Mix Picks Chicks Flix, by John Ostrander

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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39 Responses

  1. Linda Gold says:

    Gosh John, I don't know- you blow off Barbara Stanwyck, Deborah Kerr and Vivian Leigh for Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock? Sorry to disagree but I would rather see those 3 movies for the upteenth time or Joan Crawford in "Mildred Pierce" than anything with of todays actresses. And lot's not forget the greatest of all ckick flicks "The Women" starring just about every great actress ever but espically the radiant Norma Shearer.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Everyone has their faves. I'm big on Stanwyck but more in films like BALL OF FIRE. GWTW just does not do it for me. Vivien Leigh's a great actress and beauty but I find the GWTW a bore. Crawford has always creeped me out, even before "Mommie Dearest". "The Women" is great fun to watch, though — no arguments there.

      • Linda Gold says:

        I recommend "The Women" as a primer for anyone who wants to see the real face of most of womanhood. Am I too cynical?

        • Marilee J. Layman says:

          Not at all! I love The Woman and I have a taped-from-TV version with modern actresses on stage.

      • Mike Gold says:

        My father declined to see GWTW and I'm proud to maintain the tradition. It always seemed like a pile of whinny crap to me.

  2. Rick Taylor says:

    Sorry Johnny O. I have to agree with Linda. The 'modern' actresses just don't have the chops of the golden age Hollywood actresses…not even close. BTW Linda – I'm there with you about 'Mildred Pierce'. "Veeda, I'm seeing you for the first time and you're cheap and horrible". Also Jack Carson and Eve Arden are the best. Eve's wisecracking sidekick Ida's dialogue rocks the house. Every bit as good Myrna Loy's Nora Charles. Very few of today's Hollywood gals can hold a candle to the old guard.

    • Linda Gold says:

      Ah, Veeda the daughter from hell! Who can compare? She makes all other daughter's seem like angels.

    • John Ostrander says:

      I'll stand Joan Allen up against any of them. She could go toe to toe. Check out UPSIDE OF ANGER.And I'm not saying the films I mentioned are the BEST. Just that they work for me.

  3. Rick Taylor says:

    And then she sold Hotess snack cakes years later. Did you ever see the Carol Burnett spoofs of both Mildred Pierce and Anne Blythe selling Twinkies? Like I said, Mildred Pierce is a guilty pleasure. They don't make 'em like that any more!

  4. Martha Thomases says:

    Check out my favorite Christmas movie, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY. Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Shirley Temple, Hattie McDaniels, Agnes Moorehead (and Joseph Cotten, Robert Walker, and Monty Wooley, among others). If you're not crying every 15 minutes, you're not paying attention.

  5. Mary Mitchell says:

    My favorite all time chicflick is THELMA AND LOUISE…….it has an explosion too!! "bitches from hell!" Yes to old and new chicflix and manly men having a good cry!!

  6. Elayne Riggs says:

    I have never seen any of the movies you list all the way through. I guess my idea of a good "chick flick" (i.e., relationship film) is a Tracy-Hepburn movie or a Judy Garland musical…

    • John Ostrander says:

      LOVE the Tracy-Hepburn films myself but they don't, for my reckoning, fall into "chic flic" designation as I think they were aimed at both genders. And musicals as musicals are also a separate category to my mind. MY fave musical is "Singin' In the Rain" with the title sequence my single fave musical number although "Wizard of Oz" is right behind it and, on certain days of the week, overtakes it. Oddly enough, my fave musical comedy performer though is Fred Astaire.

    • Rick Taylor says:

      Hey Elayne -' I Could Go On Singing' is on TCM now. One of Garland's last few, highly autobiographical flicks. Really pretty good.

  7. Rick Taylor says:

    Martha – Since You Went Away is my favorite Christmas movie, too. A movie with that much heart in it can't be made today. It was based on the letters between a wife and her husband at war. (WWII). It's worth it just to see the young Jennifer Jones (woof!). Shirley Temple delivered a perfomance that sounld have kept her working had she not been typecast. You're right Martha, it really paints a picture of the homefront and its struggles that tugs at the heartstrings. These are the true 'chick flicks' to me. Not the scriptless fluff starring talentless actresses being overproduced and even more over promoted today. Ah, it's out on DVD two months later anyway.

