Saturday, December 3, 2016

Two short notes on Ronald Coleman movies

Last night I ended up screening another movie I'd had no intention of watching. It was on the Turner Classic Movies channel, and something about the title cards and music caused me to pause it while I finished up some miscellaneous household chore. The ability to pause whatever I'm watching is one of the things I like about digital television. (One can rewind and watch something that has just gone by as well. I often pause programs like 'Dancing With the Stars', later fast forwarding through commercials and other time consuming bits of business. I've started that program more than 45 minutes in, and caught up with the live broadcast by the program's end.)

This particular exercise in serendipity involved a 1930 United Artists release called 'The Devil to Pay'. It stars Ronald Coleman as a son of English nobility. We are introduced to his character whilst he is in the process of selling off his home and furnishings (in 'East Africa', no less) thanks to his tendencies to bet on "horses with short noses, and cards that were good but not good enough". He's the kind of charming roué who, back in England, visits his old girlfriend - at midnight! (Gasp!) It's definitely pre-code. Oh, by the way, the girlfriend is a sultry young Myrna Loy in a blonde wig. Of course Mr. Coleman's character, Willie, soon meets a wealthy sweet young thing whose engagement to a Russian Grand Duke is about to be announced. The sweet young thing, with the movie foreshadowing name of Dorothy Hope, is played by Loretta Young. There's plenty of connective tissue for film buffs: Willie's father would soon play Baron von Frankenstein, people like cinematographer Greg Toland worked on the project, a memorable scene involves Ronald Coleman talking with a fox terrier he instantly names 'George' - sadly Myrna Loy has no screen time with George; she'd soon co-star with another fox terrier in the Thin Man series, etc.). The film's favorable review in the New York Times took pains to note that, "The sound recording is remarkably satisfactory, for not only are the voices lifelike, but one even hears George's persistent panting." Often cited as a melodrama, it's really a romantic comedy.

As it happens, one of the first movies I screened with my video projector was another Goldwyn - United Artists - Ronald Coleman pre-code talkie, "Bulldog Drummond", released in 1929. (Just to clear things up, Samuel Goldwyn's company was merged with Metro into the formation of MGM, but he had nothing to do with the new company. United Artists was a releasing company formed to give movie makers better control - and a better percentage of profits - by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith. But that is, as they say, another story.) I was familiar with 'Bulldog Drummond' from other early sound movies as well as its 1940's radio shows, so seeing the first sound version had caught my interest. (There were a couple of 'Drummond' silents.) The 1929 picture gets underway when Drummond, a rich, bored, ex-WWI captain, takes out an ad in the newspaper:
 
                                    
 
Naturally, trouble finds him with all due dispatch. The picture is, as they say, a hoot - full of melodramatic nonsense, a missing rich uncle, a sinister sanitarium, even more sinister shadows on the walls, a torture room, a little light bondage, and Lilyan Tashman. What more could any decent movie fan want? As the review in the New York Times noted, "...it conveys a strong appeal even to the most blasé individual".
 
 
There's any number of other movies and life events with which I should catch up, but as is so often the case, I lack the time to continue just now. And yes, I know these notes are frustratingly brief.

 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

'The Last Waltz' and old friends.

A bit over a month or so ago, I discovered that buried deep in the "free movies" section of my cable company's streaming options was one for Turner Classic Movies. I'd often wished they would have one, and suddenly it appeared as though the Cinema Gods had smiled upon the retired movie lover. Titles available at first seemed to be those which had just shown on TCM proper. That has changed a bit, with other titles not on the recent schedules popping in. Most of the titles are only there for 5 or 6 days at a time. As my cable box's digital video recorder is almost always full, I was over joyed to get a second chance to watch titles I had missed, or old friends which I wanted to see again. last night, for instance, I watched a 1942 MGM potboiler about an unfortunate event befalling a gold digging Broadway starlet:

I'll comment on that movie another time, but just as a 'circle of life' kind of thing, I'll note that I used to work in Grand Central Station a long time ago. I will add that it made for a rather interesting almost a double bill, as the late afternoon/early evening had been spent with a friend who came over to see the restored pre-code 'Baby Face', which had been on my DVR for two years waiting for the perfect time to watch it. Notes on that one later, as well.

At any rate, last Saturday night I turned on the video projector, intending to go to the streaming TCM option to see what might be expiring that I'd like to see. I had left the cable box on a Vermont PBS channel; 'The Last Waltz' had just started. My immediate reaction was to email a friend to come over - he had been invited to go to see the live concert but chose not to go. I also figured that it would be constantly interrupted and was being used as pledge bait. That turned out to be correct, but I watched the whole thing (slightly over 3 hours) anyway. It had been a long time since I'd seen it. The concert was the Band's farewell performance, held on Thanksgiving in 1976. Adding to the frustration of the breaks was a pledge promotion for a Blu-ray (only available as part of a set of CDs) which had been restored and approved by the filmmaker (Martin Scorsese), with it's soundtrack remixed by Robbie Robertson (member of The Band who produced the movie) for Dolby 5.1. This was frustrating for a few reasons. 1. I couldn't afford it. 2. I didn't have the room on the DVR to record it. 3. The version they were showing had a standard stereo mix. It was still a delight to see it again. Of course, I looked online to see if this new edition was available. It might be a repackaging of previously available material, or not - information was scarce. Now, I can't go to any website without being confronted with ads for 'The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary' special set.



I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog that in the late 1960's and early 1970's, I used to help run a counter-culture coffee house in Ocean City, NJ, called the Purple Dragon. Ocean City had originally been a Methodist camp meeting. When land was sold, a clause was put in the deeds that should the sale of alcohol ever be legalized on the island, the land would revert to the possession of the Methodist Church. Now, when I say that Ocean City was an island, I do mean that literally, not figuratively. The main bridge was at 9th Street. Across that bridge, on the mainland, was a town called Somers Point. And, on one side of a traffic circle, there was a very large liquor store said to have the highest volume of sales in the entire United States. (Across it's access road was a popular club, 'Your Father's Moustache'.) On the other side of the circle was an even more popular club called Tony Mart's. Just next to it was an old fish market. The Methodist church, which funded the Purple Dragon, got that building and opened another coffeehouse, called The Fish Market. (I think that was supposed to be a display of ecumenical humor.) Now, I spent many an evening at the Fish Market. I only mention this as it is my tenuous connection to Tony Mart's. The Band used to play there under the name of 'Levon and The Hawks', a leftover form the days when they played with Ronnie Hawkins. They were, in fact, playing there when Bob Dylan made them an offer to become his back up band.


