Sunday, September 11, 2011

Laszlo’s on Lex: closing time

It was Friday night; they usually closed slightly later to get the last minute business that was still straggling up from downtown. Instead of closing at nine, Ilsa was running an hour late. But now, her final tasks done, she looked around for the last time. Everything was in order. The transition had gone smoothly.

Ilsa looked out the large store window -- the reverse image of the letters always amused her. She threw the main switch, picked up the package she had put together for a light supper. Fish cakes, of course. She smiled and thought of those Fridays of yesterday. It was early January and the streets still had scattered mounds of that dirty snow made more unsightly by the endless stream on buses on this major avenue.

Ilsa Lund Laszlo opened the door, passed through it, turned and locked each lock carefully. She had left the neat printed sign, inside, hanging from a strong cord in the door window. Laszlo’s on Lex -- Closed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten Random Thoughts on the Tenth: May 2011

--- What is this committed Julie Andrews enthusiast to do when he watches Star! and Darling Lili every time out, but shuns The Sound of Music?

--- We’re told that James Thurber said of Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments: “It makes you realize what God could have done if He’d had the money.”

--- David Thomson in The Whole Equation says of Louis B. Mayer: “He had noticed that people liked going into the dark to see the light.”

--- Paul Stewart is one of my favorite character actors.

--- If they remade the filmed version of Sorry Wrong Number these days, one wonders if they would have the Stanwyck character using a smart phone, her (method?) thumbs, and text messages.

--- I think the young Patty McCormack would have been just right for playing the young girl in H.H. Munro’s short story: The Open Window.

--- Charlton Heston’s In the Arena tells us that of the forty some actresses with whom he worked the most difficult was Ava Gardner (in 55 Days at Peking).

--- I wish Jim Jarmusch made more movies.

--- I regularly dip into all the editions of David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of Film (he is excellent on actresses) but I find most of his film reviews less satisfactory in Have You Seen …? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films.

--- If you cannot get to Mumbai, go to Southall in West London -- The Glassy Junction accepts rupees as legal tender for the bill.

Note: “Random thoughts” pieces bring to mind the great Jimmy Cannon, whose “Nobody Asked Me, But” set the form. Any similarity stops there.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Film Makers 10: Monroe Stahr

Listen … has your office got a stove in it that lights with a match?

I think so.

Suppose you're in your office.

You've been fighting duels all day.

You're exhausted.

This is you.

A girl comes in.

She doesn't see you.

She takes off her gloves.

She opens her purse.

She dumps it out on the table.

You watch her.

This is you.

Now ...

She has two dimes, a matchbox and a nickel.

She leaves the nickel on the table.

She puts the two dimes back into her purse.

She takes the gloves ... they're black.

Puts them into the stove.

Lights a match.

Suddenly, the telephone rings.

She picks it up.

She listens.

She says, "l've never owned a pair of black gloves in my life."

Hangs up.

Kneels by the stove.

Lights another match.


you notice ...

... there's another man in the room ...

watching every move the girl makes.

What happens?

l don't know.

l was just making pictures.

What was the nickel for?

Jane, what was the nickel for?

The nickel was for the movies.

Admit one: 5 cents

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Film Makers 9: Otto Preminger

The Preminger quote is often cited. But offered here because the picture is of interest: a 28-take photograph, perhaps.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968

“If the heroes of Ford are sustained by tradition, and the heroes of Hawks professionalism, the heroes of Walsh are sustained by nothing more than a feeling for adventure.”

• The Fordian hero knows why he is doing something even if he doesn’t know how.

• The Hawksian hero knows how to do what he is doing even if he doesn’t know why.

• The Walshian hero is less interested in the why or the how than the what. He is always plunging into the unknown, and he is never too sure what he will find there.

… Andrew Sarris in The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968

I find the clarity of Sarris’s three- director comparison neither without controversy nor typical of his writing. But it is very representative of the way he looks at film, film history and the center of his focus: the director.

The American Cinema came into my life in the 1960s as it did to many of my generation. And Andrew Sarris’s film counsel has to this day remained a constant in my life. Finding representative scenes to support Sarris’s claim for Hawks and for Walsh posed little difficulty. Not so with Ford. The second part of Sarris’s premise: “… even if he doesn’t know how” eliminates many choices.