Friday, October 24, 2008

It's been more than two weeks since i've blogged; somehow, i have not been able to concentrate. Since the beginning of October, the New York Film Festival ended, i finally made my first trip in four years (i went to Napa Valley for my niece's wedding), and since i've been back, it's been rather uneventful. Or i've been uneventful: it's been hard for me to find the energy to get out.

But the news has just kept me constantly watching the television. Yesterday, there was the city council vote on term limits; this whole stock market collapse (which is going global) remains fascinating (and to think that a month ago, i woke up to Larry saying "It's the Depression!"), and the last two weeks until the election are proving to be rather harrowing.

I'm sorry but my love for the Rachel Maddow Show seems to have faded fast. One reason: the ubiquity of Pat Buchanan. I do understand that there are network policies about fairness, and if you're going to have a liberal lesbian as a host, well, for some reason, you've got to stick in a bigoted right-wing blowhard. But i don't have to watch it, and every time he comes on, i turn the channel.

TCM's Star of the Month Carole Lombard isn't as revelatory or as much fun as last month's Kay Francis. For one thing: i'm familiar with most of Lombard's movies (and there are a few they're not showing which are actually losses: i'm thinking of the Gregory LaCava early talkie "Big News" and the Garson Kanin-directed "They Knew What They Wanted"), and so there's nothing to discover (like "Man Wanted" or "A Notorious Affair" or "Transgression", all pre-Code movies starring Francis which were pretty startling), and in her early movies (like "Virtue" or "No More Orchids"), Carole Lombard is ok, but it's like she's under wraps. She needs to be active, frantic and manic. Moping around, trying to be a demure heroine, she's almost a hole on the screen.

But it's interesting. There are a few early Lombard films which aren't being shown, but i remember them. There are the musicals with George Raft, "Bolero" (1934) and "Rumba" (1935), there's "We're Not Dressing" (1934) with Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, and George Burns and Gracie Allen, and "Supernatural" (1933) was pretty spooky. "We're Not Dressing" was one of the movies that showed her true talent (the other was "Twentieth Century") as a comedienne.

A lot of people seem to think that someone is a star from the start. This was not the case with Jean Arthur, this was not the case with Myrna Loy, this was not the case with Claudette Colbert, this was not the case with Susan Hayward or Ava Gardner. It can take a while for someone to find the right persona for them.

And that's one reason people can complain about the current lack of stars: there aren't many opportunities for people to develop their personae. And it's funny to see Carole Lombard: without the screwball comedienne persona, it's as if she has no personality.


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