Women of the suburbs, the West and the future

THE DAY THE WOMEN GOT EVEN (1980) was a TV “cozy” pilot about four suburban women (Barbara Rhoades, Georgia Engel, Jo Ann Pflug and Tina Louise) with an interest in theater who discover Julie Hagerty (soon to be much better known for airplane) is suicidal over being blackmailed by a sleazeball producer with nude shots from her “audition.” Can they take the sleazeball down with their acting skills and the help of a street-smart Latino sidekick? I’m guessing this bland film was inspired by North Avenue Irregulars, a Disney housewives vs. crooks film from the previous year, not that knowing this makes it more interesting. “Pardon me but do you have a brother in Savannah?”

CAT BALLOU (1965) is a great deal more fun, though some of the elements (a Sioux played by a guy in redface, plus scalping jokes!) haven’t aged well. And as you can see, the movie had to qualms playing up sex along with the humor (the trailer makes the most of the star’s looks). Jane Fonda plays Katherine Ballou, back in the West after a few years at finishing school. Unfortunately the town has been taken over by corrupt business interests willing to do anything to drive her father off his land, including hiring a murderous gunfighter (Lee Marvin).

As the two outlaws she’s fallen in with are hardly tough guys, Cat recruits the legendary Kid Shelleen (Marvin too) only to discover he’s a pathetic, broken-down drunk (“He did it! He missed the barn!”). The odds are against her but Cat’s very determined … A good Western parody that netted Marvin an Oscar for his double role. Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole play a banjo-strumming Greek chorus, a detail I liked but I’ve had friends who thought it was ridiculous. “There are a lot of people who are just as depraved and cowardly as they think they are.”

After watching the second season of EXTANT (S1 review here), I wish I’d finished the series before finishing The Aliens Are Here. Mollie’s (Hallee Berry) half-alien son initially appears to remake Species, propagating his kind by impregnating women who die giving birth to the aliens. By the time Molly catches up with him, the hybrids have adapted: they don’t have to kill to reproduce. But the authorities don’t see it that way and they’re about to unleash an army of Humanich soldiers to eliminate the threat. Fortunately there’s no way letting a bunch of humanoid machines off the leash could go wrong, right? The suggestion that we and the hybrids can actually share the Earth is refreshing compared to all the othering I usually witness. “A super-computer in charge of an army of killer robots — it’s a futurist’s nightmare.”

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