Sunday, December 30, 2007

Finally, getting back to normal. It seems as if this cold has really been the bane of so many throughout the area. But one thing: it made Christmas a very easy holiday. I just stayed home and watched TV, mostly TCM (including "No Sad Songs For Me", which was much worse than i remembered; ok, i'm still a huge Margaret Sullavan fan, but this was such treacle... but for some reason, when i was watching it, i was reminded of "State of the Union" because in that movie, Sullavan's arch-rival Katharine Hepburn is actually miscast, and she's not even photographed very flatteringly, but Hepburn just bulls her way through the movie anyway; in "No Sad Songs For Me", it's not as if Sullavan is miscast, it's that she's too-typically-cast, the role becomes a compendium of her mannerisms from "Only Yesterday" and "Three Comrades" and "The Mortal Storm" and "Little Man What Now?", the catch in her throat starts to get really irritating as she suffers so nobly). Today, TCM had "Holiday" on in the morning: a perfect New Year's Eve movie.

Right now, TCM is showing "Tommy", and ABC is showing "The Sound of Music": now that's what i call a choice!

The one thing that seemed to happen this year is that, for better or worse, "the musical" revived itself. One point that i've always made is that the musical is a popular form, and it needs to reflect the popular music of the time. And this year, some musicals included: "Once", "Vanaja", "I'm Not There", "Across the Universe", "Sweeney Todd", "Colma: The Musical", "Control". But "musicals" just need to be films in which the continuity is joined to music. Some musicals which i love include "India Song", "The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach", "Muriel" (that Hans Werner Henze score is pretty phenomenal)... the other day, Larry and i were watching "The Immortal Story", and the way that Welles used the Satie piano music was just so evocative. (I don't think that Welles's musical sense has been really examined, but it's crucial to his stage work, especially in things like "Cradle Will Rock" and "Around the World in 80 Days", and it relates to the usage of sound, which came from his radio work.)

Well, i really should start looking at the Ford at Fox boxset! One thing about movies: there are moments when someone is preserved in their prime. And that's certainly the case with George O'Brien in the early films, like "The Iron Horse". It's so strange to think that, by the mid-1930s, he was already getting rather bloated and beefy (which was the result of drinking; wow, alcoholism really seems to have been ubiquitous in Hollywood!), but in "The Iron Horse" he's just one of the most dashing Western heroes ever.

Now, TCM is playing "The Shaggy Dog" and it's so strange to think that once, Disney was the dead-end studio: it was where you went when you just about were giving up on your career. It was where people like Fred MacMurray, Jane Wyman, Dorothy McGuire went to retire... i hate to mention it, but when Joan Greenwood appeared in "The Moonspinners", you knew it was over for any sort of Hollywood career for her.

And now, Disney's one of the biggest studios around. How the hell did this happen? (Actually, i know how it happened: Disney was still the dead-end studio, when it signed up has-beens like Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss in the 1980s... and the success of movies like "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" and "Splash" and "Stake Out" made Disney and its subsidiaries viable.)


Blogger bearden said...

Actually O'Brien did not drink. He did like to eat, however, and after the mid-thirties he had to battle to keep himself in shape. But he most certainly was not alcoholic at all. His son, author Darcy O'Brien, attested to that on numerous occasions. In one interview Darcy said that his father did not drink, smoke or use bad language - and never missed Mass!

10:20 AM

Blogger Dennis said...

Yes, O'Brien was the one notable abstainer among the male members of the John Ford stock company.

I don't think it is right to go around saying things that one does not know to be true. Take care, Mr.Chin, what goes around comes around.

Do I mistake, or could this be yet another example of Mr.Wilde's famous observation, "Yet each man kills the thing he loves ..."?

6:54 AM


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