Saturday, March 08, 2014
EVERYONE is interested in Vera Caspary's novel BACHELOR IN PARADISE. Looks like it will be our next Doomed Book Club selection. Ace Atkins and Scott Phillips are already onboard, so that's a good sign. And the anonymous Hollywood producer "favorited" my "tweet" on the subject BUT DOES THAT EVER MEAN ANYTHING? Megan tells me that the novel is based on a treatment Caspary did for the Bob Hope movie, and that a great pulp illustrator named Robert McGinnis did the cover for the paperback (I'm not sure it's the one above), and that McGinnis is still around and occasionally turning out new covers for the Hard Case Crime imprint. ("Known for drawing women w impossibly long feet!" Megan tweeted at me.) McNeil, basing his observations on the film versions of BACHELOR IN PARADISE and Caspary's novel LAURA, claims to have already spotted a connection between the "outta control soap" scene in BACHELOR IN PARADISE and what he calls "the highly mannered and homo-erotic soap situation involving Clifton Webb's bath" in LAURA. I have to say I don't recall the "outta control soap" scene in BACHELOR IN PARADISE. I'll soon fix that. Finally, the mention of an ice bucket in this selection from Rosemary Clooney's autobiography prompted Megan to email it to me: "Just a few months before, I'd been sleeping - or trying to - in a room over the clattering kitchen in a honky-tonk in Wildwood, New Jersey, where Dizzy Gillespie was working on his tan in the parking lot, wearing only a leopard-skin thong. Now I was swaddled in the silence of an air-conditioned suite: ankle-deep snowy carpet, silver bucket of champagne, more roses." I have to say that clattering kitchen and parking lot don't sound too bad either!
Friday, March 07, 2014
LAURA - wrote the story on which the Bob Hope movie BACHELOR IN PARADISE was based... but trust me, that's weird! And so very interesting! TRUST ME! Also noticed as I was idly rewatching the beginning of that film last night that the assistant director was Erich von Stroheim. "Not THE Erich von Stroheim (pictured)!" I screamed in the abyss of my solitude. I seemed to recall that von Stroheim had a son who also did a little directing. And sure enough, a quick check confirmed that the real Erich von Stroheim had been dead for a few years by the time BACHELOR IN PARADISE came out, so at least he had that going for him.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
McNeil has been checking out the facts on Margo Moore of WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER, or WMWIO, as McNeil adorably refers to it. He says she appeared uncredited in BACHELOR FLAT, and is listed in that cast on imdb just under a character called "Big Man in Jaguar in Dream." Seems she eventually married a former police officer who worked with robots on the SWAT team, and remembered them fondly. Margo Moore and her husband moved to Pennsylvania and opened up the Toy Robot and Pig Museum, which, by the time of this youtube video that McNeil sent (see also), had chucked the pigs to focus exclusively on toy robots.
Having read (I assume) my "posts" about Zeno Klinker and his wife Sugar Klinker, Phil (natch) wrote to remind me that Edgar Bergen had a dummy named Effie Klinker. Phil attached a 1944 TIME magazine article about Effie Klinker, but I couldn't read the whole thing because I don't subscribe. Phil quoted the article as saying that Effie Klinker has a "spry libido." By gritting my teeth and googling the phrases "effie klinker" + "spry libido" I was able to find a reprint of the entire article, which indeed contains the not-stellar sentence, "Inside her prim decor lurks a spry libido." A good subject for study might be "Why are ventriloquist's dummies always so interested in sex?" I think I know the answer! And it has to do with repressive desublimation. In other news, McNeil has now watched WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER, ha ha ha, sucker! He notes that Ernie Kovacs wears his tropical shirt at one point "tied up around his belly button like a pin-up girl might." Yes, that's true, I forgot to mention that.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Speaking of Zeno Klinker (!) I just found a museum that has his driver's license! Why? I don't know. They refer to him as "writer/adventurer" (!). Why? I don't know. Here's a comment from the site: "i knew zeno klinker and his wife sugar as a child. they used to come to my parents motel, THE PARKLINE, in three rivers, california. i even stayed in his home in hollywood several times!" (See also.)
