14 January 2018

FABULOUS FILMS PRESENTS: WHITE PALACE. (1990) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




WHITE PALACE. (1990) BASED ON THE 1988 NOVEL BY GLENN SAVAN. WRITTEN BY TED SILENCE OF THE LAMBS TALLY AND ALVIN SARGENT. DIRECTED BY LUIS MANDOKI.
STARRING SUSAN SARANDON, JAMES SPADER, EILEEN BRENNAN, JASON ALEXANDER, KATHY BATES, STEVEN HILL, JEREMY PIVEN, RENEE TAYLOR AND GLENN SAVAN.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Uptight Jewish Lady at Thanksgiving Dinner at the Horowitzes':
'Max is such a good catch! However'd'you manage to bag him?'

Nora Baker:
'Well, I guess I must just give a real good blowjob...'

I adore this film and I love the lead actor and actress, but the thinking behind the film makes me uncomfortable, if you know what I mean. Remember PRETTY WOMAN? Not only was it a totally unrealistic depiction of the seedy world of prostitution, but Richard Gere's millionaire character fell in love with Julia Roberts's prostitute character despite the fact that she worked as a hooker, the lowest of the low.

He was prepared to overlook her lowly social status because of her stunning good looks and bright, bubbly likeable personality. He's patronising the tits off her basically, excuse my French, bestowing such a huge and unprecedented honour on her. And she'll have to spend the rest of her life being pathetically grateful that he took her on and 'saved' her from a life of squalor.

Very bad message to be giving the female viewers, is that. Stay put and your knight in shining armour will come along and save you from your shitty life. WHITE PALACE has a similar message, albeit done a little more realistically. I do love the film, though. Let's take a closer look at it through my metaphorical microscopic lens, shall we?

I'm very kindly disposed towards Susan Sarandon at the moment because of FEUD, the magnificent eight-part BBC2 serialisation of the ongoing hostilities between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford that positively illuminated my Christmas season. Susan played Bette and, although she was overshadowed a wee bit by Jessica Lange as Joan, she was still marvellous. And she looked so uncannily like her!

I've always been kindly disposed towards the handsome and enigmatic James Spader ever since he spanked the annoying Maggie Gyllenhaal in raunchy sex-comedy SECRETARY (2002). Only, um, could he not have gone a bit further, lol...? Ah, you know I'm not advocating violence against women, it's just that the Gyllenhaal Siblings are so very annoying. Just ask FAMILY GUY, they agree with me...!

In WHITE PALACE, pretty boy James Spader plays Max Baron (great name, by the way!). Max is an uptight but successful Jewish advertising executive from St. Louis who lost his beautiful wife Jane at a young age, and now he's resisting all his friends' efforts to fix him up with someone new. He's got a clingy Jewish mother who fusses and flaps over everything and she drives her son nuts. That's Max pretty much in a nutshell.

On his best mate Neil's stag night, he meets Susan Sarandon's character, a hamburger waitress called Nora Baker. Can't you just picture her in her short cute little pink waitressing dress and battered waitressing runners, with her hair tied up but with the curly tendrils escaping endearingly every which way? And don't forget the droopy fag permanently hanging out of the corner of the mouth, dropping fag-ash in the burgers in the era before it became horribly illegal to even dream about smoking. That's Nora Baker.

She works in the titular White Palace, a seedy fast-food joint. I personally thought that the glamorous title alluded to a Russian ice-sculpture of a castle, lol, like in DR. ZHIVAGO. Silly
me! The dive she works in is as far from a Russian ice-sculpture castle as it's possible to imagine. It's a real shit-hole of a place, excuse my French again. Although, if it's good enough for the President of the United States Of America, don't y'all be giving me no trouble 'bout it no-how...!

Anyway, Nora's forty-four to Max's more youthful twenty-seven. She's foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, and she lives in the scruffy part of town. She makes all the moves on Max, who capitulates purely because he's blind drunk and missing his lovely dead wife.

Nora, who's incidentally obsessed with the tragic Marilyn Monroe, comes across as desperate as she tries to keep Max from walking away into the night. He doesn't. Well, he does initially but then he comes back. Their crazy, roller-coaster sex-based romance commences...

It goes as predicted. Max is embarrassed to be seen with Nora in front of his posh friends. He tries to improve her, and even brings her a Dust-Buster with which to clean up her filthy kip of an apartment. She gets mad at him for that but subsequent scenes show her cleaning up anyway, so as to make herself more 'worthy' of him.

He's good enough to want to shag her occasionally despite her lowly waitress status, her lack of education and her dump of a home. The least she can do is to be pathetically grateful, right, and try to fix herself up so that she's better deserving of him...? Very dodgy message to be giving the viewers, especially the female ones who often tend to think like that anyway.

Can things work out for them? Should things work out for them? Only time will tell. I loved the disastrous Thanksgiving dinner at the annoying Horowitzes' house, and also Eileen Brennan as Nora's psychic hippy of an older sister Judy.

Judy tells Max about the two biggest tragedies of Nora's hard life, giving him somewhat more of an insight into this tough-as-old-boots prickly little fighter of a woman he's hooked himself up with. She's had a rough ride. Is he going to be a selfish prick and make things even rougher for her, picking her up and giving her hope for the future only to drop her like a hot spud when it's no longer convenient for him to have her around?

The film's ending is pure Richard Gere, by the way, and as  I mostly hate Richard Gere's movies, I hate the ending. All we're missing is a few bars of 'Lift us up where we belong.' Get your sick-bags ready, folks. The ending may be sugary but it's virtually guaranteed that there'll be tears down the line. How could there not be? They'll be at each others' throats again before they leave the restaurant...

Kathy Bates is in here too as Max's boss. Ironically, she beat Susan Sarandon to the Golden Globe for Best Actress that year. Sarandon was nominated for her performance as Nora in WHITE PALACE. Bates won it for playing James Caan's writer Paul Sheldon's 'biggest fan' in the movie adaptation of Stephen King's MISERY, and I don't suppose anyone's gonna argue with her over that, not while she's holding that mallet...!

This highly enjoyable and entertaining film is out now on special Blu-Ray release from FABULOUS FILMS.





AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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