Needless to say, I was a fan of both The Band and Mr. Dylan. When Dylan ended a multi-year retirement (after the motorcycle accident), he did so by going on tour backed by The Band. When they played Madison Square Garden as the tour's last stop, I was there - with my friends Richie and Keith. That's the same Richard, by the way, with whom I go on camping and canoe expeditions into wilderness areas of the Adirondacks. (Trips which I credit with maintaining my sanity.) At any rate, I went to see 'The Last Waltz' when it played in the theatres. When another friend, John, bought a building in Brooklyn (in partnership with his brother) to rehab, they threw a party. The idea was that they would have something different going on in each room for guests to enjoy while wandering around. At the time, I was working for a film company which had the rights to 'The Last Waltz', and managed to get my hands on one of the brand new 16mm prints to show in one of the rooms. That's the same John, by the way, who was instrumental in my moving from NYC to Boston, and who took me on my first car culture excursions, as well as my first trips to Vermont. He was also one of the kind folks who helped me move here. I've lost contact with him over the years, much to my regret. So John Chiafalo, if you stumble on this, please get in touch.

Now, I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores of what is probably the best rock and roll concert film ever made, or some of the problems it had. Or the sadness of the years and realizing that Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm are no longer with us. What I will say is that if you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so. Here's the concert's, and the movie's, finale (an encore was used as the film's opening). Joining the Band are Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond (Huh? - don't worry about it), Paul Butterfield, Dr. John, Van Morrison, and Ronnie Hawkins. Oh, yeah, when you start the clip use the full screen option if it's available to you. And, as the filmmaker requests, turn up your volume.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Waiting for the fog to lift...

It's one of those gloriously foggy mornings, the kind that one gets in my area in late September or early October as the morning air cools over nearby warm water. It's late November, though, and it's the time of year when older lady cousins should be wiping frost from windowpanes, smiling, and declaring it to be 'fruitcake weather'. The fog, and the obscured road ahead, function as metaphor.

It's been quite awhile since I last worked on these pages; it's the longest break I've taken from these meanderings since this project was started. It's a kind of obvious cliché to note that much has changed during my absence from this - this - this what? Diary? Forum? Longer form Social Media? (It's probably best that I not get into a discussion of Facebook at this point, except to note that any entry over a couple of paragraphs in length goes largely unread. The same is true for linked articles, except that people will respond - at length - in high dudgeon to the assumed content from merely reading the title.)

an end of summer garden visitor

Aside from the usual cheery transformations of climate and politics (not unrelated), I've had a personal development of some significance. I've removed myself entirely from the low power Community Radio station I helped create. It's the usual story of frustrations with an all volunteer Board of Directors (I was the President, for a second time), the volunteer staff of 60 some persons, and attempting to manage both. All as an unpaid volunteer. Things erupted over the July 4th weekend; after two sleepless nights in a row, I realized that I just couldn't do it anymore, and resigned. I also walked away from my radio show. I figured that if I weren't easily accessible, I wouldn't be called upon to do things, or, for that matter, feel that I should participate. I'd assumed I was putting the show on hiatus, and would return after a nice rest, but I no longer know if that will happen.

Angel's Trumpet and Russian Sage
The weather this past summer was hotter and more humid than I could take. I spent a small fortune, close to $300.00, for a portable air conditioner. (My rented studio has no windows, just a sliding glass door to a balcony.) As I once passed out from the built up heat in this place, I felt the expense for something I'd only use for a couple of months a year was justified. The heat and humidity also made it difficult to work in the garden. I take care of the much larger Solar Hill gardens; with time at a premium most of my work on my own spaces went to the vegetable garden. The flower garden suffered from neglect.
 
 
The late fall crop of raspberries was wonderful, heavily producing over an extended season. I delightedly made an unconscionable amount of raspberry jam, even though I abandoned an entire picking for a week's wilderness camping via canoe trip.

Paddling between Little Tupper Lake and Rock Pond in the Adirondacks.

One of several beaver lodges on the same passage - taken on the way back a few days after the above photo.
Sanity has been maintained through the video projector and many, many movies. Of course, I'm upset with myself for failing to note them. While I'll remember Kay Francis in 'Mandalay', I'll never be able to remember much of the other Kay Francis titles from a Turner Classic Movies DVR binge. Mandalay, by the way, is a hoot. Francis played a good girl sold into white slavery style prostitution by a traitorous boyfriend. After surviving and escaping her time as "Spot White", she ends up killing the traitorous tormentor, falling for an alcoholic ex-doctor, and trudging off with same into the jungles on a mission of mercy to relieve the suffering of plague victims.
 
Kay Francis as Spot White in 'Mandalay'.
How could I not note a WWII era western, 'Cowboy Canteen', in which Jane Frazee's ranch is turned into an entertainment venue for servicemen stationed nearby? Charles Starrett wanders about, two rollicking numbers are provided by an impossibly young Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans, two numbers are contributed by Tex Ritter, plus there's couple of numbers from Jimmy Wakely and His Saddle Pals. Add in Vera Vague, plus a few turns by a number of country and western vaudevillians. The toppers (for me) were the two songs provided by 'ranch hands' The Mills Brothers, "(Up a) Lazy River", and "Paper Moon"!
 
The Mills Brothers, fresh off their farmhand duties (in
spectacularly ill advised costumes), 'rehearse' their hit "(Up a) Lazy River".
Roy Acuff (on the right), and a few of the Crazy Tennesseans,
as they perform "Wait for the Light to Shine". 
I am remembering such things with a little more clarity than had become my custom. I was reading an article on the internet, clicked on a link, and saw a reference to drugs which cause memory problems. I followed the latter link, and found the statin I've taken for years for bad cholesterol listed. I stopped taking it for a couple of weeks to see what would happen. My memory improved! My vocabulary, which I admit I'd downplayed and dumbed down after being told I intimidated people, began to return to everyday use. I'd had episodes in which I'd be doing a tribute show on the radio, and at station break be unable to name the person being saluted. I even heard myself on one show's recording credit Louis Armstrong when I meant Louis Jordan. Things are much better now. The memory isn't as sharp as it once was, but where recalling a bit of once well known information was taking 20 minutes, that action now takes anywhere from 10 seconds to a few minutes. It's not consistent, but it is a definite improvement. It's been six months since I stopped the statin; my doctor went along with this experiment provided I took another cholesterol test after 6 months. The improvement is enough that I'm concerned, lest the test put me back on the damn pills.

