BITS & PIECES OF A MISPLACED LIFE #6

MOVIES

        Like most film-makers I have spent more time on movies I have not made than on ones that I have.

      John Boorman

    **  

I told Dale: "When I go, just skin me and put me on top of Trigger." And Dale said, "Now don't get any ideas about me."   Roy  Rogers

Epigraph to Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins (New York: Bantam Books. 1976)
**

CARRY ON CLEO carries the following credit: Based upon an idea by William Shakespeare.  (Carry On Cleo is a 1964 British comedy film, the tenth in the series of 31 Carry On films (1958–1992). The website ICONS.a portrait of England describes Carry On Cleo as “perhaps the best” of the series.[3] Regulars Sid JamesKenneth WilliamsKenneth ConnorCharles Hawtrey, and Jim Dale are present and Connor made his last appearance until his return in Carry On Up the Jungle six years later. –Wikipedia)

DRAGON SEED (1944)…the Chinese simple-folk characters are played by Katherine Hepburn, Turhan Bey,Walter Huston, Agnes Morehead, Hurd Hatsfield, Akim Tamiroff, Aline MacMahon, and Henry Travers.   The New Yorker. “Goings On About Town: Movies”
(September10, 1973)             

Love Story. yes, I saw it on tv. I never laughed so much in my life, what a ridiculous hunk of pretentious phoney shit but looking at it as pure comedy it was magnificent, if you know what I mean. I guess each scene before it arrived. You know the world is really a long long way from solving ANYTHING when they gulp in this kind of tripe and admire it…      Charles Bukowski in a letter to Carl Weissner (March 23, 1973).  SELECTED LETTERS, Volume 3 (l971-1986) London: Virgin Books Ltd. 2004.    

It’s always been my formula to get the next picture set up before anyone’s seen the last one.  Alan Rudolph, Director of “Breakfast of Champions”    **  

The notion of these two characters falling rapturously, romantically in love is virtually revolting.’   Bosley Crowther, reviewing The Iron Petticoat, starring Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn.          

BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARINGBUZZ CUTS   Headline for Manohla Dargis’s review of Clash of the Titans NY Times (April 2, 2010)   **  

Here’s one of the few rules in movies which matter: an actor won’t last as a leading man unless he plays characters who want something passionately.  Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster want power, and Buster Keaton and Clark Gable want girls. Gary Cooper and James Stewart seek justice….     David Denby   The New Yorker (January 29,2007)   **    

Beloved Infidel, as a film, left me cold as ice; I couldn’t relate to it. Gregory Peck was completely wrong and Deborah Kerr playing me, was too  finished a product, too sure of herself…and much too thin! You could see her bones in a swimming suit. No one has ever seen my bones. That film was made in 1959, and the person I would have chosen to play Sheilah Graham was Marilyn Monroe. I begged them to give her the part, but Jerry Wald said no.     Sheilah Graham in Playboy (May 1976)                  

There are movies based on comic books, movies based on toys, and even movies based on amusement park rides, burt nothing wears a bigger “hate me” sign on its back than a movie based on a novel written by a celebrity,            Grady Hendrix   Reviewing Ethan Hawke’s “The Hottest State” in  NY Sun (Auigust 24-26, 2007).                  

Scientists agree that half of our world is made up of elementary particles known as fermions and the other half is made up of advertising for “Happy Feet.”                         Grady Hendrix     

Whenever I find myself getting overwrought over problems with one of my films, I would say to myself. “It’s only a movie.” It never worked.  I was never able to convince myself.   Alfred Hitchcock   **

“The most beautiful thing about ‘Donnie Brasco’ is the opening credit sequences. That seems to be the fashion these days. Think of ‘Mars Attack!’ or the violated violin sounds at the beginning of ‘Seven’ or, best of all, the thumping credits of ‘Mission Impossible,’ which were so tense and sexy that you could leave the theatre immediately afterward without having to suffer the letdown of the film itself.”Anthony Lane. The New Yorker (March l7, 1997)

…a gratifying law of movie economics: the greater the frenzy with which money is thrown at         special effects, the less likely they are to linger in the heads of customers.   Anthony Lane. The New Yorker (September 2, 2019)          **

Curiously, the word “Jew” is never mentioned in the DeMille film, nor are the words  “Hebrew” or “Israelite.” Samson’s people are referred to only as “Danites” in what may have been nervousness about anti-Semitism during the McCarthy era.   Philip Lopate. “Samson and Delilah and the Kids.”
  

