November 9th, 2004

Salt Precaution

Movies hold my brain together

I keep getting these really bad headaches at around 5am. Don't know why.

My Vertigo soundtrack has gone missing. It's getting to me. I wanna know where it is right now.

I guess I'll talk about a movie. I've watched a lot of movies lately that I haven't mentioned here. But I'll only talk about one of them. Which one? Let's see . . . I watched Some Like it Hot, Four Daughters, I Heart Huckabees, and Morocco. Hmm. Can't decide. I know! I'll try the connexion thing . . .

It was the second time I'd seen Some Like it Hot and I appreciated it far more this time. I was able to catch a lot more of the 20s references (like when Joe says something's as unlikely as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks breaking up). And I recognised George Raft. Jeez, George Raft. I've seen two movies he starred in, both directed by Raoul Walsh, and both were films I wished someone else were cast in his place--specifically, the supporting actors of both movies (Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson). I'd read that the reason so many filmmakers found him so appealing in the 30s and early 40s was that he actually was a gangster in real life. But damnit, he couldn't act. They say nothing beats authenticity, well, George Raft had it licked pretty good. That notion, I mean.

Anyway, for some reason I really liked seeing him in Some Like it Hot. Maybe it was because he'd become a better actor by 1958, maybe it was because he worked better in the small dose of a supporting role, or maybe it was simply Billy Wilder's direction. Thank the gods Raft turned down the part of Walter Neff in Double Indemnity.

But, of course, there's a lot more to Some Like it Hot than George Raft. But what could I tell ya? Marilyn Monroe's hot and I like it? You know that. You're on that page, too, odds are. One thing that's interesting--Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon made better women than the Wayens brothers, even with only 1950s makeup to work with. A testament to how much White Chicks sucks.

And Jack Lemmon was funnier than those guys, too. What energy!

Tony Curtis' Cary Grant impression is still hilarious . . . Cary Grant was in Notorious with Claude Rains . . . and Claude Rains was in Four Daughters.

Claude Rains and John Garfield were the only good actors in that predictable, wishy-washy piece of crap that was somehow nominated for best picture. The setup; four lovely daughters, played by the Lane sisters, are living with their grumpy father (Rains) when men start showing up, slowly marrying them off. The story focuses mainly on the youngest, played by Lola Lane, and her choice between marrying the smarmy, sleazy--but we're meant to think he's a swell guy--Deets, or marrying hard luck, piano playing, chain smoking Mickey. Mickey was played perfectly by John Garfield and was the only good part of the movie. Rains was a good actor but he hadn't any chance to shine at all in this movie.

Oh, and the end was also pretty funny--Lola marries one of the guys, and he dies so she can marry the other one too. Ain't that convenient?

Four Daughters was directed by Michael Curtiz, who also directed Mildred Pierce, starring Joan Crawford. Crawford appeared in an episode of Night Gallery directed by a young Steven Spielberg, who later directed Jude Law in A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Jude Law played a shallow American corporate executive in I Heart Huckabees.

There was a lot to enjoy about I Heart Huckabees. A lot of talented actors playing truly interesting and funny characters. Unfortunately, the movie wanted to be more than a screwball comedy and fancied it could teach us all a lesson in existentialism, a concept the screenwriters apparently had only a rudimentary grasp of. They were obviously having much more fun bouncing the characters around, and they ought to have dedicated the movie to that.

Okay--had to look for this next one--Dustin Hoffman, who played one of the so-called existential detectives in I Heart Huckabees, also, in 1976, starred with Laurence Olivier in The Marathon Man. In 1931, Olivier starred in Friends and Lovers with Adolphe Menjou. A year earlier--1930--Menjou had starred in Morocco.

One of the beautiful films directed by Joseph von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich, Morocco is incredibly cool. And when I say cool, I mean beauty that ain't chilly but, brother, you ain't earned its warmth yet. You ain't earned the warmth of cool cat Marlene Dietrich who, in top hat and tails, kisses a woman on the lips in a non-comedic way early in this movie. And Madonna and Britney Spears thought they were doing something shocking! It ain't no childish little bit of fun for Dietrich, it's more of a "Hello, prudish world of 1930. I like to fuck girls. And I personally don't care if that bothers you."

Oh, gods, is it a beautifully photographed movie. Dietrich is a beautifully photographed woman here, and she'd never again look as good as she did through von Sternberg's eyes.

Okay . . . now my head is absolutely killing me. Maybe I ought to drink more water . . .
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