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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Golden Age films, , , , , , movies, Shop Around the Corner, , summertime, Van Johnson   

    SUMMER SHORTS 

    Tomorrow is the first official day of smelly armpits season (unless, of course, you live in the southern hemisphere of earth — or in any hemisphere of Ur-anus, where, they say, it stinks the year round). To greet the season, I’m saluting summer with a look back at several good old summer films (and I mean films that actually have “summer” in the title).

    It’s unthinkable that there’s no unstinkable way of sweating as I wrack my brain composing a fulsome introduction to each movie, so I’ll make do with a minimum of b.s. (background setting) preceding each clip….then sum(mer) it all up with bonus b.s. at post’s end.

    First we have SUMMERTIME (1955), starring Katherine Hepburn as a spinster vacationing in Venice. After meeting and being attracted to shop owner Rossano Brazzi in his antiques store, they unexpectedly encounter each other again in this scene:

    Next: IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (1949) starring Judy Garland & Van Johnson as lonelyhearts pen pals in a musical remake of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Jimmy Stewart. Here is the trailer:

    Last we have SUMMER AND SMOKE (1961), a film adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, neither of which I have seen, but which I include here because its title serves as a “Perfect!” lead-in to this anecdote told by the late actor Tony Randall (and which relates back to the first of our films):

    David Lean, one of the world’s finest directors, is a meticulous and fastidious craftsman, compulsive and uncompromising about getting things exactly the way he wants them. There is a scene in Summertime in which the [female] owner of a Venetian pensione arranges a tryst with a young American guest at night on the terrace of the pensione. Lean put the couple in two high-backed wicker chairs that completely envelope them,  placed with their backs to the camera so that all the lens could see were her left hand holding his right hand and puffs of white smoke from their cigarettes curling above the backs of the chairs. The brief scene, which could have been shot with any two people sitting in the chairs and the voices of the couple dubbed in later, took an entire night and a carton of cigarettes to film. Lean made the two actors do it over and over. Just as dawn was about to break, Lean finally got a shot that satisfied him.
    “Perfect! Perfect!” Lean exclaimed enthusiastically. “The puffs were perfect!”

    It seems we’ve come to the end  — but where, you might ask, is the promised “bonus b.s.”? Will you settle for the bonus without the b.s.? Here is the trailer for the aforementioned THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, directed by that master of “the Lubitsch touch” of happy memory to Golden Age film buffs:

     

     

     
    • Ricardo 12:51 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Apropos of nearly nothing, I noticed the other day that “Wet Hot American Summer” was available on Netflix, Sr. Muse. If that doesn’t make you want to subscribe, whatever will?

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:39 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        “Wet Hot American Summer’ sounds too cerebral for my tastes, Ricardo, but thanks anyway for the heads up.

        Like

    • linnetmoss 6:55 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I do love “The Shop Around the Corner”! When I hear about “Summertime,” I always think of the story that Hepburn fell into a Venetian canal and got a terrible ear infection. It may be a beautiful city, but the water is icky!

      Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 7:27 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I remember that cane chair smoking scene well 🙂
      need to work on your bs …

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:32 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Linnet, I appreciate your comment. Perhaps I should should have noted in my post that SUMMERTIME was filmed on location in Venice. Here is the scene in which Hepburn falls into the canal:

      Like

    • Garfield Hug 7:51 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Lol!! “Season of smelly armpits!!” 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:11 am on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Perhaps you’ve heard of the old phrase, “It’s the pits!” — it originally referred to stinky armpits, then came to metaphorically mean anything that stinks. And that’s my trivia lesson for today!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 5:37 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      We can’t have summer without..

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:39 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks, Don. For those who may wonder who is the singer with the beautiful soprano voice, her name is Harolyn (not a typo) Blackwell.

        Like

    • D. Wallace Peach 6:32 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I haven’t seen any of your Summertime movies. I liked Hepburn as a kid and should pick that one up. I fell into a canal in Holland, so I can relate. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:51 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Diana, no doubt your fall into the canal in Holland was no Dutch treat (except perhaps to a few juvenile bystanders who may have thought it was funny), but I’m sure you will find Kathryn Hepburn and SUMMERTIME to be a treat. Enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 1:09 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      And from what I’m reading about climate change we could have smelly armpits a lot longer. Unfortunately accompanied by widespread heat alerts and drought in the west.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:28 am on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right — climate change is the pits!

      Like

    • RMW 12:53 pm on June 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Summertime is one of my all-time favorite movies (I do have quite a few on my list). The romance between Hepburn and Brazzi left so much to the imagination, making it even more “romantic.” I can’t imagine either actor being willing to bare it all in front of the camera! Thank heavens…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bad Day at Black Rock, , , , , , movies, , , , ,   

    What’s In YOUR Toilet? 

    In his incisive biography of Spencer Tracy, author Bill Davidson tells of a problem which arose during planning stages of a Tracy film based on a short story titled BAD DAY AT HONDO. He quotes Millard Kaufman, who was writing the screenplay, as follows:

    Our picture still was called Bad Day at Hondo, when, to everyone’s surprise, there came the release of a John Wayne movie called HONDO. So our title went out the window.

    Davidson continues, “Such coincidental flaps can cause weeks of delays at a studio, while everyone tries to think of a new title. In this case, Kaufman was out in Arizona looking for locations for another picture, when [he] stopped for gas at one of the bleakest places [that] was not even a ‘wide place in the road’, just a gas station and a post office. Kaufman looked at the sign on the post office. The name was Black Rock, Arizona. Kaufman rushed to the phone and called the studio. ‘I’ve got the title for the Tracy picture,’ he said. “We’ll call it “Bad Day at Black Rock.”

    You may be wondering what the foregoing has to do with the title of this post….and the answer is diddly-squat (or just squat, for short). So what’s the deal? Simply to serve as a pun-gent example of a title’s potential to entice you in to a creative work, whether it be film, story, poem or poop. Did the serendipitous (and delay-saving) spotting of the Black Rock post office sign lead to a perfect fit for the title of the movie? Perhaps this scene will tell you all you need to know to answer that question (Tracy plays a one-armed WW II officer, just returned from the service, who goes to a middle-of-nowhere desert town to present a posthumous medal to the father of one of his soldiers):

    But suppose, after chewing it over endlessly, you still can’t come up with a killer title for your opus delicti? Friends, just swallow the bitter pill that there are times indiscretion is the better part of valor, and settle for a title such as this post’s. And what if even doo-doo doesn’t do the trick? There’s still the when-all-else-fails last resort I used when I titled this poem….

    UNTITLED

    This poem’s title is Untitled —
    Not because it is untitled,
    But because I am entitled
    To entitle it Untitled.

    If I’d not titled it Untitled,
    It would truly be untitled….
    Which would make me unentitled
    To entitle it Untitled.

    So it is vital, if untitled,
    Not to title it Untitled,
    And to leave that title idled,
    As a title is entitled.

