The Emma Project

The Emma Project (The Rajes #4) by Sonali Dev

When I first read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev and really enjoyed it, but each book since then has gotten worse and worse.

Before I read this book I suspected that I wasn’t going to like this book from the previous one as the person who is supposed to be Knightley is terrible. I mean she is manipulative, takes advantage of Yash, and exhibits truly horrible abusive behavior as she tries to force him to stay with her.

But I tried to keep an open mind, even though those actions are nothing like Mr. Knightley. But I was over this book in the beginning pages.

Picking up were we left off in Incense and Sensibility; we have Knightlina (Naina)/Mr. Knightley and Vansh Raje/Emma are in the balcony after Yash won the governor’s seat in the previous book, and they are joined by Yash (Edward Ferrars) and India (Elinor Dashwood) who have left his party for the balcony to get it on. They are then joined by his sister Nisha and brother-in-law Neel Graff who have also left the party to get it on. They interrupt them and then who should come along but Ashna Raje and Rico Silva who are also getting it on. The only one missing is DJ and Trishna. And lo and behold, they have been there in the pool house the whole time. Really? There is a fine like between cute and saccharine; with this being the latter.

Naina has a foundation she has been working on and was supposed to get an endowment from Jiggy Mehta but after she and Yash are a no go he has instead given it to her and Vansh forcing them to work together. Vansh has been traveling around the globe helping people, but all Dev seems to want to talk about regarding his personality is that “he’s hot”. We don’t really know much else about him. Vansh agrees to take the money and will create an app to solve homelessness. Why has he concentrated on homelessness? Well he found a guy working on Yash’s campaign who is homeless and it opened his eyes to the fact that homelessness can exist in his home town. Even though he’s 24 and from the Bay Area, he’s never seen homelessness before 2022. Wow, homelessness in the Bay Area has existed before I was born. And I’m older than Vansh. I know this is supposed to make me “feel” for Vansh; but instead just makes me think wow this guy is so privileged that he’s been all around the globe and just now realized that gee whiz homelessness exists in America.

Seriously

Also they don’t even go over this but Yash can’t afford to pay his staff enough to live off the streets. Wow, he sure cares about the average man.

So not to be rude but I feel like this author doesn’t understand what it is like to grow up in California. I really felt that in the previous book a lot, especially as there is an absence of Latino people and no one even mentions the Latino vote which really angers me as a Latina who grew up in California, and has lived in the Bay Area, and knows what governors always talk about when they run. But I digress…

Anyways, Naina and Vansh fight constantly, yep that’s right they are NOT friends, and even though they fight through a majority of the book but for then for some reason end up falling in love and together blah, blah, blah.

And then Esha is suddenly healed when she meets Siddharta Dashwood the brother of India and China. And the two fall in love and are married even though their conversations barely make any sense.

Huh

So this book was really boring I was only a few chapters in it and skimmed the rest of the book as it held zero of my attention.

I really did not care for it as Vansh and Naina are nothing like their counterparts. To be honest with you I think Dev wants to write a story about expectations that Indian women face and abuse in Indian households rather than a reimagined Jane Austen novel, but the problem was she had already mentioned in her first book that she had four Jane Austen books planned out and I’m sure she was also contracted with her publisher, so she had to complete it those stories-instead of writing her stories.

And why do I say that? Because the character of Mr. Knightley is a kind and caring friend who loves his family and would do anything for them; along with anything for the one he loves-even if it means giving up his home, status of man of the house, etc. The way he treats Mr. Woodhouse, Emma, his annoying brother John; is very admirable; but instead that is replaced with a woman who has made herself be alone as she’s has been hurt and abused by her father. She not only has no friends but no boyfriends; and is sealed like a tomb. Do you see any similarities?

Then we have Emma, in the novel she is a wealthy woman who grew up with no one really pushing her or making her apply herself; getting bored she sets herself to matchmaking and helping a girl that doesn’t know her background or history. In this Vansh is a man that has gone around the globe in the peace corps but we never hear anything that he does and we don’t know anything about him other than he knows everyone and is “hot”. Like that’s it. His family also hates Naina and all try to dissuade them from being together. He wants to help Hari “sort of” but his main focus from page one is getting Naina in bed.

Ugh…this guy

She also took one of the most comedic books in Austen’s repertoire and made it depressing.

Also have you noticed that since the first book all everyone has terrible parents and are all in awe of the HSH Rajes. Like DJ had a good family- but Ashna’s parents were terrible; Rico had a terrible father and then he has an aunt we know nothing about and one Rico doesn’t even go to see or call when he’s back in the US so I’m guessing he doesn’t like her (I mean family day on the cooking show she wasn’t invited); India and China have a mom who’s not truly terrible but she’s not memorable or “the” family the Rajes are. In this the adoration is extremely thick!

When I first heard that Dav was going to stop her Austen retellings after this book, I was sad. I was interested to see how she would do Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. But after reading this, I realized I am more than happy for this to be over. I think Dev was done with this series a while ago and that she needs to move on to writing other things, what she really wants to write now.

For more Emma, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma

For more Emma adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

For more on The Rajes, go to Incense and Sensibility

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Beside Two Rivers

I Attended the Bridgerton Experience in San Francisco

I have yet to review the Bridgerton TV show or the book series (it’s on my very long to-do list I swear!), but that can all wait. Let’s talk about the ball!

I first heard about the Bridgerton Experience after my friend attended the Los Angeles one. I was sad to see I had missed it (as I hadn’t heard of it) and even more so after seeing further photos and videos by MissKittyCatalan and autumnsarahstory.

I looked at reviews and other info on it, and of course as it usually goes, when you search up one thing you end up receiving all kinds of ads promoting that thing, in my case the Bridgerton Experience. For once I was really happy to see the ads as I discovered they would be holding more balls and that they had expanded it to San Francisco.

San Francisco is much closer to me than LA and after some more investigating I found that they gave you a great rate for groups of 6 and more. Now that I was armed with dates, times, and prices; it just came down to finding people to join me.

