the Imperium, while taking absolute control of all government during this emergency, will truly represent your feelings and needs.”
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