Saturday, July 31, 2010

Words and Images 47

A moment of reverie, or a song remembered, perhaps, by Millie Stephenson.

... Music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Listen to Jo Stafford sing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Film Makers 3: Scorsese on Powell

A master discovers a masterpiece

Criterion Collection’s I Know Where I’m Going! contains a thirty minute documentary titled I Know Where I’m Going! Revisited. Within it, Martin Scorsese recounts his first encounter with the film.

As he was just about to begin shooting Raging Bull, he came into possession of a video cassette of I Know Where I’m Going! (Video cassette technology was new at that time.) He watched the film, apparently not alone, for when he described the experience he used the collective "we."

Martin stated that one of the few films he hadn’t seen was I Know Where I’m Going! (One assumes he meant of the Powell/Pressburger films.)

“We watched this film which we fell totally in love with, and it was such an incredible ... uh ... quote, discovery, unquote. Other people knew about it. I didn’t. And I remember a few months later seeing Michael again and saying "Hey, I just saw a new masterpiece.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mirror Images 18

Greta Garbo as Mata Hari looking in a mirror -- with a reflection of herself and the mirror in a mirror showing herself looking in a mirror. With a reverse mirror image of Greta Garbo as Mata Hari looking in a mirror -- with a reflection of herself and the mirror in a mirror showing herself looking in a mirror.

Note: A variant of this posting appeared as Mirror Images 4 in January 2010.

Acknowledgement: The first photo shown is from Film Noir Photos.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New York Stories 2

David McCullough recounts in People Books and Book People a tale Peter De Vries has told about himself. One time apparently, Mr. De Vries was hungover, ashen pale, and in dire need of a pick-me-up.

He headed to a renowned New York bar, noted for its cocktails and asked the bartender “Do you serve Zombies?” To which the bartender responded: “Yes sir, what would you like …? "

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New York Stories 1: Woody Allen on Jimmy Cannon

An extract from In the editing room with Woody Allen: from defense to offense. By Ira Berkow. International Herald Tribune, November 2, 1995.

"Jimmy Cannon's New York is my New York," Woody Allen said recently, sitting in his home-away-from-home, the suite at the Beekman Hotel on Park Avenue where he edits his movies. "My whole feeling of New York City as a black-and-white Gershwin town comes from reading the late Jimmy Cannon," Mr. Allen said. "I never missed him."

Mr. Allen … can still recite passages from Cannon's sports columns in The New York Post during the 1950's: the time he described "the serene dependability of Stan Musial," or "the bookmaker who took a guy's money all year and then gave him a ball-point pen for Christmas." And he still remembers Cannon describing how he had been in a New York apartment late at night where Frank Sinatra was singing at a piano, and then how he walked home alone through the melancholy New York streets as the sun was coming up.

An afterthought: I have been working on a posting about Jimmy Cannon, which should appear before too long. When I was growing up, and even later, like Woody Allen, I never missed a Cannon column.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Night Mail

Night Mail

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

The opening of Night Mail by W.H. Auden, which was used to glorious effect in Harry Watt and Basil Wright’s Night Mail, a documentary film made by the General Post Office Film Unit, United Kingdom, released in 1936. I first saw this at The New School in New York City in a documentary course, probably in the 1970s. The course also included showings of Pare Lorentz’s The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River, 1936 and 1938 respectively. Each seemed to have the same haunting rhythm of Night Mail. (I have wished for years that such talent had turned their directorial skill, their facility with language and their cameras on the work of Vachel Lindsay.)

Postscript: I attended the film course in the fall of the year and the instructor/presenter delighted in showing us Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens on Halloween night. She thought it more frightening without the English subtitles -- and she was correct.

Click here for a You Tube showing of Night Mail.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010



Sir Robert Bellinger’s son was born in 1948, the only fruit of an already tired tree of a marriage. A marriage that was not meant to be. The child had a proper name, also Robert, yet from the boy’s infancy, Sir Robert always called him “Lochnevis.” The child’s mother thought this unusual but unworthy of comment.

She had met Sir Robert in London the year he had come back from the Isles after the affair with the girl from the Midlands. It was a tale he told in the same manner, and with the same disregard, as that of some small merger gone wrong at CCI.

Yet even now, Sir Robert thought of the girl on occasion -- usually on days when the wind was high or when he heard the swirl of pipers at some ceremonial event. He had met and admired the girl. Mutual benefits were obvious and, finally, arrangements were made. He thought an island setting for a marriage might appeal to, and impress her.

But Sir Robert Bellinger had not planned on the haze of wartime, when schedules were rarely met, and when mostly everyone seemed to act out of station. Imagine a storm scuttling a marriage. Imagine a missed boat changing the course of a young girl’s life. Imagine three pipers playing tunes they were not meant to play.

During those wartime days, during their courtship, Sir Robert was accustomed to tell the girl “do as you like my dear.” And finally she had done so. She had done so. She had off and married a naval officer, a would be Laird of something or other: some insignificant rocky Lairdship by the sea.

So Sir Robert Bellinger lingered briefly on an island for which he had little interest -- even the fishing was inadequate. He returned to his natural habitat and resumed his work. In due time a more suitable marriage was arranged, built as he would build some new property in his business. The structure was suitable. The materials were adequate to the purpose. His wife was excellent at Bridge, excelled at overseeing the household staff, and preferred her holidays in sunny Mediterranean regions.

But then again, there were those occasions, when the wind was high, or when he was at a ceremonial event, that the slightest doubt entered his mind. He realized for a moment that he had forgotten where he had been. And he wondered if, just wondered -- if he knew where he was going.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Six months in: Laszlo’s on Lex

Having issued one hundred and thirty-six posts since beginning January 1, 2010, I would like to celebrate the first half year anniversary by reissuing my first posting. Its name, not coincidentally, also carries the name of this overall endeavor. Thank you.

Laszlo's on Lex

Ilsa Lund Laszlo cleaned the celery stalks, took off the ends, and started chopping the stalks on the wooden board behind the counter at the rear of the store. Little Ricky slept in the carriage at the front, which was placed to catch the morning sun, slanting through the buildings opposite.

She had to do more tasks lately since Victor was less involved in the day to day work. She knew Victor did not like making sandwiches, did not like some of the German-Americans who came in, and was more interested in organizing the tenants in their building. But Sam helped, it was good to have him here now that the Parrot gig fell through and he was back in the States.

Organizing the tenants had become Victor's somewhat unreasonable passion. He resented the landlords, likening them to Nazis. She told him often that landlords were not like Nazis: "… most of them are Jews, Victor" -- but he was obstinate. She knew, too, he had been meeting the young Hungarian girl at Sascha's candy store on 81st Street. He came back always with the smell of halvah about him.

New York was not Paris, yet all things considered, she had few complaints. The delicatessen was doing well, sales had been up this year, and there had not been a postcard from Brazzaville in two years.

She heard the baby stir, so she moved to the carriage, wiping her hands on her long apron. She gently sang to him a few bars of the song Sam had sung in the old days “… the fundamental things apply …." Which reminded her of the fish cakes. It was Friday, so they would need at least sixty.