Before I "post" anything I make it a rule to ask myself: "Will this interest the fewest possible living people?" So today I started watching an Edgar Bergen movie on TCM. Edgar Bergen! A performer so unrelentingly bland he makes you pine for the pyrotechnics of Richard Dix. When Edgar Bergen speaks he sounds like a therapeutic hypnotist. So this movie was called LOOK WHO'S LAUGHING and the answer was "nobody." Ha ha ha, I just did that thing I hate. But when the title popped up the two o's in LOOK became a pair of wacky, rolling eyes, and beneath them the O in WHO'S turned into a hellishly gibbering mouth as muted trumpets in the score went wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah in a disturbing approximation of the laughter that never came. Hey did I mention that Fibber McGee and Molly are in this movie? So you're probably pretty fired up about that. The writing credits were weird. They mentioned who wrote Fibber McGee and Molly's jokes and who wrote Edgar Bergen's jokes. One guy who wrote Edgar Bergen's jokes was named Zeno Klinker, which I thought was either a terrible or perfect name for someone who writes jokes. I should mention that LOOK WHO'S LAUGHING is directed by Allan Dwan, darling of the auteurist set, and good for him. So the movie starts out with Edgar Bergen performing with his famous ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy. Lucille Ball does a "sexy nurse" bit and the dummy leers at her and makes gross jokes. So it's very clear that within the reality of this movie Charlie McCarthy is a wooden dummy. But suddenly it is announced that Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy are going on vacation together! And that's okay. Maybe he brings his dummy on vacation to practice. But to get to his vacation destination Edgar Bergen pilots a small plane, okay, and he's got one hand up Charlie McCarthy the whole time, and they have conversations! He's up there by himself flying his small plane with his hand up his dummy. I don't like it. Fibber McGee's jokes are terrible. His enemy says something about an "unimpeachable source" and Fibber McGee says "unimpeachable APPLE-source!" It's a pun on applesauce. I don't want to get into it. Then I was like, "I'm going to bed." And I did. I wasn't even tired! It was the middle of the day. Oh yeah and the production design or something was by someone named Van Nest Polglase or something. (Whoa, the same year as LOOK WHO'S LAUGHING he was the art director for CITIZEN KANE.)
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Speaking of comedians you never heard of for the third time today, did you guys see the Oscars when they handed out pizza to the stars? There was an oddly formal newspaper list of who ate pizza and who didn't, formatted like so: "Dax Shepard: Took a slice" - and it made me think somehow of the old Red Buttons routine "Betsy Ross... never got a dinner," a fact which I lamely tweeted, and two very young persons on twitter astonished me by knowing what I was talking about! It was a first. Did it give me hope for the future? Of course not. Maybe it even depressed me! For some reason! I am pretty sure they are young because one of them keeps tweeting about her dad listening to Taylor Swift (I oversimplify the variety and majesty of her tweets!). This has nothing to do with that, but I just saw that the Twain biographer Justin Kaplan died. Please "click" on this old "post" in which I quote him on a crazy New Year's Eve party attended by Mark Twain. Which reminds me. Megan Abbott reminded me the other day that Billy Wilder once met Freud and tried to interview him, which reminded me that Freud once went to see Mark Twain give a reading, which means that there are two degrees of separation (or is it three? don't tell me; I don't care) between Marilyn Monroe and Mark Twain, and three between Marilyn and U.S. Grant, and four between Marilyn Monroe and Abraham Lincoln, and that is all of the garbage that came out of my brain today, goodbye.
McNeil's Movie Korner, your one spot on the "internet" for things you don't care anything about. Here is an intriguing paragraph from a recent McNeil email: "So I was at my parents the other day and they casually mentioned that when they were in high school, someone they knew left town after graduation and took off for Hollywood. It wasn't long before they saw this gal in a Jerry Lewis movie as well as an episode of Petticoat Junction. I have no idea why I hadn't heard this story before. To top it off, my parents began arguing over her name. Her real name was Mary Lee H_______. She had two sisters: Mary Ruth and Mary Ann. But when Mary Lee went to Hollywood she changed her name to, my mom says, Marilee Summers. My dad disagreed, of course, having nothing to do with my mom's obvious fabrication of this Marilee business. Anyway, it went on and on....Then my mom couldn't remember if she were actually in HS when she saw the pic or not...or if Dean Martin was with JLew or not. I went through a lot of 'full cast and crew' lists looking for Marilee Summers. Turns out everyone was wrong. The real girl is Lorrie Summers. She was on Beverly Hillbillies, not PJ....and Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, and The Man with the X Ray Eyes instead of The Patsy (which is what I was rooting for). Anyway, Lorrie Summers ended up marrying the heir to the Lear Jet fortune - so I guess she didn't move back to Mississippi." Some editorial notes here! First, McNeil's Mom was right. The "internet" tells me that Lorrie Summers played "Fourth Beach Girl" on THE BEVERY HILLBILLIES under the name "Marilee Summers." And here is the interesting part (ha ha! It is not interesting). On imdb, we see that Ms. Summers was in one movie uncredited, one TV show as Marilee Summers, and TWO MOVIES as "Lorie Summers" - that's right, with one r! And that is her entire filmography. So why is her given name on imdb Lorrie Summers with TWO r's, A NAME UNDER WHICH SHE NEVER ACTED? What is behind this conspiracy, imdb? Merely by doing a "Google Image Search" using the one-r variation, I immediately found this variety-show publicity still of McNeil's parents' old high school chum with Bill Dana (speaking of comedians you have never heard of), suggesting that this is only the beginning of... eh, I'm tired now.
