Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Grantville, USA, Part 3: "I'm Every Woman"

part 1 

part 2

Reflections of Kelly in

The Naked Kiss (1964)

a film by Samuel Fuller

There's a lot more going on in Grantville, USA, than a run-of-the-mill boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-fall-in-love, and boy-pops-the-question narrative, which we've all seen and read and heard about so many times, along with the all-too-predictable sequel a decade or two later on down the line: aging cad and hag file for divorce, go to the mat for custody of the kids and, above all, the manifold possessions acquired over the course of the spiraling vortex from bliss to hell that their marriage eventually became.

It turns out that Kelly, the former-bald-prostitute-turned-orthopaedic-nurse and blonde-haired central protagonist of our not-so-little tale, has a lot more to offer Grantville than simply the ability to make a husband of the town's heretofore most eligible bachelor, Mr. Grant.

When Kelly first arrived in Grantville, it was not immediately obvious what a female-rich environment the town really was, perhaps because so many loafing menfolk, including Captain Griff, seemed to be hanging out at the bus depot scoping out new prospects. Meanwhile the respectable womenfolk were all away tending to baby carriages, caring for sick children at the hospital, designing and producing wedding dresses, or purveying bons-bons to the well-off gents who left their wives in Grantville to make their way across the city limit line to Candy's place.

Like a Leibnizian monad, Kelly reflects and refracts all of the women of Grantville, USA, embodying their qualities, aspirations, dreams, and desires, in addition to having already surmounted the dilemmas and challenges which any one of them might ever face. Kelly is not only a lover and future wife. She is a sister, a daughter, a mother, and a confidante. All it takes is a pick and a hammer, or a bit of hermeneutic exegesis to crack open the Platonic Form of Female Geode which Kelly truly represents. 

Look closely at every child in every baby buggy in Grantville and you will find tiny images of Kelly reflected off their every cell. Kelly was born just such a little infant, with no character traits to speak of. Instead, she grew slowly over many years and was shaped by her environment along the way.

Kelly learned to play and smile and to trust adults who were her earliest and sole sources of a concept of morality.

By adolescence, Kelly may have had a fling or two and found out that she was no longer just a daughter but a potential mother as well.

Having achieved the freedom and independence of adulthood, Kelly may have succumbed to the temptations presented by the superficially glamorous world of wine, women, and song.

Kelly's one true love may have let her in the lurch--whether intentionally or not.

Career or Family? Kelly may have determined at some point that "You can't have it all."

Or perhaps Kelly, an intelligent woman, realized at some point that it was her particular choice of profession which precluded the possibility of a normal family life.

When Grant entered her life, Kelly's world seemed to transform from black to white overnight.

to be continued...

Note:Using the open source program AndreaMosaic, the above collages were built of combinations of 523 screen captures of Kelly taken from the film.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grantville, USA, Part 2: The Saga Continues

part 1

Further Reflections on

The Naked Kiss (1964)

a film by Samuel Fuller

Undaunted by the deliverances of her cologne-induced epiphany, Kelly sets out, a spring in her step, to reinvent herself. But first she needs a clean bed and fluffy pillow on which to rest her head as the wheels continue to whir. 

Happily, she espies amidst Grantville's well-groomed suburban lawns a sign:

A local seamstress--also an independent contractor who goes by her first name, Josephine--is offering a room for let. What's more, it meets Kelly's requirements, above all, that the space be pleasant.

The landlady and prospective tenant hit it off from the moment they meet, exchanging stories and agreeing about a variety of matters, including the importance of a comfortable bed, given that so much of one's life is spent there. The spinster-seamstress, whose fiancé, Charlie, never returned from the war, takes an immediate liking to Kelly, who is obviously also a strong woman of spirit.

The next step is to find a job. Perhaps inspired by her collection of wardrobe costumes and props amassed over the years to use in various role-playing games requested by clients, it dawns on Kelly that she could really be a nurse. She does look rather fetching and smart in that cap, white support stockings, and large-pocketed pinafore-style cotton dress. 