Early morning mist obscuring an island with pine trees, reminiscent of a Turner painting, Rock Pond, Adirondacks.

 There's a lot more movies to note, more life events to note (this is a sort of diary, after all), but my late breakfast of oatmeal (with maple sausages, the entire concoction drizzled with maple syrup) is ready. Now that mornings (when I usually do this kind of thing) are no longer spent at the garden, I am going to try to get back in the habit of writing. He said, as the fog lifted.

Monday, July 4, 2016

notes on a July the 4th

It has been awhile since I've scribbled any meandering thoughts in this particular back road of cloudy cyber-space. Life has just been too busy for this aging semi recluse. I haven't even posted my weekly radio shows for awhile, and am somewhat disappointed with myself in this regard. That project has gotten so far behind that I am not going to bother to catch it up. Instead, here's a link to my account on the show's web-stream service provider, SoundCloud, where the last year and a half of my humble weekly efforts of musical exploration are available. My current shows are mostly done in a jukebox format, songbook style interspersed with a few clips I've made from old music and variety radio shows.

One of my old real camera pictures, a few miles up the road outside of Grafton, VT, probably July 4th, c 1993- 1994


I've also disappointed myself by failing to make notes on the movies I've watched recently. When I used to screen movies in 16mm, I kept a list of titles I'd shown, mainly as a method of counting bulb hours. As the hours of use added up, I'd be sure to purchase a standby bulb to have at the ready just in case. I don't quite remember how many hours I used to get per bulb - was it 40? Did it stay the same when bulbs changed from incandescent filament to halogens? My cheap little video projector advertised its bulb life at "up to 50,000 hours". Figuring average running times of the movies and occasional tv programs I watch on it, that's well over 20,000 movies. At this point I don't think I need to keep a bulb check. When I last looked at the list from the halcyon days of my 16mm screenings, there were a number of movies I can't recall watching. There were also a number of movies I can remember watching, but that doesn't imply that I remember anything about them. In our current era of instant internet info, it only takes a moment to look up one such title, Dario Argento's "Four Flies on Grey Velvet" from 1971. There are plot synopsis, reviews, "making of" info, as well as the entire movie itself all for free at the click of a mouse. Such access still amazes me. I only got to see it because I worked for the company that had the 16mm rental rights. When it gets right down to it, when I look up movies I remember quite well from watching dozens of times, I often find errors in online materials. Sometimes I wish I had made notes on some titles so I could check my impressions and reactions all these years later; kind of like re-reading a favorite book and noticing how some parts no longer affect you while others now have great consequence and import.

Another of my old 35mm film camera pics, at the Grafton cheese company c July 1993 - 1994
 
Oh, no! Oops, sorry about that, we've undergone a sudden shift in subject matter, and I just got a bit of a shock. It's the Fourth of July. Our local Independence Day parade should be stepping off at the south end of town just about now. I didn't get any sleep at all last night, and am in a snitty cantankerous mood. My feelings for my fellow human beings over the course of this past year are best summarized by that old Charles Bukowski quote, "I don't hate people. I just feel better when they aren't around." So I am staying home today as my personal sacrifice for the betterment of humankind. I just turned on our local cable access station (also available via webstream when the gods of electronica smile upon us). The first visual was of the retail portion of downtown. It's the main part of Main Street. Even though the parade won't get there for a bit, it was quite a shock to see so few people that huge portions of the street and curb sitting space are empty. When I moved here, it would be difficult to find a decent parade watching spot at this point in the morning. And that would be on the sunny side of the street. Now there are huge empty spots even on the shady side. (Being that this is Brattleboro in the age of Social Media, an age of constant umbrage, I feel I should point out that the use of the word "shady" was not a reflection on local businesses or their practices, but a reference to that side and portion of sidewalk which is not in full direct sun.) 

The parade - not my picture, taken from a website which credited it to "Kristopher Radder/Brattleboro Reformer Staff"
Many years back (stop me if I've noted this before), our 4th of July parade was one of the biggest around, drawing state politicians as well as those from the county and local towns, bands from all the area high schools, synchronized snowmobile spectaculars from the Shriners, and so on and so forth. This being Brattleboro, protest groups were an integral part of our July 4th parade. A few such groups would participate while protesting the local and problematic nuclear power plant. The Chamber of Commerce used to stage the parade; when a good bit of funding began to come from the power plant company, the rules were changed to forbid protests. Parade participation and attendance dropped over such heavy handed attempts at censorship in a event celebrating our country's freedoms. Not long after all of that occurred, a new parade and festival started on the first Saturday in June. When first proposed by someone who moved here from the cities, the proposal was for a parade of bovines down Main Street so that tourists could see the animals from which their milk originated. We used to refer to the idea as "the running of the cows".

All I remember about taking this was that it was off of a back road about a half hour west of Brattleboro, July c1993 - 1994




For the first few years of this new extravaganza, sponsorship was provided by corporate agribusinesses in an area known for localism, small family farms, and organic and natural foods. The first year or so, at the once little festival at the parade's end, free samples of ice cream (the kind with bovine growth hormones) were given out, as well as bottled water whose origin was suspect. The organizers learned quickly and by year three the only available refreshments cost a good bit of money. Over the next several years, the parade folks began to acknowledge their localism faux pas, and the sponsors began to change to concerns which didn't seem to be the diametric opposite of everything our local farms stood for. It is now the big event of the year, and not meant for local folks as much as their relatives who come to visit that weekend, as well as the standard tourist crowd. Their success has helped to kill off the annual parade of the High School alumni and the current year's graduating class, the Winter Carnival parade, and a couple of others I can't quite recall at the moment, The kiddie Halloween parade is a shadow of its former self when it happens at all. Seeing empty sidewalks where people used to stand four to five deep on July the 4th is truly sad. As I write, the parade has already ended, and another tradition has been broken. The official end of most local parades has, for several years now, featured Alfred, our local black celebrity drag queen "debuting his annual top-secret ensemble". Now there is a parade unit after him, while he sits in a car and is seldom in full regalia. During the years I've watched or participated in the various parades, all of the local dairy farms have vanished, their herds sold off. The changes, from local to corporate, to 'localism' as supplied to tourists by corporations which bought most of the organic companies, the killing off of local traditions in favor of corporate sponsored, branded and promoted tourism designed to separate the remains of the middle class from their money, is a reflection of the changes in the country during the same years. The meaning of the day seems to have been lost to the empty calorie glitz of pandering to the tourist dollar. Sic transit Gloria mundi.

