Foolish and Ballerina (1976)

Hi all, Nate here with another installment of Movies From Nations We Americans Love To Hate (MFNWALTH!). In this case, Iran, man, do we hate Iran (though they’ve done nothing to us…). Living in Iran these days is pretty sucky, the overbearing presence of Islamic law and the oppressive state means that chicks can’t wear miniskirts in public, booze is illegal, there’s no porn on TV, you can’t buy a decent convertible with a five-speed, no one will stamp your passport outside of Syria, Pizza Hut refuses to open a franchise in Tehran, and maybe worst of all you’ll get stoned if you listen to Taylor Swift in a coffee shop (not that there are any coffee shops there). But it wasn’t always that way, of course. Before the Revolution in 1979 deposed the very Western-leaning Shah, Iran was essentially the 51st state of the union. Everything you could find in America in the 1970s was readily available in Iran, drugs and beer, surf boards and rollerskates, boobs and economic equality for educated women in the workforce. And then the Ayatollah ruined everything (boo). And Ahmadinejad was just deliberately harshing on their chill, man.

Yes, yes, you are a douchebag.

The cinema of Pre-Revolutionary Iran was pretty much like American cinema, racy and often violent and always on the cutting edge of fashions and consumer tastes. I picked this movie not because of the thrilling plot or the sage dialogue (I don’t speak Persian and nothing in this movie makes a damn bit of sense) but because it’s filled with fantastic clothes and awesome hair. Plus my print is clean enough for decent screen caps, so this review will be inordinately visual-heavy. But that’s fine with me because Iran is/was/always will be such a beautiful country and the people are very photogenic.

Even if they have to wear the burqa to the beach.

So the story starts out by meeting a family living in Tehran. Dad’s a businessman of some sort, mom stays at home with the dorky son while their college-age daughter is busy being cool. Pretty standard nuclear family, could be any family in America.

The family patriarch. OMG that hair!

The wifey, she’s boring and never puts out.

The most 1976 wallpaper ever. Plus, never understood
the aversion to tables and chairs in some cultures.

Moms tries to get the daughter to drink her goat’s milk.

Other people come and go but I have no idea who these
men and their awesome hats are...

…but I‘d love to get a pint with this chap.

Some old man is sick and he wants the businessman and his assistant (or maybe brother-in-law?) to keep an eye on some hot girl (old man’s daughter?). Maybe he’s worried she’ll get into trouble after he dies? Once again, not my language so I‘m half making all this up as I go along. So the first third of the movie is the businessman and his idiot brother-in-law stalking this pretty young girl all over the city. Not at all sure what that’s about, but there’s nothing sinister about it at all (it’s played for laughs at a few points). Maybe they are trying to make sure she doesn’t embarrass the family or something?

A girl waits outside while the old man chats with the guys.

With his fedora and ultra tiny tie, the brother looks like
Justin Timberlake‘s number one fan.

The hot girl. She’s either an actress or a lounge singer,
or maybe the titular ballerina? Regardless, she’s hot.

This might be the hot girl’s slightly-less-hot sister.
Not sure, but she’s always around and seems jealous
of the attention the hot girl gets from the guys.

He‘s really bad at the following thing.

Even stalking her from his car doesn’t work that well.

The hot girl dons her Paris Hilton sunglasses and her fur
coat to make a getaway.

However, she seems to be enjoying the chase game, girls dig that.

Since the businessman is unhappy at home with his frumpy no-fun wife, it’s no surprise that he ends up falling in love/lust with the pretty young actress with the perky boobs and gorgeous hair. And after some initially hesitancy, she falls in love with him as well. It’s great for a bit, the conversation is stimulating and the sex is crazy, but the businessman starts losing his mind over her and everything else in his life starts to suffer.

Their first real meeting is quite tense.

The hot girl is seriously hot. But she smokes, so two demerits.

And she uses alcohol to get her way with the men (that Jezebel!).

He lays in bed, wide awake, daydreaming of his illicit affair.
And smoking in bed???

They try and go on dates, but it’s awkward because he
has to sneak around to avoid his wife.

So they end up just doing dirty sexy phone talk. This, kids,
is what people did before the internet and text messages.

Meanwhile, the businessman‘s wife is starting to get suspicious.
Clearly he’s never had an affair before because he’s absolutely lousy at
covering his tracks and keeping his game-face on when he’s at home.

As things tend to happen, the hot girl quickly grows bored with the old man and her eye drifts to a handsome young singer in a nightclub. Suddenly realizing he’s SOL, the businessman goes nuts, gets in a fight with the new guy, gets his ass kicked, and then sulks off. He even leaves his wife and family and wanders around miserable for a while, simply unable to get over how terrible everything turned out for him.

The hot girl tells her friend (sister?) first that she’s having second thoughts.
She’s already changed her Facebook status to “It’s complicated”.

He doesn’t yet know he’s a dead man walking.

The new guy is much younger and has better hair (not gray).

She sexy dances on stage with her new loverboy,
and she doesn’t care who sees it anymore.

Jilted, the businessman takes to the bottle.

And all his guy friends abandon him once the affair is exposed.
Judgment is harsh for those who break the sacred vows.

In his absence, his family falls apart. His wife has to wash clothes to make ends meet, his son is literally stealing hubcaps, and his daughter is a hooker now. But a happy ending is in store as the businessman tucks his pride away and comes back home, and his wife takes him back. The girl and her new lover are also seemingly happy, though she’s clearly not the type to settle down so he better not be tattooing her name on his arm any time soon.

The daughter turns some tricks…

…while the band plays a mournful tune.

The hot girl who caused all this mess
with her whoring ways is already bored with this guy.

Back with his wife and all is well. Of course, she’ll never trust him
ever again and he’ll never be satisfied again, sexually or emotionally,
now that he’s tasted the forbidden fruit. Can’t ever go back to normal.

Still, totally worth it because that little girl was hella cute.
I know, I know, I’m a dirty old man, I’m ok with that.

Some closing thoughts….

The cinematography is extremely bland, with the entire movie shot with a locked-down stationary camera, even the exteriors. The exceptions are noteworthy, though. In one meaningless scene the camera follows the businessman as he walks across the room and puts on his coat, the jerky frame showing that the cameraman was carrying the camera in his hands. It’s only done in one shot and doesn’t seem to have any purpose, a very strange switch-up. The other noteworthy change in the normal filming technique is when the old man dies in his bed and the shot of him lying there is from up high, like the camera was on the top of an 10-foot ladder. It’s the only time in the entire movie that the frame isn’t religiously set to face-level and I suppose that it’s supposed to show some reverence for the dead and his travels to Paradise with Allah.

Excellent use of set dressing as well.

Something else I noticed was that the old wife was pretty dressed down while at home, but the one time a strange man came to visit she quickly whipped on a headscarf. Just a nice little old-school cultural marker, kind of like how my 78-year old Southern Belle mom still has to put on her pearls and skirt to go to Walmart.

Where’s your make-up and hair powder?

The End.

Written in November 2014 by Nathan Decker.

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