    • John Ostrander says:

      Glad you like your films, Rick. My faves don't have to be your faves. That's the great thing about a faves list — it's never wrong. It's just the faves of the one who created it. For the record, I happen to think that Nora Ephron IS a pretty good writer. If you think it's just fluff — that's your right. We just don't happen to agree.

  8. Marilee J. Layman says:

    Let's see, I've never been able to read or watch GWTW more than a few minutes through. I've watched the first few movies you mentioned, but not the rest, but it's hard to imagine they're better than the old movies. For one thing, actors in the old movies look different. These days, everybody looks the same. Plus, there was real acting back then, you didn't just have to look pretty.

  9. Rick Taylor says:

    BTW – Gone With The Wind isn't a bad movie. We read the book in high school and it has much more scope to it that the movie. But I really wouldn't bash it as a film. Honestly, it one of my favorites…even without Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock.

  10. Michael H. Price says:

    Basic rule of film (literary, music, &c.) appreciation: No accounting for taste. Stick with what woiks for you. Generally fond here of what Old Hollywood called "women's pictures" (proto-chix flix) — which often also happen to be good old hard-boiled noirs. STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS, as a famous example, and WHO IS HOPE SCHUYLER? as a not-so-famous example. Or A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE, from an Aldous Huxley yarn, with Jessica Tandy socking the hoodoo to Chas. Boyer. Turner Classic cable network has been going to town lately with a bunch of Columbia "B's," including a terrifically weird version of FAUST called THE SOUL OF A MONSTER, with Rose Hobart as the satanical presence; and SIGN OF THE RAM, with Susan Peters as a vulnerable-looking tyrant. Don't miss 'em if you can.Favorite Xmas-time movie is THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, more so for the subplots of romance and muder-plus-scandal than for the grouchy old Esso Bee at the center of things. And Jimmy Durante is always a good test of my Annoyance Threshhold.

  11. Rick Taylor says:

    Johnny – I think Nora Ephron is pretty good writer, too. I just think that there is history to the 'chick flick' that predates the term and even more of them that predate the birth of Meg Ryan. Hence all the 'chicks' (and me) logging in with their opinions about their faves. Most of them predated the films in your fave list by decades. There just seemed to be this 'old films bad – new films good' tenor to the column. Not that there is anything wrong with that.I gravitate towards the romance that exists in the older films before we let it all hang out in the newer movies (in my opinion at the expense of plot).I actually prefer 'The Little Shop Around the Corner' to 'You've Got Mail' and I believe I saw newer film first.I know I came on stong, bud. Don't hate me because I'm opinionated. But notice while you, the guy reacted positively to contemoprary films most of the 'chicks' (and me) favored old Hollywood offerings.Is it OK to 'agree to disagree'?Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • John Ostrander says:

      If I gave an "old films — bad" vibe, then it was unintentional. Well, okay, I'll admit to saying GWTW is a bore but I really feel that way. But I LOVE old films — perhaps my fave film of all time is "Casablanca". The films aimed for women used to be CALLED "women's films" and I think there IS a difference between them and "chic flix" in tone and feel. In case I haven't made it clear, I will attempt to do so now — when I make a list of my fave films, it's not a "best of all time" list. I have the capacity for liking some pretty stupid movies — have I ever mentioned "The Return of Captain Invincible" or "Jesus Christ — Vampire Hunter"? Heck, I even own a copy of "Barb Wire"! I don't think "While You Were Sleeping" is a GOOD movie — just one that works for me. If it was set anywhere but Chicago — maybe not so much. I suspect you may have, say, one or two films, Rick, that you KNOW aren't very good but that you like anyway. Hm?Sidenote: I don't think I've written a column that has garnered as much response as this one. Go figure.

  12. Rick Taylor says:

    Mary – Here, here!I'm not afraid to cry. I'd just rather do it in my home theater.No cell phone talkers, either.

  13. Alan Coil says:

    I don't cry at chick flicks, but I do for A League of Their Own and Field of Dreams.

    • Craig Wood says:

      Yea, I can't help but get choked up every time I watch Field of Dreams. Speaking of Great Baseball films, Is Bull Durham a chick flick? It's baseball and male bonding.. but a love story at it's heart.

