Sunday, May 13, 2007

Actually, "Fury" was produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the original story was by (of all people) Norman Krasna. Krasna was noted in Hollywood for the type of "meeting cute" comic plots, but this was one of his attempts to really do something serious. But it should be noted that, throughout the Depression years, a lot of "serious" films from Hollywood were very popular. Another example would be Mervyn LeRoy's "They Won't Forget" (which, ironically, is also the movie which made Lana Turner a star, as the teenage girl wearing the tight sweater... her murder propels the plot, but the image of Lana Turner walking through the street in her sweater became iconic).

But the whole issue of how effective art can be in a social context is one which remains perplexing.

Today was exhausting. I've spent two days preparing for this party that we had. As usual, i seemed to be expecting an army: we have enough food to last all week. This is actually the first party we've had in years....

When we first moved to Wooster Street, we would give parties all the time. And i would cook tons of food. And then, we wouldn't have parties, we'd have rehearsals: since my performances always involved many performers, we'd rehearse, and i'd cook for everyone (20 or more people).

But it's been a long time since we gave a party. If i'm not mistaken, the last party was probably the one we gave a few months before Kenny died. That was nine years ago...

Today was a combination Mother's Day party and birthday party for Larry and Barry. One thing: Christine didn't show up. And i couldn't reach Douglas all week. But i talked to him this evening, after people left, and it's his birthday this week, so i'm bringing him some of the food, so he can serve it at his own party.

May is a big month on Turner Classic Movies. Some of the people who had birthdays in May: Bing Crosby, Alice Faye, Max Ophuls, Orson Welles, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Gary Cooper, Margaret Rutherford, Satyajit Ray, Rex Harrison, Laurence Olivier, Katharine Hepburn, John Wayne, among others. Some of those people have gotten birthday tributes, with Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne getting entire weeklong tributes.

While i was cooking last night, i decided to watch "The Rainmaker", the reason being that the musical based on "The Rainmaker", "110 in the Shade", has just been revived on Broadway with Audra McDonald. But nobody mentions that the part of Lizzie was played by two actresses who were considered among the greatest of their respective generations: in the original Broadway production, Lizzie had been a defining role (along with "Summer and Smoke" and "Sweet Bord of Youth") for Geraldine Page, and then the movie starred Katharine Hepburn (one of her most acclaimed performances, and one of the roles for which she was nominated for an Academy Award). I remember reading about the original Broadway production (though i didn't see it), and the acclaim for Inga Swenson, and Robert Horton as Starbuck. (In the original Broadway production, Darren McGavin had played Starbuck; of course, in the movie, the top-billed player was Burt Lancaster.) About "The Rainmaker", Pauline wrote: "Although this is a fairy tale (the ugly duckling) dressed up as a bucolic comedy and padded out with metaphysical falsies, it is also genuinelyappealing - the sort of fairy tale that people need to see now and then to remind them what they used to believe in." And (in a way) that's why i feel the way i do about "political" art, about those films from the late 60s-early 70s ("Battle of Algiers", "La Chinoise", "Partner", "China Is Near", "La Guerre est finie", the Straub-Huillet films) which attempted to join formal radicalism with political radicalism.

It's what i used to believe in.


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