Friday, December 10, 2010

Ten random thoughts on the tenth

--- I am frequently torn between my adoration of Julie Harris and my disregard of James Dean -- because of the conundrum of Julie having a high regard for Dean’s work.

--- I would relish an article on how the Turner Classic Movies monthly schedule is constructed. From one who knows. What is included? Which films play when and why?

--- Neither my wife nor I are overly committed fans of Olivia de Havilland, but every time The Heiress is televised (TCM this past Wednesday) we are hooked. Richardson is glorious; the property is foolproof. And Olivia is excellent.

--- It seems many of our female bloggers (particularly the younger) are partial to the suave: e.g., Franchot Tone, William Powell, and Warren William. Might this have to do with the look and style of the younger males to whom these bloggers come into everyday contact?

--- Finished reading Todd McCarthy’s Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. A very good book, which understandably seems to tail off as the author discusses Hawks’s later work.

--- My wife and I watched Ruth Chattterton in Female and spent the better part discussing who might have been a more appropriate lead (ignoring studio restrictions): Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell or Mary Astor?

--- How good was Virginia Weidler? Very. She seems to be omnipresent on Turner Classic Movies lately.

--- My wife and I finished watching the complete series of The Wire together (it took us about two months for the sixty episodes). It was her first viewing -- my fourth or fifth. She was taken with it.

--- Because it appears on television with some regularity, we watched a bit of Three Came Home again. It is a decent film with an aging star, later in her career, but it has such a cramped look. I know it is prison based -- but?

--- The anniversary of the shooting of John Lennon seems to have received much more Internet and television coverage this week than the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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


  1. I just watched east of eden last week and honestly was far more taken with julie harris then with dean. Quite the nice surprise.

    At least in my experience such a draw is actually the complete lack of such put together young gentlemen in everyday life. I say this not from a level above as a not terribly put together young lady style wise so it's just something of a mystique all around these days.

  2. Thank you Meredith. Julie Harris captivated me at an early age.

    My comment on younger people was conjecture. I am too long removed from business, at which time I had many young people on staff and a good sense of their attitudes. My only interaction with the young these years is two months working at the British Library every spring. So I appreciate your insight. And, I suspect, my mother was as likely enchanted by the thirties aura of such as the Powells and Tones, as was Cecilia in “Purple Rose,” as are some today, as am I – seeking a dream to which one might escape for a while. Best. Gerald.

    Even a great artist like Julie Harris has her weak moments. :)

    I began to appreciate Olivia de Havilland's talent more after watching this film.

    I'm not sure that it's a female thing only; I've noticed articles, websites and blogs by guys dedicated to the cool of be-suited, fedora-wearing gents from half a century ago, and their very adult-looking, feminine counterparts. There seems to be a nostalgia for formality in a decidedly informal present.

    Also,I might be wrong, but there seems to be a small cultural shift in some of the younger ones away from the androgyny of genders, not so much in clothing, but in mindset. A sort of appreciation for what each gender brings to the table.

    You are right. To be honest, I didn't expect the remembrance to get as much thought as it did. My pessimism gets the better of me at times.

  4. Thank you Java Bean.

    It seems our views on Julie Harris, Olivia and Pearl Harbor align.

    As to your comment on my reflection on female bloggers, I am suspect you are in a better position to observe the attitudes of this modern world than I. As I commented to Meredith, I have moved further out of touch as the years encroach. Random thoughts are just those – not based, particularly, on any universe of modern experience. And I will not complain about any nostalgia for formality, or a cultural (mindset) shift away from “the androgyny of genders.” Appreciate your taking the time to comment. Keeping an eye out for Deanna material. Best. Gerald.

  5. Java:

    Forgive typo in the above. I did not mean "I am suspect" but "I suspect" as in -- you are likely in a much better position to judge. Best. Gerald

  6. From the perspective of a 37 year old, I think there is definitely something in your observation about the increased yearning for the more cultivated male. Youth culture is an astonishingly base thing today, and there are signs of female-led rebellion, motivated by a feeling of betrayal among women that the current supremacy of the jungle male has somehow been effected in their name.
    I speak as one whose disenchantment with the modern is pathological, of course. Another of my resentments is the 'sullen young man' breed of actor, so I share your impatience with the Dean cult. Only very small does of Brando, too.
    John Lennon, however, I loathe without qualification. Your pertinent observation merely puts the tin hat on that issue. (Perhaps you know this strange British expression?)

    Female was my first taste of Ruth Chatterton and I found her fascinating. Crawford would have been too knowing for the role, Astor too fragile, Russell too jaunty. Could the young Norma Shearer have made a go of it? Kay Francis? Miriam Hopkins?

    By the way, you came third in my quiz!

  7. That should, of course, be 'doses' of Brando!

  8. Hello Matthew:

    Oddly, my observations on groups younger than myself are based almost solely on our two months in England each spring – not my home country. And we are more likely to be found in Highbury, Holloway, and Somers Town than elsewhere. But the better part of the sprawl that researches at the British Library are rather an awfully behaved lot. Yet I suspect there is little difference back across the sea – smart phones are the new pods in Santa Mira and beyond.

    My disenchantment is likely more generational than pathological. But James Dean and I were close in age and even when I was young, I despised his persona. (David Mamet is enlightening when discussing “method actors.”)

    I suppose my inclination to replace Ruth Chatterton has been my lifelong, not so repressed, feelings about Fay Bainter. Perhaps I have never forgiven Ruth for playing Fran Dodsworth on screen, the role that Ms. Bainter was praised for on Broadway. (In later years, were I at the Iowa Fair, I would have found a way on to the Ferris wheel with the farmer’s wife.) And, yes, Kay Francis would have done nicely as Alison.

    The quiz was more fun than a Sunday in Hammersmith, your summation even more engaging, and Jorge stole the show. Best. Gerald.

    P.S. No on the “tin hat”. I should know the phrase, with all the Gordon School Boys I have known – but it is not in my lexicon.