    NOTE: This is the Random poem leftover from my previous post

     

     
    • calmkate 12:11 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      ha ha ha love your play on words … and titles do make a difference as to whether something is read or not .. but hey I’ve already done the squat loo post, no peeking 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • geo. raymond 12:23 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great word play. (Excellent movie, too)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Garfield Hug 12:26 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      LOL! I loved your Untitled poem😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 6:50 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’m just thankful they didn’t title it “Bad Day on the Toilet”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 8:09 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Muse, you’re entitled to be untitled. But this reminds me of a Country Western song writer named Ray Whitley and he’d written a bunch of songs for Gene Autry and he was told they needed one more. So he sighed and headed for the studio. His wife asked him what was the matter and he told her. She said. “Guess you’re back in the saddle again.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:36 am on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I didn’t know the story behind it, but I remember the song well, Don. Odd that the clip portrays the likeness of Roy Rogers (Autry’s biggest rival for most popular screen cowboy in those days).

        Like

    • christie jones 1:26 pm on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I love the way you play with words! And btw, you have a great blog🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:39 am on June 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Sorry for the tardy reply to your comment, Christie, but modest fellow that I am, your compliment made me so red in the face that I got a bad case of blisters, which may have improved my appearance, but I still didn’t know what to say. Anyway, now that I’ve recovered, I’m ready to be embarrassed again, whether I deserve it or not. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • christie jones 2:30 pm on June 6, 2017 Permalink

          While two-thirds of the words are twisters, I didn’t mean to provoke any blisters. I’m happy you’re now recovered, and hope never again embarrassed. All the best! Christie

          Liked by 1 person

    • Ricardo 11:32 pm on June 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      May all your titles be short ones, and your un-titleds even shorter, Sr. Muse.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:56 am on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        That’s a Capital (One) proposal, Ricardo. It even has commercial possibilities connected to the title of this post.

        Like

    • RMW 1:12 pm on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      As a frequenter of art museums, I am always bemused by the pieces labeled “Untitled.” Worse yet they are titled “Untitled Number 3” or “Untitled March, 1987″… is this SUPPOSED to be ironic and I’m not getting it? Now I think about it, “Toilet Number 3” or “Toilet March, 1987” would work much better… and in many cases, be more appropriate!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 3:05 pm on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        At the very least, they should title their restroom toilets Number 1 or Number 2 based, of course, on whether you have to go Number One or Number 2. They could even have Number 3 for those who have to do both, otherwise you’d have to move from Number One to Number Two or vice versa, depending on order of priority.

        How this would be enforced I don’t know — I can’t think of everything!

        Like

        • RMW 12:35 am on June 8, 2017 Permalink

          I’m sure North Carolina could come up with an idea to handle it!

          Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Babe Ruth, , , , , , magic, , Mexico, movies, , , , Touch Of Evil   

    A “TOUCH OF EVIL” GENIUS 

    The word “genius” was whispered into my ear, the first thing I ever heard, while I was still mewing in my crib. So it never occurred to me that I wasn’t until middle age. –Orson Welles

    “Come on, read my future for me.”
    “You haven’t got any.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Your future is all used up.”
    –Orson Welles (drunken sheriff) & Marlene Dietrich (fortune teller), in TOUCH OF EVIL

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

    Tomorrow marks the birthday of Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 — the same day Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run). Welles, as you may well know, was “the ultimate auteur” director, co-writer, and star (at age 25) of CITIZEN KANE, considered by many film critics to be one of the greatest movies ever made — and it isn’t even my favorite Welles’ picture (but I will tell of two that are favorites).

    The life story of such a complex, larger-than-life legend is beyond the scope of this post, and could itself make as great a movie (CITIZEN WELLES?) as it made a great biography, aptly titled simply ORSON WELLES (another of my library book sale bargain buys) by Barbara Leaming….which leads me to this Welles quote from her book:

    “I see The Third Man every two or three years — it’s the only movie of mine I ever watch on television because I like it so much.”

    Great minds must indeed think alike, because he and I are of one mind regarding THE THIRD MAN — it is the one Welles’ movie I have watched many times over the years.

    Turning from that “non-auteur” film in which Welles acted but didn’t direct, to films Welles both directed and starred in, my favorite is TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). During the 1940s, the mercurial Welles increasingly didn’t see eye-to-eye with movie moguls and had become persona non grata in Hollywood. Leaving for Europe, he starred in the 1948 Italian film BLACK MAGIC (he, by the way, was a wizard of an amateur magician and member of The International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians), followed by THE THIRD MAN (1949) and several other British and Italian films and radio series into the 1950s. TOUCH OF EVIL was his third film following his return to Hollywood in 1956.

    More Welles quotes:

    Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit.

    Race hate isn’t human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.

    I don’t pray because I don’t want to bore God.

    I started at the top and worked down.

    Again great minds think alike — I started this post at the top and worked down….and now nothing remains but to go into my disappearing act.

     

     

     
    • Don Frankel 7:56 am on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      “Rosebud.”
      I always wondered if all the genius talk had to do with that first film because it had to do with a larger than life subject Randolph Hearst. Then again maybe it had to do with the fact that he wrote and directed and starred in it. But then Jerry Lewis used to do that too and play a half a dozen parts as well. Oh wait Jerry Lewis is a genius too. At least in France or so they say.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:58 am on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Irrespective of his artistic genius, Welles would have been well served to be a financial genius, as he was constantly short of cash to finance his dreams. In the biography ORSON WELLES, he is quoted as follows re taking the part of Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN: “I was given a choice between $100,000 or 20% of the picture, and I took the $100,000. Picture grossed something unbelievable. In America it was only a success, but in the rest of the world it was an absolute bombshell. There wasn’t such a hit in 25 years as there was in Europe. I could’ve retired on that!”

        Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:20 am on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve tormented myself by watching “Citizen Kane” maybe twice, and was never led by that experience into any desire to view anything else the Wells made. I’m sure I’m missing something, but I am an insensitive bastard, at least according to the majority of my exes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 2:06 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        You might want to give THE THIRD MAN a shot, Ricardo. If you don’t like it, I guarantee you wouldn’t like anything else Wells made (especially since Welles didn’t make that one — he was just one of the stars).

        Liked by 1 person

    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 5:11 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      More great quotes from that library mind of yours! I loved the clips, and am inspired to rejoin HULU only if I can watch these films again (no TV for decades now, so computer viewing on my oversized monitor is my only choice).

      My love of black and white films might eclipse even Wells – what a dramatic format (and, also like Wells, even the IDEA of colorizing these masterpieces of cinematography makes me physically ill!)

      Except for the war – lol – I think the 40’s would have been my era (tho’ the 30s appeal as well). You can have the 50s – and NOW, however – especially the politics and politicians. Interesting how cinema flounders when leadership is callow – middle-aged men without wisdom or humanity. (Public education goes belly up as well – duh!).

