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Case Number 10967: Small Claims Court

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Phyllis Diller: Not Just Another Pretty Face

MPI // 1964 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Pope (Retired) // March 7th, 2007

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All Rise...

Sometimes Judge Bryan Pope rather enjoys dressing up like a big beautiful peacock. You got a problem with that?

The Charge

When I wear a bikini, even the tide won't come in.

The Case

Audacity, thy name is Phyllis Diller. If you don't believe me, get a load of her "I Feel Pretty" number that brings up the curtain on Phyllis Diller: Not Just Another Pretty Face, a compilation of her best bits from The Hollywood Palace. Flanked by a bevy of but-my-aren't-they-gay waiters, Diller stumbles and trips through the song with goofy, giddy aplomb. That she's being ironic is obvious. It's also sooooo beside the point, which is that this killer of a Diller is having fun just being fabulous.

In case you weren't around, The Hollywood Palace was a televised variety show that aired in the mid-to-late '60s. It celebrated everything from magicians to animal acts, acrobats to jugglers. And Borscht Belt comedians, including Diller, a dilly of a firecracker who sent the sexual revolution into a tailspin by mocking her own…well, let's just say her own special beauty.

You know what I'm talking about. Those ridiculous legs protrude like skinny broomsticks from a dress made of bright pink roses. A fuzzy green boa drapes around her chicken neck while an unruly mess of strawberry blonde hair sticks out in every possible direction. A retro-tacky cigarette holder dangles from the end of one skinny arm as Diller tosses out one of her trademark zingers.

"I once had a peek-a-boo blouse. People would peek, then they'd boo!"

Then she tosses her head back and lets loose her trademark cackle.

Diller has earned her status as a legend by celebrating her uniqueness—hell, let's be frank: her unbridled weirdness. Her peculiar brand of humor flew in the face of everything society thought a woman was supposed to be at the time. Her favorite targets were her looks, housekeeping skills and "Fang," her not-so-better half (about Fang's buck teeth: "He once got the hiccups in bed. He scalloped the headboard.").

Much of the joy in watching this program is trying to guess how Diller will top an already exquisite joke. For example, on Fang's mother: "She says she feels like one of the girls. I've got news for her. She looks like four of the boys." Before the audience can catch its breath, Diller comes back with, "When she wears a white dress, we show movies on her."

Whether she's taking aim at herself or at her dear friend "Hildegard Klakkenhammer," Diller has an uncanny ability to take an entire audience down mano-a-mano by using herself for target practice (she got no respect long before Rodney Dangerfield made that his bread-and-butter routine). And she always did it with a wink and a smile.

Oh, if only she were as skilled when saddled with, say, Don Rickles during an embarrassing honeymoon skit, one of several painfully unfunny comedy sketches in which Diller is left to play second fiddle. You can practically feel the audience squirming in their seats, begging Diller to reclaim the stage when she assists a second-rate illusionist, the kind who probably played to half-empty rooms in the Catskills forty years ago. These segments aren't interesting even as a historical curiosity and they're a low point of this disc.

But don't let that stop you from picking up this package. It's a perfect companion to Goodnight, We Love You: The Life and Legend of Phyllis Diller and a tribute to comedy's self-proclaimed ugly duckling, the woman who paved the way for so many future comediennes.

Ms. Diller, you skinny, flat-chested oddball…you're far more than just another pretty face. Darling, you are grand.

Phyllis Diller—Not Just Another Pretty Face is presented in its original full-frame format with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio. English subtitles are included.

The disc includes Diller's guest stint on the quaint game show What's My Line ("Brought to you by Geritol!") and a commercial for Snow Bleach detergent that cements Diller's place in pop culture as comedy's original domestic goddess.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: MPI
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Classic
• Comedy
• Performance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• What's My Line
• Soap commercial

Accomplices

• IMDb








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