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[a_film_by] stylish clothing/fashion fascism/Arzner

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  • LiLiPUT1@aol.com
    ... See - this is what I hate about fashion dictates. They re all based on the assumption that everyone on earth is thin. Elizabeth, I, for one, don t have a
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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      In a message dated 5/30/04 12:14:49 PM, ean@... writes:

      > Men all seem to have their shirts hanging out; nobody tucks them in
      > anymore.  Even dress shirts have gone the way of the polo?  Don't men want to show
      > their trim waist lines?  I guess not if the pants are hanging so low.
      >
      See - this is what I hate about fashion dictates. They're all based on the
      assumption that everyone on earth is thin. Elizabeth, I, for one, don't have a
      trim waistline. And the tucking in the shirt thang is pure fascism. It only
      works if you don't have a gut; if you do, the tucking just accentuates it. Trust
      me, people - I look much better, more stylish, all that with my shirt
      untucked.

      Of course, comfort rarely seems to be an issue with fashion dictates.
      Comtemporary film may be unstylish or undressed but classical Hollywood cinema can be
      downright uncomfortable to watch/ponder, esp. if any portion of the film
      takes place in the summer. No golden era should have anyone wearing a three-piece
      suit and a hat or heels, hose and makeup in stifling heat.

      Let's face it - the purpose of dressing stylishly is so that you can move
      through the capitalist machine more smoothly. A tucked in shirt arbitrarily, like
      all signs, connotes success, authority, professionalism. And it's that
      arbitrariness, built on thinness as a standard, that I find objectionable.

      But that's semiotics for ya. You just gotta deal with it, for the most part.
      So for me, my fashion hero is Dorothy Arzner (it used to be Adrian until I
      found out that Joan Crawford was responsible for that masterful ironing board
      dress in Today We Live). The ONLY convincing defense I've ever heard for dressing
      stylishly is unintentionally laid out in Judith Mayne's Directed by Dorothy
      Arzner, still one of the very best books I've ever read on film. Much less of a
      crybaby than me, Arzner succeeded against all odds in part by adhering to
      those arbitrary fashion conventions with a vengeance. And her frequently mannish
      garb was almost a parody of phallic privilege in Hollywood. In short, she
      dealt with it in order to achieve the near impossible.

      So I'll lost some weight. I'll deal with it. But I'll always bitch about it.

      Kevin John


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • jpcoursodon
      ... in ... men want to show ... low. ... Elizabeth was using the shirt-hanging-out as just one example of the general sloppiness in dress that seems to have
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, LiLiPUT1@a... wrote:
        >
        > In a message dated 5/30/04 12:14:49 PM, ean@s... writes:
        >
        > > Men all seem to have their shirts hanging out; nobody tucks them
        in
        > > anymore.  Even dress shirts have gone the way of the polo?  Don't
        men want to show
        > > their trim waist lines?  I guess not if the pants are hanging so
        low.
        > >

        Elizabeth was using the shirt-hanging-out as just one example of
        the general sloppiness in dress that seems to have swept over this
        country (the USA)-- and when I read her post I felt like commenting
        that the sloppiness is just a part and expression of a much more
        decadent (for lack of a better word) modern (or post-modern?)
        attitude toward the presentation of self, also expressed through the
        ubiquitous practice of tatooing and piercing of body parts (visible
        or not), as well as in the systematic use of obscenities in speech.


        > See - this is what I hate about fashion dictates. They're all based
        on the
        > assumption that everyone on earth is thin.


        But there are no "fashion dictates" in the old sense.
        The "fashion" these days is the sloppiness described above. I'm not
        talking about "high fashion" (clothes seen in fashion mags, which are
        fantasy stuff unwearable by most ordinary people) but fashion in the
        sense of what most people actually wear. Overweight people (women
        especially),which is about one person out of three, parade their fat
        in tight fitting outfits as though they were proud of it. And talking
        about "tucking in the shirt thang" as you call it, everyday I see men
        with shirts tucked in over an enormous gut that hangs over the belt
        of pants 2 or 3 sizes too small in the waist. So tucked in or hanging
        out the problem is the same.