Alfred - not my photo, and, sorry, but I don't know who to credit.
 



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A month of Saturdays

Memory is such an odd thing. At the moment, there is a panel from the comic strip 'Peanuts' floating around in my brain. One of the characters in the strip is uttering a well timed, "Good Grief". I can't quite remember  which character says it, though. I want to say it's Charlie Brown, but then I think it must be Lucy. Or Linus. I notice that I haven't posted here for an entire month. Good Grief.

It's been a busy time. There's been quite a bit of work at the garden. I still haven't gotten around to writing much about Solar Hill, where my little plots of insanity are located. I could swear (and I do more than I'd like) that I've written a brief history of the place. It was once a Governor's (and Senator's) mansion. The house has also been used for research by an optics company, as the main building of an experimental college, and has for over 20 years now been used as offices for alternative healers, therapists, and similar or related services. A second building was added at some point - I think for the college. It now houses the Neighborhood School House, an experimental educational facility of some note. They've added pre-school. Every nice day, shortly after 10:30am one group heads to the garden during recess, and I instantly hear the voices of 6 or 7 of the very youngest youngsters calling out, "Hi, Steven", "Hi, Steven", "Hi Steven". I both love it and want to run and hide at the same time.


I always feel odd taking pictures with people in them. I don't want to 'invade' someone's space.
As the tulips started blooming, a couple of the kids saw me about to take a picture and asked
if I would include them. As I'm not mentioning anyone's name, I hope it's okay to post this.

 

The above photo of tulips is not one I had intended to post - it's inclusion was an accident. I can't get rid of it, though. If I add a caption, the photo vanishes along with the photo above it. If I try to delete it, all heck breaks loose and much of the text vanishes. Or re-arranges itself. After struggling with it for awhile, I decided to utilize the lessons acquired in the aging process and simply let it be.

In April and for a good bit of May I spent so much time working on Solar Hill's gardens that I'm now pressed to catch up with my own. At the moment, I'm glowing over the return to blooming life of a few of the iris. The white ones haven't bloomed in many years. The ever so delicate light yellow ones haven't bloomed in many years longer. Soil amendments helped. (Sometimes spreading manure is a good thing.) Weeding helped - I now firmly believe that the Iris don't like too much around them. They want to show off and become somewhat recalcitrant if they sense any blooming competition.  The yellow iris were left behind by my friend Jonathon and incorporated into my garden when I had to move it many years ago to make more room for the schoolhouse's playground area. I remember them as being of a darker shade, with brown falls and veining. Maybe that one is there but hasn't bloomed yet? Maybe it has something to do with the soil? At any rate, they only bloomed once after their initial move. I've moved them over the last two autumns, and this year they finally seem happy. (They should be, they are where they can show off.) I've long had a problem with yellow colors in the garden - I just don't know how to use them to my liking. Maybe that's because I don't try very often.
But these delight me.




Blogger is once again giving me a bit of trouble, and the morning is a wastin'.  Time to go. More on the garden, and May's radio shows, later. 
 






Monday, May 2, 2016

Playin' rondo variations on the sciatic nerve

Grump, grumpy, grumpola, to grump, or not to grump... do you see where this is going? Do I? Should that be "Do eye" just to be contrary and upset grammariticians? No, I'm not just trying to cover up for my lack of posts, or the fact that I'm now behind by three radio show links on my own blog. If I thought anyone actually read any of this or listened to my shows through the posted links in any sort of regular fashion, I'd be horrified. Something is wrong. I'm having the worst attack yet of pain from the sciatic nerve. It's so bad that I can't think off hand if this is the beginning of week three or week four of this go'round. I'm out of any kind of painkillers, and it will be another two hours before there will be a bus to the market. My spine is now making complaints. I wonder if has to do with the rainy weather? My skin condition has been acting up - it's not supposed to be painful but it is at times, and I seem to be in one of those times. It's enough to make me wonder if there is a doll somewhere that looks like me with any number of pins stuck in it.

I've been goofing off and watching movies again. Last week, all but one of the movies I watched had some bearing (not that much really) on my radio show. I've just deleted a couple of paragraphs about the interconnectedness of the movies I watched. I shall try to get back to pondering such things a little later - after I get to the store and purchase a giant bottle of Aleve. For now, I'll just catch up with posting the last few weeks of radio shows.

I'll start off with the program from April 16th. The legislature in my state has had a major push to decriminalize the use of marijuana. The bill passed the Senate, but once it got to the House it became the unhappy subject of legal shenanigans. A committee decided to delay, stonewall, and obfuscate by re-writing the bill, and took out the decriminalization part in favor of just discussing regulations. They passed their version to the next committee, which put everything back, plus added a clause which would allow folks to have two plants for their own use. (The two plants thing was standard, if unacknowledged, 'look the other way' practice in Vermont some 20 years ago.) With the "four-twenty" a few days away, I thought I'd do a show featuring viper songs of the 1930's. ("Four-twenty" is a pot culture reference, and a day on which "smoke-ins" are held to encourage repeal of anti-hemp and anti-marijuana legislation. It grew out of a meeting of students at the appointed time to search for a fabled abandoned field of pot. These things take on a life of their own.)



The above, by the way, is one of my most played shows on Soundcloud. It was almost lost - the station's recording computer program burped and ate my show. Luckily, one of the DJs wanted to hear it, didn't know about my recording and posting my shows, and set his home computer to record the program. His volume was set a little high and there is a bit of distortion - particularly during the first few minutes - but I'm extremely grateful the show was saved, and that someone likes my show enough to record it. Another listener used to record it on cassette tapes and send them out to his friends.

Up next, the show from April 23rd, which took note of the birthdays of Lionel Hampton, Shirley Temple, and one of the show's Patron Saints and Goddess of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. It was also the start of Passover. In all of the surviving radio shows which are generally available, there are only a couple which even mention it. Those two mentions were from "The Eternal Light", a drama series. I assume that shows like "The Goldbergs" had Passover themes, but those shows are not among the survivors. So, for friends who celebrate the holiday, I included a segment I made last year which edited together scraps found of a NYC Yiddish radio station. Included in that segment, the Barry Sisters sing "Yiddle Mitn Fidl" in both Yiddish and English.