First things first I posted on my Facebook page to try and get as many friends notified (and possibly willing to join); along with reaching out to friends I knew who would want to go (or be willing to do me the favor of attending). I checked back in a week and had no takers from Facebook, and could only get three friends interested, as the others felt it wasn’t right for them as they had no clue what Bridgerton was about.

A group of four is better than one, and after looking at all the prices and times we settled on Sunday August 14th at 2:30. 2:30 was cheaper than the evening and we all felt the price was the most fitting for what we would be getting in the “experience”. (Although by the way, I just checked the calendar and prices for the 5:30 are now cheaper than 2:30. I’m not sure why it changed as before they were the same price as the 2:30 show). You have the option to purchase VIP tickets, but from the reviews VIP only seemed to get a place to sit, a free glass of champagne, and to go into the experience a few minutes before the rest of the crowd. As you weren’t really getting that much of an advantage over the regular priced guests, we all felt that it wasn’t worth the higher cost of the ticket, (unless we had been able to get that great group rate). Instead we all bought the regular tickets.

According to the research I did the ball included: multiple photo areas, a” paint your portrait” photo area, merchandise available for purchase, costumes from the show being on display, a scavenger hunt, guests being presented to the Queen, a ballet performance with aerials, being taught to dance, and a ball. Plus one lucky person will be chosen as the “diamond” (that is the Belle of the season). I was so excited and hoped that it would be me!

Please pick me.

After tickets were purchased the next thing we was needed to figure out of course was what to wear? Luckily I had that all taken care of. As you might recall, last year I held a Jane Austen birthday party and MadsenCreations designed and made my regency gown. The gown is blue and was inspired by the one Daphne wears in Bridgerton and the dress Lydia wears in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Since this was a ball and men would be present, (unlike my party) I needed gloves! I tried to find some opera full length gloves as I wanted them to go all the way up to my bicep, but I was unable to find any online that would arrive in time (and of course the Halloween store in my town was opening the day of the ball). I ended up wearing elbow length gloves, which turned out to not be the best idea. As I wanted to take a lot of pictures and my phone is a touch screen, I had to keep taking one of my gloves on and off. MadsenCreations wore small gloves which was a much better idea.

As you can see one glove to take photos.

After that the only thing left to plan was my hair. Which you all know can be the most difficult.

I cut my hair in May so I was unable to do the hairstyle I did last year for my party. I wanted to try and do the look Jennifer Ehle has in Pride and Prejudice (1995) but it didn’t come out right. Instead I did a very high bun on the back of my head vis-a-vie Miss Jane Erstwhile in Austenland, but only had a couple tendrils down on the sides of my face, copying the look of Miss Kate Sharma on the book cover of The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton #2).

Everything was falling into place. We drove down the night before and stayed with my Tia, spending all Sunday getting ready! As we didn’t want to have to worry about finding parking we hired a lovely carriage to bring us to the ball, a Honda Accord.

The confirmation email told you to arrive 30 minutes before the event and we arrived a few minutes after 2. We were able to take our “yours truly” photo right away (no line) and see all the dresses in the waiting area. My friend and her roommate joined us a little later and we took another pic in the “Yours Truly” area. They also had gloves, tiaras, jewelry, and more available for purchase. My friend forgot her gloves and was able to purchase them at the little shop.

After that we waited around a bit looking at everyone’s outfits before they allowed us in. I noticed two things right away; 1) there were no single men, each guy was with a girl or group of girls. And 2) no man that I could see was dressed in a Regency costume. This was a complete bummer as I really, really wanted to get a pic with a Regency man. All I could do was hope I would be able to snag an actor or perhaps someone would come late?

When the experience begins you have the choice to shop, walk around, order drinks, and take photos. They have a wisteria arch, “paint your portrait”, the queen’s throne, and lots of other decorated areas. It was absolutely beautiful in there.

Xandraleigh had warned me to wait on the wisteria walkway as it gets incredibly crowded with people. Instead we went right to the portrait line as there was hardly anybody there. The portrait was fun and the picture came out well, although I do wish we had been given more instructions as we weren’t quite sure what exactly to do at first, but eventually figured it out.

After taking our portraits we were at a loss of what to do next. We didn’t want to take a picture on the Queen’s chair as the line was super long and instead walked around a bit looking at the Bridgerton shop and trying to see what else the experience had to offer.

There wasn’t much else but photo areas and a few more clothes from the show. I liked looking at the costumes, but there weren’t as many costumes as I thought there would be.

While we were taking photos we heard an announcement and quickly ran back to the Queen’s chair area to see what was happening. The Queen had arrived, and we tried to see her although it was really hard with all the people. She sat at her throne and Lady Whistledown, became our narrator for the events. She told us that we were to be presented to the queen and to try our best to impress her so that we will be in the running for the “diamond”. We were also told that as Whistledown couldn’t be there herself she sent another in her place, and challenged us to try and discover which of the guests she was. This woman, who’s name I forget, gave commentary on every curtesy, being quite sassy. I was excited for this, but the directions weren’t quite clear. They told everyone to move to the front by the Queen but I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to line up, go to the right or left, etc. We all kind of moved in a group together like a giant herd of cattle and the actors picked people to be presented.

I had five people in front of me and then all of a sudden they were saying I was next in line and urging me forward. When I stepped up the Queen wasn’t paying attention but talking to an attendant. I wasn’t sure what to do and stopped there, like a deer in headlights, and then curtseyed. Suffice to say, my curtesy did not get rave reviews and I did not impress the Queen.

The rest of my party did very well and one of us was even given a note saying that they had impressed the Queen and were in the running to be the “diamond”.

After that we decided to try to take a picture in the archway as we didn’t have anything else to do and weren’t sure how long the presenting would take. Here is where I wish had a program to guide us, or had opened up the ballroom so we could dance while waiting for the next “performance”.

