Thursday, March 6, 2008


Just watched MY FAIR LADY, I think, for the first time, that is, straight through. And the stars and the Cecil Beaton's settings are really marvelous. But the story is inteeeerrrrrminable. Amazing what capacity for time and space we had once upon a time. It was the same when I watched an old episode of the David Frost TV show from the 70s. There they were, Yvonne de Carlo and Alexis Smith, telling long stories in complete sentences. And because even I have fallen in step with our clipped modern tempo, I watched with apprehension afloat, thinking someone was not going to be able to get out of the sentence or the story they were telling.

Only flaw with MFL is the obvious, jarring way Marni Nixon comes on whenever Audrey sings. She looks lovely and acts the hell out of the part. But, ah, if only Jack Warner had taken a chance on Julie Andrews, the movie would have gotten double acting Oscar honors. What a joke that was on him when she won the award that night for MARY POPPINS. I remember Harrison accepting his award and thanking his "two Fair Ladies."

My darling THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE has just come on TCM. That is another rare bird they don't hatch any more. True, honest to goodness cool wit and style in every square of inch of it, from the writing to the high-comedy acting, to Vincente Minnelli's razor sharp direction, to ultra lux Pierre Balmain clothes for Kay Kendall. And Kay Kendall. The only funny woman in the movies who was also a great beauty, with great sweetness and a kind of goodness that permeated her every move. Even "the kids," John Saxon and Sandra Dee pick up on the suave signals and do themselves proud. And what a sexy man was John Saxon. He really smolders in this.'

Some happy/not so happy endings from this cast. Kay Kendall was already fighting lukemia and she died a few short years later. Lansbury was yet to do many more years of yeoman's work before she broke out of the supporting mold and became an overnight Broadway star when she opened in MAME. Sandra Dee became an alcoholic and a recluse toward the end of her life. Rex Harrison kept on a rich and rewarding career till very late, till the very end of life. I don't know what became of John Saxon, but something tells me he married Well and lives in a temperate climate with servants.

I met Sandra Dee once in the mid 70s when she was appearing in something like AGATHA SUE, I LOVE YOU! (or was it THE PAISLEY CONVERTIBLE?) at a dinner theatre in Chicago. This was the beginning of the end of her A-list fame and the start of a retreat from the world. I met Harrison signing autographs outside a Broadway theatre where I had just seen him and Stewart Granger and Glynnis Johns in THE CIRCLE, a Somerset Maugham play that you thought every other minute was going to give a seizure of ecstasy because it was so exquisitely drenched in a self-assured elegance i knew we were probably watching for the last time. And I think we did.

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