      But Wells said it best, “Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit.” Here’s to spirit – and thanks for another great post!
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to transform a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 6:04 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I too love the clips — especially the one in which Bogdanovich talks about The Third Man and Orson Welles. He articulates what makes black and white filmmaking (in the hands of a great director) so compelling: “It’s the lack of distraction” compared with Technicolor films, the focus on the dramatic as opposed to the color of things (though I disagree that there have been no great Technicolor movies).

        “Here’s to spirit” indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 6:15 pm on May 5, 2017 Permalink

          Color is one more element to manage, and in a very different fashion, lighting-wise – but few color films can match the power and sheer cinematic drama of black and white, to my mind. I’m with you on disagreeing that there are no good color films, however.

          Bogdanovich understands good directing, so I found the clip interesting as well – like attending a great lecture back in my college days (which I always adored *almost* as much as participating in the following discussion – lol).
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

    • restlessjo 3:40 am on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’m no movie buff and not really familiar with his work but those are great quotes. Sorry I missed his birthday 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:13 am on May 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Here’s another quote you may like from Welles, who became very obese in the 1950s:
      “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four….unless there are three other people.”

      Like

    • wildsoundreview 1:32 am on May 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

    • mistermuse 11:40 am on May 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Many thanks. I checked out your blog and liked the first post I read. I’ll have to go back for more later.

      Like

    • Christie 5:42 pm on May 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      A couple of weeks ago I was in need of inspiration, and I was thinking who else to ask, other than Mr Muse 🙂 If it’s not too much to ask – and maybe an idea of a new post – could you put a list together with your most favourite movies? I will let you add the numbers, and don’t be shy with recommendations 🙂 Thank you in advance!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 12:36 am on May 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Christie, I’m not sure what you mean by “add the numbers,” and it would take too much time to elaborate on why I recommend each movie I list, but I’ll be happy to make a list. It will be in alphabetical order rather than in order of preference (I’d only consider doing preference by genres, and even then, it wouldn’t be easy). Finally, the list will consist almost entirely of 20th century films, as I have seen very few new movies since the 1990s.

      Airplane! 1980
      The Apartment 1960
      Atlantic City 1981
      Babes in Toyland 1934
      Bad Day at Black Rock 1955
      The Band Wagon 1953
      Being There 1979
      Bells Are Ringing 1960
      The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
      Blazing Saddles 1974
      Body Heat 1981
      The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
      Brief Encounter 1946
      Broadway Danny Rose 1984
      Cabaret 1972
      Casablanca 1942
      City Lights 1931
      Dodsworth 1936
      Double Indemnity 1944
      Duck Soup 1933
      The General 1927
      The Graduate 1967
      The Grapes of Wrath 1940
      Great Expectations 1947
      I Know Where I’m Going 1947
      It’s a Gift 1935
      Judgment at Nuremberg 1961
      The Lady Eve 1941
      Lawrence of Arabia 1962
      Lion 2016
      A Little Romance 1979
      Local Hero 1983
      Love Me Tonight 1932
      Lust for Life 1956
      Major Barbara 1941
      Make Way for Tomorrow 1937
      The Maltese Falcon 1941
      Manhattan 1979
      Meet Me in St. Louis 1944
      Midnight in Paris 2011
      Modern Times 1936
      My Dinner with André 1981
      My Fair Lady 1964
      North by Northwest 1959
      North to Alaska 1960
      Notorious 1946
      Oklahoma! 1955
      Oliver! 1968
      One Hour With You 1932
      Paint Your Wagon 1969
      The Producers 1968
      The Purple Rose of Cairo 1985
      Ride the High Country 1962
      Roman Holiday 1953
      Ruggles of Red Gap 1935
      Schindler’s List 1993
      Shane 1953
      The Shop Around the Corner 1940
      Singin’ in the Rain 1952
      Sleeper 1973
      Some Like It Hot 1959
      State Fair 1945
      The Stranger’s Return 1933
      Sullivan’s Travels 1942
      Summertime 1955
      Sunset Boulevard 1950
      Swing Time 1936
      The Thief of Bagdad 1940
      The Third Man 1950
      The Thirty-Nine Steps 1935
      Top Hat 1935
      Touch of Evil 1958
      Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948
      Vertigo 1958
      The Wizard of Oz 1939
      Young Frankenstein 1974

      I’m sure there’s a few more I’ve seen but can’t remember off the top of my head, as well as some I haven’t seen (such as the first two Godfather movies) that would probably be on the list if I saw them.

      Like

      • Christie 10:21 am on May 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you so much!!! You made my day🙂 I have enough “numbers” now to keep me busy for the next year or so. You didn’t miss anything not watching new movies. I get upset, sometimes (or most of the time), for wasting my time when try to see a new one.
        Rubbing my hands now, I’m getting busy🙂 By for now, have a wonderful day!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • mistermuse 2:18 pm on May 30, 2018 Permalink

          My pleasure. I just remembered one of those movies (“Bells Are Ringing” 1960) I couldn’t remember, and have added it to the list. Happy “busy getting”! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • Christie 3:47 pm on May 30, 2018 Permalink

          Awesome, thanks again!

          Like

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dashiell Hammett, Edgar Allen Poe, , , , Howard Hawks, , , , , movie poster art, movies, , Raymond Chandler, , ,   

    HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE* 

    The film noir of the classic period (1941-59) is normally associated with the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood and its aftermath. In truth, the creative impetus for its most influential literary content dates back a full century.
    In April 1841, Graham’s Magazine in Philadelphia published the first detective story, The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe and thus, mystery fiction was born. –
    -Lawrence Bassoff, CRIME SCENES

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

    In my 11/30/16 post titled BOOKS RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY, I wrote of finding a large cache of old movie books at a local library’s used book sale. One of those books was CRIME SCENES (subtitled Movie Poster Art of the Film Noir), from which the above quote is taken. How could I resist buying such a book, given that Film Noir has long been one of my favorite film genres, which includes such classics as THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), MURDER MY SWEET (1943), DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944), LAURA (1944), THE BIG SLEEP (1946), SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950), and STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). The introduction states it “is the first genre retrospective collection of movie poster art on the topic ever published in book form.”

    Bassoff writes that in the summer of 1946, ten American films whose French releases had been blocked by WW II (including the first five of the above) arrived in Paris theaters to be viewed by “new product-starved French filmgoers”….films based on American novels the French called “Serie Noire” by such authors as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The term “film noir” (first attributed to Frenchman Nino Frank in 1946) literally means “black film” for the “often low key, black and white visual style of the films themselves.”