As I said we headed to the archway as the line had gone down, although it still took a while for us to get our photo, even though we were only behind three couples. The problem was everyone wanted to take a ton of photos and videos. I’m all for people doing their thing but I do wish they would be a little more considerate of the time and others. There is only 90 minutes and a lot of people in line; you don’t need to take 5 photos together, 5 individual shots (each), and 5 videos.

When it was finally our turn, we heard another announcement, quickly snapped a couple group shots, and went hurrying back to see that they had opened the ballroom.

Here is where you need to be assertive and try to get as close to the floor as possible as they choose guests to open up the dance floor and dance with the actors. I was too nice and unable to get up there, so I was not chosen.

Aw!

But seriously, it was still fun to watch. I do wish they had a bigger ballroom or less people as it was a little hard to see everything. I was in the back on a little stage area, so I was able to kind of look over people. But as I’m short It was hard at times to get a good look into everything. They then began the first part of the ballet that I thought told the story of Daphne and Simon, but others have said they think it is supposed to represent Kate and Anthony. Either way it was beautiful.

After the first dance, they brought out a woman dressed in burlesque type outfit and she was really out of place. She taught us a pseudo-regency dance and it was fun; although hard to follow along as you couldn’t hear what she was saying and there were a lot of people crowded around the dance floor. She does a lot of hand movements and when doing it with all the people attempting to follow, you might hit someone or have someone hit you.

Then our dancers returned and performed beautifully! I loved the dancing with the silks. My favorite part was when they danced with the chandelier. It was so stunning and worth it.

After the second dance the two split to either side of the room and taught us a regency-esque dance. This was a lot of fun and as I came to this ball to dance I was not going fo let an opportunity slip through my fingers. I’m not ashamed fo say I pushed my way forward so that I could be in the dance, I was going after my dream! I was hoping for my own Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey moment, however, as mentioned before there were no men who came alone so I ended up dancing with a very nice woman who was an excellent dancer.

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.“

Julian Barnes

After we were taught the dance and danced away a bit, they moved us off the dance floor and the dancers finished their performance with the violinist even getting into it. It was fantastic! The violinist was amazing!

Afterwards, the Queen came out and the two characters were married. The stand in for Lady Whistledown was also revealed (in a modern dress, I never would have guessed that was her) and they chose the “diamond”. In everything I’d seen online the diamond always had a stunning Regnecy outfit. This woman they picked wore a black Victorian dress which, not to be rude, made me think of a widow (as women in that time period only wore all black if they were a widow.) I hadn’t seen her before but she must have impressed the queen to be picked. I would have liked to see her curtesy and learn a few tips.

The stand in for Lady Whistledown, the diamond in the portrait, and the Queen.

The queen then left and they played 2010s party music and allowed you to dance the last 15 minutes of the program. We enjoyed it, but were all a little disappointed that there wasn’t more dancing.

Emma (1996) AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow Version

As we were exiting the ballroom I did manage to find one man (not an actor) dressed in Regency clothes and convinced him to take a picture with me! Since I didn’t ask his permission to post the photo and he’s not wearing a mask, I won’t share it here, but I am very grateful that he decided to dress up.

The only thing that was promised that I didn’t see was the scavenger hunt. I saw on multiple reviews that they had clues you were to solve to get to the next one, but I couldn’t find any clues or information on it.

Mystery, you say?

Afterwards, we decided to get food as we all had forgotten to eat when we were all getting ready for the ball. We also needed time to share and discuss the ball. We tried to find a resturant nearby, but a lot were closed on Sunday. We eventually settled on Chez Maman (Hayes Valley) on 401 Gough St. We walked down there as trying to find a parking spot in San Francisco is near impossible. As we were walking people commented on our outfits and complimented us.

We are hot!

Chez Maman was packed but they were able to sit us outside and even though things took some time, understandable as almost every table was full, it was the best service I have had even pre-Covid and everything was absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend stopping there after the ball.

So was it worth it? Well this was what I was hoping to get out of the experience:

  • Have fun with my friends
  • Dance with a handsome stranger
  • Get my picture taken with a man dressed in Regency clothes
  • Dance at the ball
  • See the lovely clothes from the show
  • Take a nice picture
  • Enjoy the ballet!

So would I recommend this experience? I definitely would. We had a lot of fun and everything was absolutely beautiful.

If you do attend my advice is:

  • To be aware of time (you only have 90 minutes).
  • Group photos are definitely the way to go if you want to be able to do everything.
  • Don’t be afraid to assert yourself in order to be a part of the action. If you want the best experience, you are going to need to be front and center.
  • If you are planning on taking lots of photos wear short gloves or no gloves at all
  • Don’t wear anything too long as with all the people you will get stepped on.
  • Don’t wear too many layers. The ballroom gets packed and there is no air conditioning going, so it gets hot in there.

For more Regency events, go to Tossing a Costume Together + Regency Runway

One Final Thing I Have to Do… and Then I’ll Be Free of the Past.: Vertigo (1958)

One final thing I have to do… and then I’ll be free of the past.”

It’s time for our annual Alfred Hitchcock pick! I was actually planning on doing another film, but things happened, as they do, and I switched it out with this movie.

Now as you may know from previous posts, I love Alfred Hitchcock movies. I like that he has a variety of characters from all kinds of backgrounds and motivations, but typically they are just an average person who is caught up in an abnormal circumstance.

The use of lighting and shots is always amazing:

He also always knew how to pick a story-choosing one that is well done, mysterious, suspenseful, and adding his special macabre tendencies.

Now I love almost every film of his, there are only a few that I would watch once and that is good enough for me. And with those films, even though I don’t love them or feel a need to watch again and again I can still appreciate the direction he was going in. But there are two of his films that I hate: Vertigo and Marnie.

Both of those films have a man who is our protagonist and “hero”, who horribly mistreats and abuses the woman he “loves”. While Marnie has the interesting plot of why Marnie (Tippi Hedrun) does what she does, a twist that is leads to understanding her character; I still cannot stand Sean Connery’s character or the fact we are supposed to want them to be together when he not only blackmails Marnie into marrying him, but rapes her.