Shots of him (Fred Clark playing Marblehead) are always introduced with what may be called a visual rhyme – a buoy, oscillating as his head oscillates (and when his head has an ice-bag on it, the buoy has a seagull).       Richard Mallett, reviewing Don’t Go Near the Water, Punch (February 26, 1958)    

 Not long after the first World War, the movie baron Samuel Goldwyn set up a stable of eminent authors in an attempt to give silent screenplays more literary weight. One of the recruits was the Nobel-Prize winning Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck. Initially neither party seems to have been troubled that Maeterlinck spoke no English; and the great Belgian set to work on a screen version of his novel La vie des abeilles. When the script was translated Goldwyn read it with increasing consternation until he could no longer deny the evidence of his senses. “My God!” he cried. “The hero is a bee!”                   James Meek in The London Review of Books (4 November 2004)

  A movie imprisons your eyes. It acts on you, not you on it. Hence, you don’t “see” or “look at”  a movie. You watch  it  the way a cat watches a bird, until the cat strikes, kills, eats.     Leonard Michaels        

The  Exorcist was a landmark movie, both scary and disturbing. It was also the first and last time a Catholic priest actually wanted to give a woman control over her own body.     Dennis Miller   CLEOPATRA – Forty million dollars worth of Mediterranean splendor and cheap at the price. The leading roles are played by actors who are probably better known than the originals were.           THE NEW YORKER . “Goings on About Town.” July 6, 1963.   **  

 The first time I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was in 1958, its first run. I was in prep school. And it so moved, disturbed and overwhelmed me by the impact of its images that it altered my perception of life, of art and of myself. The twenty-six times I have seen film since have deepened those reactions.     Donald Spoto    

Wait until you see me in The Bible for John Huston. I’ve only seen thirty-five minutes of it, but it’s something else, something extraordinary. A symphony. It must be extraordinary because I play God three times. I’m a pre-echo of the trinity.   Peter O’Toole   Quoted by Ray Newquist in Showcase (William Morrow& Co.)      

Cinema is the mythology of the twentieth century.          Michael Powell        

Almost honouring Jean-Luc Godard,  (Gilberto) Perez’s discourse has a beginning, a muddle, and an end.       Frederic Raphael. The Benefits of Doubt.    

One always more or less believes to have ‘dreamed’ it when one recalls Claudette Colbert bathing in a pool filled with asses’ milk at the beginning of DeMille’s ‘Sign of the Cross.”   Salvador Dali              

In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine –that’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it s our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.   Nicholas Carr  

**

Whenever I found myself getting overwrought over problems with one of my films, I would say to myself, “Remember, it’s only a movie.” It never worked. I wasnever able to convince myself.

Alfred Hitchcock . Quoted in Charlotte Chandler’s It’s Only a Movie (Simon and Schuster, 2005)

**

On NORTH BY NORTHWEST

   The opening music, a fandango, anticipates the crazy dance Cary Grant is about to do across America. The final chase across Mount Rushmore was choreographed in the editing room to this fandango.”

  Bernard Herrmann

Quoted in Charlotte Chandler’s It’s Only a Movie (Simon and Schuster, 2005)The Atlantic (July/August 2008)  

“The commercial cinema is an entertainment or pastime for illiterate slves of an up-to-date ‘business civilization’ founded on mammon. The sham naturalism, the trendy romanticism, the sentimentality on the one hand with its psychological complement — brutality– on the other. The tinned literature and language and music of the cinema have had their big share in the disbasement of the idealistic significance if theatrical performance and workmanship.”              Theodore Komisarjewsky    

Desperate weeks produce disastrous results. Summer’s guarantee top send I/Q’s plummeting is in full swing. So this week at their movies,  the choices were robots running amok; Will Ferrell battling dinosaurs in an alternate universe called the Hollywood  back lot; various wolverines, terminators and ossified Star Trek Xeroxes; and another night trapped in yet another museum with Ben Stiller. I’d rather take my chances exposed to swine flu.   Rex Reed  