    And what great films they are! Even after having seen some of these films more than once, I could return to the scene of the crime once again;  no doubt you could too — assuming you’re a film noir buff, which it would be a crime if you’re not. The test? Can you name at least half of the directors and stars of the above films? Answers (directors in CAPS):

    THE MALTESE FALCON — JOHN HUSTON (making his directorial debut), Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet
    MURDER MY SWEET — EDWARD DYMTRYK, Dick Powell
    DOUBLE INDEMNITY — BILLY WILDER, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
    LAURA — OTTO PREMINGER, Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price
    THE BIG SLEEP — HOWARD HAWKS, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
    SUNSET BOULEVARD — BILLY WILDER, William Holden, Gloria Swanson
    STRANGERS ON A TRAIN — ALFRED HITCHCOCK, Farley Granger, Robert Walker

    Moving on: if Basssoff’s book were not confined to Hollywood film noir, no such list would be complete without THE THIRD MAN (1949), a British-made classic directed by Carol Reed, starring Orson Wells and Joseph Cotton. And of course there are many other Hollywood tour de force classics worthy of being kept alive, including such killer-dillers as:

    WHITE HEAT is considered by some to be in the gangster film realm rather than film noir, but there’s no law against crossover — in fact, WHITE HEAT is classified as film noir in CRIME SCENES and gangster film in CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS (the latter being another used book sale find, which I may review in a future post). Meanwhile, I highly recommend the former — as Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) said of the bogus Maltese Falcon: It’s “the stuff dreams are made of.” And nightmares.

    *HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE is a play on the famous intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. I heard on the grapevine that the site was a ranch, and then a lemon grove, until 1903.

    20161005_Hollywood_and_Vine_historical_marker

     

     
    • linnetmoss 7:03 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Good fun–I will never forget the creepiness of seeing Fred MacMurray in “Double Indemnity,” after growing up with him in Disney movies like “Son of Flubber”!

      Liked by 3 people

      • mistermuse 7:41 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Now that you mention it, I recall thinking the same thing the first time I saw “Double Indemnity.” And I can’t think of a better way to characterize these ‘bad’ movies than as “good fun” — seriously!

        Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 10:29 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Living la vida noire out here on the Left Coast, Sr. Muse. Did you see that the head of the European Union was going to start advocating for US states to leave the Union in retaliation for Trump promoting the dissolution of the EU? Ohio was specifically mentioned. Hopefully, I won’t need a passport to visit you if I ever get the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:24 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I hadn’t heard (or seen) that, Ricardo, but I think the best place to start would be to advocate for Trump to leave the union….better yet, leave the planet (though I can’t imagine that the inhabitants of any other world would be gullible enough to fall for Trump’s con job).

        Like

    • BroadBlogs 4:28 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My mom loves old movies. She’d love this list!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:22 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Prudence dictates keeping my posts to a reasonable length, or I’d have listed many more movies. Sometimes I wish Prudence would mind her own business! 😦

        Like

    • Don Frankel 5:04 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great movies of course I’ve seen them all and more than once. They did a remake of Out Of The Past called Against All Odds with Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods. In a bit of smart casting they also had Jane Greer in there.

      But White Heat is one of the all time any type of movie you want to call it and no mention of it would be complete without…

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 9:20 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        These movies had it all: great writing, atmosphere, directors, stars, supporting casts — the works. I’ve only watched WHITE HEAT once or twice, but I’ve seen MALTESE FALCON and THE THIRD MAN at least 5 or 6 times each, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and SUNSET BOULEVARD probably about 3 times.

        Like

    • Mél@nie 11:00 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I did watch them all… just like you, I may have seen “Maltese Falcon” 4-5 times! 🙂

      • * *

      @film noir – en français dans le texte, SVP… 🙂 MERCI, Monsieur Muse!

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:34 pm on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Mercy me — I fear my very limited French fails me in getting the gist of the sentence before “SVP” (which I understand stands for “s’il vous plait”). If you please, please translate into English. Merci!
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mél@nie 3:25 am on April 5, 2017 Permalink

          SVP = s’il vous plaît = please… 🙂 you’re too modest, Sir… my very best and respectful regards, Mélanie Bedos

          Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bert and Ernie, BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ, , , BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, ELMER GANTRY, FIELD OF DREAMS, , LOCAL HERO, movies,   

    THIS POST IS FOR THE BURTS (and Bert) 

    Today, boys and girls, I’d like to honor two distinguished BURTs who have left their unique mark in their respective fields….but first, here’s a distinguished Bert who’s a different kettle of fish in his own right:

    Thank you, Bert, for ‘e‘asing us into this tribute to our honorees. Let us now introduce the first of our two ‘u‘ Burts, the Burt-man of actors, BURT LANCASTER:

    Lancaster was born in 1913 in NYC. He starred in his first film (“The Killers”) in 1946 and went on to appear in 85 movies in his long career, also directing 3 and producing 23. Oddly enough,  I never thought of him as one of my favorite actors, yet he starred in some of my all-time favorite films: ELMER GANTRY (1960/Academy Award for Best Actor), JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG (1961), THE SWIMMER (1968), ATLANTIC CITY (1980), and LOCAL HERO (1983). His last film was FIELD OF DREAMS (1989).

    Last but not Lancaster, we have composer/song writer BURT BACHARACH who, like the other Burt, isn’t one of my favorites in his chosen field, but nonetheless wrote (with Hal David) a number of my favorite 1960’s songs, including WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE (1965), WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT (1965), ALFIE (1966), I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER (1967), DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE (1968), THIS GUY’S IN LOVE WITH YOU (1968), I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN (1969), and this Academy Award winner from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969):

    This wraps up another thrilling episode in my “THIS POST IS FOR THE ____” (anything from BIRDS to BURTS) series. Dew drop in again next time (Feb. 5), boys and girls, to see weather the reign drops dead or keeps callin’ in my head. The series has to end sometime….but when? The suspense is about to kill me.

     

     
    • scifihammy 6:04 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Oh I’m so glad you chose Burt Lancaster – I was hoping you would! I think he is quite underrated as an actor, bit like you say, there are many great movies he’s been in.
      And I didn’t realise that Burt Bacharach wrote those awesome songs! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:26 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Burt Lancaster is one of those actors who, when you think about it, it’s hard to remember a BAD movie he made (though there were probably a few, like almost every actor who was in a lot of movies). Of his movies that I listed, I would particularly recommend LOCAL HERO, a great and quirky little film which didn’t get a lot of attention at the time, but is truly a ‘hidden gem.’

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mél@nie 2:46 pm on February 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I totally agree with you about Burt… he was admired and appreciated, and popular all over Europe…

        • * *

        I also love Burt Bacharach’s music… some of his famous songs have been sung by European singers, too.

        Liked by 2 people

    • arekhill1 10:33 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      And you left yourself an opportunity, unmentioned but illustrated, to do a post on “Ernie and Ernie.”

      Like

      • mistermuse 11:52 am on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        I think I’ll pass on “Ernie and Ernie,” but if I were to do a post on Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day), I might do one on PunxsutErnie Phil. Unfortunately, my next post day is Feb. 5.

        Like

    • Don Frankel 4:26 pm on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I missed the first Bert. By the time he came on the scene I was probably out looking for a job. But the next Burt was as you point a classic. Let us not forget From Here to Eternity and Vera Cruz where he told Gary Cooper. “So we’re friends. I’ve never had a friend before.” Now the last Burt wasn’t one of my favorite composers either but it shouldn’t have ever bothered him as he was married to Angie Dickenson for a long time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:55 pm on January 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t realize that Angie Dickinson is 85 years old and still with us (as is former hubby Burt B., who is 88). I’m sure they made beautiful music together — at least, for a time.

