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Found 12 results

  1. Content aside (it's pretty bad), the 18-minute film short, "Three Little Pigskins," is amazing to watch - it features both The Three Stooges and a 23-year-old Lucille Ball in one of her very first Hollywood roles, and has been digitized in extremely high quality.
  2. The 1934 musical-comedy short "Bubbling Over" stereotypes the "lazy black man," with Hamtree Harrington playing the good-for-nothing head janitor, Samson Peabody, constantly hounded by the Assistant Janitor, Ethel Peabody (played by Ethel Waters), the two of them leading an "All-Black Cast!" Waters played the unforgettable role of Jennie Henderson in the very best episode of "Route 66," "Goodnight Sweet Blues" (which I urge anyone-and-everyone reading this to watch, over-and-over again - it's life-changing television). This 19'30" musical manages to fit in four numbers: "Taking Your Time," (in which Ethel humorously nags Samson), "Southernaires Quartet," (a delightful song about "hanging your hat in a Harlem flat"), "Darkies Never Dream," (Ethel's lament about her life of drudgery), and "Company's Comin' Tonight," (an upbeat ensemble about a rich uncle arriving in town (from the, um, State Asylum)). "Bubbling Over" is worth watching for historical terms, and if you can tolerate "lazy, black humor," you may get a laugh or two out of Ethel Waters' dialogue after her first song ("Wake up, Samson, you're going to be late for your nap!"). At the end of the day, I can appreciate the humor, but still wish that films like this were never made. Ethel Waters and company deserved a whole lot better.
  3. It about kills me to put this video up here, but the one person in the world I'll do it for is the great Roberto Clemente, killed in an airplane crash while making a humanitarian visit to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old, and was still arguably the best right fielder in baseball at the time - it's hard to believe he was a year *older* than Frank Robinson, a pretty darned good right fielder himself, and whom you can see scoring the winning run here, the game before, off a Brooks Robinson sacrifice "fly" (if you want to call that a fly). This video is Clemente's second World Series championship, and his interview begins just after 2:06:30 (I have it set to this). Shortly after one year later, he was gone - I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but I'm glad for both him, and his mom and dad, that he won this World Series. Other than perhaps Jackie Robinson, can you name a greater human being who ever put on a mitt?
  4. I've often thought the cherry trees in DC, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in general, were overrated, but that was before today. I managed to get a parking place right by the impressive Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and the trees were out in all their splendor - if you have a chance to see them in the next few days, do - parking on West Basin Drive near the MLK Jr. Memorial is your best bet (the Memorial itself is well-worth seeing), and I strongly recommend trying to get a 3-hour space there; otherwise, you have to pay $1 to take a shuttle, and join the masses. Having been to the cherry trees perhaps ten times, I mistakenly remembered that they were somewhat ... overplayed; they aren't - they're gorgeous. And I have never seen so many Japanese tourists in one place before today!
  5. I'm not quite sure what the difference is between speculative fiction, science fiction, and pulp, but Harlan Ellison appears to have blurred the lines between the three genres. Ellison, a supposedly cantankerous man of 84, is most famous for having written stories which became notable on television - for example, "The City on the Edge of Forever" on "Star Trek." One of the reasons he got to write this story was because Ellison had just won the 1965 Writers Guild of America award for "Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology" for "Demon with a Glass Hand," (a second-season episode of "The Outer Limits" starring Robert Culp and Arlene Martel (who went on to play T'Pring on "Star Trek")). I've been slowly winding my way through "The Outer Limits," and "Demon with a Glass Hand" is absolutely the best I've seen so far (it's Season 2, Episode 5) - Harlan Ellison actually sued James Cameron (of "The Terminator" fame), and won an unspecified amount out of court - his name is apparently also in the credits of the original Terminator film (and if you watch this episode, you'll see why, hint hint). TV Guide ranked this #73 in their 2009 list of "100 Greatest TV Episodes," hint hint, although you need to keep in mind that this was a weekly series, and costs were limited to less than $100,000 per episode (the enemy species looked liked divers in wet suits), but all-told, the special effects were pretty darned good for a weekly TV series from 1965, especially The Hand - and Robert Culp was *perfect* in his role (the story was actually written with Culp in mind). Click on Harlan Ellison and read through his Wikipedia entry - his background is quite impressive.