        Elizabeth, I, for one, don't have a
        > trim waistline. And the tucking in the shirt thang is pure fascism.


        Isn't this use of "fascism" a bit loose?!
        >
        > Of course, comfort rarely seems to be an issue with fashion
        dictates.
        > Comtemporary film may be unstylish or undressed but classical
        Hollywood cinema can be
        > downright uncomfortable to watch/ponder, esp. if any portion of the
        film
        > takes place in the summer. No golden era should have anyone wearing
        a three-piece
        > suit and a hat or heels, hose and makeup in stifling heat.
        >


        It looks uncomfortable to you because we have become so used to
        sloppy dressing. You sound like Lina Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain"
        Re the heavy wig she must wear in the period movie she's starring
        in. "Everybody used to wear them," the director tells her. "Then
        everybody was a dope," she retorts. Yes it always looks funny to me
        when I see men in old movies going fishing or on a picnic or some
        outdoor activity wearing three-piece suits, but "Everybody used to
        wear them." And no decent woman would go out without hat and gloves
        and heels and makeup. And it would not be a "golden era" of the
        cinema if people in those old movies walked around in T-shirts and
        jeans and untucked shirts and sporting tatoos and rings in their
        noses and lips.




        > Let's face it - the purpose of dressing stylishly is so that you
        can move
        > through the capitalist machine more smoothly. A tucked in shirt
        arbitrarily, like
        > all signs, connotes success, authority, professionalism. And it's
        that
        > arbitrariness, built on thinness as a standard, that I find
        objectionable.


        Again, the topic was not being "stylish" but simply avoiding
        sloppiness. But since you're talking semiotics, then the reverse of
        your statement is true: a non-tucked in shirt connotes failure, lack
        of authority and unprofessionalism. Unless you totally rebel against
        the "capitalist machine" (which is perfectly honorable -- actually
        sloppy dressing was born of the hippie rebellion of the late sixties)
        you have to take the consequences.




        >
        > So I'll lost some weight. I'll deal with it. But I'll always bitch
        about it.
        >

        Now you're talking!! When you have lost it and can tuck in your
        shirt, do send "before/after" pictures to Elizabeth. You'll be proud
        of yourself.

        JPC

        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Elizabeth Anne Nolan
        I agree that the dictates of fashion can be very uniform-making (that s as far as I want to go with fascism), but I also think cost is often the primary
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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          I agree that the dictates of fashion can be very uniform-making
          (that's as far as I want to go with fascism), but I also think
          cost is often the primary determinant of dress in two polar
          ways. Some go for the cheapest, others for the most
          expensive (regardless of style); sometimes, regardless
          of checkbook either way.

          The men and women dressed in suits in the 40's and 50's
          were not only signaling their success in the tremendous
          upward and urban mobility trends of those times, but also
          probably had just one good functional suit. (My parents each
          came from large working class families and the family portraits
          are of suited young adults.) The SUIT was the uniform of
          achievement. Then, people dressed upward; today, downward.

          THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL has those same 'suited' people.

          I have been thinking about what sort of things are implied in
          movies by "uniforms" (outside of the military / police) that are
          just absent today. Walk though a hospital, and tell me
          who is the doctor; school, teacher. Try to find someone who
          works in a department store... how many times do you ask
          someone "DO YOU WORK HERE?" Sure, the movies show
          these people wearing the Home Depot, Cosco bibs, but
          do they really wear them in the real world? And what does
          the audience think when they see those work place uniforms?
          ... PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

          Thanks for pointing out ARZNER; I've read/heard her name enough;
          will look for Judith Mayne's Directed by Dorothy Arzner.
        • Jaime N. Christley
          I do think we are approaching consistency/texture of lint as far as going off-topic. Oh well. When I am concerned about comfort but not appearance, I wear
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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            I do think we are approaching consistency/texture of lint as far as
            going off-topic. Oh well.

