Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ten random thoughts on the tenth

--- I wish I was in Hammersmith.

--- I like the idea that Turner Classic Movies showed a baseball movie around the same time as The Super Bowl on February 6.

--- We're told that when William Wyler tired of watching excessive close-ups in others' films he would try to look around the subject's head to see what the other characters were doing.

--- When I was a boy, in a dark movie house, The Spiral Staircase scared me more than any of the Universal horror films.

--- My favorite mogul was (and still is) Louis B. Mayer (I know all the bad stuff).

--- I usually admire Lee Marvin, and Jane Fonda was a good comedienne and sexy then -- but the motor of Cat Ballou belongs to Nat Cole and Stubby Kaye.

--- Am I the only one who would have preferred Eli Wallach rather than Frank Sinatra as Maggio?

--- When I go on about being there, back during the Sarris-Kael dust-ups, I feel like one of those cantankerous old Civil War veterans in thirties westerns.

--- Watching it again on Turner Classic Movies in January, I had forgotten how good 99 River Street is.

--- My English friend, Nicholas, of High Barnet, whose family hails from the north, is fond of saying: “You can always tell a Yorkshireman -- but you can't tell him much.”

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

Source: Photograph of the young woman at the tube platform is from As I Travel


  1. just watched the spiral staircase! I must say I have a soft spot for films that feature eerie thunderstorms and old mansions. it's a perfect pairing for the many rainy days here.

    and I love that william wyler recollection. I often do the same thing for film extras from years gone by, except I'm left wondering about all of them personally.

  2. Thank you Meredith,

    I vividly recall “Spiral Staircase,” with the close-up of the eye and the eerie score. I hope we all still love old dark houses, storms, rattling shutters and what appears to be a shadow in an upstairs window. It also has that splendid cast of personal favorites: Ethel Barrymore, Dorothy McGuire, Sara Algood and Elsa Lanchester.

    And yes, the Wyler quote just works. And you, taking it a step further, trying to spot the extras, no less. I enjoy hearing about another of your interests /commitments. My wife and I occasionally, when watching a very familiar film, will scrutinize and discuss the extras. (That might come from Nathanael West.) I think I read the Wyler anecdote in Sarris’s “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet.” But it is so on-the-mark, it is likely told in many places. Best. Gerald

  3. You are not the only one who would have preferred Eli Wallach rather than Frank Sinatra as Maggio. He'd have been so good that I can almost visualize exactly how he would have been in the role.

  4. Thank you KC. I hoped I was not alone. Yes, Eli is special. Best. Gerald