Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The adroit comedienne Charlotte Greenwood practically built a career on double-jointed hips. Even when well into middle age, she could perform complete leg-splits as well as kick higher than the top of her own head - sideways!. There was something really infectious when she did this because it clearly gave her such joy and she wanted you to feel it too. Her eccentric humor was all the more incongruous on account of her aura of elegance in that fastidiously styled coiffure and those glamorous, magnificently tailored gowns she wore.
This stratospheric head shot is part of the montage at the end of THE GANG'S ALL HERE, where the cast, in what looks like the aftermath of multiple beheadings, come out to sing yet another chorus of "A Stairway to the Stars." Even as they wind up as a large platter of solarized distended heads, their good spirits makes THE GANG'S ALL HERE the cheeriest experience on film, no matter how often you've seen it.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The suis generis Kay Thompson (nee Kitty Fink) was the sensation of the night-club circuit in the mid 50s. Surrounded by the Williams Brothers (you can easily spot Andy here,) she had a strong connection with the Plaza Hotel beyond her invented alter ego, Eloise. She played its ultra chic boite, the Persian Room, and here she gives it a kind of desultory tribute. We are posting this because the early TV technology gives the performance a charming, ragged quality.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
in BUTTERFIELD8 Eddie Fisher lives on Horatio St in what was still thought of as the bohemian part of NY, Greenwich Village. It's a very small studio. But he's a composer so he's managed an upright piano in somehow. He's also Elizabeth Taylor's best friend. She plays a call girl who just got up that morning to find Laurence Harvey left her money in an envelope with a note "Gloria - $250. Enough?" She's so pissed she grabs a lush mink coat out of his wife's closet and throws it over her silk slip. She comes out the 5th Ave building facing Central Park, hails a cab, and makes for Horatio St. All the exteriors are real location shots.
It's 1959 and Eddie Fisher pays less than $100 for that studio. I know because in 1965 I checked out a much nicer 1 brm apt on Christopher and Sheridan Square for $150. I spent a couple of days debating wether to take it or take a small studio with a large deck overlooking the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn Heights for $100. I took the latter, finally, because that's the view everybody seemed to have in the American movies I grew up watching in Cuba. And now it would be mine.
Decadence and all, watching BUTTERFIELD 8 made me miss those innocent days when New York was affordable, even if you just got out of school and were only making $75 a week. It also made miss the days when, like Gloria, I would often wake up in strange men's apartments to find they had already left for work and I would have a cigarette and walk around naked, exploring The Other's foreign turf. Sigh. I don't think I'll have that experience again. And I know New York will never be affordable again. Nobody ever left any money behind, let alone $250. But I get a sweet pang when I think of that time and how easy everything seemed.