But we aren’t talking about that film today. We are talking about the other Alfred Hitchcock film I hate: Vertigo.

A lot of people claim this is Hitchcock’s best work but I wholeheartedly disagree as I think a lot of his other films could easily knock this film out as they have better pacing, a better storyline, and I think the actors and actresses did just as fine a job or better.

For me I really, really don’t like the storyline. How this film came to be was that Hitchcock really liked the book She Who Was No More, by the writing team of Boileau-Narcejac, but lost out to Henri-Georges Clouzet. When the book this film was based on, From Among the Dead, came out-he immediately went to bid for it. Im going to give a quick summary and then I will share what it is about this particular film that I cannot stand.

The film starts off with our main character John “Scottie” Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart), a cop who has left the police as he has severe fear of heights that caused him to let a criminal get away. His best friend, Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes), is in love with him but he doesn’t care for her and at time can be quite rude and cruel to her. He reveals that an old friend of theirs reached out o him, wanting to meet up.

Scotty goes to see his friend, Gavin Elster, who tells Scotty about his wife and how she is acting strange. He wants to pay Scotty to watch over her and find out what is going on. Scotty does, witnesses Madeleine (Kim Novak) doing a lot of strange things, falls in love with his he (even though it is his friend’s wife), but Madeline can’t be with him as she is possessed by her ancestor and has to kill herself.

Scotty you need to back off. This girl needs help-not a relationship.

Madeleine goes to the mission bell tower and throws herself off, Scotty is heartbroken at losing her (even though he has only known her for a very small, small, amount of time.

So the pacing of this film is extremely slow, especially as it is obvious that this is not a ghost story as Hitchcock never does that. I knew from the first time she tried to kill herself this isn’t the whole story. Either she faked her death, her husband got a body double so he could kill her, she got a body double to get her husband arrested or something, but no ghosts or demon possession.

I also can’t get behind a main character who is in love with another who is not in a clear state of mind. I mean it would be different if he loved her before, this was a traumatic event that caused this momentary break from reality, etc. But he just met this woman and he’s attracted to a person who believes they are possessed by their dead relative and keeps trying to kill themselves as something inside them wants to die. If you can’t handle a normal relationship with a mostly well adjusted person like Midge (she does paint herself like the dead woman so only mostly well adjusted), and instead your ideal type is unavailable, not in a good mental or emotional stare, and in a state of depression; you clearly need to see a counselor and figure out some things.

Scotty becomes depressed, has a breakdown ( I would argue he was already having one) and goes to a sanitarium. When he has “recovered” keeps thinking he sees Madeleine everywhere and runs into a woman that looks so much like her. The woman, Judy Barton (Kim Novak), starts dating him even though he makes it clear repeatedly that he is only interested in her because she looked like the girl he really loved. I’m like girl no! Run away! Run far away from this situation!

He then makes her change everything about her remaking the woman he really loves, although not really as he didn’t even “know” her, other than she was out of her mind and pretty. Everything about Judy must go until she is more and more like Madeleine. He even makes her dye her hair so she can be an exact replica.

Judy: If I let you change me, will that do it? If I do what you tell me, will you love me?

Scottie: Yes. Yes.

Judy: All right. All right then, I’ll do it. I don’t care anymore about me

Again so, so, so, so, so, many red flags. But does Judy leave? No, poor Judy continues to stay in this abuse and acquiesce to everything he asks because she loves him, and mistakenly believes he loves her too.

One of the worst parts for me is when he forces her to change her hair.

Judy: Couldn’t you like me, just me the way I am? When we first started out, it was so good; w-we had fun. And… and then you started in on the clothes. Well, I’ll wear the darn clothes if you want me to, if, if you’ll just, just like me.

Scottie: Judy, please, it can’t matter to you.

Judy: Oh, no!

Scottie: The color of your hair…

I hate this scene with the fury of a thousand suns as not only is completely wiping out her identity to become his perfect woman, but he went for the hair. A girl’s hair is more than hair, it is a part of their identity, a mark of their femininity, a connection to their culture and family, etc. I have never met a woman who did not care about her hair, it might not be her sole focus, they make cut it short or shave their head, but there is no way they don’t “care”.

It turns out that Judy and the Madeleine he met are actually the same person. His friend Gavin wanted to kill his wife for the insurance money and hired a double to make everyone think she was crazy and wanting to kill herself. He then hire Scotty to follow her as he needed a witness of her behavior and mental state; along with choosing Scotty as he knew with his fear of heights he won’t be able to follow her up the bell tower to stop her. Judy wants to tell him the truth, but doesn’t know how. He eventually figures it out when he sees the necklace Madeleine wore, the one that belonged to the relative possessing her. Judy spills and Scotty decides they must go back to the tower to right this wrong.

They do and Scotty throws her off the bell tower, killing her.

Critic and film analyst call this film a “story of a man who develops a romantic obsession with the image of an enigmatic woman…” but that is not what this is. It is a story of a man who is NOT romantic, and is obsessive, controlling, and abusing a woman. He insists he loves her, but he doesn’t love either woman, he just wants to control them. He actually follows the cycle below with Judy.

I also believe Hitchcock was really working through some feelings when making this film. Alfred Hitchcock married and stayed married to his wife, but he became in “love” with Ingrid Bergman after working with her. He used to make passes at her, was extremely coarse and sexually harassing her. He even spread a story that she got him into a bedroom at a party and demanded he have sex with her, but she always insisted it wasn’t true (and I believe her). But Ingrid was unattainable, at least until she divorced her husband for another man, and not just any man another director! And one she had a child with. I think Madeline represents Ingrid Bergman, a married woman he wanted and believed wanted him but couldn’t be together. That line Madeline says about how they can’t be together because someone within her won’t allow it, I think that is supposed to represent Ingrid Bergman’s pregnancy. Madeleine dies, and in a way Ingrid Bergman died as she left Hollywood.

