Saturday, October 29, 2022

Preschool Confidential


You think this guy is scary? Aw, come on, he's got nothing on...


I wrote about Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-2022) here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Quips and Quotations (Haunted Wanted Edition)


Why are people afraid of ghosts? "Ooh, no, I wouldn’t want to see one! I’d be too scared"– accompanied by a tremolo of fear in the voice – is the common reaction. This puzzles me. I’d think anyone would welcome the opportunity. I’ve never heard of a ghost hurting anybody.

--Dick Cavett

Where other people see monsters, I guess I see hope.

--Fox Mulder

Mulder doesn't believe outright. He wants to believe. That sums up Mulder for me.

--Chris Carter, creator and producer of The X-Files.

Sherman Duffy of the New York Herald once said, a newspaperman is the loneliest guy on earth. Socially he ranks somewhere between a hooker and a bartender. Spiritually he stands with Galileo, because he knows the world is round...

...not that it matters much when his editor knows it's flat.

--Carl Kolchak, hero of the 1972 made-for TV movie The Night Stalker, from which was spun off the regrettably short-lived series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.


Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Late Show

Dracula's Daughter? Morticia Addams? Nah, it's just French actress Sarah Bernhardt, circa 1873. She's not yet 30 and, though seen here in a coffin, still had fifty more years to go. In her day Bernhardt was considered the greatest actress in the world, but she was probably less Meryl Streep and more a thespian Lady Gaga: The-Artist-as-Weirdo. That's no slight but exactly what she wanted people to think, the first celebrity to conclude that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Take the coffin. As Sarah herself told it, she was nursing her tubercular sister back to health, letting her sleep in her own bed, while the actress slept in a casket that she just happened to have lying around the apartment. A manicurist dropped by, saw Sarah in the box, and ran out of the apartment screaming. From then on "all of Paris knew." So what else could poor Sarah do but have her picture taken in the sarcophagus and try her damnedest to make sure every man, woman, and child in France got a copy? It recalls another Artist-as-Weirdo, Michael Jackson, who a century later made sure a photo of himself sleeping in an oxygen chamber fell into the hands of the National Enquirer. That didn't hurt his record sales any (though a later revelation about an entirely different set of sleeping arrangements clearly did, proving that there IS such a thing as bad publicity.) Getting back to Sarah, it was just one of many eccentricities that she indulged in that the French loved gossiping about, from a private menagerie kept in that same crowded apartment to a private army of lovers, usually but not exclusively male, kept in that same private apartment. She wore belts below her hips, so much jewelry that she chimed as she walked, and, as if sleeping in a coffin wasn't enough, sculpted a death head of her recently departed husband. However, what truly shocked the normally open-minded French public wasn't what she did offstage but on it. Not satisfied with mere portrayals of Cleopatra or Salome, Sarah decided to play the title role in Hamlet as well! Later she is said to have donned a beard to play Shylock (if not the same gender, they at least shared the same religion.) 

Sarah sold tickets and continued to through the rest of her life, which included a major calamity in the 20th century portion of that life. Jumping upon an improperly placed mattress during a performance, she apparently broke her leg and didn't seek medical attention right away. It didn't happen overnight, but gangrene eventually cost her that leg. Still, she appeared on stage and now movies and on recordings. As is often the case with film footage from before World War I, her screen appearances look as though they were shot through a Coke bottle (because the print has disintegrated; contemporary audiences would have seen it clear as day.) In her 60s, she obviously can no longer play the ingenue, and there's the flailing of arms so often seen in silent pictures, as if Sarah herself was the manicurist who had just seen Sarah in a coffin. But that's all we have to go by. The 19th century part of her career, which so wowed contemporary audiences, only exists in photographs. What would 21st century audiences think of her? Given changes in acting styles, it seems unlikely she would still be considered the greatest actress in the world (George Bernard Shaw, 12 years her junior, found her exaggerated mannerisms to be "childishly egotistical") but that doesn't mean she wouldn't be fun to watch. We'll never know for sure, as Sarah Bernhardt is now Lost in Time...


Sarah Bernhardt lost a leg but not her reputation. Tragedy is relative.  




Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Vital Viewing (Shedunnit Edition)



She's best known for playing TV's Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer who spends so much time solving mysteries one wonders when she finds time to write them, but Angela Lansbury had been acting and performing her stockings off long before that series came along. Some highlights:

                                           Gaslight (1944)

Will a Cockney-accented Lansbury come between a French-accented Charles Boyer and a Swedish-accented Ingrid Bergman? Watch the film and find out.

The Cockney accent was real, though Lansbury eventually managed to shed it. A mere two years later, she could not only talk in an American accent but...

                                                    The Harvey Girls (1946)

...sing in one as well.

                                    The Court Jester (1955)

With an entranced, then not entranced, then entranced again Danny Kaye. Snap!

Some more hypnotism:

                          The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

In this political satire disguised as a political thriller, communists infiltrate the Republican Party.

Some have called him the Moscow Candidate, but at least the infiltrators are no longer communist (small consolation to the Ukrainians.)

Halloween is only a few weeks away, so how about some...

                          Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)


As entertaining as she could be in motion pictures, Angela Lansbury was never all that big a movie star. However...

...The Great White Way was another matter.

"Life is a banquet and most poor son of a bitches are starving to death."

Um...excuse me, but I felt a sudden urge to raid the refrigerator.


OK, I'm back. As big as a star as Angela Lansbury had been on Broadway, as I said at the top of this post, she was an even bigger star on...


That Cabot Cove looks like a nice little place to visit, huh? Just make sure you wear a bulletproof vest. Its' homicide rate would put 1970s New York City to shame.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Flesh and Fantasy


Middle East.

Different hues for different views. It all evens out in the end.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Quips and Quotations (Grand Ole Obstetrics Edition)


I had four kids before I was 18. If I had had the Pill, I would’ve been popping it like popcorn.

--Loretta Lynn