Just as a by the by kind of thing, "Yiddle With His Fiddle" was the most successful Yiddish musical ever filmed. (I think the actual citation is that it is the most successful movie in Yiddish.) It starred Molly Picon, a wonderful entertainer now largely forgotten. I screened a 16mm print of it when I lived in NYC, but don't remember much of it. I can't find a reference to this anywhere, but I'm fairly certain it was a stage show long before it was a movie. I have a memory of discovering that a theatre on Second Avenue (or was it on Third?) on the Lower East Side whose existence was endangered had been where the show played, with Molly Picon as the star.

And that brings us to the most recent show, which "played a few" for the birthdays of Blossom Dearie, Duke Ellington, Kate Smith, Lorenz (Larry) Hart, and Bing Crosby. There were also segments for Walpurgisnacht and May Day. Whew! Too much to do, not enough time. Many years ago, I did a show called "Bing and..." which was only Bing Crosby and various other performers in duets and etc. It was, I think, the most fun I ever had in the 'doing' of one of my shows. Maybe this Saturday I'll do more for Bing. And Kate Smith only got one song. Few now remember  that she was a jazz baby singing "hot" songs.



Well, now that the posting of the radio shows has been caught up, I can go writhe in pain until it's time to catch the bus. I shall try to get back later (today, tomorrow, or whenever) to record impressions of the movies I've watched, as well as the garden and this year's attempts at Spring.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Yes, memory is now like that comback you thought of a half an hour too late.

About a half an hour after I finished the last post, I finally remembered the film I'd watched (and deleted form the DVR) which I wanted to note someday before I forget it completely. It was Tim Burton's "Big Fish". I like Burton's movies, even the less than successful ones. It's the kind of movie in which no one gets any appendages cut off in clinical detail while fighting invading intergalactic warriors. There aren't even any transforming intergalactic warriors. There is a transformation of sorts, but it's part of a story about a man who is a teller of tall tales, and his relationship with his son. Released in 2003, it probably couldn't get made today, even for an internet only streaming content provider. All in all, a lovely little film I hope to see again someday.

As usual, I'm running late on some things and rushing through others. One item in the "late" category is the posting of my radio show from April the 2nd. The show opened with a few songs to greet the new month, then turned to a meditation of sorts on the idea of a pop song "April in Paris".



By the way, I've noticed that some of my shows posted here through SoundCloud no longer display the player/picture for that episode. Just click on the square and go to my account on SoundCloud - I have shows archived there going back to November 29th, 2014.

There's lots of other stuff and nonsense on which I'd like to catch up, but have little time to do so. Which means that I'm going to post last night's show and go do other things.

I would like to make a mental note that today is the anniversary of my turning on the new transmitter which put WVEW-lp back on the air almost a year after the fire at the Brooks House. This event was on April the 10th, 2012.  I had also turned on the old transmitter when the station made its broadcast debut on September 1st, 2006.  I turned the transmitter on for radio free brattleboro a couple of times, too. It's probably quite wrong to be proud of such things, but I am for many reasons I'm not going to enumerate just now.

Okay, now - last night's show played a few for lyricist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg, whose birthday was April the 8th. And I played a few for Capitol Records, which was founded around this time in 1942. Accounts differ, and I've seen April the 9th (1942) listed as the day the company was founded, the day it changed its name from Liberty Records to Capitol (about a week after the founding), and the day on which its first record was cut. And finally, there was a set for pianist/band leader Martin Denny who practically founded the "Exotica" movement of the late 1950's and early 60's which resulted in a proliferation of Tiki bars and lounges. The image for the sound file for the show is of a woman listening to a crystal radio made out of a coconut shell. It seemed appropriate at the time.



As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show(s).

p.s. Well, what do you know, all of the shows form this year are now displaying their players properly. I'd written an old address I had for Soundcloud's tech support (all such info having vanished from their site), but never heard from them. I'm just glad it's working again. It's not like friends or family are currently waiting with baited breath for each and every post, but I'd like things to be available for anyone who stumbles upon these pages.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Harness My Zebras

"Harness my zebras - gift of the Nubian King."
So sayeth Mary of Magdala, who was a bit miffed that her fave hunk was off gallivanting around the countryside with some carpenter.
Oh, the shame.

Which means that the big old fashioned Hollywood epics have been showing again somewhere in the recesses of memory, as well as on the tv, and on my wall. That video projector I gave myself for Christmas has reignited my on again off again affair with one of my first loves, the Hollywood movie; as well as the offshoot subgenre, the Hollywood Movie Spectacular (usually with special effects for things like giant apes, cataclysms, flying carpets, various and sundry miracles, etc.).

A little over a week ago, my attempt to gain useable space in my DVR resulted in watching the 1924 silent version of 'The Thief of Bagdad'. I have the 1940 version waiting as well, he bragged with a happy feeling that found visible expression in a sly smile of delight. It's been years since I've seen either. The silent version is a sort of major Hollywood studio super colossal big budget auteur epic. Produced by its star, Douglas Fairbanks, the director's credit is given to Raoul Walsh but it was Fairbank's project all the way. (He wrote the script under a pseudonym.) The releasing studio was United Artists, which had been formed a few years earlier to give greater artistic control of its product (and, needless to say, financial participation) to its principals; Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford (Mrs. Fairbanks at the time), Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith.


How big is that set? See along the bottom area of the picture? Those little forms are actors.
The sets, among the largest ever built, were constructed for Fairbanks' 1922 production of 'Robin Hood', and said to be 10 stories in height. They were redesigned into an art nouveau Bagdad by William Cameron Menzies. The walls of old Bagdad were later re-used for the gate to King Kong's part of Skull Island. The set was ultimately burned to ashes as a stand in for Atlanta in 'Gone With the Wind'. Those scenes of that particular epic, by the way, were directed by William Camron Menzies. It is said that among the old sets burned for 'GWTW' were parts of a set used in the silent 'King of Kings'. I have not yet figured out if the silent movie Jerusalem was another redressed variation of Nottingham/Bagdad revisited or just how the 'King of Kings' (via DeMille and Paramount studios) got into that conflagration. When I was in my teens, I read that the Kong gates were originally from the Babylon set of the 1916 epic 'Intolerance'. I've since read that the Intolerance sets, which were left standing after filming ended (i.e. the money ran out) were taken down in 1919. I guess Hollywood history is a lot like Hollywood versions of history. A major shopping center, which includes an 'event' theatre (where tv shows like the Academy Awards are staged) now sits on the site that was once ancient Babylon (at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenues in Los Angeles), while Nottingham castle/Bagdad (and maybe Jerusalem) were at Santa Monica Blvd. and North Formosa Avenue, several blocks to the southwest. 