      Liked by 2 people

    • BroadBlogs 7:33 pm on January 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I have nice memories of Ernie and Bert. That’s one big Fish story!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 10:01 pm on January 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Even at my age,I have to laugh at the Bert and Ernie clip. Guess I’m still just a kid at heart!

      Liked by 2 people

    • milliethom 5:28 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My mum was a huge Burt Lancaster fan (we’re in the UK). He was very popular over here and mum’s liking of him rubbed off a bit on me, too.

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 7:03 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for your comment. Have you seen Burt Lancaster in LOCAL HERO, a British film set in Scotland? If not, I highly recommend it. Here’s the trailer:

      Liked by 1 person

    • inesephoto 4:41 pm on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Burt Lancaster, wow, a legend. Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:27 pm on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Lancaster was such a strong and convincing presence in his films that he didn’t seen to be acting at all. He was truly one of the greats.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Burns and Allen, , , , Gracie Allen, , movies, , , ,   

    THIS POST IS FOR THE BURNS 

    My last post was published on the birthday (Jan. 20, 1896) of GEORGE BURNS. This post is being published on the birthday (Jan. 25, 1759) of ROBERT BURNS. The former lived to the ripe old age of 100, the latter to age 37; a punster might say (0f the disparity) that they Burns the candle at both ends (of course, I would never say such a thing).

    Some of you no doubt remember George Burns as God in the 1977 hit film OH, GOD!, and as the Academy Award winning Best Supporting Actor in THE SUNSHINE BOYS (1975), but we geezers best recall him as straight man to wife Gracie Allen in the comedy team of BURNS AND ALLEN. After she died in 1964, he immersed himself in work, remaining active for another three decades in TV, movies, and as author of ten books.

    Here are Burns & Allen with Fred Astaire in two fun scenes from DAMSEL IN DISTRESS (1937):

    http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/374102/Damsel-In-Distress-A-Movie-Clip-Stiff-Upper-Lip.html

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

    Many of you probably do not remember ROBERT BURNS (aka RABBIE BURNS). Even I, ancient as I am, do not recall him. But history tells us he was known as the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire (Scotland), and as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Regarded as the National Poet of Scotland, in 2009 the Scottish public voted him the Greatest Scot, evidently as a belated promotion from Great Scot! Among his best known poems are “Auld Lang Syne,” “A Red, Red Rose” and “To A Mouse” (said to have been written when he accidently destroyed a mouse nest while plowing a field). I suspect the mouse would have preferred if Burns had restored the nest, but nonetheless, the poem was a mice gesture.

    In closing, it might be nice to see what the Burns boys had to say in their own words (George’s quotes are in italics, followed by Robert’s in what I take to be post-Old English):

    Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

    Nice to be here? At my age, it’s nice to be anywhere. (Tell me about it!)

    First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up, and finally, you forget to pull it down. (Don’t tell me about it.)

    When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.

    It takes only one drink to get me drunk. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the 13th or 14th.

    Oh wad some power the giftie gie us / To see ourselves as others see us!

    Gie me ae spark o’ Nature’s fire, / That’s a’ the learning I desire.

    An’ there began a lang digression / About the lords o’ the creation.

    Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie, / O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

    The best laid plans o’ mice and men Gang aft a-gley.

     
    • New England Nomad 12:41 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Interest that you should mention Robert Burns. Funnfact: there is a statue of him in my home city. It seems kind of random to see it since he never resided in Massachusetts and I’m not sure he ever lived in the states. To make a long story short, a Scottish heritage group, called the Scottish clans of America in honor of all of the Scottish people who had settled in the area.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:26 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you for that interesting info. I wonder if there is a similar statue in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which was a Scottish colony for a brief period in the 17th century.

        I don’t know if you watch JEOPARDY!, but if so, perhaps you’ve noticed that Rabbie (Robert) Burns turns up relatively often as a question (answer).

        Thanks again for commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 6:06 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I am bat-sh*t crazy about “back in the day” tap routines — but would you believe that I either didn’t know (or had totally forgotten) that Burns was a tapper? And an excellent one too! I mean, anyone who can keep up with Astaire is NO slouch!!!

      I had to watch this 3 times, putting my attentional spotlight on each of them. BRILLIANT routine! Such lightness in their execution – and CLEAN as a whistle taps.

      I also think that G. Burns was one of the few (besides me, of course) who really appreciated Gracie’s comic genius – in addition to his being able to set her up perfectly – one of the best straight men in the biz.

      Bobby, on the other hand, is my personal guru of oh-well. I am a repeat winner of the Bobbie Burns award, having ganged oft aglee more times than *anybody* can count!

      Thanks for another great post.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
      – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:12 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I agree about George Burns. He, like most entertainers back in the day, started out in vaudeville and could do more than one thing. Astaire, for example, was not only a great dancer, but an actor, singer (I personally love his way with a song), choreographer, percussionist, and even wrote a few popular songs. In those days, you had to have talent — you didn’t get to be famous for being famous.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 9:05 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Muse, I remember the TV show from when I was a kid. While Gracie and Harry Von Zell would be plotting, George would be upstairs in his den watching it on TV. I thought that was the coolest thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 10:01 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Although George wasn’t my favorite comedian, George and Gracie as a pair were “the coolest thing” indeed. If I recall correctly, at the end of the show, he would tell Gracie, “Say goodnight [meaning ‘to the audience’], Gracie.”….and she would repeat, “Goodnight, Gracie.”

        Like

    • arekhill1 10:21 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      To return to your favorite subject, Sr. Muse, if God is going to get started with giving out the gift of perceiving how others see us, He could start with Trump.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 11:40 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        You got that right, Ricardo. Even when he does perceive how others see him, it’s through the lens of his megalomania. Talk about a legend in his own mind!

        Like

    • milliethom 4:18 pm on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      A great post, told in an appealingly humorous way. I remember Gracie Allen well. I was a teenager when they were on TV quite a lot and my mum loved them. George must have done something right to live to a hundred … perhaps he always ate his greens or something. Lol The tap scene is amazing. All three are wonderful dancers.
      In a comment above, you wondered whether there was a Robert Burns’ statue in Nova Scotia. I looked up about statues of Burns around the world, intending to add some to my post, and I know there are a few in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I think there’s one in British Columbia and one in Halifax in Nova Scotia. I didn’t get as far as looking to see whether there were any in the USA. I intend to do another post about Rabbie, this time about his life and poetry. I thought I’d talk about the many statues then.
      Thank you for connecting to my post. I enjoyed reading yours.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 6:12 pm on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the kind words. Anyone who’s interested in more info (along with some very nice pix) about Robert Burns should check out your Jan. 25 post by clicking on your name above.

      Like

    • eths 10:57 pm on January 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      When I was a kid, my family and I listed to Burns and Allen weekly. Loved them!