After Bergman he turned his obsession to Grace Kelly, treating her the same way he treated Bergman. But she left him too, in 1956 she married the prince of Monaco and too left Hollywood. The the year before this film came out, in 1958, Ingrid Bergman left her husband and married another director, but that director was not Alfred Hitchcock. I think he had a lot of anger as these women he “obsessed over” but couldn’t have. Grace Kelly being Judy, a creation that betrayed him (marrying and leaving Hollywood) and too had to die in order for him to start again.

Which he does as Alfred Hitchcock then truly became Scotty as he found a new girl, another “Judy”, as he was obsessed with Tippi Hedren and controlled everything about her. He wouldn’t let anyone talk to her-unless they were filming, and abused her. She tried to talk to the studio heads but he was such a money maker they refused to do anything. And when she refused him, he blackballed her. Too bad she wasn’t able to have justice. If you would like to know more I really recommend reading Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto. Just like the horrible way Scotty treats Judy trying to make her his picture of a perfect woman, until he has no need of her, so Hitchcock treated Hedrun.

So I think this falling for a woman that can’t be with you and trying to recreate that creation only to have it not be with you again-plus the fact that the lead murders her something not seen in his previous films, most of the male leads are wrongly accused, or in Rebecca have a moral loophole. I think he was acting out his anger and passion that he felt toward the rejection/losing these women.

I think Midge is Alma, the woman that puts up with witnessing this destructive behavior and is their for the person, even though they don’t really deserve it.

And before you start thinking I’m too conspiracy with this thought one of people credited with the screenplay is Samuel A. Taylor who never read the original novel, but only was given Hitchcock’s outline of the story. So the plot we have comes solely from what Hitchcock wanted it to say.

Hmmm…

I also don’t like that our lead murders someone, this is something not seen in his previous films, as most of the male leads are wrongly accused, or as in Rebecca have a moral loophole. I think Hitchcock was acting out his anger and passion that he felt toward the rejection/losing these women.

With the content of this film, I will end on this:

I Am a Survivor of Domestic Violence and I Know Help is Out There:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

It can also look like the below cycle

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

I Could Shoot You in the Middle of Mardi Gras and They Can’t Touch Me…: Double Jeopardy (1999)

I could shoot you in the middle of Mardi Gras and they can’t touch me.

I saw this movie years ago and enjoyed the suspense and the game-of-cat-and-mouse. When I was flipping through Amazon prime, I spotted it and decided to watch it again.

So the film starts out with the very wealthy Parson family, Nicholas (Bruce Greenwood) and Libby (Ashley Judd), hosting a fundraiser for the school their son Matty attends. They seem like the dream couple who have it all with the perfect relationship.

So sweet

Then to top it off, Nicholas surprises Libby with a sailboat. They are going to test it out before buying with a romantic night. Libby’s best friend and Matty’s teacher, Angela Green watches him for them.The two head off and have a romantic night. Everything is perfect.

Aw! How sweet!

When Libby awakes the next day she finds her husband gone! Blood everywhere! And her facing a murder charge.

Help me! I’m confused!

She tries to beat it, but finds herself in prison. She signs guardenship over to Angela, who sweetly visits every week with her son. But then one day Angela doesn’t come.

Soon it is a month.

Libby doesn’t know what to do but gets an idea from one of her cellmates to try and find her. Libby calls the school pretending to be Angela and gets the forwarding address. She then calls Angela, who is shocked that she tracked her down to San Francisco. Libby demands to talk to Matty, Angela lets her, and then Libby hears the last thing she ever would.

Matty: Daddy!

Her husband is alive? Alive?

Help me! I’m confused!

The line goes dead and that’s all Libby has. So here is Libby-imprisoned for a crime she did not commit, lost her son, lost the money, and stuck in prison-with no one wanting to listen to her or help her. All is bleak

But then one of the cellmates comes to her with an idea.

Margaret Skolowski: Pay attention, because this is the best g****** advice you’re ever gonna get. Ever hear of something called double jeopardy? Fifth Amendment to the constitution? [Libby shakes her head left to right] Huh? No? Well, double jeopardy provides that ‘no person may be tried for the same crime twice.’ You got that? Keep stirrin’. The state says you already killed your husband. They can’t convict you of it a second time. That means that when you leave here, and you track him down, and when you find him you can kill him. That’s right. You can walk right up to him in Times Square, put a gun to his head and pull the f****** trigger, and there’s nothin’ anybody can do about it.[Libby makes a slight smile] Kinda makes you feel warm and tingly all over, don’t it? That’s right. keep stirrin’.

So Libby decides that is what she will do. She becomes a model prisoner, works out, and survives on knowing that she can get him and get away with it.

She gets parole and ends up in a halfway house that is run by Travis (Tommy Lee Jones). She then heads on a quest to find her husband, and getting her son; killing him if necessary.

You are going down

***Spoiler Alert***

So Libby breaks into the school her son went to in order to get information on Angela-like her social security number and such in order to find her. She gets caught and arrested, but uses her wit to get out of it while they are ferrying to the city.

She then uses that and her husband’s love of painting to track him down to New Orleans, and to a bachelor auction fundraiser.

She tries to get her son, but Nicholas, now Jonathan Deveraux, tries to murder her again. But Libby won’t give up.

I am not done

One of the best parts is near the end when Travis starts to think that Libby is right and asks for a DMV picture of Parsons to see if he could be Jonathan Deveraux. The picture comes in and it is a picture of someone else.

Hmm…

But later he tells Nicholas how he decided that Parsons is a common name, and ran it again-finding proof of his picture. Then he and Libby plan a way to frame him!

[Libby shoots the painting behind Nick’s head]

Libby Parsons: [Libby smiles] I haven’t felt that good in six years. I don’t want to kill you, Nick. I just want you to suffer like I suffered.

Travis Lehman: What she means, Nick, is, you’re going to prison – For murder.

Nick Parsons: Who did I supposedly murder?

Libby Parsons: Me.

Nick Parsons: All you’ve got is an old fax photo.

Libby Parsons: Which supplies the motive. Your wife, whom you had framed, tracks you down, and to keep her from exposing you, you kill her.