            When I am concerned about comfort but not appearance, I wear
            comfortable clothes.

            When I am concerned about appearance, I go in that direction. It's
            an investment, like making sure your car is running properly, has air
            in its tires, fresh oil, etc. Like making sure your insurance is
            paid up, the kids have good dental care. It's an ongoing "life
            maintenance" that comes as a result of agreeing to live in
            contemporary American society. To associate it with fascism is a bit
            extreme. There is no branch of the criminal justice system to deal
            with "fashion offenders." The phrase "fashion police" is a figure of
            speech.

            On the other hand, a sloppy uniform in the US armed forces is
            discouraged and there are minor punishments ranging from docking your
            pay to serving extra duty. In Sam Fuller's autobiography, he talks
            about a soldier who was shot for having his shirt tucked in wrong.
            But then again, this uniform violation revealed him to be a German
            soldier in disguise. There are similar expectations in all uniformed
            jobs, from the post office to McDonald's. As a temp worker I have
            the opportunity to observe that in the New York business community,
            there is also a uniform code, but it's programmed to give the
            participants an enormous amount of latitude: color, brand, pattern,
            material, etc. In midtown I am expected to wear a tie, a dress
            shirt, black or brown shoes, and a suit. One firm may be more
            fashion-conscious than another. Cuff-links are pleasing to some but
            not essential. In some locations, like in Soho, I am expected *not*
            to wear a tie, but to wear professional attire like a dress shirt,
            non-suit trousers (kakhi, nylon, etc), black/brown shoes.

            If I went to work, and everyone I saw, or even a small percentage of
            them, had their shirt hanging out, or they wore sneakers to an office
            where one doesn't wear sneakers, or something - THEN I might start
            writing doomsday messages. But not yet.

            (I can't comment on celebrities. These are cases where it's fashion
            for show, and for all I know they could start going to talk shows
            stark naked and it wouldn't affect the majority of working people in
            America, other than giving them something to talk about over the
            water cooler.)

            -Jaime
          • jpcoursodon
            ... Sometimes off-topic stuff is more fun than on-topic stuff... However I don t think the discussion about clothing worn in the past (and old movies) was off
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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              --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Jaime N. Christley"
              <j_christley@y...> wrote:
              > I do think we are approaching consistency/texture of lint as far as
              > going off-topic. Oh well.
              >


              Sometimes off-topic stuff is more fun than on-topic stuff...
              However I don't think the discussion about clothing worn in the past
              (and old movies) was off topic. There is a close relationship between
              the strict dress codes of the '30s, '40s and '50s and the equally
              strict production code that ruled Hollywood in those days. Clothes
              are never non-significant.

              Think (among countless examples) of the considerable significance
              and import of wearing or not wearing a girdle in "Anatomy of a
              Murder."

              By the way I just checked my navel: no lint there.

              "Now I wouldn't presume to tell a woman
              What a woman ought to think,
              But if she has to think: "Think Pink!"