      Liked by 1 person

    • moorezart 1:20 pm on August 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on From 1 Blogger 2 Another.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:57 pm on August 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      George Burns thanks you, Robert Burns thanks you, and I thank you (if you don’t believe me, ask them!). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on January 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Betty Garrett, , , , , , , movies, , , WORDS AND MUSIC   

    THIS POST IS FOR THE WORDS (AND MUSIC) 

    “They had a story written that at times impinged on the truth, but not very often.” –Richard Rodgers (re Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s filming of the 1948 Rodgers & Hart biopic WORDS AND MUSIC)

    The Hollywoodized version of the life of Rodgers and Hart may be for the birds regarding the facts of their life, but above and beyond the cornball script are such treats for the ears as Betty Garrett, Judy Garland and Lena Horne singing those sophisticated R & H songs. But at least — though MGM had no conscience with regard to the narrative — they took no liberties with respect to Hart’s Words And Rodgers’ Music.

    Without further ado, then, on with the show. Carrying forward the theme of the previous post, here are (you have my word) three great ‘love’ songs from WORDS AND MUSIC:

    But wait — you want unadulterated love and sophistication? R & H had nothing on Cole Porter:

     
    • linnetmoss 8:58 am on January 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, that Smoothies recording is surreal! That song always shocks me a little, and given its subject matter, I’m surprised that it wasn’t more controversial in its day. With Cole Porter, Anything Goes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 12:26 pm on January 15, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        The Smoothies were a great vocal group, all but forgotten today. I own a double LP album with 32 of their recordings from the late 1930s-early 40s (including LOVE FOR SALE). Their vocal stylings were unique and definitely avant-guarde for their time. If there had been a Hayes Office for recordings like there was for movies, LOVE FOR SALE would have been an absolute no-no!

        Liked by 1 person

        • linnetmoss 8:24 am on January 16, 2017 Permalink

          What an interesting thought, a Hayes office for recordings! Thank goodness THAT never happened, although censorship of “naughty words” in songs continues…

          Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:50 am on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Speaking of interesting thoughts, I GET (got) A KICK OUT OF YOUr “With Cole Porter, Anything Goes” idea at the end of your previous comment. Either YOU’RE THE TOP, or IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. 🙂

      Like

    • Don Frankel 10:10 am on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I’ll try this again. Didn’t seem to stick. I’m always amazed when a Hollywood movie that is about something or someone real gets something right. But they got the music right.

      I’m going with Lena Horne here as well sometimes I can’t remember where or when.

      Like

    • mistermuse 10:50 am on January 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Don, I think you’re right about Hollywood not getting their biopics right, especially during Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ and especially with their musical biopics. Off the top of my head, the only one I can think of that was pretty well done was YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (with James Cagney as George M. Cohan). They perhaps got a bit more ‘real’ in the mid-1950s (LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, again with Cagney), but Hollywood has seldom done right by their musical bios.

      Like

    • D. Wallace Peach 9:01 am on January 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Great songs. I haven’t seen the movie, but just to hear the music would make it worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:27 am on January 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I hear you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 6:19 pm on January 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      My mom loves all these movies from Hollywood’s heyday. I’ll have to check them out.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:23 pm on January 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Although I have an avid interest in “Hollywood’s heyday,” I’d be the first to admit that a lot of clunkers were made during that period, as well as many great & good ones. Good luck picking the wheat from the chaff!

        Like

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Broadway, , , , HORSE FEATHERS, , , MONKEY BUSINESS, movies, , ,   

    GROUCHO AND M(US)E 

    Although it is generally known, I think it’s about time to announce that I was born at a very early age. –Groucho Marx, Chapter I, GROUCHO AND ME

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

    As long-time readers of my blog know, I’m a big fan of Groucho Marx/The Marx Brothers, so it should come as no surprise that one of the first books I read from my used book sale haul (see previous post) was Groucho’s autobiography, GROUCHO AND ME. And who, you ask, is the ME in that title? (Hint: it’s not me).  It’s none other (says the back cover) than “a comparatively unknown Marx named Julius, who, under the nom de plume of Groucho, enjoyed a sensational career on Broadway and in Hollywood with such comedy classics as Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup [and] A Night at the Opera.”

    Julius Groucho Marx (1895-1977) wasn’t just a comedian — he was a wit who appreciated wit in others and “Gratefully Dedicated This Book To These Six Masters Without Whose Wise and Witty Words My Life Would Have Been Even Duller: Robert Benchley / George S. Kaufman / Ring Lardner / S. J. Perelman / James Thurber / E. B. White.”

    I already owned several Marx Brothers books (written by others) and had at least a whit of an impression of Groucho’s résumé before sinking my teeth into this book….but there’s nothing like an autobio for getting it straight from the Horse’s mouth (Feathers and all). At least, that’s what I thought until I got to page 11, where Groucho wrote:

    “This opus started out as an autobiography, but before I was aware of it, I realized it would be nothing of the kind. It is almost impossible to write a truthful autobiography. Maybe Proust, Gide and a few others did it, but most autobiographies take good care to conceal the author from the public.”

    Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. This is a different kettle of soup. You pay coal hard cash for an autobiography, and what do you get? A bit of Cash back, another day older and deeper in debt.

    Well, two can play that game. This opus began as a book review of GROUCHO AND ME, but Groucho’s bait-and-switch gives me no choice but to turn it into a GROUCHO AND me thing (sorry, readers, no refunds) by invoking the Sanity Clause in my contract….

    As I started to say before me was so rudely interrupted, you will have to be satisfied with some suitable quotes from Groucho’s book, which left me in stitches:

    My Pop was a tailor, and sometimes he made as much as $18 a week. But he was no ordinary tailor. His record as the most inept tailor that Yorkville ever produced has never been approached. This could even include parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx. The notion that Pop was a tailor was an opinion held only by him. To his customers he was known as “Misfit Sam.”

    They say that every man has a book in him. This is about as accurate as most generalizations. Take, for example, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man you-know-what.” Most wealthy people I know like to sleep late, and will fire the help if they are disturbed before three in the afternoon. You don’t see Marilyn Monroe getting up at six in the morning. The truth is, I don’t see Marilyn getting up at any hour, more’s the pity.

    Recognition didn’t come overnight in the old days. We bounced around for many years before we made it. We played towns I would refuse to be buried in today, even if the funeral were free and they tossed in a tombstone.

    After we hit the big time on Broadway, naturally our lives changed. Each member of the family reacted differently. Chico stopped going to poolrooms and started to patronize the more prosperous race tracks. After he got through with them, they were even more prosperous. Zeppo bought a forty-foot cruiser and tore up Long Island Sound as though to the manner born. Harpo, a shy and silent fellow, was taken up by the Algonquin crowd, at that time probably the most famous and brilliant conversational group in America. The quips flew thick, fast and deadly, and God help you if you were a dullard!