Nottingham Castle on the Pickford-Fairbanks lot.



Two years after the set was built for Robin Hood, it became Bagdad.
 
As a by the by kind of thing, Pickford and Fairbanks had purchased the former Jesse Hampton studio for their productions. It later became the United Artists lot. In the sound era, Joseph Schenck and Samuel Goldwyn filmed there, adding offices and sound stages for productions like 'Wuthering Heights'. The dual ownership status became a problem after the land and studio buildings were left to various inheritors. The courts, in settling the various claims and lawsuits, forced a sale. For a time it was owned by Warner Bros. An independent rental facility known as "The Lot" now occupies part of old Bagdad. Other parts of the former Pickford-Fairbanks studio are now used for an apartment house, a water processing plant, and various retail stores. Among the productions which filmed there are "The Best Years of Our Lives", "The Bishop's Wife", the Roy Rogers tv show, "Guys and Dolls", "Some Like It Hot", 'The Apartment",. "West Side Story", "Apocalypse Now", and in some odd turn of fate, "Robin Hood - Men in Tights".
 
The Fairbanks 'Thief' is a heck of a lot of fun, but it is definitely best seen on as big a screen as possible. Camera positions constantly shift from intimate close-ups of the principals to shots intended to show the enormity of the sets; human figures are so dwarfed in some shots that one might assume the humans were miniatures. They weren't - the sets were that big. It doesn't help that the aspect ratio is assumed to be 1.33:1 (which is what is listed on the Internet Movie Database). At the time, a 1:1 ratio was common. Printing the film (or showing it) using 1:33:1 thus cuts off a small portion of the frame. Usually, it is the top of the frame that goes missing in such situations. With the Fairbanks Thief, however, the height is kept for effect, while the bottom of the picture frame is impacted. For example - in the shot below the thief, while trying to become worthy of the hand of a Princess, is tempted by sirens in a scene of only a few seconds duration, part of a larger underwater sequence.

The set for this scene took months to build - the art nouveau seaweed and jellyfish were made of cut glass.
Sadly, the bottom of the picture is cut off - I assume due to the wrong aspect ratio being used.

The art nouveau design definitely creates a texture  and feel that is different from all other film versions of the tales. It's old Bagdad in context of a slightly fevered Maxfield Parrish dream. I have read that Fairbanks initially wanted to hire Parrish to do the design work. Here's one of William Cameron Menzies sketches, part of a set he produced in a weekend's time to persuade Fairbanks to hire him.


 
Fairbanks was around 40 when production work began, and while he still looked pretty good, and wore costumes that accented his (ahem) assets, he was getting a little long in the tooth for such roles. Still, he had a field day jumping and dancing around enemies and situations with the abandon of his younger self. Most of the time it's a most enjoyable and naturalistic performance, marred only on a couple of occasions by old silent film pantomime techniques such as scratching the palm or grasping at the air to denote the thief's desire to obtain something for his own. It's not that such actions spoil any of the proceedings, it's more that such things are so startling in otherwise fluid storytelling that they become minor distractions.

 
 
The storyline rambles all over the place in a most delightful fashion as our hero undergoes transformation and various quests. (Well what did you expect? What good are heroes without quests?) Along the way are rival suitors, a hiss-able villain (an evil Mongol prince), descents into brutality (the whipping of a man over a minor bit of thievery, and a later whipping of the titular thief), dragons and other monsters (my favorite being a giant underwater spider), valleys of fire, a crystal ball, flying horses, flying carpets, armies from grains of sand - so much in fact that viewers have a tendency to offer audible gasps of astonishment, and mutter "What now?" or "You gotta be kidin' me" in sympathy with our hero as he approaches his next challenge.

The whipping of a small time thief
 
 Taking on an attacking underwater spider (from an untinted print)
 
 
 The Mongol villain (boo- hiss) (the following inter-title gives an idea of his evil ways)
 
 

 
 
The print shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel was easily the best quality I've seen on this title, made up from two sources, from what I gather. The tints seem slightly strong when viewed television sized, but blown up in projection are subtle, lovely, and add much to the atmosphere. This version had an orchestral score which utilized themes from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. From a quick look online I did a month or two ago, there are (I think) two versions out there on DVD/BluRay which have orchestral scores - one using a small orchestra in a reading of the original score sent to theatres (which used Rimsky-Korsakov) and the version I'm writing about which came form the Cohen group which has a Carl Davis score, which also utilizes the Rimsky-Korsakov themes.

When originally shown in the big city theatres, Fairbanks had the various movie palaces scented with perfumes, with extra atmospherics provided by performers who chanted the call to prayer, costumed to enhance an Oriental mood.




It was also fun to watch both the silent 'The King of Kings' (1927), and the sound 'King of Kings' (1961) later in the same week. I'd quite forgotten the physical brutality of the first part of the Nicholas Ray version. This time around, I kept noticing that playing Jesus Christ got a little iffy for the actors involved, as both productions are short on character development. Just the same, the silent version (as noted at the link above) opens with the zebra drawn chariot, and ends with the resurrection as the world explodes into two strip technicolor as though we have all landed in Oz. I saw the 1961 version in 70mm Super Technorama back when. (Super Technorama was an anamorphic widescreen process using film exposed to run through the projector in a vertical manner rather than horizontal - similar to Todd-AO. The idea was to provide widescreen without using lenses which could adversely affect the image. So of course they added anamorphic lenses to it.) When I first saw it, I thought it dwelled too much on the politics of the time, and wanted it to get on to miracles and stuff. Nowadays the political parts seem to go by rather quickly (Barabbas is a revolutionary plotting the overthrow of the Roman state in Judea). (There was, by the way, another movie released in 1961 with Anthony Quinn as "Barabbas". My memory of it is not clear, but clear enough that I no desire to refresh my memory of it.) Plus, the 1961 version has that glorious Miklós Rózsa score - one feels sanctified just by listening to it.

