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  • mistermuse 1:17 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: At The Circus, Barnum & Bailey, censorship, , , , , Ringling Bros., The Big Top, the Circus, ,   

    THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH 

    Does this melody ring a bell?

    Does the name Ringling Bros. ring a bell?

    If it does, the connection between the two should be clear as a bell, because that melody was used for decades on Hollywood soundtracks to accompany circus footage. The most famous circus of them all was Ringling Bros., which was founded on April 10, 1871, merged with Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth in 1919, and closed on May 22 2017.

    I recall seeing a circus as a young boy (regrettably, I don’t recall if it was Ringling Bros.)…. but this post’s focus is on circus movies, two of which I’ve seen several times since I was a teenage boy: Charlie Chaplin’s THE CIRCUS, and {The Marx Brothers) AT THE CIRCUS.

    THE CIRCUS (1928) is not as well known as such Chaplin masterpieces as THE GOLD RUSH, CITY LIGHTS, and MODERN TIMES, but it is still a great show. Here is the trailer, followed by the closing scene when the circus leaves town with the circus girl he loves:

    AT THE CIRCUS (1939) isn’t one of the Marx Brothers’ best films, but it has one of Groucho’s most famous scenes:

    How this song came to be written is a story in itself, but the history of Lydia actually pre-dates the song. In Germany in the 1920s, an entertainer named Wilhelm Bendow had a stand-up act as Lydia Smith, the tattooed lady, in which he wore a body cast and performed a satirical sketch. It is no stretch to assume that American lyricist Yip Harburg had heard of that act when he and composer Harold Arlen wrote the song in 1939 (yes, it’s the same Harburg and Arlen who earlier in 1939 wrote OVER THE RAINBOW and the other great songs in WIZARD OF OZ).

    As for the song’s lyrics, Harburg was a friend of Groucho, and both were fans of Gilbert and Sullivan. One evening (as AT THE CIRCUS was being developed) at a gathering at Groucho’s house, they were playing G & S records and singing along. Harburg was inspired to show his G & S-like inventiveness with rhyme scheme and verbal dexterity by writing a song for Groucho for the film, and the result was Lydia, The Tattooed Lady.

    But the song ran into trouble with the Breen office censors. Quoting Harburg: “That song was thought to be risquĂ©, and we had a hell of a lot of trouble with it. This was 1939 and censorship was at its full height. We were told we would have to cut it out of the picture. Harold and I were mad. Finally, we got an idea of how to save the song. We put in a final verse to legitimize [it]”:

    She once swept an admiral off of his feet
    The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat
    And now the old boy is in charge of the fleet
    For he went and married Lydia.

    There have been other circus movies (including the 1952 opus with the same title as this post, starring Jimmy Stewart as a circus clown), but that would make a three-ring circus of this post, and two is enough for this old boy.

    The Big Top stops here.

     

     

     

     

     
    • D. Wallace Peach 6:16 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      How fun to listen to that song. I went to the circus a couple of times as a kid and took my daughter decades ago. Now, with greater awareness of the impact on the animals, the circus has lost its luster, but sad too that it’s gone.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:33 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You ain’t lion, Diana. We still have zoos, but some people would like to do away with them too. I don’t agree, because I suspect that zoos are the last best hope of saving some on-the-verge-of-extinction animals (and zoo animals are no doubt, on the whole, better treated than circus animals were).

        Liked by 1 person

        • D. Wallace Peach 7:46 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink

          Yes, I agree about the zoos, especially since humans seem committed to destroying their natural habitats or just killing them for fun. Like the Trump boys.

          Liked by 1 person

    • calmkate 6:49 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      oh that first tune brought back many fond memories … second video was not available.

      Would love cc’s Circus, think I’ll look for it 🙂
      Lydia packs a punch, the song and it’s fascinating history, thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:34 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        You should be able to find viewable clips of Charlie Chaplin’s THE CIRCUS fairly easily, Kate. When I Googled it, I saw various scenes, and even the whole movie, available on Youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

    • magickmermaid 7:52 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Of course I know that melody! It’s one of the background songs of the circus that is my life 🙂 La la la la!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:41 pm on March 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Now you’re talking my La la la la language, mm! It’s one of those songs that, once you hear it, you won’t forget it.