    I am not sure how I got to be a comedian or a comic. As a lad, I don’t remember knocking anyone over with my wit. I’m a pretty wary fellow, and have neither the desire nor the equipment to know what makes one man funny to another man. My guess is that there aren’t a hundred top-flight professional comedians, male and female, in the whole world. But because we are laughed at, I don’t think people really understand how essential we are to their sanity. If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare with the death rate of the lemmings.

    And so ( just between Groucho and us) it seems that there is a Sanity Clause after all. 🙂

     

     

     

     

     
    • D. Wallace Peach 10:50 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It sounds like an autobio to me, just seen through Groucho’s lens, which is shaded with humor. I get the impression that you enjoyed the book 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:34 am on December 10, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I did indeed enjoy the book. I think Groucho made his autobio-denial with tongue in cheek — as he does with most of the anecdotes in his book, which makes his autobio much different than most I’ve read. And what’s not to like about making (in many instances) serious points with insightful wit!

      Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 4:22 pm on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’m glad to say I’ve read every author on Groucho’s list, Sr. Muse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:39 pm on December 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I shall take up your defense against anyone who ever accuses you of being listless, Ricardo.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 10:44 am on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Some people say this never happened and others say it was why he got kicked off TVr. But a little research showed he said it on the radio and they just cut it out before it was aired.

      Sounds real to me. But either way he was a classic.

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:42 am on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      In those days, even Groucho couldn’t get away with that one — classic though it was. Thanks for digging up that clip, Don.

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 7:18 pm on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sure am glad film was invented by the time Groucho came around.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:57 pm on December 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      You said it! And so did the movies, in converting from silent to sound just as Groucho and his brothers came to Hollywood from Broadway in the late 1920s.

      Like

    • linnetmoss 7:15 am on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I adore Groucho! And S. J. Perelman too. Surprised to find that Wodehouse was not on his list 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:09 am on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’m surprised that Dorothy Parker wasn’t on his list, as Groucho seemed partial to members of the Algonquin Round Table (with which Harpo “was taken up by,” according to one of Groucho’s quotes) — she, Benchley, Kaufman and Lardner being ‘charter members.’ But Wodehouse spent much of his life in New York and Hollywood (as did the Marx Brothers), so I can only guess that P. G.’s humor was a bit too droll for Groucho’s taste.

      Like

    • restlessjo 2:10 am on December 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      We have a boxed set of the Marx Brothers. Thanks for reminding me 🙂 They used always to be on at Christmas. Wishing you a joyful time!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 7:42 am on December 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, and have a great Christmas!

      Like

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , movies, , , , , WHO KNOWS WHERE OR WHEN   

    BOOKS RIGHT DOWN MY ALLEY 

    The Public Library near where I live held a one-day used book sale recently. I got there shortly after it opened in the morning, hoping to find a book or two of interest. A few minutes later, I learned that a man had donated (for this sale) his collection of 500 old books on one of my favorite subjects: the movies, including biographies of directors and actors, movie history, Hollywood, the stories behind some of the great films,  etc. I ended up selecting almost 50 of those books, filling two large boxes at a cost of $10 a box. It’s been a long time since fortune favored me with so bounteous a cache for so little cash.

    So now, on top of already owning a not-inconsequential number of unexplored tomes, I find myself even more bogged down with unread books I need to find time to read…..or, at minimum, get to a place where I can see daylight at the end of the bog. Therefore, I’m going to skip a post or two in my usual post-every-five-days schedule.

    In the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return” — sometime in December, presupposing I won’t still be SWAMPED/haven’t gone blind. See ya later, alley-gators….

    At least, that’s the time-frame in my crystal ball, but in my Lorenz Hart of hearts, who knows….

     
    • arekhill1 10:51 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think it’s the light at the end of the tunnel, Sr. Muse. I’m pretty sure it’s the banshee at the end of the bog. I am going to Australia myself on 12/8. I’ll be keeping up my twice-a-week schedule, but whether it will be on Australian time or PCT I have yet to discover.

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 11:20 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Have a great time in the land down under, Ricardo. Although I won’t be posting myself for a while, I’ll still be checking in on yours and other posts occasionally, so I’ll look forward to your reports from the under-world.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC 12:59 pm on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      lol – I have NO room for another new book without building new shelving ::groan:: – so I don’t dare go to those library book sales. I’m practically terrified that I’ll come across a find like yours for my own jones (neuroscience and theatre).

      Congrats on your find. Will you be reading or shelf-building for the next few weeks? 🙂
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
      – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
      “It takes a village to educate a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 4:24 pm on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      If I know what’s good for me, I’ll start making room for more books before I start reading them. For one thing, I tend to get drowsy while reading, and doze off after a while — which I wouldn’t do if I were spending that time creating more space in the first place. On the other hand, that sounds too much like work, which makes me tired just thinking about it (as opposed to doing it). So I think I’ll solve that dilemma for today by taking a nap, and worry about it tomorrow.

      Like

    • D. Wallace Peach 7:00 pm on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Wow. 50 books! That would take me years and years. Those library books sales are great, though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:19 pm on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      By buying 50 books, I probably bit off more than I can chew (or should I say, more than I can read) unless I live to be the world’s oldest man, but at least (between that and my other interests), I’ll never be wanting for things to keep me out of trouble! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • BroadBlogs 9:40 pm on December 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 6:47 am on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Running out of space for books is why God, Mother Nature, the Big Bang or whoever you prefer invented the Ipad.

      Great Rodgers and Hart there Muse.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:07 am on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don. Great song sung by a great vocalist — “Who could ask for anything more?” (from Gershwin’s I GOT RHYTHM)

      Like

    • Don Frankel 2:32 pm on December 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Muse, funny you should think of Gershwin because every once in a while when I’m listening to a Rodgers or Gershwin tune, I’ll pause for a moment and think, that guy’s an effing genius.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mél@nie 1:10 am on December 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      quick translation from French:”The time of reading, just like that of loving, does expand our lifetime.” (Daniel Pennac)

      • * *

      I like reading and a book has often “dragged” me to another one… do literature and books fill up our life?!… I think so… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:30 am on December 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the quote. Here’s another pause-for-thought ‘quickie’: “A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.” –W. H. Auden

      Like

    • literaryeyes 2:32 pm on December 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A perfect storm of books, daunting and wonderful at the same time. Ride (read) it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:00 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , anti-war films, armed forces, , , , Irving Thalberg, , Memorial Day, MGM, movies, , , THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, , war films   

    WAR AND WONDER BOY 

    At the risk of making this a too-lengthy piece (lengthy peace, I’ll leave to miracle workers) I am going to blend a very disparate “double feature” into a two-for-the-price-of-one post….for today is not only Memorial Day, when America honors those killed in military service, but it’s the birthday of a man who literally changed the long-term ‘picture’ of the Marx Brothers after their riotous anti-war film, the anarchic classic, DUCK SOUP (1933).