  6. I just finished half-rereading Stefan Zweig's brilliant novella, "Amok," to refresh my memory before reading "Letter from an Unknown Woman," in the same collection of short stories, in anticipation of watching the film, "Letter from an Unknown Woman." However, I just found out there was not one, not two, but *three* films made after "Amok," so the siren song called me, and I began watching the 1934 French version. Note, why did these middle-aged British and French men assigned to Borneo and Malaysia complain about not seeing any caucasian women for months-on-end? Are they out of their minds? Gauguin knew what he was doing, you'll see ... *** SPOILER ALERT *** Do not read any further until reading the novella *and* watching the film. Listen up: It makes no sense to watch this film unless you've read the 40-page novella first, so please, don't - read the novella first, because no matter how good this film is (and I've only watched 15 minutes of it), the novella will be better, I assure you. You'd be doing yourself a grave, literary disservice if you watch this movie before reading the story. So, really, any discussion that follows is going to be assuming you've read the book - and whether or not the film stays true to the novella, well, that remains to be seen, but my guess is that it just might. So read it first, huh? The great Stefan Zweig deserves nothing less (I'm not kidding when I say he's one of the five-best authors I've ever read, even though I've only read his short stories - he is on a par with Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, or anyone else you care to name, and if you doubt me, read him. In fact, if I could read just one more book in my life (assuming all were equal in length!), I might just choose something by Stefan Zweig. As my friend (and donrockwell.com member) Sasha K said, after reading the 41-page-long, "The Royal Game," "People should be ashamed to call themselves 'writers' when works like this exist," and he's absolutely correct. To watch this film, it will help to have some idea of what the true meaning of "running Amok" is - it's a Malaysian term that essentially means losing complete control (because of a strange, unknown disease), and going on a single-minded killing spree, until you either collapse or are killed, and there's no way to stop it once it starts - not unlike being a dog with rabies. This is represented quite well in the first fifteen minutes of the film, and sets the stage for the "real" story, which is allegorical. The film is staying very true to the book so far (I'm 40 minutes into a 1'25" movie), but other than a couple minor deviations, the first major one just occurred: Hélène's lover just found out about the child; in the book, he never found out, and that was an extremely important component of the doctor's unwavering devotion to her. As a psychological drama, it's little things such as this which can never make a movie as good as the book - there isn't adequate time to reflect on things, and compromises will always be made for the audience, no matter how insignificant you think they may be. When you read the story, you'll see how important this seemingly insignificant component is in determining the totality of the doctor's "amok state." Wow, also the blackmail with the letters from Hélène's lover - that doesn't happen in the book. See, in the book, his "amok state" is out of control, yes, but it's tempered with total dedication to her well-being, and he would never do anything to harm her like this. The movie has now taken two pretty big liberties, and I'm not sure I like it; on the other hand, I'm not sure how 90-minutes of psychological pursuit would come across on the big screen, when much of that pursuit occurs in the doctor's own mind (it actually happened, but not to the extraordinary degree to which it does in his mind). These aren't two "black marks" so much as two "gray marks," and I'm hoping there aren't many more, because you're messing with perfection, and you don't want to do that. This is Zweig's story to tell, and it's Otsep's primary mission - in my opinion - to present it as faithfully as possible. Everything comes home to wine: A common wisdom among "terroirists" (of which I am one) is that the *maximum potential* for a wine occurs the moment the grapes are picked; from that point forward, it's the winemakers primary task *not* to screw things up. Think of an absolutely perfect, ripe, heirloom tomato - how can you improve upon this? There are ways, but they generally don't involve corrupting the tomato. There are potential advantages to changing small things. For example, even though it was as obvious as the sun rising in the morning, I failed to see (in the book) that when the doctor saw Hélène at the ball, she was going to have the procedure done later that night - I have no idea how, or why, I missed that, but I did - this movie made that perfectly clear to me (dumbing things down for the dummy, perhaps?) I'm not sure this involves a "cinematic advantage," so much as a "dimwitted reader." The problem is, with him attempting to blackmail her - even though it was almost surely a bluff - when he looks at her and says, "Forgive me," he comes across as a complete, total, *jerk*, whereas in the book, it's clear that he isn't calculating enough to try and pull such a stunt - he was, as he said, running straight forward, at top speed, with blinders on, and nothing could stop him. When you "run amok," you simply don't have the presence of mind to attempt such a rotten tactic, and the movie suffers because he did. A classic, "eat shit" look from the 1930s: And strike three: He never once told her he loved her in the book: It wouldn't have been in keeping with the story. And stike four: The ending was all wrong, and reminds me that the movie was entirely missing the narrator, and didn't work without it - it needed to be structured just as the book was. This film ends with the absolute certainty that this was a clear case of murder-suicide, whereas the book leaves everything completely unknown, and the secrets are forever buried at the bottom of the sea - it is *so* much better in written form, and I urge you only to watch this film if you've read the book, and are curious about a comparison-contrast. I would love an opinion of someone who *hasn't* read the book, but I can't ask anyone to do this to themselves: "Amok" *can't* be a great film - it just can't be. But the novella was one of the greatest short stories I've ever read. Damn - the deviations did this in. Trivia, which I didn't recognize: Valéry Inkijinoff, whom I believe deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination - despite the Film being French, and despite him being Asian - played the roles of *both* the man stricken with "L'Amok" at the beginning, and also Maté, Hélène's servant, who was unwaveringly faithful until the very end.
  7. One thing I don't understand is how Willie Mays, and *especially* Hank Aaron, aren't more famous than they are. Yes, race probably has something to do with it, but why? Jackie Robinson is mentioned with the same reverence as Martin Luther King, Jr., but why not Willie Mays, and *most certainly* why not Hank Aaron? Let's celebrate these two giants *now*, while they're alive. Greats like Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, and Ernie Banks are maybe a small step down from The Big Three (Aaron, Mays, Mantle), and I hate to think that Mickey Mantle is such a legend because he's white, and I choose (probably incorrectly) to believe it's because he played center-field for the Yankees. Hank Aaron should be as famous as Muhammad Ali. Good God, the man broke *Babe Ruth's* home run record - that's like Jesus Christ walking in your front door.
  8. After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
  9. Her live album from the Monterey jazz fest is also excellent. Truly a great artist.
  10. One of the greatest and most influential electric guitar-players in the history of electric guitar, his live performances were, well, electrifying: I had the enormous pleasure of catching Freddie King live at the old Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street in Boston, probably about a year after this recording, and man that cat could wail. He had this way of throwing in some really surprising, flawless lick, and then he'd look out at the audience with a sly grin. His set that night was one of the high points of my life. He really tore the house down:
  11. Frankie Valli was possessed of one of the most singular and astonishing instruments in the history of rock-n-roll: his voice. There has never been anything quite like it. So the songs might be kind of silly, but you don't have to wonder why they sold so many millions of records. (Between his work with The Four Seasons and his solo recordings, he had 39 top-40 hits.) "Sherry" (1962) "Walk Like a Man" (1963) "Working My Way Back to You" (1966)
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