        Liked by 1 person

    • masercot 6:46 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I learned a lot from Lydia…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 2:59 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I wonder if Trump learned anything from Lydia? Even if he did, he wouldn’t give her credit, so kudos to you. 😉

        Like

    • Rivergirl 8:40 am on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I spent my childhood at Madison Square Garden with Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth. As a kid? It was 3 rings of pure magic…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Elizabeth 5:08 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Barnum came from Bridgeport Connecticut, so he is well known around here. My grandfather introduced us to “Lydia” in 1957, much to the consternation of my grandmother! He always liked innuendo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:11 pm on March 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like Lydia meant SINnuendo to your grandmother, Elizabeth. Bless her heart, I shudder to think how she would feel about today’s culture.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The Diary of a Country Bumpkin 5:18 pm on March 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Love the Marx brothers, brilliant!

      Liked by 1 person

    • kutukamus 2:01 am on March 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I never knew the title of that song before. Thanks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silver Screenings 3:49 pm on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I’m another one who didn’t know the title of that famous circus song.

      As for Charlie Chaplin, I have not yet seen his film, The Circus, and the trailer you posted makes me want to see it immediately. Thanks for putting it on my radar. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:43 pm on March 16, 2020 Permalink | Reply

        I must confess that I didn’t know the title either….or rather, I knew it at one time but had forgotten it (courtesy of old age having crept up on me). As for The Circus, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it on Youtube.

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , censorship, Diamond Lil, , Henry Fonda, , , , , ,   

    EAST IS EAST AND WEST IS BEST? 

    Hat-check girl in Mae West’s first film: “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.”
    Mae West: “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.”

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Some actors and actresses (and I don’t mean this pejoratively) basically play themselves in their films, while others are so believable and natural in varied roles and genres, they completely inhabit whatever given character they portray. An example of the latter, going back to Hollywood’s Golden Age, is Henry Fonda (if you think he played only serious parts, you haven’t seen the classic 1941 comedy, THE LADY EVE, in which he co-starred with Barbara Stanwyck — another of the most versatile players of that era).

    Mae West was of the first category, very much the Diamond Lil character she created. Today being her birthday (8/17/1893), it’s her day to sparkle:

    It has been said that “Mae West literally constituted a one-woman genre.” Basically playing herself, she was one of the country’s biggest box office draws in the 1930s, despite being almost 40 years old when offered her first movie contract (by Paramount) in 1932. Previously, she’d appeared in a number of rather risquĂ© plays, including Diamond Lil and her first starring role on Broadway (appropriately titled Sex), which she wrote, produced and directed. As with all the plays she wrote and performed in, there was much controversy and publicity, and it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling.

    Her first film (see opening quote) was NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, making such an impression that co-star George Raft reportedly said, “She stole everything but the cameras.” Her next film, SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933), featured Cary Grant in one of his first major roles, and was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. It was such a big moneymaker that it saved Paramount from bankruptcy in the midst of the Great Depression.

    West went on to make six more movies in the 1930s, but in 1934, the Production Code began to be strictly enforced, and censors doubled down on her double-entendres. By today’s standards, such censorship seems ludicrous, but those were moralistic times, and after her last ‘naughty’ picture for Paramount in 1937, they thought it best to terminate her contract if they knew what’s good for them. She did manage to make one more hit movie, co-starring with W. C. Fields in My Little Chickadee for Universal Pictures in 1940.

    Unbawdied and unbowed, when asked about puritanical attempts to impede her career, West wisecracked, “I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.” Not for nothing was one of her nicknames “The Statue of Libido.” She died in 1980 at the age of 87.

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Coincidentally, August 17 is also the birthday of my mother, who passed away 17 years ago. Happy Birthday, Mom — YOU WERE THE BEST.

     
    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 12:25 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Happy Birthday to one of my favorites – and risque she was. In the elevator, a man said to her (as she was nearest the console), “Ballroom, please.” Her reply? “Oh, I didn’t know I was crowding you.”

      I’m sure your mother was a great deal more appropriate, but I’ll bet she was just as memorable. Raise a birthday toast to her for me.

      FUN post!
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 4:50 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        That’s a great quote, Madelyn — I hadn’t heard it before…. And thank you for the “memorable” thoughts concerning my mother: much deserved by her and appreciated by me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 4:53 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink

          Have you heard the one about her climbing a staircase lined with young men in one of her films? She never lifted her eyes above their belts and, at one point she paused and said, “Oh, a new one!” Outrageous always.