              JPC
              > When I am concerned about comfort but not appearance, I wear
              > comfortable clothes.
              >
              > When I am concerned about appearance, I go in that direction. It's
              > an investment, like making sure your car is running properly, has
              air
              > in its tires, fresh oil, etc. Like making sure your insurance is
              > paid up, the kids have good dental care. It's an ongoing "life
              > maintenance" that comes as a result of agreeing to live in
              > contemporary American society. To associate it with fascism is a
              bit
              > extreme. There is no branch of the criminal justice system to deal
              > with "fashion offenders." The phrase "fashion police" is a figure
              of
              > speech.
              >
              > On the other hand, a sloppy uniform in the US armed forces is
              > discouraged and there are minor punishments ranging from docking
              your
              > pay to serving extra duty. In Sam Fuller's autobiography, he talks
              > about a soldier who was shot for having his shirt tucked in wrong.
              > But then again, this uniform violation revealed him to be a German
              > soldier in disguise. There are similar expectations in all
              uniformed
              > jobs, from the post office to McDonald's. As a temp worker I have
              > the opportunity to observe that in the New York business community,
              > there is also a uniform code, but it's programmed to give the
              > participants an enormous amount of latitude: color, brand,
              pattern,
              > material, etc. In midtown I am expected to wear a tie, a dress
              > shirt, black or brown shoes, and a suit. One firm may be more
              > fashion-conscious than another. Cuff-links are pleasing to some
              but
              > not essential. In some locations, like in Soho, I am expected
              *not*
              > to wear a tie, but to wear professional attire like a dress shirt,
              > non-suit trousers (kakhi, nylon, etc), black/brown shoes.
              >
              > If I went to work, and everyone I saw, or even a small percentage
              of
              > them, had their shirt hanging out, or they wore sneakers to an
              office
              > where one doesn't wear sneakers, or something - THEN I might start
              > writing doomsday messages. But not yet.
              >
              > (I can't comment on celebrities. These are cases where it's
              fashion
              > for show, and for all I know they could start going to talk shows
              > stark naked and it wouldn't affect the majority of working people
              in
              > America, other than giving them something to talk about over the
              > water cooler.)
              >
              > -Jaime
            • Jaime N. Christley
              ... past ... between ... Sure, I ll buy that. I don t mind off-topic, anyway...why fight it, etc. After all, I contributed my two cents. -Jaime
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                > Sometimes off-topic stuff is more fun than on-topic stuff...
                > However I don't think the discussion about clothing worn in the
                past
                > (and old movies) was off topic. There is a close relationship
                between
                > the strict dress codes of the '30s, '40s and '50s and the equally
                > strict production code that ruled Hollywood in those days. Clothes
                > are never non-significant.

                Sure, I'll buy that. I don't mind off-topic, anyway...why fight it,
                etc. After all, I contributed my two cents.

                -Jaime
              • Zach Campbell
                ... But wasn t David s original point a cry against the displacement of dapperness with slovenliness as fashionable? It is the slovenly- chic that *is* a
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                  Kevin John:
                  > Of course, comfort rarely seems to be an issue with fashion
                  > dictates.

                  But wasn't David's original point a cry against the displacement of
                  dapperness with slovenliness as fashionable? It is the slovenly-
                  chic that *is* a fashion dictate. As far as I can tell, it's not
                  comfort versus style that anyone was referring to before you brought
                  it up.

                  > Let's face it - the purpose of dressing stylishly is so that you
                  > can move through the capitalist machine more smoothly. A tucked in
                  > shirt arbitrarily, like all signs, connotes success, authority,
                  > professionalism.

                  Is it stylish dress or formal dress one uses to move through the
                  capitalist machine? Because there are surely communists with
                  impeccable wardrobes, and capitalist slouches--extreme examples that
                  our signs are never so cut and dried.

                  Also, it's not that "all signs" are completely arbitrary--the major
                  point of semiotics is to remind us that they *might as well* be
                  arbitrary. But usually signs are historically-based in human
                  reactions to the things they mean to signify, and often refer back
                  to the actual and justify their rootedness in them. In other words,
                  your generalization is entirely too cavalier. Take two stick
                  figures: one has an extra line for penis, another has two circles
                  for breasts. The point is that the differentiations between male
                  and female (or the gender categorization among people) might easily
                  be something else, and are not revealed to us by absolute connection
                  to 'the real.' But "abritrary" is not the right word at
                  all. "Arbitrary" denies the very real project to learn more about
                  ourselves by understanding precisely why our signs are NOT arbitrary
                  but have come into existence for particular reasons and with certain
                  purposes. Semiotics only takes us so far anyway.

                  My favorite Crawford movie is DAISY KENYON.