Last night I finally caught up with the Bing Crosby "Pennies From Heaven". I've got company coming, so I'll have to make reference notes later - along with notes on several other movies I've watched recently, either for the umpteenth time, or for the first, i.e. "Boyhood", "The Third Man", "Mark of the Vampire", the 1929 "Bulldog Drummond", "Dracula A.D. 1972" (and "Dracula, Prince of Darkness"), the 1933 "Alice in Wonderland", and a few others I am embarrassed to admit I can't think of at the moment. Hopefully, I'll remember what I wanted to note.

 
 
 


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

I've probably mentioned this before, but I miss the local tradition of a downtown Easter Sunday zombie walk. I think the last time I saw it was on Easter Sunday 2012. That was on April the 8th, and the main reason I remember is that I spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon assisting our engineer with setting up and wiring the new WVEW-lp studio. You know, it would explain a lot about these last few years if I were to assume that the zombies got me.

---------------------------------------
 
Curses! Sidetracked again!
 
 
On to other tasks. I shall have to miss today's chance to be brilliantly witty, charming, and possessed of... well, maybe just leave it as possessed.
 
And now (drumroll please) last night radio show. (Applause, cheers) (moves hands up and down, "Thank You, Thank You, that's enough now, thank you".)
 
As you may have guessed, it's a themed show chock full of secular Easter time stuff from ye olde days of radio, and commercially released sound recordings made on black shellac.
 
 As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show.

 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Onion rings for breakfast

Do you know what happens when you get too busy for the daily chores of life? You get onion rings for breakfast. My schedule got messed up again thanks to stuff at the radio station (all volunteer, including humble self) and I never got to the supermarket for groceries. As I don't have a car these days, I have to rely on the bus. I missed my planned excursion on Friday morning, with the result that while I have plenty of leftovers for dinner, I'm out of cereal, eggs, and well, just about everything. I could make rice and veggie dishes for dinner for a couple more days without a shopping trip, but I've been trying to be better about actually eating breakfast. Balance and all that. Last night I wasn't all that hungry after doing my radio show, so this morning I was primed for some nice scrambled eggs with veggies, French toast, cereal - something. But the cupboard for the necessary ingredients is bare. (Studio apartments don't have much in the way of cupboards.) All that's in the freezer is some turkey stock, and the onion rings. They made a good brunch.

Logging in to the blog made me realize that I never posted last week's radio show, which was the 16th anniversary edition. The show has gone through a few evolutions, but lately I haven't been able to spend the time to do the shows the way I want to do them. Between running the station, and being President of the station's non-profit, there is just too much to keep me busy. ("If only I were paid rather than a volunteer", he thought to himself for the 1,474th time.) Over the last few years the show has concentrated on the mid 1940's. This has been mostly due to the number of music oriented shows from that period which have become available. Those episodes, when the entire broadcast was spent in a certain week or two with various excerpts from radio shows of the weeks involved - including the news - are the shows of which I'm proudest. But I've been feeling like I'm stuck in a rut. There's no time to listen to the radio shows of the period, no time to make new clips from the shows, I've just been re-using the clips I made in the year and a half I wasn't running the station. I was thinking of calling it a day last August with the show that marked the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. At the time I didn't think that I'd accomplished what I had wanted with that show, so I figured I would just keep at it for awhile. Since then, I've had an increase in the odd verbal mistakes I've been making ('senior moments'), and an increase in the feeling that I'm not putting together the quality of shows that I want to accomplish. And I feel like I'm done with the WWII story for awhile. Over the last few weeks, I gave a lot of thought to calling it a day. Just before the anniversary show, I decided that while I'm done with the WWII shows for awhile, I'm not done with the show itself. That decision had a lot to do with my thoughts about Delores deleting her blog. I wrote to her, by the way - she's fine. She didn't say why she deleted it, and I didn't ask. At any rate, here's the 16th Anniversary edition of Recycled Radio:



Another thing that got away from me this week - I'd intended to start writing a bit about the movies I've been seeing. When I first started collecting 16mm movies, I began a practice of noting the movies I showed - mostly as a way of tracking bulb life. When I worked in film distribution, I took home a lot of movies from the company's non-theatrical library. Now I wish I had made notes about the films as well. I remember my assistant asking me to show him Mario Bava's 'Four Flies on Gray Velvet', but I'll be darned if I remember much about it 40 years later. I actually went out to the movies at a movie theatre last week to see - oh, great - I can't remember the name. It's a Marvel anti-superhero superhero movie. Ah, "Deadpool". (Bless the ability to instantly look things up on the internet.) It was in its last week at the local theatre, a late era smaller town movie palace, built in 1938. I've posted about the Latchis before. For its last week the movie went back to the main auditorium which is mostly intact and still has an old fashioned big screen. (The only change of consequence to the main auditorium was turning the "crying room" into a separate screen.)

I've not really seen much of the wave of superhero movies of the last decade. While the special effects made possible by computers have opened up a whole new world of possibilities, I can't say that using them for ever bigger explosions and more intense battle scenes has any kind of innate appeal for me. Plus, I was never a Marvel kind of guy. My era was DC comics with the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Justice League of America, et. al. Over the years I've known a number of people who have toiled in the comics industry - when I used to manage that big bookstore in NYC in the 1970's, the guys from Marvel were regular customers. At that same store, I gave several autograph parties for various illustrators. So I've been aware of many of the problems of the artists, especially the shameful way Jack Kirby's heirs were treated, and etc. So a part of my boycott of superhero movies was due to my feelings about Marvel specifically. At any rate, 'Deadpool' makes fun of its own genre without really making it to the levels of camp. It's a movie for the teenage boy still hiding inside of adults no matter what chromosome set they have. It's got the best opening and end title sequences in recent memory, and is highly entertaining. But even though it was very enjoyable, it was kind of like popcorn without butter on it - something was missing, it was satisfying in an empty calories sort of way. Now I have no problem with sheer silly entertainment for entertainment's sake, after all, one of my favorite movies is "Cobra Woman" with Maria Monetz as twin sisters. The problem I have with this kind of big budget film making may come down to the budget itself. When one is spending over a hundred million dollars to make one two hour movie, problems with protecting the investment arise. The necessity of having every single thing planned out leads to a certain lifelessness. This kind of filmmaking used to be the B picture, inventiveness due to budget constraints was required; there was a kind of 'make it up as you go along' giddiness to many of them. Now, it's a very studied affair, a linked group of set pieces told in broad strokes and broadswords. Even the cheeky vulgarity seemed too planned. When I see things like this, I keep wondering what if Kurosawa had been able to use this technology while making 'Dreams', or if Orson Welles or Dali had been able to use it.... etc.