          You are most welcome, btw, for my comment about your mother. After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

    • The Muscleheaded Blog 12:42 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Outstanding tribute to Mae !

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 7:47 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Too bad she never made a movie with Groucho Marx. They wouldn’t have needed a script.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 11:18 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        That would’ve been one hell of a movie, Don. Throw in Dorothy Parker (even though she never acted), and we wouldn’t have been able to ‘keep up’ with the double-entendres.

        Like

      • literaryeyes 9:31 pm on August 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        She wrote her own material. I bet grouch did too. Geniuses like that are rare these days.

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 11:44 pm on August 24, 2017 Permalink

          I can appreciate why you might think Groucho wrote his own stuff. However, having read several books on the Marx Brothers, the fact is that Groucho didn’t write the scripts for their movies; the Marx’s were so zany and hard to hold to script that their ad libs/antics usually took precedence over what was written for them (even though very good writers, such as George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, worked on their films).

          Like

    • moorezart 8:25 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on From 1 Blogger 2 Another.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:26 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I re-thank you for another public service (or disservice, depending upon one’s point of view) on my behalf. Remind me to give you a raise if you keep this up. 😩

        Like

        • moorezart 12:07 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink

          LOL – I find what you do most engaging. I simply can’t help myself. Even as a child I couldn’t help sharing with my friends whatever treasure I had found in my Cracker Jack’s Box.

          Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 10:01 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink

          I remember Cracker Jacks well — I think they’ve been around even longer than I have, if that’s possible (not that I liked them all that much). I vaguely recall a time or two, as a boy, buying a box just for the “treasure” and throwing away the Cracker Jacks. Too bad I don’t still have the treasures — I could take them on Antiques Roadshow and find out if they’re worth thousands today. One never knows, do one?

          Like

    • Carmen 8:38 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I wonder if she was the inspiration for the, “Did you get your ears lowered?” comment. I use it regularly at school and get lots of blank stares in response – from High School folk. 🙂 Once in awhile I get, “Hey! My grandparents say that!” (which gives me pause, as you would think)

      Nice post, mister, from the East ‘girl’! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:31 am on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        For those who aren’t familiar — make that ACQUAINTED — with Carmen, she lives on EAST-HER ISLAND, hence the last sentence of her comment. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ricardo 12:17 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Fulsome praise for the filthy-minded, Sr. Muse. We hear it so infrequently. Muchas gracias.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carmen 2:00 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        “Fulsome praise for the filthy-minded” – excellent – ha, ha! 🙂 (the mister is hesitant in replying; he’s having a hard time with a rejoinder, methinks)

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 2:24 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink

          Carmen, contrary to unpopular belief, I don’t sit in front of my computer for hours at a time (except when I fall asleep) waiting for comments to pop up that I can shoot down….though I will admit that in the hours after I post, I wish I didn’t have to get up from my chair to go to the john every 15 minutes (just kidding, of course — and now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see a man about a horse). 😩

          Like

        • Carmen 2:29 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink

          Ha, ha! Well, I’ve been making Barbie clothes for several days so every time the computer dings I welcome the interruption. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 2:32 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        No problem, Ricardo. I’d say more, but I’m having female problems (not that Carmen isn’t well worth it — haha).

        Liked by 1 person

    • restlessjo 2:38 pm on August 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Queen of the one-liners 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 4:42 pm on August 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Speaking of which, here’s one of her quotes: “I’ve no time for broads who want to rule the world alone — without men, who’d do up the zipper on the back of your dress?” 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • literaryeyes 9:29 pm on August 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’m a Mae West fan and have been known to binge on her movies. In one she does a naughty dance that was so naughty they filmed her from the waist up! Seriously, she was a pioneer in promoting women as sexy AND intelligent. She put gays and transvestites in her plays. She didn’t do it just to shock, she did it because she believed in respect for people no matter what their sexuality or gender orientation, and especially for women.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:56 pm on August 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Although I own a number of biographies/autobiographies of Hollywood Golden Age movie stars, I’ve never read one by or about Mae West, so I didn’t know some of what you describe. Thanks for the info.