You know how Ward McCarthy and I email back and forth about forgotten comedians you never even heard of. Yesterday we were doing that about David Frye, a Nixon impersonator. Ward wrote, "I was going to tell you that my brother had a poster of him as Nixon in his room, but did some checking first and it turns out it was a poster of Richard Dixon, a Richard Nixon lookalike even more obscure than David Frye." I admitted to Ward that he had stumped me with Richard Dixon. I googled around a little and asked Ward if he knew that there was a movie in which Richard Dixon played Richard Nixon and Mickey Rooney played his guardian angel. "... um, yes - I did. Please don't tell anyone," Ward replied.
Monday, March 03, 2014
In the most boring news you are likely to hear all day, my sister and I tied with equally unimpressive scores for the third year in a row in our boring annual Oscar-guessing contest which we don't even care about anymore. Two mighty titans of Oscar-guessing, equally matched, forever! The only thing I remember about the Oscars is a commercial for the iPad, which was horrible. A crackly voice tells us "We don't read and write poetry to be cute..." and then goes on and on about poetry while there are shots of something I can't remember... clouds in a sky? "Ordinary" people doing "amazing" things? Or maybe it was the other way around. And somebody crackling on and on about "poetry." It really made me sick. First of all, I was like, "Hold on, crackling voice! I'll read and write poetry because it's cute if I want to." It was like the time Michiko Kakutani said schlumpy guys can't think about flowers. Then I remembered the other day when Dr. Theresa and I were riding around listening to some "quiet, wry humor" on NPR and Dr. Theresa aptly remarked, "This makes me want to vomit in my mouth... and ears." Oh, I was reading THE DAIN CURSE as a palliative during the Oscars, and it has an owl in it.
Sunday, March 02, 2014
I told you about Jack Warden's performance in WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER? Of course you don't! That was like half an hour ago. But look at him in the background of this publicity still, reacting realistically (grim concern laced with irritation) to the "zany comic spectacle" of that guy from STALAG 17 dressed in an elaborate plumed and silken costume and bearing enormous flaming shish kebabs before him.
Dick Shawn. Maybe it just seemed so long because it took me practically a week of being sick to watch it. Plus it has the kind of title that makes it too easy for dumb critics: "Wake me when it's over INDEED!" they probably huffed. I hate them so much. I have been emailing Megan and McNeil about this movie (separately) and neither one of them has seen it, which amazes me, because between the two of them, or so I figured, they have seen everything. It's about some servicemen on a remote island building a mod, swinging hotel out of old airplane parts. You can kind of see that in the frame above, though there are no decent shots from WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER on the "internet." WAKE ME WHEN IT'S OVER has everything McNeil likes: mod curtains and remote islands. And that is everything McNeil likes. It also has sexism, Orientalism, colonialism, you name it! It's an often morally and politically wretched piece of work that seems to endorse slavery - ! - as a cute local custom, for example. Some early scenes in the second act anticipate Altman's M*A*S*H. Who cares? Not even me. Jack Warden gives one of those performances that interests me: he really digs in and goes for an actual character when everything around him cries otherwise - though it's always nice to see Don Knotts (in a brief early film role that shows his persona fully formed). But the main thing is Megan sent me Dick Shawn's obituary: he died onstage and lay there for five minutes before some of the audience figured out it might not be part of his act.