Fantastic scene! The end is great and Libby finally gets her vengeance and justice.

And reunited with her son!!!

So sweet

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: Fashion Model (1945)

It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

It’s the end of the world

You know, I was having a hard time thinking of what movie to open with. What ’60s movie do I like?

Hmm…

Then I stupidly remembered The Birds. Of course!

It’s perfect!

This movie is one of the best Alfred Hitchcock movies ever. I simply adore this film so much. It has everything that makes up a good film. And I can just watch it over and over again.

So I don’t remember what exactly got me into Alfred Hitchcock, but I became obsessed with his films. I do know how I was introduced to The Birds. It was through Ann M. Martin, author of The Baby-Sitters Club.

Huh?

I loved the BSC books as a kid and read them all even belonging in the reading club that sent you two books a month and a little newsletter. I don’t remember if the newsletter or a book mentioned it, but I remember reading a note by Ann M. Martin about how she loved the film The Birds and because no one she knew had a VCR they could only watch it when it was on TV. Whenever it aired they would plan a sleepover and watch it with friends.

I can’t stop watching!

I became consumed with the idea of watching it, did and loved it. It was the first Alfred Hitchcock film I ever owned, me ordering it and planning on purchasing one every year on my birthday or Christmas and having the whole collection when I was an adult (did not happen sadly).

Later, a friend of mine. knowing how much I loved it, took me to Bodega Bay so I could see it in person and all the sites used in the film. It was so cool seeing everything and I later took many more trips out there. Here I am with the house that is used as a schoolhouse in the film. I blurred myself out as there are a lot of weirdos on the internet, no offense dear readers.

They also used to have a museum full of things from the movie and marketing/promotional materials, but it always had weird hours, then they closed it, then they had an awesome shop which doubled as a mini museum-but then the person died who owned it and the collection moved. Here I am with an item when they still had it.

Back in 2011, Tippi Hedren actually came out to do a promotional thing at Bodega Bay. I lived near there when I was going to school, but unfortunately I could not go and meet her as I had scheduled a trip home to be with family. However I had truly amazing and awesome friends who went out and stood in line and got her autograph my DVD. I tried to pay them back, but they would not let me know the price if it or let me do so.

I’m lucky

So while it was an amazing film done by an amazing director there is a sad twinge to the story as well. Alfred Hitchcock was obsessed with Tippi Hedren and controlled her, he wouldn’t let anyone talk to her-unless they were filming, and just was plan awful to her, abusing her really. She tried to talk to the studio heads but he was such a money maker they refused to do anything. And when she refused him, he blackballed her. Too bad she wasn’t able to have justice. If you would like to know more I really recommend reading Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies by Donald Spoto

So that’s enough background, let’s move on to the review!

The film is based on a book by Daphne Du Maurier, this being the third of her works being published into a film-following Jamaica Inn and Rebecca. However, this story and her story have nothing in common besides birds attacking. And before we discuss the film, let’s watch the trailer.

So the film starts off in San Francisco where we have Melanie Daniels, Tippi Hedren, going into a bird shop to pick up her myna bird.

***little side note Alfred Hitchcock strolls on by***

****Second side note, by the way there is no music track-just bird noises****

*****And can I just say she is wearing a stunning green suit. I love it and wish I owned one just like it, although I have nowhere to wear it to.*****

Melanie notices a lot of birds in the air, thinking it odd, but moving along.

Huh?

Unfortunately her bird has not arrived yet. The shopkeeper goes to call and she waits along at the desk. In walks the gorgeous Rod Taylor, and Melanie decides the same thing. Pretending to be the shopkeeper so that she can talk to him and put the moves on him.

He wants lovebirds for his sister’s birthday. He can tell she is not a shopkeeper but is trying to embarrass her, asking her questions she has no clue to the answers. When he asks to see a love bird it escapes around the shop causing havoc. And the real shopkeeper comes out to try and catch it. He reveals to Melanie that he knows who she is and has been playing her the whole time. It turns out that she went to court over a broken glass window and he was there too. He’s a lawyer and believed she should have served time for what she did, not gone off scot-free because she is a wealthy woman with a famous father.

She’s offended, but not so that she takes down this handsome man’s license, has a friend of her father run the plate, buys him lovebirds,and tracks down the address of a Mr. Mitch Brenner.

She’s got it bad, and is slightly creepy-but I kind of understand as Rod Taylor is a dreamboat. Who wouldn’t want to run into him again.

She brings the birds to his house and plans to leave them outside with a cheeky note, but his neighbor informs him that Mitch is gone for the weekend to visit his family in Bodega Bay.

A little funny that neighbor knows so much, but hey this is the ’60s. People actually knew their neighbors.

So Melanie drives the curvy winding coast road to Bodega Bay, which I have done plenty of times, and I always thought it was weird that the birds never flap around but just move with the vehicle. They don’t act like normal birds. It has always been my theory that they are the demon seed that start the revolution against people. They are just too quiet and creepy.

This is the only video I could find. There was originally no music

She goes to the post office, which you can visit, so that she can find Mitch’s address. The postmaster shows her the way to go. When you go now everything is compeletly different, but you can still look across the water like she did.

The Tides restaurant still exists, although it has been redone as there was a fire. In fact they were allowed to use it for filming only if the main male character was named after the owner of the Tides, Mitch Brenner. So yes, that is how Rod Taylor’s character got his name.

Melanie asks for the name of Mitch’s sister, but the postmaster doesn’t know. He directs her to the school and the schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), to get the actual info. Turns out the name is Cathy.

Annie asks Melanie a few questions about her relationship to Mitch. Hmm, sounds like there is some history there.

Annie Hayworth: Did you drive up from San Francisco by the coast road?

Melanie Daniels: Yes.

Annie Hayworth: Nice drive.

Melanie Daniels: It’s very beautiful.

Annie Hayworth: Is that where you met Mitch?

Melanie Daniels: Yes.

Annie Hayworth: I guess that’s where everyone meets Mitch.

