Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Curse of Fred Astaire

Okay, look. When I was young and watching old movies and cartoons, the images were black and white. Color hadn't come along yet, but once it did, the images started to change. It took awhile for things to go color, you know. The black and whites had had such images. And style. So when I was young and dreaming along with the movies, a world of release and joy and sometimes intense emotional moments would engulf me, a world of singing and dancing where a callow youth could save and redeem himself with the right production number. You might say that I began to acquire a philosophy. The pinnacle of it all was a well to do guy in dinner tie and tails and nightclubs where the only light is a soft neon glow. Brash and charming, confident with a soupcon of a stylish high society thief. Fred Astaire, song and dance man, ruled the American Dream. For well to do folks at least. As the color musicals stared to air, there was another dancing man. Part gymnast, same charm, much more athletic. Occasionally a pompous fool in a sweet musical comedy sort of way. Earthier. Working class. But as much as I liked Gene Kelly (even with the pompous parts), the world I chose was one of glowing blacks and whites, where witty bon mots were conversation. Where every now and then, if you live your life right, one might step out onto the black onyx dance floor and experience one of those moments you hang on to forever, the ones that make life worth continuing.

Now, I could never be a Fred Astaire. Ungainly, one of those plain faces made from a not quite mashed potato, absolutely no co-ordination, I was and am a mess. I couldn't even stay on key when I was a kid. I've realized that I didn't want to be like him as much as I wanted to live in that world.

"The Curse of Fred Astaire" was an independent movie made in the early to mid 1980's. Obviously, the title resonated with possibilities. Friends in the industry loaned me a VHS tape, telling me , "Ya gotta see this." The story of an overweight theatre wanna be gypsy taking dance classes (with musical numbers, of course), it was easily one of the most hysterically funny things I have ever seen. For most of the first twenty minutes. You soon realise that it isn't a send up, it isn't satire, it isn't camp - it's serious. The remaining hour is the worst dreck I've ever seen, and I'll watch anything - except La Guerre Est Finie and Last Year at Marienbad. but that is another story. I am now prepared to admit that I couldn't watch it through to the end.

Just about every time I've tried to write n this blog during the last couple of weeks, I have had problems with my aging computer. More about that soon.

In the meantime, I feel a need to comment on one of those "trial balloons" floated just a day or two after my last post. It noted that "insiders" had been told by Newt Gingrich that he was running for president in 2012.

Newt Gingrich? The man who co-authored the Contract on America? The same Newt Gingrich who tried to hound and impeach Bill Clinton out of office for a sexual indiscretion - while he was having an extramarital affair with a House of Representatives staffer 23 years his junior?

Is this satire or is it serious?