Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Foot-Loose Doll vs. The Fanciful Frail


I am so sorry about the lack of the weekend post. That did not happen for lack of topics, but lack of modem. And now we have a new modem, but I’m sick with what I hope is just a cold and not the flu. But either way, it kept me in a fog last night, so if anything sounds strange in the post today, that’s likely why.

I’ve seen The Fanciful Frail a couple of times recently, due to airings on the different stations, but it’s been some time since I saw the original, The Foot-Loose Doll. I caught most of that on MeTV this week.

The Fanciful Frail certainly has one of the most downright ludicrous concepts in any episode, right up there with the oddness of The Blonde Bonanza. Two ladies meet, talk for thirty minutes, and deliberately agree to switch identities. Um, what? This is definitely not Pippa Scott’s most intelligent character, as in her fragile emotional state, she is totally manipulated by the scheming other woman. The role definitely shows what an amazing actress Pippa is, as most of the other characters I’ve seen her play are considerably smarter.

Things make a lot more sense in The Foot-Loose Doll, where the other lady is just a hitchhiker the main heroine picks up. They get into a car wreck when the hitchhiker pulls a gun. When Millie, the main guest star, wakes up, the hitchhiker is dead and badly mutilated. She escapes with this other girl’s luggage and takes on her identity at that point, since in her real identity she’s wanted for a crime she didn’t commit. It’s still illogical, true, since she knows nothing of this other girl’s life, but it beats Pippa’s character being manipulated into switching identities while the other woman is still alive.

The Foot-Loose Doll also has that whole subplot about the senator wanting his son’s letters to his fiancée back, as the son says some very embarrassing things about his father within them. The fiancée is supposed to be Fern Driscoll, the lady killed in the car wreck. But then, to throw in a new monkey wrench, the Fern Driscoll hitchhiker turns out to not even be the real Fern Driscoll.

I love the scene where Perry realizes that maybe the hitchhiker attacked Fern and took on her identity before meeting Millie, and the real Fern is found alive at a private hospital. She’s suffering from amnesia and shock, but seeing her beloved brings her out of it enough to at least remember him. I was happy that Fern turned out to be a nice girl. It was certainly a unique twist.

Instead of letters, The Fanciful Frail has a mysterious packet of money that everyone wants. It’s only revealed in the climax that it’s a bunch of counterfeit money. It always makes me cringe to think of the killer burning real money, believing it’s the counterfeit packet.

Both episodes have the sad thing of the defendant being jilted by her fiancé, which sets everyone into motion. It’s particularly heartbreaking in The Foot-Loose Doll, although there is content in The Fanciful Frail that I have not seen, which could add to the sadness of how that version was handled.

One interesting thing in The Fanciful Frail is the scene of Perry attending the “defendant’s” funeral, while everyone else is thinking she was the one killed in the crash. Her former fiancé even has the gall to be there as a pallbearer, and to claim there were no wedding plans between him and her! Della refuses to believe that, and doing some research of her own, learns that there really was a wedding planned, right down to the ring.

The fiancé in The Foot-Loose Doll, by contrast, only appears at the beginning to jilt poor Millie and then skips out for the rest of the episode.

The murderer’s identity is very different in both episodes, as are the victims. The Foot-Loose Doll features a private detective investigating the whole mess, who ends up murdered by his wife because he was going to leave her. In The Fanciful Frail, it’s the fiancé, and he’s murdered by the counterfeiter looking for his fake bills.

Best dialogue, hands-down, goes to the scene in The Foot-Loose Doll where the senator tries to get Perry to represent him for $10,000. Perry says he’s already accepted a retainer from Millie. When asked for how much, Perry says matter-of-factly, “Thirty-eight cents.” The senator’s expression is priceless. And it’s definitely one of Perry’s best bits. One of my favorite things about him is how he’ll take on a case for anyone who needs help, even if they can scarcely pay.

Overall, the episodes are quite different. The Foot-Loose Doll wins for twisty turns, while The Fanciful Frail comes out on top for utter bizarreness. But I do enjoy them both. Steve has some great scenes in The Fanciful Frail, while Tragg and Brice have some classics in The Foot-Loose Doll. And despite the off-the-wall behavior of Pippa’s character in The Fanciful Frail, she’s always fun to watch.

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