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Monday, March 18, 2013

The Slog Netflix Streaming Movie Club: Someone I Touched

Posted by on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Netflix Streaming is the streaming video service ready to shoot several thousand movies onto your TV and/or computer screen. The film selection is a gloriously random array of "Hollywood hits!," beloved classics, and off-brand delights. For the Slog Netflix Streaming Movie Club, we'll all watch the same film on Netflix Streaming, then discuss it here on Slog.


Someone I Touched is the made-for-TV movie that premiered on February 26, 1975. Directed by Lou Antonio (the man who brought us an actor who appeared in 1967's Cool Hand Luke) and starring Cloris Leachman (who three years earlier won an Oscar for her amazing work in The Last Picture Show), Someone I Touched concerns itself the insidious scourge of venereal disease, and how it affects a handful of lives in southern California. As Movieline's Alonso Duralde (an early adopter of Someone I Touched) writes, "The fact that Cloris Leachman, at 49, stars as a pregnant housewife, and that she sings the theme song, is just the icing on the cake of looniness."

As the opening credits roll, we hear Cloris Leachman purring the theme song, the lyrics of which make frequent use of the phrase "someone I touched." (FORESHADOWING!) As the story begins, we follow Frank Berlin, a Joe Namath-y bounty hunter for the health department, who's watching a game of beach volleyball. During a break in the play, he approaches a young woman named Carrie (Glynnis O'Connor, who'd go on to star with John Travolta in the '70s TV movie classic The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), with the bad news that she has syphilis.

Thus is Carrie tasked with alerting all her sexual contacts of the past three months, a quest that brings her back in contact with Sam, a middle-aged businessman who's married to Cloris Leachman's character Laura, a children's book writer who's not above wearing a long-sleeved, floor-length turtleneck gown while fussing about in the kitchen. (Seriously, Leachman looks gorgeous throughout the film—and she's forty-fucking-nine!) Not only is Laura a cheated-upon wife who now might have syphilis, she's freshly pregnant—a collision of facts that could, as Laura puts it, result "in a baby with NO ARRRRRMS!" (The scene where Sam tells Laura of his syphilitic indiscretion—inspiring Laura to recoil in a slow-motion Butoh ballet—is tremendous.)

Then shit gets real....

Glynnis O'Connor's Carrie tells her mother (played by her actual mother!) about her diagnosis, and her mother screams and slaps her 750 times. Cloris Leachmen's Laura gets a visit from the health department's Frank Berlin, who informs her that while her husband is in the first stages of syphilis, she is in the second, meaning that she acquired the disease first. Laura then pays a visit to her publisher/one-time extramarital lover, whom she bitterly thanks for giving her a disease that could result in a baby with NO ARRRRRRRRRRRRMS. (Truly, this scene is the most powerful in the film, with the publisher's claims that "he thought she knew" perfectly illuminating the banality of evil in regard to STD transmission.) "I just feel so tacky now," says Laura, while wearing a brownish-yellow pantsuit. (What color is that? Dusty mustard? Jaundiced tan?)

Then Laura comes clean to Sam about being the source of syphilis in their lives, the doctor says both Laura and the baby will be fine, Sam visits Carrie at her supermarket job and tells her he's the one who gave her syphilis (not the other way around), and Sam and Laura share a tender moment in their car in the supermarket parking lot, as an instrumental version of the theme song swells.

Possible points of discussion:
*That humongous wood-paneled refrigerator in Laura and Sam's kitchen
*The supermarket sale offering ten pounds of navel oranges for a dollar
*The creepiness of Sam approaching Laura's gynecologist in hopes of treating her for syphilis without her knowing
*The creepiness of that puppet sculpture hanging by Laura's work table

Go nuts in the comments! For now, a poll.


Comments (27) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Point of order: Technically, "Cloris Leachman is a goddess" is the de facto moral of ANYTHING that features Cloris Leachman, and many things that don't.
Posted by Pope Buck I on March 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
seandr 2
The moral? Venereal disease is no big deal, and hot sex is worth the risk.
Posted by seandr on March 18, 2013 at 11:12 AM · Report this
Shit. I knew there was something I meant to do this weekend.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Chris in Vancouver WA 4
Going by her performance as Nurse Diesel in Mel Brooks' High Anxiety, Ms. Leachman certainly IS a goddess!
Posted by Chris in Vancouver WA on March 18, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Paul Constant 5
Holy shit, this movie creeped me out. The nodding puppet head (was that supposed to be a symbol of infidelity?) especially gave me the heebie-jeebies, but that "NOOOO ARRRRMS" moment made me shiver because it was so uncomfortably bad.

I liked how the movie was secretly about Carrie. It began and, basically, ended with her. I think the moral of the story is: Don't get involved with middle aged people, because their lives are creepy and awful in ways you can't even understand.

And I liked how the movie was brutal about how miserable Carrie's life was. She's probably still living in SoCal, working for the same grocery store, and slapping her granddaughter about the face for being a slut. It's the circle of life! Meanwhile, both Sam and Laura immediately forget about her and go back to their torturously upper middle class lives.
Posted by Paul Constant http:// on March 18, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Janell8me 6
The house that infidelity built. I can only hope I have a marriage like Luara and Sam's one day....
Also I loved Carrie's mother in all her abusive slut shaming glory
Posted by Janell8me on March 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
[x] occasionally the slog staff will find something so hilarious they have to write about it for days even though it's pretty boring
Posted by beef rallard on March 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 8
Anything with pantsuits and 1970's Southern California kitchens and supermarkets is a hit in my book. I know what movie I'm watching this evening. Please let there be some headbands and huge handbags, maybe a little macrame....

