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Cleopatra (#110 of 4)

House Playlist: Rick Ross & Jay-Z, Sisyphus, Actress, & Lancelot featuring Antony & Cleopatra

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House Playlist: Rick Ross & Jay-Z, Sisyphus, Actress, & Lancelot featuring Antony & Cleopatra
House Playlist: Rick Ross & Jay-Z, Sisyphus, Actress, & Lancelot featuring Antony & Cleopatra

Rick Ross & Jay-Z, “The Devil Is a Lie”: Hip-hop titans Rick Ross and Jay-Z have joined forces for a new track from—presumably, considering the lyrics—the former’s forthcoming album, Mastermind. Rumored to drop before the end of 2013, the album is now expected sometime next year.

Sinful Cinema The Driver’s Seat

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Sinful Cinema: The Driver’s Seat
Sinful Cinema: The Driver’s Seat

It’s generally agreed that films fall into one of three categories: The Good, The Bad, and the So-Bad-It’s-Good. Still, there remain a few highly select examples of a fourth category: the What-in-Hell-Was-That? Michael Sarne’s star-laden evisceration of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge is certainly one of these, as are such disparate disasters as The Lonely Lady (Pia Zadora’s last-ditch attempt at being taken seriously), the sub-Ed-Wood exercise in low-budget incomprehensibility Mesa of Lost Women (1953), and—when and if it finally gets released—Faye Dunaway’s vanity (and how!) rendition of Terence McNally’s Maria Callas play Master Class. Yet none of these acts of cinematic desperation are quite as outré as The Driver’s Seat.

Directed by Giuseppe Patroni-Griffi, this Italian-made English-language drama, adapted from Muriel Spark’s novella about a mentally unbalanced woman searching for someone to stab her to death, stars Elizabeth Taylor and features (as Neil Patrick Harris would say, “wait for it…”) Andy Warhol. Nothing in the good, bad or so-bad-it’s-good canon compares to it. And if you were among the semi-happy few who managed to see it back in 1974, when it was released (or, some might say, “escaped”) to select grindhouses before vanishing into the maw of home video, then you know what I’m talking about. For while Elizabeth Taylor certainly made her share of stinkers in a long and productive career (Cynthia, The Sandpiper, Young Toscanini), it’s hard to imagine another item so fit to leave moviegoers scratching their heads, wondering precisely why it was made.

Claudette Colbert: The Dark Side of the Moon

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Claudette Colbert: The Dark Side of the Moon
Claudette Colbert: The Dark Side of the Moon

As the star of three bona fide comedy classics, It Happened One Night (1934), Midnight (1939) and The Palm Beach Story (1942), Claudette Colbert is at least as well-known as contemporaries like Jean Arthur, Carole Lombard and Irene Dunne, but she was primarily a star for Paramount Studios, which means that many of her films are out of circulation on television. Looking at her filmography, I was surprised to find that there were 22 of her 30s films that I haven’t seen, including interesting-sounding items like Torch Song (1933), where she apparently sings bluesy numbers in her own voice, and The Gilded Lily (1935), where she supposedly does a nightclub act that consists of her admitting that she can’t do a nightclub act. Colbert came across as so worldly and commonsensical that many of her films revolve around how she convincingly talks her way into and out of difficult/unlikely situations, sometimes just for the fun of it. She had a seamless sort of technique which she learned through years on the stage in the twenties, and that technique is what makes her both a bit predictable and finally a little mysterious.