                  --Zach
                • David Ehrenstein
                  ... I wouldn t even go so far as dapperness. Though I would happily go through life dressed like Belmondo in Stavisky. ... I wouldn t call marlene Dietrich
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                    --- Zach Campbell <rashomon82@...> wrote:

                    >
                    > But wasn't David's original point a cry against the
                    > displacement of
                    > dapperness with slovenliness as fashionable? It is
                    > the slovenly-
                    > chic that *is* a fashion dictate. As far as I can
                    > tell, it's not
                    > comfort versus style that anyone was referring to
                    > before you brought
                    > it up.

                    I wouldn't even go so far as dapperness. Though I
                    would happily go through life dressed like Belmondo in
                    "Stavisky."


                    >
                    > Is it stylish dress or formal dress one uses to move
                    > through the
                    > capitalist machine? Because there are surely
                    > communists with
                    > impeccable wardrobes, and capitalist
                    > slouches--extreme examples that
                    > our signs are never so cut and dried.
                    >
                    I wouldn't call marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express'
                    a"Capitalist machine." She says she's gone to Shanghai
                    "To buy a new hat." But she's dressed to go to Mars.
                    Travis Banton's creations for her are outside time,
                    instinctively extravagant, and always in exquisite
                    taste.

                    If that's the essence of capitalism then I'll happily
                    sign up for it.

                    > Also, it's not that "all signs" are completely
                    > arbitrary--the major
                    > point of semiotics is to remind us that they *might
                    > as well* be
                    > arbitrary. But usually signs are historically-based
                    > in human
                    > reactions to the things they mean to signify, and
                    > often refer back
                    > to the actual and justify their rootedness in them.

                    Oh whatever.

                    > In other words,
                    > your generalization is entirely too cavalier. Take
                    > two stick
                    > figures: one has an extra line for penis, another
                    > has two circles
                    > for breasts. The point is that the differentiations
                    > between male
                    > and female (or the gender categorization among
                    > people) might easily
                    > be something else, and are not revealed to us by
                    > absolute connection
                    > to 'the real.' But "abritrary" is not the right
                    > word at
                    > all. "Arbitrary" denies the very real project to
                    > learn more about
                    > ourselves by understanding precisely why our signs
                    > are NOT arbitrary
                    > but have come into existence for particular reasons
                    > and with certain
                    > purposes. Semiotics only takes us so far anyway.

                    And I'm not intersted in having sex with stick
                    figures.

                    >
                    > My favorite Crawford movie is DAISY KENYON.
                    >

                    Mine is Curtis Bernhardt's "Possessed" -- which begins
                    with a dazed Joan wandering aimlessly about Los
                    Angeles muttering my name.





                    __________________________________
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                  • Craig Keller
                    ... She says she s gone to Shanghai To buy a new hat. But she s dressed to go to Mars. -- very funny (and accurate) indeed, David. I wrote, less
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                      > I wouldn't call marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express'
                      > a"Capitalist machine." She says she's gone to Shanghai
                      > "To buy a new hat." But she's dressed to go to Mars.
                      > Travis Banton's creations for her are outside time,
                      > instinctively extravagant, and always in exquisite
                      > taste.

                      "She says she's gone to Shanghai 'To buy a new hat.' But she's dressed
                      to go to Mars." -- very funny (and accurate) indeed, David.