Speaking of the 70's, I remember a made-for-TV movie about a guy who was trapped after hours in a department store with attack dobermans, and another one about death on an elevator. Could it be that they are out there somewhere still?
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on March 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM · Report this
Fnarf 9
I was surprised by how much I liked this. Quiet, low-key, realistic depiction of the working class, people experiencing emotions without explosions or yelling or kettledrums. Yeah, the nodding doll was a little bananas, and the slap-slap went on about ten slaps too long. But considering that it was a trifle, with a crazy low budget by today's standards, it was quite human. And you young people have no idea how good you have it; the 70s were a tough slog.

Also, Glynis O'Connor was FOXY in those high-waisted 70s jeans, and awoke some very specific 70s feelings in this old dog. Alas, no one who looks like her could get a job in Hollywood today. Any of them, really; all actors today work out four hours a day.
Posted by Fnarf on March 18, 2013 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Cloris Leachman is incredible. She was in that other 1975 heart breaking TV school movie with Lee Remick- A Girl Named Sooner- where she played the hillbilly grandma with saggy boobs and all... and holy shit was she good in that. If you can find it, watch it.

Not to mention the genius of:

"Vood za Doktor care for some... brandy, before retiring?"

"No. Thank you."

"Zome varm meelk... perhaps?"

"No... thank you very much. No thanks."


"NOTHING! Thank you!"

"Then I vill say... goodnight, Herr Doctor."

"Goodnight, Frau Blücher."

(horse whinnies and Frau Blücher winces in shame)

Posted by tkc on March 18, 2013 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 11
Best made for TV Ever!!! I wish they still made prime-time network movies like this today.

Such horrid acting, lame story lines. It's brilliant!!
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 18, 2013 at 12:10 PM · Report this
I watched this and the Odd Couple (1968) in the same day. Is it just me, or did movies during that era make people look more human than human?
Posted by namrog on March 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 13
I found the Cliff Notes version of this movie, for those like me who don't have Netflix. It's pretty amazing, even boiled down to 8 minutes.…
Posted by Gern Blanston on March 18, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
very bad homo 14
I enjoyed this movie so much. Everything about it was cheesy and wonderful. Thanks for recommending it!
Posted by very bad homo on March 18, 2013 at 12:24 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 15
Are we sure she was actually pregnant? She never shows at all. Is it possible she was just menopausal or having some kind of... lady... cancer? Then again, I guess a baby with no arms would take up less uterine space.
Posted by MacCrocodile on March 18, 2013 at 12:27 PM · Report this
Where does one find the "more available sex of today"? 'Cause, sign me up!
Posted by WenWino on March 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Dougsf 17

@13 - thank you for that. Now I am positive I need to watch this.
Posted by Dougsf on March 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM · Report this
OMG, you didn't tell us she got the syphilis from Kenneth Mars! (aka Hugh Simon from "What's Up, Doc?" and the wooden-handed police inspector from "Young Frankenstein.") Just when I thought this movie couldn't get any cooler!

PS: If you really want to see Cloris Unchained, check out the Roger Corman epic "Crazy Mama."
Posted by Pope Buck I on March 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 19
With all the Star Trek nerds on Slog, do I really have to be the first one to mention that Garak was the public health employee? Sheesh.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 18, 2013 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Baconcat 20
I'm going to sign off on all letters with "please find enclosed one case of syphilis".
Posted by Baconcat on March 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM · Report this
Tracy 21
That creepy nodding doll was the main character of Leachman's children's book (his horrifying face is on the portrait on her office wall that her boss helps her take down, too). I forget the name, but a few characters refer to that freaky dude and the made-up mystical world he's in. But it was so poorly introduced/explained, those lines always landed flat.

Thank you Mr Schmader for starting this.
Posted by Tracy on March 18, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this
@19 Nerd.

Please, I recognized the social worker as Charles 'Scorpio Killer' Davis, and could not stop making Police Inspector Harry Callahan cracks.
Posted by $29.50, let it hurt. on March 18, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
emma's bee 23
The least-commented-upon factor that most amazed me in this movie was Cloris's character's first pregnancy at such an advanced age. Without IVF. Truly incredible! Still, it was hard to believe that on her waiflike frame 5 months wouldn't show at all.

And, it was a rockin' salute to "shoe-leather" public health practitioners!

Also, I loved Cloris's doctor letting comb-over man have it on his would-be deception.
Posted by emma's bee on March 18, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
You never hear about "VD" any more.
Posted by WestSeven on March 18, 2013 at 6:36 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 25
Green wall-to-wall carpeting, double side-by-side wall ovens, sympathetic Secretaries, offices with bars. God, I miss the 70's.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on March 18, 2013 at 6:38 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 26
It's not available on any on demand service, but FINALLY, one of the best ABC Movies of the Week is available on DVD as part of the set: "Movies for the Man Cave 4."

"Pray for the Wildcats," featuring Andy Griffith (awesome as the baddie), William Shatner, Angie Dickinson, Robert Reed, Marjoe Gortner. (What a cast!) It's amazingly good/bad.

The other movies look interesting as well. "The Amy Fisher Story" is another otherwise out-of-print movie in the set.
Posted by Free Lunch on March 18, 2013 at 8:32 PM · Report this
You're pregnant? Let's break out the liquor and celebrate -- classic 70's. Alcohol, Syphilis, and Pregnancy - the perfect storm for a great relationship.
Posted by Mich09 on March 19, 2013 at 1:34 PM · Report this

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