    But first, for those who are interested and may be unfamiliar with the 100+ years history of war movies, I highly recommend taking time to check out this link for context: http://www.filmsite.org/warfilms.html (DUCK SOUP is listed under “Black Comedies”)

    I don’t necessarily agree with a blogger who wrote, “As we all know, every good war film is [an] anti-war film” — though I think any war picture which doesn’t contain at least an element of “war is madness” (as in BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, below) is, at best, simplistic patriotism (e.g. John Wayne’s GREEN BERETS; I’d add Cagney’s YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, but it’s a rousing glorification of a man’s patriotism, not a war film).

    Back to that birthday man (Irving Thalberg), the film producer known as “The Boy Wonder” for becoming head of production at MGM at age 26 and turning it into the most successful studio in Hollywood during his reign (1925 until his death in 1936). Quoting Wikipedia, “He had the ability to combine quality with commercial success, and [to bring] his artistic aspirations in line with the demands of audiences.” Within this framework, we can appreciate this passage from ROGER EBERT’s great book, THE GREAT MOVIES:

    The Marx Brothers created a body of work in which individual films are like slices from the whole, but Duck Soup is probably the best. It represents a turning point in their movie work; it was their last film for Paramount. When it was a box office disappointment, they moved over to MGM, where production chief Irving Thalberg ordered their plots to find room for conventional romantic couples.
    A Night at the Opera (1935), their first MGM film, contains some of their best work, yes, but [also] sappy interludes involving Kitty Carlisle and Allan Jones. In Duck Soup, there are no sequences I can skip; the movie is funny from beginning to end.

    This may not be one of the funniest sequences in DUCK SOUP, but it certainly makes for a glorious celebration of war as madness:

      

    As even the longest war must eventually come to an end, so too must this Memorial Day piece (de résistance). Even so, it ain’t over till the DUCK SOUP fat lady sings: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xnec7z_freedonia-at-war-part-3-from-duck-soup-1933_shortfilms

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

    P.S. The state of Ohio imprints the words ARMED FORCES on driver’s licenses whose bearer is/was a member. The last time I went in to renew my license, the BMV clerk took a look and thanked me for my service, which took me by surprise because my service is ancient history and I’d never been, or expected to be, thanked. I was a 1960 draftee who served during the so-called Cold War, not a volunteer in the Civil War (or whatever hot war my hoary appearance makes me look like I served in). But I realize that a bullet or bomb doesn’t care if you’re a draftee or volunteer when it takes you out, so to those who died in the service of this country and its professed ideals (and who had no choice as to whether or not the war they were in was worthy of their sacrifice), I thank youYou are the ones fate chose to earn this day.

     

     

     
    • Cynthia Jobin 12:20 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I watched The Bridge on the River Kwai on TV’s Turner Classic Movies this weekend. I am always perplexed by the idea of what Plato called The Guardians…the need for them, the tragedy of their engagement, the seeming futility of trying to do anything differently. But it’s good to acknowledge the willing, and the brave, as we do, on this holiday; and I hope we also do, when it’s not a holiday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:46 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        On the same day BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI was on TCM, John Wayne’s best war movie, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, was on. To me, the title of that WW II film says it all: for those who die in even the most ‘noble’ and necessary of wars, there is a sense that (of necessity?) THEY WERE EXPENDABLE. (I put a question mark after necessity because too often, bad judgment and stupid decisions of superiors lead to the unnecessary loss of many lives.)

        Liked by 2 people

    • scifihammy 2:03 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      A very good post. So much sacrifice and loss over all these years. Any movie that reminds us of this is a good movie.
      And how nice for you to be thanked after all this time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 7:58 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you. It was a nice gesture, though it was obvious that the BMV clerks were instructed to say “Thank you for your service” to all service members (past & present) who appear before them, and I doubt that, without that directive, they would’ve even noticed. Nonetheless, it gave me pause.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Don Frankel 6:51 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Muse I swear that in the opening sequence of We’re Going to War, one of the Generals is Sadam Huessein. Take a good look there.

      I think From Here to Eternity is a great movie and listed as a war movie although the war only comes in at the end. But it is not so much a war is madness but the army is madness and the war makes the army sane.

      You served and you went where they sent you like everyone else. In most of our wars only a small percentage of those serving wind up in combat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:23 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Don, that sequence goes by pretty fast, but from just a glance, it does indeed look like Sadam.
        I think there’s something to your statement about madness and war making the army sane….maybe something along the lines of “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

        Like

    • ladysighs 6:59 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Your posts are never too lengthy. Maybe too long, but never too lengthy. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:27 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Ladysighs, I’m not so sure that doesn’t come under the heading of A DISTINCTION WITHOUT A DIFFERENCE — nonetheless, I accept all accolades, regardless of length. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • linnetmoss 7:53 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Duck Soup is a genius movie. I once saw it on a big screen! Just the name Rufus T. Firefly cracks me up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 8:34 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        DUCK SOUP is indeed a genius movie. The fact that it was a box office disappointment probably shows that it was ahead of its time, though 1933 was the height of the Great Depression and many people couldn’t afford necessities, much less movies.

        Liked by 1 person

        • linnetmoss 9:35 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink

          These ones for the ages often fall flat in their own time. Moby Dick (the novel) comes to mind.

          Liked by 1 person

    • arekhill1 10:10 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hail Freedonia! And hail to you as well, Sr. Muse, on this Memorial Day, for being a veteran in more ways than one.

      Like

    • Don Frankel 10:52 am on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Muse I read the book and the book lays it out with more detail. The Company where Prewitt/Montgomery Cliff is revolves around boxing. Boxers make up all the Non-commissioned officers as that is their reward for boxing. Most of them are incompetent and the Company is dysfunctional. After Pearl Harbor the Company has to gear up for the war and the Boxers are demoted and the Company begins to function. It is one of the many ironic subtleties that make it a great book.

      Like

    • mistermuse 1:08 pm on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don. I’ve never read the book, and it’s been a while since I saw the movie. I think it’s on TCM now and then, so I’ll try to keep an eye open for it.

      Like

    • mistermuse 5:08 pm on May 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know anyone who would disagree, Michaeline (but too many other people don’t seem to give a damn).

      Like

    • D. Wallace Peach 10:54 am on May 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve never watched Duck Soup (clearly, I should). I’ve seen a number of war movies, and they always leave me terribly melancholy. I think about the real wars and the irreplaceable lives lost, all those hopes and possibilities gone forever for the service men and women and the people who love them. As a grief counselor, I worked with little kids who lost parents in Iraq. I hate the politicians to toss lives into war without a thought about the true cost. I think the best way to honor the dead is to try our darnedest to make sure that war is the very last resort. Thank you for your service 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 11:36 am on May 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you, Diana. In a certain sense, it’s misleading to call Duck Soup a war movie because it’s the ultimate ANTI-war movie. No other film (that I’m aware of) subjects the glory of war to such manic ridicule….so I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. And THANK YOU for your work as a grief counselor.

      Liked by 2 people

    • calmkate 7:31 am on June 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      wow love that Marx bros number, excellent 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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