Melanie heads out into a rented boat with the birds. She sneaks up to their house in heels, not an easy feat, goes into the house and drops off the birds.

Now Tippi Hedren may be a beautiful woman but I would be extremely creeped out if someone did that to me. I mean she doesn’t even know him but tracked down not only Mitch’s home address, but boyhood address. A bit creepy and stalkerish.

Mitch, however, is besotted.

As Melanie heads back across the bay, Mitch takes his car to meet her.

******Can I stop and go on a slight sidebar here? Feel free to skip over if you wish. I just love Rod Taylor in that white sweater. I don’t know what it is but he is extra dreamy.

Drooling is over back to the movie*******

So Melanie gets dive-bombed by a gull, and pretty badly hurt and bleeding. Head wounds are the worst. Here is were I guess it starts, the first shot in the revolution.

******Side note: The man who asks Mitch what happened, is the real Mitch Brenner.*******

Back to the film. They go into the resturant where Mitch tends to her wounds. She questions him, wile he tries to get to why she came. Melanie tries to play off her stalkerish by saying it was on the way to visit Annie, the schoolteacher, but Mitch knows that its a lie, therefore confirming to us that there is something between Annie and him, or was.

Hmm…

Melanie tries to play it cool, but she can’t hide the fact she had the serious hots for him. Come on Melanie, you tracked him down-don’t try to be haughty.

Mitch’s mom Lydia comes in and is introduced to Melanie. Lydia is the original ice queen and horror future-mother-in-law. Ouch. And Jessica Tandy is a great actress, one line “Oh I see”, packed with serious weight. Let the games begin.

Ouch

Melanie is trying to head home but get tricked into coming to dinner as “she was staying the weekend” and won’t give up her lie. A girl has her pride after all.

She goes to Annie’s and wheedles staying there for the night. She tells Annie that she didn’t plan on staying long, which Annie replies she knows. That’s weighty right there, she knows as she didn’t plan on staying long either.

Melanie goes to dinner and meets cute little Cathy-friendly, cheery, adorable child. They mention that there is something wring with the chickens, They don’t like the feed…maybe because they are craving something else…like human flesh!

When Lydia calls her supplier it turns out her chickens aren’t the only ones on hunger strike. She agrees to see the farmer tomorrow to see if something is wrong with the chickens. And there is!

I love how Alfred Hitchcock plays the foreground and background against each other, both parts having things happen that go with the story, important, tension building, and just plan good.

We also found out that law and order Mitch is a defense attorney for “hoodlums and criminals”, interesting. Definitely a deep character.

Wow, there is more to him than I thought.

Cathy invites Melanie to her birthday party the next day, while in the kitchen Mitch and his mom start talking. They have a slight weird relationship as in someways his mom speaks to him as a child and in others their relationship is more spousal. Not that anything incestuous is going on, but as if that is the role that his mother put him in after his dad died.

We find out that there is a lot of interesting things in Melanie’s life. She jumps into fountains naked, tours Europe, and is always in the papers. A 1960s Sabrina van der Woodsen Debutante thats always doing something.

Mitch roots out the truth from Melanie about Annie, and starts goading her about her past misadventures, but Melanie isn’t having any of it. Good looks can only carry you so far Mitch.

Mitch Brenner: What about the letter you wrote me, is that a lie, too?

Melanie Daniels: No, I wrote the letter.

Mitch Brenner: Well what did it say?

Melanie Daniels: It said ‘Dear Mister Brenner, I think you need these lovebirds after all. They may help your personality.’

Mitch Brenner: But you tore it up?

Melanie Daniels: Yes.

Mitch Brenner: Why?

Melanie Daniels: Because it seemed stupid and foolish.

Mitch Brenner: Like jumping into a fountain in Rome?

Melanie Daniels: I told you what happened!

Mitch Brenner: You don’t expect me to believe that, do you?

Melanie Daniels: Oh, I don’t give a d*** what you believe!

Mitch Brenner: I’d still like to see you.

Melanie Daniels: Why?

Mitch Brenner: I think it might be fun.

Melanie Daniels: Well it might have been good enough in Rome, but it’s not good enough now.

Mitch Brenner: It is for me.

Melanie Daniels: Well not for me!

Mitch Brenner: What do you want?

Melanie Daniels: I thought you knew! I want to go through life jumping into fountains naked, good night!

We see the creepy birds watching from phone lines, congregating at the barn-waiting for the call to strike.

Not gulls but you understand the feeling.

Back at the house Annie and Melanie have brandy and Annie tells her her story and what happened. She met Mitch in college and fell in love, followed him here but Lydia got in the way. She kept them apart. She doesn’t want a daughter-in-law, she just wants her children. Annie didn’t want to lose him and stayed out here.

Then Mitch calls his ex-girlfriend for his new one. Ouch!

Poor girl

Melanie is apologized to and invited to the birthday party agreeing to come.

Both Annie and Melanie are surprised when a bird crashes into their door.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

At the party Mitch takes Melanie off to the side with alcohol. She wants to head home as she has work. On Mondays and Wednesdays she works at the airport, on Tuesdays she takes classes, on Thursdays she has her club and lunches supporting a child through school, etc. Normal society things. Appears there is more depth to this party girl. Hmm…I wonder if the creators of Gossip Girl have ever watched this.

Hmm…

Mitch makes a joke about a mother’s care ad it turns out she has serious mother issues. Her mother abandoned them at age 11. A theme of mother’s issues is nothing new to Alfred Hitchcock as he himself had a ton and used the theme in many films, the most famous being Psycho.

At the party they are playing a game when the gulls show up and start attacking all the kids. Dive bombing and scratching. They try to help shoo them away and get everyone into the house.

Mitch is worried for Melanie ands invites her to stay the night there to be safe. And seriously, I think it is the love birds. Even with the cloth over them that should put them to bed as it is “night” they still squabble like crazy stopping only, when Cathy remarks on them. And just after, tons of sparrows come down the chimney attacking them. All cower in fear while Mitch tries to fight them off. Melanie moves Lydia and Cathy out of the room, to safety. After the attack and birds are gone they call the police, but there is nothing they can do about it.

