Rambling Rose (1991) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna
|It is rare, but Tuna and I do disagree now
and then. In this case we don't disagree on the movie -
two thumbs up, even though it is a chick-flick. But we disagree on the musical score. Tuna
recommends the score unreservedly. I like the Louis
Armstrong material, but absolutely despise the corny Broadway show-tune incidental music that Elmer Bernstein supplied
for the background music. I suppose this is a matter of
my personal preference. Remember, I'm the guy who fell
asleep during Cats, now and forever. I believe that there
is a place for show tunes, but that place is a public bath
where men hang out in order to look at each other naked.
Don't write me any hate mail if you like show tunes. I'm just kidding. I'm the guy who used to sing in these things for a - I was about to write "for a living", but I don't think that is accurate! Let's just say I did them. Why did I stop? Let's put it this way. Here is a career guideline that I will pass on to you younger guys so that you can learn from my wisdom. If you are in any profession that Robert Goulet can do better than you, think about a career change.
Tuna's words are in yellow, mine in white.
|Rambling Rose (1991) stars Laura Dern as a troubled young girl in 1935 who comes to live with a genteel family and help watch kids and assist with the housework. The father, Robert Duvall, and the oldest son (who is in the throes of puberty) notice immediately that Rose radiates charm, cheerfulness and sex appeal. When Daddy (Duvall) comments "Rosebud, I swear to God you are as graceful as a capital letter `S.' You'll give a glow and a shine to these old walls," she falls instantly in love with him. The first time the mother, Diane Ladd, leaves for the evening, Rose throws herself at Daddy. After fondling her bare breast, he has the sense to stop himself, which makes him all the more moral to the three children who have been spying on them.||
|Later that night, Rose visits the oldest
son, Buddy (Lukas Haas) in his bed, hoping to get some of
the guilt off her chest. It is her chest that interests
Buddy as well, and he not only gets to first base with
her, but gets her off with his hand as well. Here is
where we learn that Rose can't say no.
Daddy sees what a threat Rose is to the happiness of his family, and is not sure how long he can resist her. He would like nothing more than to fire her, but the rest of the family, especially his wife, will not hear of it. When Rose decides to look outside the family for the "man of her dreams," her promiscuity causes still more trouble for the family and strengthens Daddy's resolve to fire her. This pretty much sets up the conflict that drives this wonderful character driven drama. I highly recommend it, and don't want to give away the entire plot. I am not alone in liking it.
Director Martha Coolidge (Valley Girls, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, etc) did an amazing job with the screenplay adapted by Calder Willingham from his own autobiographical novel. She also provides one of the better commentary tracks I have heard on the DVD. Young Lukas Haas as Buddy showed acting ability far beyond his years. Robert Duvall was perfect in the roll of Daddy, and Diane Ladd was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a very complex character. Dern was nominated for Best Actress, which marks the first time a real-life mother and daughter have been nominated for Oscars in the same film. This is my choice for Dern's finest performance. I doubt that any man could watch her as Rose and not be completely captivated by the character.
Director Coolidge clearly understands cinematography, and worked closely with DP Johnny E. Jensen and Art Director Christiaan Wagener and set decorator Robert Gould to produce the look and feel. Elmer Bernstein provided a suitably subtle score, and an early Louis Armstrong recording of Dixieland was used as a sort of theme song. Unable to find a suitable master of the Armstrong recording, they carefully remastered the only 78 recording they could find. This attention to detail is one of the reasons Coolidge succeeded so well with Rambling Rose.
Scoop's additional thoughts from his 1999 review:
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