                      I wrote, less concisely, in an unpublished review --

                      "... A sensual and threatening interplay between light, shadow, and
                      layer upon layer of gauze circumfixes as ever the great director�s
                      gaze, the focal object of which is none other than the incomparable
                      Marlene Dietrich. Here she plays Shanghai Lily, a notorious Euro-vamp
                      whose past relations with fellow passenger Captain Harvey (Clive Brook)
                      inform the love affair at the center of the film. Based on the
                      reactions of the train�s global assemblage of men, it becomes apparent
                      that Lily�s reputation has already traversed the span between the
                      rail-line�s endpoints or wider, stranger zones, like a nocturnal
                      phantasy stalking a host in Murnau, Feuillade, or early Lang. But the
                      myth soon settles into flesh-and-blood reality as Lily�s traveling
                      companions realize she has no intention of playing spittoon for crass
                      ejaculation. Done up in raven-feather boa, a haze of tobacco smoke,
                      and an exotic veil that divides her face into a black and white
                      Domino-mask, Lily puts all preconceptions at bay once she commandeers
                      the negotiations to free Captain Harvey after he�s taken hostage by
                      guerrilla forces, even if the officer�s freedom comes at the cost of
                      giving herself over to an undersexed rebel leader (Warner Oland). ...
                      " blah blah blah

                      craig.


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • jpcoursodon
                      ... No one is a capitalist machine. It s something you have to go through (according to the original writer, now forgotten -- but it wasn t me) She says she s
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                        --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein <cellar47@y...>
                        wrote:
                        >

                        > I wouldn't even go so far as dapperness. Though I
                        > would happily go through life dressed like Belmondo in
                        > "Stavisky."
                        >
                        > Oh David, why don't you, please???

                        > I wouldn't call marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express'
                        > a"Capitalist machine."

                        No one is a capitalist machine. It's something you have to go
                        through (according to the original writer, now forgotten -- but it
                        wasn't me)

                        She says she's gone to Shanghai
                        > "To buy a new hat."

                        One of the greatest lines in movie history, right?


                        But she's dressed to go to Mars.
                        > Travis Banton's creations for her are outside time,
                        > instinctively extravagant, and always in exquisite
                        > taste.
                        >
                        > If that's the essence of capitalism then I'll happily
                        > sign up for it.

                        You've signed. We've all signed.



                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > __________________________________
                        > Do you Yahoo!?
                        > Friends. Fun. Try the all-new Yahoo! Messenger.
                        > http://messenger.yahoo.com/
                      • Zach Campbell
                        ... I m only trying to emphasize that signs have histories and contexts-- that the dismissal of arbitrariness is a pipe dream for an ultimately complicit
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                          David E:
                          > Oh whatever.

                          I'm only trying to emphasize that signs have histories and contexts--
                          that the dismissal of "arbitrariness" is a pipe dream for an
                          ultimately complicit stance. (See Marvin Harris on the
                          counterculture.)

                          > And I'm not intersted in having sex with stick figures.

                          I'll be sure to add this information to my permanent files!

                          > Mine is Curtis Bernhardt's "Possessed"

                          *sigh* ... if only the YahooGroup poll function was activated, we
                          could see which one we like the best. Such as it is, POSSESSED goes
                          on my to-see list. (I thought I already had it there but didn't.)

                          --Zach
                        • Robert Keser
                          ... goes ... POSSESSED is Guy Maddin s favorite as well, judging by an interview at E-Telegraph UK (though the relevant link stubbornly refuses to register
                          Message 12 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                            --- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Zach Campbell" <rashomon82@y...>
                            wrote:
                            > David E:
                            >
                            > > Mine is Curtis Bernhardt's "Possessed"
                            >
                            > *sigh* ... if only the YahooGroup poll function was activated, we
                            > could see which one we like the best. Such as it is, POSSESSED
                            goes
                            > on my to-see list.

                            POSSESSED is Guy Maddin's favorite as well, judging by an interview
                            at E-Telegraph UK (though the relevant link stubbornly refuses
                            to register here).

                            Personally, my choice would be QUEEN BEE by Ranald Macdougall (who
                            contrived the great script for MILDRED PIERCE), which offers some
                            surprisingly precise geometric compositions while Crawford seesaws
                            between passive-aggressive and active-aggressive behavior, then lets
                            her loose in a bedroom to trash all the furniture and crockery in
                            high Citizen Kane style. All this and Fay Wray, too!

                            --Robert Keser
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