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This is the second of three films which paired Doris Day and Rock Hudson. They play advertising executives Carol Templeton and Jerry Webster, who work at rival agencies on Madison Avenue. Carol is furious when Jerry snaffles a client from under her nose, and when she hears that Jerry is hoping to land the campaign for a new mystery product called Vip, she is determined to beat him to the contract. Trouble is, Vip doesn’t exist. Jerry created a campaign which was never supposed to see the light of day, for a product which hasn’t been invented, but the campaign is a huge success and he has to create a product for it! When Carol meets Jerry for the first time, she mistakes him for the scientist who she believes has invented Vip, and sets out to win the contract to sell his product. Needless to say, chaos ensues…

This is the perfect film to watch if you want something frothy, undemanding and light-hearted – and there are a lot of laughs. Rock Hudson was never the most gifted of actors, being somewhat wooden, but his good looks and easy charm meant that he was just fine for this role. He also has great chemistry with Doris Day. She is great as the indignant Carol, and looks gorgeous throughout (despite someone’s disastrous decision to have her wear a series of increasingly unattractive hats!) Tony Randall plays a great supporting role as Jerry’s hapless boss, Pete Ramsey.

It’s worth noting that despite the somewhat outdated ideas of relationships and a woman’s role, Doris Day plays a strong minded and intelligent woman, of independent means – something that you didn’t necessarily see a lot of in films from that era (although she frequently played such parts).

The film is also something of a satire on the consumer culture (and was maybe slightly ahead of its time in that respect). I mean, there is an advertising campaign for a product – nobody knows what the product even is (!) and yet people are fighting for the right to sell the product, and desperate to get their hands on it!

The ending is probably predictable, particularly for fans of this genre, but that doesn’t make it any the less enjoyable.

Overall, this is a sparkly comedy, which bounces along nicely and provides some extremely amusing moments. It would probably appeal more to women than to men, but it’s a film that I would certainly recommend.

Year of release: 1961

Director: Delbert Mann

Producers: Robert Arthur, Martin Melcher, Stanley Shapiro

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning

Main cast: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Edie Adams

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Morgan Spurlock, best known for his documentary Supersize Me, approaches a new subject with this documentary film – product placement and advertising. He aims to show the viewer the process of how products come to featured in blockbuster films, and the compromises that the film-makers have to make in order to receive the money from the product makers. The twist here is that this whole documentary film is paid for by those who make the products he features in this film!

It’s an interesting concept, and there are a lot of laughs, as Spurlock approaches many companies to see if they would be interested in having their products placed in his film, for a sizeable fee. Many companies – including McDonalds, Coke and Pepsi – didn’t even return his calls. Many did – Volkswagen, for instance – but only to say that they weren’t interested. However, he did manage to interest several other companies in taking part, including: Pom Wonderful, Mane ‘n Tail (who did not pay to be included, but provided free product to be shown in the film), Sheetz, Amy’s Kitchen, The Aruba Tourism Authority and Ban Deodorant.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the film was how companies make the film-maker bend to their will, when it comes to depicting their products. Understandable in a way – who wants their products to look useless or inferior to others on the market? However, at one point in the film, Spurlock approaches Pom Wonderful with three ideas on how he was going to feature their product (a drink made from Pomegranate juice) in his film. They shot down all three ideas, and basically told him how they wanted it shown. In other words, for the money they pay, the manufacturers of products can have a significant impact on how a story is told. So the film-maker has to compromise his integrity and ‘sell out’ at least a little.

It’s an interesting documentary – Spurlock is always an engaging and witty presenter. However, while I enjoyed watching it, I didn’t really feel that it told me anything that wasn’t already obvious to anyone who gave a bit of thought to the subject (although, how many of us really do think about it?). Of course, manufacturers will want their products shown in the most positive light, of course, they’re going to pay for the privilege, and in that case, then naturally they will have some say over the completed film. Spurlock shows his pitches to various companues, and also talks to a number of film-makers, producers and other experts, to get their thoughts on the subject.

It all kinds of folds in on itself though, if you really think about the concept. The film actually is Spurlock asking people to finance his film. They’re financing a film, which is basically him asking them to do that! Nonetheless, it’s entertaining and witty, and worth watching, especially if you are a fan of Spurlock’s other work.

Year of release: 2011

Director: Morgan Spurlock

Producers: Keith Calder, Jeremy Chilnick, Elyssa Hess, Eliza Hindmarch, Abbie Hurewitz, Jonathan McHugh, Morgan Spurlock, Sebastian Weinberg, Jessica Wu

Writers: Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chilnick

Main cast: Morgan Spurlock, Noam Chomsky, Peter Berg, J J Abrams, Quentin Tarantino

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Only half an hour long – which is not long enough!  That is my only complaint about this show.

Bill Hicks is sadly no longer with us, and I feel that we lost a genuine talent when he died.  Not only is he a very very funny man, but he speaks so much sense.  As well as making the you laugh, he also makes you think, as he unleashes his own particular bitter brand of humour on subjects such as drugs, rock n’ roll and advertising.

Bill was certainly cynical, but it’s obvious that he also thought about things a lot – he cared about what was going wrong with the world, and he could see when things such as drugs and pornography were used as scapegoats – easy things to hang blame on.  Someone once said that they thought that Bill Hicks was disappointed with humanity, and I think that that could well have been true.

This DVD captures Bill doing a very, very funny and thought provoking stand up routine – well worth a watch.

Year of release: (Series 1989 – 1992)

Directors: Peter Calabrese, Robin Shlien

Writer: Bill Hicks

Main Cast: Bill Hicks

(For more information about Bill Hicks, please click here.)

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