Fate would have it that the local children's orthopaedic hospital happens to be hiring. Kelly's interview is a smashing success, and the head nurse decides to give her a shot at the job even though she has no references to speak of.

Meanwhile, Captain Griff has been lurking around Candy's establishment, a popular local haunt which guarantees its customers indescribable pleasure. He fully expects to find Kelly there, but to his surprise, his ichi-ban is nowhere to be seen.

Candy, the savvy proprietor and seasoned madame, who evidently chose figure over face--a dilemma posed most famously by Catherine Deneuve and one with which every beautiful woman wrestles as she confronts her inexorably advancing age--reports that Kelly has yet to take up residence at her place.

Griff embarks on a fact-finding mission and soon learns that Kelly now works at the hospital. Knowing (in the biblical sense) her true credentials, Griff immediately assumes that Kelly must have sidled up to the hospital director, furnishing him free "libations" in exchange for a post. 

The police captain confronts Kelly directly, making his disapproval known in no uncertain terms.

Kelly wailfully insists that no such thing has taken place. No! She slept with no one at the hospital to get her job! Kelly begs Griff, who possesses the full power of the law to banish her forever from Grantville, to permit her to attempt to change her ways and to earn an honest living. 

After putting up some resistance, Griff finally relents, 
a decision which he believes he may later come to regret.


Now a well-respected member of the hospital staff, Kelly is invited to the Grantville holiday party, where everyone who's anyone convenes each year at the illustrious home of Mr. Grant. The townsfolk all refer to this distinguished, cultured gentleman of old money as Grant, and it was indeed his family who literally put Grantville on the map.

As Kelly enters the foyer of the mansion, all eyes are on her, including those of Grant and Griff, who are obviously struck by this woman in stunning formal attire, her beautiful blonde hair arranged sleekly in a cinnamon bun style befitting a high society lady of manners and means.

The sexual tension in the room sizzles like cold water splashed into the deep fryer at the Grantville local diner.

Griff is visibly disturbed by the attentions being lavished upon this simple tramp all dressed up in a costume and only posing as a grande dame. Even worse, the party's host appears to have fallen for Kelly's ruse.

After some holiday greetings and small talk, the group assembles in the parlor. Grant, being not only a successful businessman and the heir to the Grant family fortune, but also a philanthropist, returns from his trip to Europe each year laden with gifts for all his city's high-level service personnel.

                                                                            He offers Kelly a Venetian vase, and she immediately impresses everyone present with her erudition, spontaneously confirming that she knows the meaning of the word: 
"From Venice!"

The head nurse looks on approvingly, musing to herself, "She may not have any nursing credentials, but she clearly has a college degree!"


After this propitious first encounter, things start really looking up for Kelly, as the wealthiest man around, a well-educated gentleman of refinement and taste, has taken a liking to her.

Grant and Kelly begin to meet more and more frequently. They trade literary allusions (both have read Goethe), and enjoy listening to the music of Beethoven, a statue of whom Grant has in the entryway to his luxurious abode.

The couple especially loves the Moonlight Sonata, which they listen to while lying on the animal-print velour-covered sofa. They share a passion for painting images of European landscapes with words. The clincher comes when Grant "invites Kelly to Venice," proceeding to turn on his movie projector and screen serene boat scenes from the canals. The seduction is now complete. 

As the couple kiss, Kelly suddenly starts, as though an evil thought has entered her mind. 

More likely, given her previously demonstrated sensitivity to cologne, it is Grant's fragrance which has caused the smitten woman to pause and push her would-be lover away.

 Fortunately, olfactory fatigue quickly sets in, and the evil thought exits from her mind.  

A few months down the line,  Grant, to Kelly's great surprise, pops the question, asking her to be his lawfully wedded wife. In a state of shock, Kelly recognizes that she can no longer hide the truth of her past from Grant. 