I keep thinking that I must have seen a movie at home this week, but I can't recall having watched one. I did watch a few pieces of movies on the Blue-Ray player a friend lent me to test the format. And one day was spent at the Smith College annual bulb show. Tuesday night a friend without tv came over to watch the primary election returns, and to bitch about the current state of politics.

Spring arrived at 12:30am this morning. We've had a temperature drop, and at one point snow was predicted. No matter, it's Spring. My radio show had its annual 'Swing Into Spring', on last night's program, which also played a few for Stephen Sondheim's birthday on March 22nd. 'Senior moments' intruded when I noted Ted Lewis as Al Lewis; and totally forgot to credit a lovely piano solo on "Meditation" to Marian MacPartland, whose birthday is today, March 20th. These kinds of mistakes have been increasing in frequency. My memory doesn't work as well as it once did - or as quickly. This morning I read that statins, which I take for high levels of bad cholesterol, can cause this kind of thing as a side effect. I once went on a specialized diet for many months without any change to the cholesterol reading. My doctor smiled as she said, "this is genetics laughing in your face". When compared to the size of my father, his brothers, and my brothers from both my father and my mother's later family, I may be taller than my Dad and his brothers, but otherwise as far as bulk is concerned, I'm the runt of the litter. Also possibly contributing to these little lapses in memory are the antidepressants I used to take. Ditto the anti-anxietals I used to take. Luckily I got off of those years ago. Next time I see my doctor, I hope I remember to discuss the statin. At any rate, here's the annual "Swing Into Spring". As always, I hope any listeners enjoy the show.


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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A little extra and the Bishop's wife

I pay a little extra to the cable company to have a cable box with DVR, digital video recording.

I could write more than a few posts deriving from that one sentence. The cable company's rate structure and business model makes me think of modern day pirates. The quality of digital recording is excellent, and it records in high definition if one has that service - I pay a little extra for that, too. Why I should have to pony up more money for high def in a world in which high def became the broadcast standard some years ago has not been explained. Did I use the word 'pirates' yet? There is a problem, of course. (Isn't there always?) The box fills up with recordings, at which point programs and movies have to be deleted to make way for new items of interest.

I record a lot of movies, mostly from the classic movie channel. You know, the one that I was fortunate to get when it was part of a special deal? Otherwise, I'd have had to pay a lot extra for an entire service level of sports channels which I would never watch in order to get the one non-sports channel in that package, i.e. the classic movies channel. Did I use the word 'pirates' yet?

Well, anyway, since I gave myself that relatively inexpensive video projector for Christmas, I've been watching a couple of movies just about every week. The way I currently have things set up, the old Hollywood style projected picture is about 5 feet wide, and a little under 4 feet in height. Widescreen, well at least the tv version of it, is over 6 feet in length. In my small-ish space, I could reorient things and get a much larger picture, but my current method allows for a guest or two without totally rearranging the furniture.

Last night, I finally caught up with "The Bishop's Wife". For some reason or other, I'd never seen it. It's another of those movies with a somewhat messy history. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn using facilities at MGM, it was distributed by RKO, and somehow ended up looking like it might have been filmed at Paramount. The story told of a somewhat fastidious Bishop who had become so focused on the task of raising money for a cathedral that he was ignoring his wife and daughter, as well as the needs of parishioners. Heavenly intervention arrives in the form of a rather rakish angel. Goldwyn became so dissatisfied with the dailies he called a halt to production, replaced the director, had changes made to the sets as well as the script, and changed one important bit of the casting. The role of the Bishop was played by Cary Grant, the Angel was played by David Niven. During the hiatus, the director and Goldwyn decided that the roles should be reversed. Grant was allegedly not very happy with this turn of events. The story has changed over the years, however, so that now it is said that the change in roles was Grant's idea and it was Niven who was unhappy. (Niven was at a low point during the filming. His wife was injured in a fall and died from ensuing complications leaving him with two young sons to raise.) However the change happened, both men gave excellent performances in their new roles. Loretta Young does a decent job as the Bishop's wife, suffering neglect with admirable restraint, but was not quite as inspired in her performance as her co-stars.


One of the stories from the set told of a day the director had trouble with both Mr. Grant and Ms. Young. They each insisted that for one particular scene, they be photographed from their "good side". The only problem was that they both favored the same side. The director filmed the scene with the two stars standing side by side looking out a window. Mr. Goldwyn was not happy. The next day he confronted the director and the stars on the set. After having the situation explained to him, he is said to have remarked that if he was only going to get a shot with a half of the stars faces, then they would only get half of their salaries. There were no further such demands.

The rest of the cast was rounded out with instantly recognizable character actors. Well, instantly recognizable for anyone of my age, or for inveterate moviegoers. I especially liked Monty Woolley in the role of a history professor, and Gladys Cooper as the rich widow funding the cathedral. Elsa Lancaster had been cast in a maid's role, but had to withdraw due to other commitments. During the production delay, she finished up her other role and ended up replacing her replacement who had to exit due to commitments of her own. Two of the young players in the previous year's holiday picture, "It's a Wonderful Like" are in the cast - the fellow who played the young George Bailey, and the young lady who played ZuZu of the petals.

Although the film got glowing reviews, it didn't do a lot of business at the box office. Under the theory that the title made people think it was a religious story, the advertising was changed (and in some markets the name of the picture as well) to read "Cary and the Bishop's Wife!" In those markets, the box-office increased 25%.



It's easy to see why it became a Holiday classic back in the days when movies were regularly shown on broadcast tv. A charming sort of romantic comedy, there's Christmas shopping, snow scenes, and a tad of religion. In once scene, Cary Grant plays a harp in the home of the rich widow. The melody became popular, acquired a set of lyrics, and became a minor hit for Nat King Cole as "Lost April".



Most of the movies currently on my DVR are old favorites which I haven't seen in many years. I'm running out of movies I've recorded that I haven't seen. Soon I'll be watching a number of old favorites which I haven't seen in a long, long time. I'm still surprised I spent the money for the projector (it cost about the same as my 16mm print of Casablanca, purchased in 1975 or so). All the little extras I've spent which used to make me feel slightly guilty over the expense incurred have made this possible; it has turned out to be more rewarding than I ever imagined.