“If vacuity had any weight, you could kill an ox by dropping on it Michaelangelo Antonioni’s latest film, The Passenger.”    John Simon      There’s a scene in John Maybury’s new film Love is the Devil in which Francis Bacon has an orgasm while watching Battleship Potemkin. Now that’s what I call a motion picture.       Mark Steyn     **         

I don’t mean to  suggest that film is the source and model of all that is wrong in modern society. But I do think that the world of film, which includes those people who are madly enthusiastic about any film, need to examine very carefully what happens in  our minds when we watch endless violent imagery and feel no wound or repercussions. For one, I am no longer confident that a message has not been passed down to several generations, in their bloodstreams, in their nervous systems and in their trigger fingers.                David Thomson   See THE INDEPENDENT (October 10,2003), p.4.   **

  From Russia With Love. Ian Fleming is the late late show of literature. Perused at the witching hour. The violent adventures and immoderate amours of James Bond, Agent 007 of the British Secret Service, seems as normal as Ovaltine – and rather more narcotic,”   TIME Magazine ( April 10, 1964)  

Whatever happened to the good, honest practice of sticking numerals after a sequel’s title to indicate what number it was in the series? I grew up in the days of Jaws 2, Superman III and Police Academy 7 and, whatever the shortcomings of those pictures, at least you knew where you  stood. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the worse the film in question was likely to be.       

Toby Young    The Spectator, l8 August 200

LUMINOUS DECEITSVerse about movies

ON THE MOVIES & THE BIBLE

 Stanley Donen,

 Reading in the Bible about Onan,

 Thought: “Thanks to Bobby Breen,

 I cannot bring that story to the screen.

**

ON TELEVISION & MOVIE WESTERNS

Wagon Train

It does not take Einstein’s brain

To describe the plot:

Settlers are attacked; Indians shot.

EDDIE FISHER

Fisher, Eddie—

For awhile he was a steady

Husband to a movie star named Liz.

She left him for Richard Burton. That’s show biz.

**

Movie -OLA–OOH LA LA LA

MOVIE-OLA—OOH  LA LA

Selections from 505 Movie Questions Your Friend Can’t Answer by Louis Phillips (New York: Walker and Company, 1983)

1, In France the title of this Cary Grant film was advertised as Grand Mechant Loup Appelle (“Big Bad Wolf is Calling”). By what title is the film better known in the United States?

2. “You have the touch of a sex-starved cobra is a line from what 1942 classic film comedy starring Bette Davis and Monty Wooley?

3. Joseph Keaton, Jr.was Buster Keaton’s birth name. What American magician gave him the name Buster & why?

4. In 1938, what New York Yankee baseball star was offered the chance to play Tarzan in the movies?

5. Who was originally offered the role of Lawrence in David Lean’s epic film Lawrence of Arabia (1962)?

6. After a screen test, a talent scout filed the following report about an actor: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” What dancer/singer and future film star did not measure up to the wrong-headed scout’s expectations?

ANSWERS:

1. The film is Father Goose (1964) . How a film can go from goose to wolf in translation remains a mystery. The song “Pass Me By:” with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by  Caroline Leigh is sung this film.

 2. The line is delivered in The Man Who Came to Dinner. The film is  based on the 1939 play The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The play’s main character Sheridan Whiteside was based upon author, critic, and radio performer Alexander Woollcott.

3. As a child, Keaton fell down the steps of a medicine show wagon while his parents were performing. Fellow performer Harry Houdini saw him take the fall and said , “That was some buster you took.” The name stuck, and it was Buster Keaton from then on.

4. Lou Gehrig. He turned the part down. Instead he decided to star in the 1939 western Rawhide. He did not become a movie star.

   5. Albert Finny. He turned down the part because it would gave required him to sign a five-year Hollywood contract.

  6. Fred Astaire. No further comment necessary.

One thought on “BITS & PIECES OF A MISPLACED LIFE #6

  1. Don’t know where you find these fascinating tidbits but I’m delighted you’re sharing them with those lacking your all-encompassing curiosity.

    Like

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