Friday, 21 June 2024

‘Drive-Away Dolls’ weird road trip caper; TCM Festival preview


Together, the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have an undeniably eclectic style touching on different genres.

Notable, in no particular order, are “Raising Arizona,” “Fargo,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “No Country for Old Men,” just to name a few.

Going his own way with “Drive-Away Dolls” is Ethan Coen directing and co-writing the script with his wife Tricia Cooke. There’s an interesting story about their unconventional relationship that one can easily check on the internet.

A brief description of this one-brother effort is a lesbian road trip in which two young women, the libidinous Jamie (Margaret Qualley) and sexually uptight Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), travel from Philadelphia to Tallahassee.

They rent a “drive-away” car that needs to be delivered to where they are going. One of the highlights just might be the encounter with rental agent Curlie (the amusing Bill Camp) who runs a dubious establishment.

Jamie’s just had a bitter breakup with Sukie (Beanie Feldstein), a Philadelphia cop who shows up later in an amusing confrontation with two thugs in pursuit of her ex-lover and Marian.

The road trip is an excuse for Jamie, who speaks with a hillbilly Southern accent, to frequent every lesbian dive bar on their journey. What the girls don’t know is that they were given the wrong car which contains a mysterious briefcase and hatbox.

A nasty crime boss known as The Chief (Colman Domingo) has tasked two lunkhead goons, the loquacious Arliss (Joey Slotnick) and ineptly trigger-happy Flint (C.J. Wilson), to retrieve the contents of the drive-away Dodge Aries.

The closet lesbian Marian, a bookworm avidly reading Henry James novels, eventually loses her inhibitions. Matt Damon shows up as Senator Channel, who has an interest in the briefcase, and Sukie arrives on the scene to get rid of an annoying small dog Jamie left behind.

During the trip to Florida, the girls have a blowout on the highway. Maybe the flat tire is symbolic, as the air goes out of “Drive-Away Dolls” long before the final destination.

While “Drive-Away Dolls” may be offbeat (with the help of some psychedelic interludes), any hope for a zany screwball comedy never fully materializes as one would wish for a film with an ostensible Coen knack.


The TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood for its usual four-day extravaganza of a wide range of programming topics beginning on Thursday, April 18. Festival attendees also get the chance to attend “meet and greets” with TCM guests and enjoy panel discussions.

The central theme is “Most Wanted: Crime and Justice in Film.” While the film schedule is only partially available, the 50th anniversary presentation of “Chinatown,” a neo-noir starring Jack Nicholson’s private eye embroiled in a political corruption coverup and murder investigation, fits the theme.

In addition to the classic venue of the Chinese Theatre for screenings, TCM will be celebrating its 15th annual Classic Film Festival by returning to one of its original homes in the beautifully restored and beloved Egyptian Theatre.

In partnership with the American Cinematheque and owned by Netflix, the Egyptian is capable of screening digital cinema, 35mm and 70mm film, and nitrate prints. The theater will host revealing conversations as TCM hosts and notable guests get a chance to this glorious temple of cinema.

TCM is pleased to announce two of the confirmed screenings at the Egyptian will be a nitrate 35mm print of 1950’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” as well as a new 70mm print of “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962).

The Festival will open in a red carpet gala event with the 30th anniversary screening of the classic neo-noir “Pulp Fiction,” and two-time Academy Award-nominee, Golden Globe and Emmy winner John Travolta will be in attendance.

“Pulp Fiction” is described by Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Primetime Anchor and Official Host of the Festival, as “Quentin Tarantino’s magnum opus and the beginning of a well-deserved comeback for John Travolta.”

Among the announced films, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “North by Northwest” (1959) fits the theme. In this case, the most wanted person is Cary Grant’s debonaire advertising executive forced to run for his life after being mistaken for a secret agent.

In a case of mistaken identity, Grant’s Roger Thornhill is thought to be a man by the name of George Kaplan by James Mason’s foreign spy Philip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard (Martin Landau).

While the bad guys try to eliminate Thornhill, circumstances lead the advertising man to be framed for murder. On the run from the police, Thornhill manages to board a train to Chicago where he meets Eva Marie Saint’s beautiful blonde, Eve Kendall, who helps him dodge the authorities.

Is there more to Eve than what appears to be? A dramatic escape at the top of Mt. Rushmore is breathtaking. “North by Northwest” is ranked among the greatest American films of all time by the prestigious American Film Institute, a well-deserved accolade.

More exciting news about the 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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