I’m a movie girl. Whether it’s catching up on my Pre-Codes on a Sunday afternoon or dropping money at one of NYC’s many repertory theaters, I like to make a point of seeing movies a bit more off the beaten path than your everyday blockbuster. I’ve found some gems that way, like a movie where a cape murders someone or DEATH BED.
And sometimes there’s a creepy mermaid baby.
You can’t win them all.
The movie in question is Miranda, a 1948 British comedy in which Glynis Johns—best known as Jane and Michael Banks’ suffragette mother in Mary Poppins—plays a sexpot mermaid who wants to bang every dude she meets. That includes a character played by David Tomlinson, aka Mr. Banks.
If you think I don’t want to see a weird-ass mermaid movie where younger versions of the parents from Mary Poppins do the horizontal tango, you probably don’t know me well enough to realize that I shed my last scrap of human dignity long ago. I should probably try to act normal for a few minutes so as to maintain the illusion.
TOO LATE. THE BANKSES, THEY BANGED.
Also, Glynis Johns communes with a sea lion.
Miranda bangs the doctor (Griffith Jones) she hitched a ride to the human world with, under the guise of being a (human) patient. She bangs one of his artist friends. She bangs Mr. Banks. All this despite the fact that all three of the men are in relationships with women, which is where Miranda gets disgustingly eau de patriarchy. You see, the point of the film is basically “Men can’t keep their tiny tadpoles in their pants while young, hot mermaid Mrs. Banks is around—whaddayagonnado?” In the world of Miranda, a cheating man isn’t morally repellent enough to warrant anything other than a fond, slightly exasperated eye roll, while the woman he's cheating with is a big ol' sl—COUGHCOUGHCOUGH, I mean she’s a “MAN’S WOMAN,” that's what she is.
This slightly queasy, more-than-slightly weird rumination on a certain subset of mid-century sexual politics ends with Miranda returning to the ocean, only for us to see in the film’s closing moments that she has given birth to a mermaid lovechild.
I have so many questions.
1) Why is this mermaid baby freaking me out so much? It's just a normal baby with a tail, but I couldn't get a solid night's sleep for a good three weeks after seeing it.
2) Who is the mermaid's father?
3) The comedy of Miranda hinges on the LOLshenanigans of the obliviousness of most of its characters to the fact that Miranda's a mermaid. Not to devote too much brainpower to the particulars of Miranda's off-screen sexual couplings, but how did the p in v occur without the p figuring out the v belonged to a l i t e r a l m e r m a i d?
4) Mermaid anatomy. Just ... everything involved with it.
5) How did Miranda give birth? How does that work? This movie has sent my brain off a cliff. I'm never going to be able to watch Mary Poppins again.