  14. Ezra says:

    No Hugh Grant movies? That guy has made a career out of chick flick movies, and I actually like him better than Tom Hanks. I'm partial to Bridget Jones' Diary myself, along with Four Weddings and a Funeral and About a Boy (though that last isn't really a romantic comedy).

    • John Ostrander says:

      I make a differentiation between romantic comedies and "chic flix". "Bridget Jones" IS a chic flic although I don't think the other films are. "Weddings/Funeral" is really a romantic comedy and "About A Boy" is. . .well. . .about a boy and a boy/man (Hugh Grant). "Bridget Jones Diary" wasn't in the article because, while I like it, I don't like it as much as the others. Just personal preference.

      • MIKE GRELL says:

        Jumping in late, but in earnest here. Count me in as a member of the Chicks Flix club. I was raised on musical comedy and, as a kid, I thought the way you knew you were in love with someone was that you'd be able to dance together and sing songs you never heard before. I'm still not so sure that's wrong. For those who haven't watched GONE WITH THE WIND, you owe ti to yourselves just so you'll be able to appreciate MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS, a hilarious play about how David O. Selsnick shut down production for a week and locked Victor Fleming and Ben Hecht in his office to do a complete rewrite of the script.

        • Rick Taylor says:

          Mike, Was Moonlight and Magnolias a play or a film (or both)? Sounds like a great pemise considering Fleming was such a pivotal influence in 1939.

          • MIKE GRELL says:

            It's a play by Ron Hutchinson. One set, two acts, four players and a lot of laughs

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Sounds awesome Mike, thanks.

          • MIKE GRELL says:

            Just a for instance – Ben Hecht as THE Hollywood script doctor, the go-to guy when everything had gone to hell. He agreed to give Selznick a week – that's five working days – to completely rewrite the screenplay for GONE WITH THE WIND, which Selznick had shut down after principal photography had already begun. Only trouble is, Hecht had never read the book.Now picture Selznick and Fleming trying to act out the entire story for him…

          • Mike Gold says:

            Hecht's a personal hero. One of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, a truly wacky guy (I highly recommend his autobiography, Gaily Gaily) and, towards the end of his life, a pioneer of the television talk show format. A brilliant man.

          • MIKE GRELL says:

            Lest you think MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS is all comic schtick, HECHT was very concerned with the Nazi threat and felt there should be a metaphoric message in his script. Plus the question of Scarlet slapping Prissy raised some serious hackles. Ultimately, it comes down to the question of whether to gloss over history in order to avoid offending someone. In the end, you have to acknowledge that this is the way things were.

          • MIKE GRELL says:

            Just a for instance – Ben Hecht was THE Hollywood script doctor, the go-to guy when everything had gone to hell. He agreed to give Selznick a week – that's five working days – to completely rewrite the screenplay for GONE WITH THE WIND, which Selznick had shut down after principal photography had already begun. Only trouble is, Hecht had never read the book.Now picture Selznick and Fleming trying to act out the entire story for him…

          • Rick Taylor says:

            Too funny! Does the play do a send-up to the scene where Scarlett and Prissy help Melanie give birth while the Yankees invade Atlanta?

          • MIKE GRELL says:

            Basically, Selznick and Fleming wind up acting out all the key scenes so Hecht can write them down. In the production I saw, they even managed to work in some schtick from Mr. Howard… that's Moe, not Leslie.Poking fun a sacred cows like GONE WITH THE WIND is like watching SPACEBALLS… it only works if you've actually seen the cow.

      • Craig Wood says:

        Not that I'm immune to a good chick flick, but there are very few that really tug on the heart strings. After a good think I thought of one that does start the water works, "Return To Me" with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver.

        • Rick Taylor says:

          Craig – That is a good current-day film. I also liked the film adaptaion of 'The Devine Secrets of the Yaa-Yaa Sisterhood'. Yes, I know it had Sandra Bullock in it who I referred to en mass as a 'tallentless actress' earlier in this post but the ensemble cast was great. There's a great scene in it where Bullock asks her ster father James Garner if he 'got enough love' out of his relationship with her Mom. Garner wisely asks her back, 'does any of us EVER really get enough love"? A really great scene for a veteran actor that has about three minutes screen time in a sweet film about frienship and family. Ashley Judd was really good (and always kinda hot) in it, too.