She tells all and awaits the retraction of his marriage proposal.

Instead, Grant tells Kelly in effect that love conquers all, and the proposal therefore stands. Confused by Grant's acceptance of her disreputable past, Kelly takes leave, explaining that she needs some time to think.

Back in her rented room, the former-mistress-of-the-night-turned-orthopaedic-nurse indulges in some heavy drinking from the very Venetian vase given to her by Grant on the night when they first met. 


The next morning, 
Kelly decides that her answer is: Yes. 

Grant is delighted to be apprised of the news and provides Kelly with a key to this, her new home. 

The bride-to-be's days become filled with wedding preparations, including the dress to be designed by Josephine, conveniently Kelly's landlady. The couple also deliberates about where the honeymoon will be. 

It all seems like a dream. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grantville, USA: Where Prostitution, Pederasty, and Unisex Cologne Collide

Reflections on 

The Naked Kiss (1964)

a film by Samuel Fuller

                                                                                                                                                                                There once was a bald prostitute named Kelly, who woke up one day and decided that she wasn't going to take it anymore. Her lying, conniving pimp had held out on her too many times before. 

           Added to that, his idea of a practical joke was to slip her a mickey and shave her head, which was how she became bald in the first place. The time for justice had clearly arrived. Kelly beat her oppressor up, and removed from his overstuffed wallet precisely the amount of money he owed: $75, no more and no less. The rest of the grubby bills she threw disdainfully down at her former overlord lying unconscious on the dirty-carpet-covered floor.

She placed her wig back on her shiny head and set out on her own, 
never to be taken advantage of again.

The date of this life-transforming event, logically enough, was July 4, 1961.


Two years later, now a seasoned independent contractor, Kelly has been working through a variety of small towns. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     One fine summer day, the now blonde woman happens by chance upon Grantville, USA, where she strolls off the bus at the depot and is immediately taken note of by the local police authority, Captain Griff, who, it later emerges, always works in plain clothes, because everyone knows who he is.

They exchange looks of interest and Kelly sets her trap, her hips swinging from left to right and back again in a curve-hugging boiled wool skirt in all likelihood designed by Gabrielle Chanel. Kelly finds a comfortable place on a bench in the local park, where she proceeds to rest her weary legs and read a few pages of a paperback book--romance genre, naturally.

Captain Griff, being a red-blooded heterosexual male, takes the bait. He chats Kelly up and learns that she is a traveling saleswoman, peddling a new kind of champagne. The alluring woman offers Griff a special price as a way of drumming up business in the new town, she says. She knows from past experience, of course, that getting in good with the law is always a sound approach to avoiding potential tangles later on down the line.

After a bit of bubbly, the couple prepares to part ways, Griff leaving Kelly in his apartment, where he says that she can stay just until the end of the day, at which point she'd best take her business elsewhere, beyond the city limits of Grantville, USA.

At first, Kelly is miffed by Griff's rebuff, but he magnanimously offers to help her out by revealing that Candy's place is open for business, and it's located just outside Grantville, a short walk away. Griff assures Kelly that he'll be a regular customer and looks forward to seeing her there. 

The couple agrees that Kelly will be Griff's ichi-ban, a Japanese expression which he learned while serving in the military abroad.

The two part amicably, Kelly leaving behind a keepsake pen, to ensure that Griff will not forget her name.

A bit later, Kelly is snooping around Griff's apartment and discovers a bottle of cologne. 
She opens it up, takes a sniff, nods approvingly and applies some of the fragrance to her neck and décolleté.

As Kelly rubs her moist fingertips together to better diffuse the cologne, she is struck by an epiphany. She catches a glance of herself in a mirror across the way and moves closer in to carefully examine her face. 

In the harsh afternoon sunlight streaming through the window, Kelly suddenly sees that her crow's feet and marionnette lines are deepening with each passing day.

For the first time she realizes that she'd better find an alternative means of gainful employment, as the unthinkable has transpired: she has reached middle age!