8/15/18

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: A TRAILER BY SAUL BASS



Saul Bass, master designer/title-ist/graphic wizard and doormat creator (I'll get to that in a minute) designed one of his most felicitous credit sequences for Edward Dmytryk's 1962 movie version of Nelson Algren's 'Walk On the Wild Side'. There's nothing more for me to say about it. Simply watch and enjoy.

Oh, and about that 'doormat creator' bit? Click here to discover how I became the proud possessor of Otto Preminger's Saul Bass-designed doormat which stood in front of the director's East 64th St townhouse and which now resides (happily I may add) at an undisclosed location in Los Angeles near where I currently sit while writing this post.

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8/13/18

RIDE ON THE SIXTH AVENUE EL



It's 1916, see? And we decide to take a ride on the brand new elevated train that travels up Sixth Avenue from the bottom of the Island to 155th. You get me, toots? So you pass your downtown 'ladies mile' area, move through midtown (Broadway, land o' suckers and loafers), find yerself at 110 and Central Park West (still more Jewish folk than Black) and eventually bum yer way up through Washington Heights. But you ain't got a nickel to yer name and your credit smells worse than fish three days old. So no tavern visit for you, ya lug. Instead, it's a ride back downtown, where you get better views of the city (starts at 6 minutes) including a peek at what they say will one day be sumpin' called 'Lincoln Center' (hell if I know what the center of Lincoln looks like). But you pass the mighty Hippodrome as well, on the corner of 6th and 43rd and get a pretty good look at the joint. Now there's a place they'll never tear down, I guarantee ya'. You don't get better than the Hippodrome, and anyway what's the City worth without a place like dat? The rest of the ride downtown I spent fishing' for change and finally got off down on Ludlow, where a fella' named Patsy run a nice cool saloon, with an ale waiting and a couple girlies in the backroom. An elevated train. What won't they think of next?

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8/9/18

FATS AND THE SUPREMES



Here's a real weirdie. It's Diana Ross and the Supremes performing a tribute medley to Fats Waller on Ed Sullivan (of course). I'm not sure I've ever seen them in this kind of performance style--they're like a really good, nicely dressed upscale cruise act. Four minutes into this five minute clip they briefly become the Supremes that we know (for a whole ten seconds) before snapping back into Tin Pan Alley/Andrew Sisters/Opening-Act-for-a-Comic-In-Vegas mode. Strangeness aside, it's really quite lovely and interestingly square, especially given the hipness of the act that we know lays underneath. And each one of the ladies was more gorgeous than the next. Indeed, my favorite Supreme is always the last my eyes have fallen upon. Wait, can I say that? Is that allowed? Did I just end my career?

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8/3/18

BOGIE BLOOPERS



Here's five minutes of Humphrey Bogart forgetting his lines (or 'going up' as the English say). Like all blooper reels, the fun is not the mistakes themselves but the opportunity to be, as viewers, part of the movie set experience of the long, dead past. We hear the offstage voices of directors assuring the actor that it's okay, that they can 'pick it up' (i.e. not have to begin the scene from the top but instead resume from shortly before the line was dropped) and, in some cases, we hear a bell go off when an actor screws up. This suggests to me an on-set running gag--somebody (probably the prop man) rang a bell when an actor forgot his lines, causing a brief burst of hilarity from all which was probably thought to lesson the tension on the set. (They sure as hell wouldn't be welcome with their funny little bell on my set, that's for damn sure).

Perhaps the most interesting part of seeing Bogie breakdown is studying his own reactions. Unlike many actors who laugh at their own screw-ups, Bogie gets very angry and frustrated with himself. His common reaction is a harshly delivered 'Goddamn it!' and several times you can hear the director in the background quickly offering an 'it's okay Bogie', as if they were accustomed to his temper getting the better of him which no doubt led to further breakdowns, a downward spiral that could only have made for an unpleasant workday. As I don't hear any accented off-camera voices, I have to assume that the directors offering their encouragement were not Michael Curtiz or Anatole Litvak, but perhaps Raoul Walsh, William Keighley or Edmund Goulding (definitely the latter as there's one from 'Dark Victory'). And there's also a goof from 'To Have and Have Not', so we know that Howard Hawks was there to calm his apparently hard-on-himself star.

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7/26/18

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: THE FIRST INFOMERCIAL



Here's a twenty or so minute travelogue made in the mid 1950s showing off the Southern California 'lifestyle' before that last word was invented. It's in color, has nice shots of the usual spots and is otherwise unremarkable, though a perfectly pleasant way to waste twenty or so minutes. If I think it so 'meh' then why, you may ask, am I posting it? Because I wasted twenty or so minutes watching it so why shouldn't you?

By the way, why did the pronunciation of Los Angeles used to be Los ANGLE-US? And why did it change? I think I prefer it the old way. More muscular, less smushy. It's the 'Dragnet' pronunciation so perhaps it was dropped when Jack Webb went out of fashion.

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