      Like

    • MĂ©l@nie 3:43 pm on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Salvador Dali was also fascinated by her… she was a FREE woman – une avant-gardiste!!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:02 pm on August 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Indeed! Mae was both a woman of her time (1920s-early 1930s) and too much woman for highly puritanical times (from 1934 on, when rigid censorship curtailed, and subsequently ended, her freedom to make the movies she wanted to make).

        Like

    • scifihammy 3:02 pm on August 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Mae West was an amazing woman! As I’m sure was your Mother too. Always nice to remember our loved ones on special days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:09 pm on August 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you. Personality-wise, my mother was as much the opposite of Mae as East is from West, but as they say, variety is the spice of life. Life would be very dull if everyone were the same!

        Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 10:45 am on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bad words, censorship, cussing, ,   

    WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE POETRY 

    Fellow writers,
    I implore us —
    It’s time that we be
    More decorous.

    I don’t mean to
    Be a censor,
    But we must be
    Less intense, or

    Readers will grow
    Tired of us an’
    Then we really
    Will be cussin’ —

    So, forego frickin’
    Words that shame us,
    And stop being an effin’
    Ignoramus.

     
    • arekhill1 10:49 am on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I am in favoring of abolishing all euphemisms, so intercourse that!

      Like

    • mistermuse 12:34 pm on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      “There ought to be a room in every house to swear in.” -Mark Twain
      But there already is such a room: the INTERCOURSE room. Where else is God’s name taken in vain so much? O GOD!!!

      Like

    • BroadBlogs 1:05 pm on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I like your title. And the irony.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 5:32 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Muse, I know you’re not referring to me as I strive to never offend anyone, at anytime and when confronted with a word that might do such a thing I use _____________.

      Like

    • mistermuse 7:23 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I certainly take you at your word, Don (but I’m not so sure about Dr. Don).

      Like

  • mistermuse 4:15 pm on May 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , artistic freedom, censorship, , McCarthyism, , , the good things in life,   

    LONG TIME, KNOW, SEE…. 

    [To] someone with a longer perspective, someone looking at us, we’d look like a bunch of ants on a log, running around. And every hundred years, it’s like somebody flushes the toilet and the entire planet is changed. –Woody Allen

    I have lived, not a hundred years, but almost as long as the 78 year old Woody Allen —  long enough to appreciate where he’s coming from. It’s a different world from the one I grew up in the years preceding, during and after World War II, with a culture so completely changed that if I’d fallen asleep in that generation and awakened in this one, I might think that either I or the world had lost its marbles. Indeed, it’s like somebody flushed the toilet, and the marble in space we call earth became a different planet.

    Now, I’m nostalgic about a lot of things, but I’m not one of those antedeluvians with rose-colored glasses about the past. There have been changes for the better and for the worse, and as much as I mourn the loss of what was (or seemed) wonderful then, it wasn’t all wonderful by a long shot. Those who “want their America back” want an America that never was whole or without shortcomings.

    I would love to get that America back where drugs were a relative anomaly.

    I would hate to get that America back where racism was as normal as everyday life.

    I would love to get that America back where mean-spirited discourse wasn’t fuckin’ de rigueur (if you’ll pardon my French).

    I would hate to get that America back where censorship trumped artistic freedom.

    I would love to get that America back where the good things in life were more intrinsic than superficial.

    I would hate to get that America back where the likes of McCarthyism fanned jingoist fears and ruined careers.

    I would love to get that America back where popular music knew the meaning of sophisticaton.

    I would hate to get that America back where the average lifespan for men in the year I was born was 56 1/2 years. By all rights, if I’d fallen asleep in that generation, I should’ve died before I woke up in the present generation. Talk about exceptionalism! Is this a great country, or what?

     
    • arekhill1 4:52 pm on May 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I fucked de Riguer. I believe her first name was Simone

      Like

    • mistermuse 10:07 pm on May 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I think I knew her sister, Catherine de Neuve Riguer. She ended up marrying some guy named Mortis.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 2:23 pm on May 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Good points Muse. It’s good to remember your life and times fondly. It’s foolish to think it was all good and there was nothing wrong back then.

      Like

    • mistermuse 4:36 pm on May 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Right, Don, although there are always some things in one’s life one doesn’t remember fondly. Anyone who claims not to have any regrets is either an ignoramus or in denial, it seems to me.

      Like

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