Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

(USA/UK, 2000)

During the War, Judi Dench played the tenor sax in an all-girl swing band. (Well, they couldn’t find a girl drummer, so a guy dressed in drag. And eventually ended up fucking every one of them.) Her husband has just died, and she realizes that those days were the best of her life. She runs into the drummer, now played by Ian Holm, who was always in love with her (or she was the only band member he didn’t nail) and they decide to re-form the band. It’s kind of tough, though, fifty years later. Some are dead, one is demented, there are other problems. But they finally put together the ones they can find, including Olympia Dukakis, who married rich but is an alcoholic, and late arrival Leslie Caron, who made this not too long before we saw her scandalously poorly-attended star ceremony on the lowlife end of Hollywood Boulevard.

Judi is actually a quite good jazz sax-picker, and the others aren’t too shabby. The ostensible reason for all this is to play at an assembly at her sweet little granddaughter’s school. They make it there … and now I find it really hard to believe. They are following a “retro punk” band called Open Wound, and the kids are really rockin’ out. (Lord, is punk already that old that there’s a retro version of it? Retro is PT Cruisers that resemble 1942 Oldsmobiles, not head-banging rock and roll!) And at first the kids pretty much ignore the old biddies swinging out to “Opus One” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.” But gradually they come around, and soon they are wailing to the Jitterbug, the Lindy Hop, the Black Bottom … okay, they don’t do that, but they bounce to the beat and snap their fingers. I didn’t buy that for a minute, but I expected it in a movie like this. It’s harmless entertainment, that I’m sure I’ll forget all about in a week.

Oh, almost forgot, they did include one jazz legend, singer Cleo Laine, who does some great singing. Maybe it’s even good enough to draw these Millennial students away from their cell phones for a moment.