Jupiter’s Darling

July 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

One thing I’ll never get over when it comes to old movies: the endings that are totally morally egregious to anybody with a 21st-century conscience. While nothing can really beat those 1930s musicals where everybody happily swaps fiances at the end, Jupiter’s Darling gives them a run for their money. In it, Amytis–played by Esther Williams–just isn’t that into her Roman general of a fiance, Fabius, so she escapes to his enemy Hannibal’s camp, hoping to seduce him into not attacking Rome. At the end of the film–note that I don’t feel compelled to give a spoiler warning because, this being an Esther Williams aquamusical, it ends the only way an Esther Williams aquamusical possibly could–Hannibal comes to storm Rome, but Esther convinces him to take her as tribute instead, leaving the city alone. Fabius–who has been entirely clueless as to his fiancee’s escapades–initially won’t allow it, but Amytis convinces him, and she and Hannibal ride happily off into the sunset together. Great. Fantastic. Everyone lives happily ever after. Except for the fact that Fabius, her fiance of seven years, will never see her again and feel a lifelong sense of guilt that his guarding the city was so inept that he had to trade his fiance to a bloodthirsty barbarian for peace. Let’s be honest, he probably kills himself about twenty minutes after the movie ends, while Amytis and Hannibal are consummating their love in a war elephant’s howdah.

The entire movie seems designed to annoy modern sensibilities as much as possible, actually: there’s a happy-slave song in “If This Be Slavery [I don’t want to be free]” and the vaguely misogynist “Never Trust a Woman.” Oh, and how could I forget “The Life of an Elephant,” wherein Gower Champion expresses his wish to “train” his love interest, played by his real-life wife Marge, the same way he does his elephants? (With a bull hook?) The whole thing is pretty fun, though, if you can overlook the 1950s ridiculousness. Or maybe it’s just that I watched it on 40 minutes of sleep? At any rate, if you watch this movie on 40 minutes of sleep, you’ll definitely enjoy it. Maybe.

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