The next morning, Lydia takes Cathy to school and then heads out to question the farmer about the chickens being sick. Lydia goes in looking for him and instead sees broken teacups, just like how hers were destroyed by the bird attack. The rooms are quiet and face the same destruction as hers and then she sees it!

Him, the dead birds, his eyes!

So freaky the first time I saw it. Oh, and still remains a scene that terrifies most.

Traumatizing children for all time.

Lydia races home and leans on Mitch, telling him what happened. Mitch heads over to the police that are called when he and Melanie have some very tender intimate moments. Relationships speed up when danger mars your every moment.

Lydia is worried over Cathy, with the large windows at school and the broken ones at the dead body looming in her mind. We see another side of Lydia as well, more vulnerable, worried-maybe Mitch comes home not just to help his mom but because without his aid they would loose the land. Hmm…thats one thing I love about this film, on the surface it is one thing but there are many sides to all these characters.

Lydia asks Melanie to pick up Cathy as she is very worried about her and Melanie heads out right away. Melanie goes to the school, but decides to wait a bit until recess. The kids are singing and she stays outside when we have this amazing scene.

Melanie runs in and warns Annie about the jungle gym. Annie tells them they are conducting a fire drill as not to scare them and directs them to run to different places. Of course the birds attack. Poor kids.

Melanie ends up in the diner calling her newspaper mogul father and telling him the story of what happened, All listening to every word she is telling her father.

We are introduced to Mrs. Bundy (BUNDY AHH) who is an ornithologist and for the birds, Giving us some serious information on the birds.

Traveling Salesman: Gulls are scavengers, anyway. Most birds are. Get yourselves guns and wipe them off the face of the earth!

Mrs. Bundy: That would hardly be possible.

Deke Carter: Why not, Mrs. Bundy?

Mrs. Bundy: Because there are 8,650 species of birds in the world today, Mr. Carter. It is estimated that 5,750,000,000 birds live in the United States alone. The five continents of the world…

Traveling Salesman: Kill ’em all. Get rid of the messy animals.

Mrs. Bundy:…probably contain more than 100,000,000,000 birds!

We get a bit of debate as a Captain interjects that he also hates birds and wishes they were all gone, them having attacked one of his ship captains. Melanie states that the birds are killers after the kids. Everyone keeps talking down to Melanie as she tries to tell them that it wasn’t just a few but a ton and a series of different kinds.

Mitch shows up asking for Kathy, who is at Annies. Just as they argue the birds attack again. Mitch tells Melanie to stay behind as they take out a guy pumping gas causing it to flow over the ground. An unsuspecting smoker sets it off and boom.

This causes a big sign that the other birds can see and they all come in swarming. The pyre’s have been lit.

I’m in shock

All go out of the restaurant (Why? Don’t know) and we have the famous telephone scene.

They actually have a telephone booth and Tippi Hedren mannequin at one of the shops there and you can get a picture with it.

Mitch gets her out and they head back to the restaurant. Hiding with others. Mrs. Bundy, I notice you are quiet. Not talking down at her anymore are you?

One of them is hysterical, blaming Melanie. In a way I believe she is right. Although it isn’t Melanie, but those love birds.

Mitch and Melanie run to the schoolhouse to get Cathy finding Annie’s dead body.

Cathy is safely inside, but utterly traumatized. Mitch carries Annie inside and covers her with his coat. Then the three speed off to the Brenner house.

At the Brenner home, Mitch patches up the openings, prepping the house for an attack. He notices that there appears to be a pattern. They attack, disburse, regroup, attack again. Why?

Hmm…

Melanie tries to contact her father but the lines are cut. The birds isolating them and making it unable for them to reach anyone or get even local radio.

Lydia starts to freak out wanting answers, the tension exploding. All are succumbing to it.

Cathy wants the love birds with her, NOOOO nor those evil things. Even now they are probably plotting.

Now they wait, trapped. Kathy gets so anxious she makes herself sick. Then they wait again. Hearing them, being taunted by them.

I’m crazy

We have the first attack of gulls breaking windows and trying to peck through the door. Mitch being the one to take action and stop them. Then Melanie goes up to the attic.

Poor Melanie. they tend to her, but she is banged up. This scene was horrible to film. Seven days of birds being thrown at her, again and again.

Mitch uses this time of quiet to plan an escape. Melanie needs a hospital, so he and Cathy start getting things ready, not knowing what will face in the outside world or if they will be able to ever come back.

I like how Hitchcock ends the film with us not knowing if they make it out okay. We never know if everything will go back to normal. What or who caused this? I think it makes the film stronger and gives you the opportunity to create your own theory from each of his clues.  If they had given us an answer, it probably would have been lame no matter what was chosen, we would have found faults. Sometimes it is better just not knowing.

So there we go,  believe my theory or create your own. Either way watch the film.

This film changed how I look at birds. I never liked them before and hated them ever since. I’ll never look at another the same way again. Especially when they get in large groups or swarm overhead.

Not gulls but you understand the feeling.

After I showed this film to some friends who had never seen it, a few days later we were shopping at a store. As we are leaving, my one friend looks behind us at the store and goes ashen. She freaks out and tells us to run. As we are I look back and see a ton lined up on the store watching, then deciding to take off. We all ran as fast as we could to the car struggling in, and  speeding home. Nothing happened, but a film like this just sticks to you.

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So this kicks off the beginning of Horrorfest VII. I hope you enjoy it and the spooks. thrills, and chills that are to come.

For more on The Birds, go to Going on a Treasure Hunt

For more Alfred Hitchcock films, go to You’re a Detective, Let Me Give You a Tip. Don’t Wave Important Evidence in a Telephone Booth. They Have Glass Windows: Blackmail (1929)

For more Daphne de Maurier, go to That Place…There’s Queer Things Goes on There: Jamaica Inn (1939)