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Monday, September 8, 2014

'Nasty Habits' DVD: Conventgate

Nasty Habits
The copious Watergate anniversary events in August 2014 made this the perfect month for Warner Archive to release the 1977 post-Watergate Glenda Jackson comedy "Nasty Habits." This topical earth-toned film is a terrific textbook example of the comedies of the era.

This wonderfully creative take (right down to the highly predictable but very entertaining final scene) on the scandal that brought down the Nixon administration centers around the campaign for the position of abbess at a Philadelphia convent. Heiress apparent Sister Alexandra, whom Jackson perfectly plays, is not above using every dirty trick (and a few new ones) in the not-so-good book to ensure her victory over the younger and more charismatic Sister Felicity.

The hi-jinks include "plumbers" who come to the convent for a purpose that has nothing to do with pipes, a network of listening devices that both Nixon and Hogan and the boys at Stalag 13 would envy, a very amateurish break-in, and increasing mania on the part of Alexandra.

Particular highlights include a blackmail scheme incorporating hilarious cross-dressing, Anne Meara satirically playing a global-trotting Mother Teresa style nun, and the execution of the aforementioned burglary.

Additional fun comes in form of seeing some Hollywood greats playing Vatican officials who must now contend with issues related to the order in the convent being an odd mishmash (including Jesuit) of Catholic elements.

The inclusion of real-life '70s personalities, including afternoon talk show host Mike Douglas and newscasters Howard K. Smith and Jessica Savitch, playing themselves further contribute to the nostalgic fun. The appearance of Savitch alone evokes thoughts of the guilty pleasure joke "the date of her death, the death of her date" from the early '80s.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a highlight from "Habits" includes many of the elements described above. It also evokes thoughts of a similar scene that most likely occurred in the Nixon White House in the period after the more famous fateful break-in.

Stating that passing on this chance to watch "Habits" is a sin is shamefully obvious enough to be a sin itself, but the sentiment is valid enough to warrant a whack on the knuckles for expressing it. You will laugh and smile, as well as get a chance to derive more Watergate-related amusement.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Habits" is welcome to email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.