Monday, November 03, 2008

Decorative Glass Balls

I feel one of those especially long and especially meaningless "posts" coming on! And this one is all about decorative glass balls. So I'm going to call it "Decorative Glass Balls." Tonight I had great fun reading about 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON in ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, the 12-pound Mario Bava book by Tim Lucas. But I was startled to discover that when Lucas described - in his "Summary" section - the scene I "blogged" about recently, he used the following sentence: "Their fistfight upsets a decorative display of glass balls." Recall if you will my own words: "a bunch of decorative glass balls." Pretty close! If I saw it in a student paper, it might give me pause. Yet here I am on the other end of the stick, knowing that my use of "decorative glass balls" was entirely honorable (I had not read the summary beforehand, not wishing to spoil the movie for myself), and realizing that when it comes to decorative glass balls, there is only one phrase that really sums it up, apparently, and that phrase is "decorative glass balls." Lucas - in his "Commentary" section - calls the scene "perhaps the film's most inspired feat of design and storyboarding ... Bava made the decision to view the fracas through a grating, thus splitting up our view of the action into dozens of tiny squares." Lucas goes on to describe how the fight sends "countless glass balls of all sizes spilling across a series of different colored floors, so that a screen full of squares literally explodes into a screen full of circles." This confirmed for me the idea ("click" on the movie title above for more details - ha ha!) of the scene's Jerry Lewisian aspect, especially as it relates to one gag from CRACKING UP. The "fantastic modern house" (Lucas's term) of 5 DOLLS is a Lewisian space. (I'm going to start using the word "Lewisian" all the time! Wheeeeee!) In his book on Lewis, Shawn Levy writes about CRACKING UP's "modernist decor (sleek patent leather sofas, monochromatic rooms, absurd kinetic art) ... hilariously explored in the psychiatrist's office, [the floor of which] is so heavily waxed that Jerry can't cross the room without destroying it ... when he ends the bit by spilling an entire bag of peanut M&M's all over the roan-colored floor, the sequence achieves a tactility exceedingly rare in cinema." So I'm sure you see the connection! And will agree that I am not an insane person! Now, remember, Levy is no pushover. In fact, in the very next paragraph, he calls CRACKING UP "a weak entry on even Jerry's checkered resume." Well! Two things are bothering me right now - three if you count the fact that I'm "blogging" about this. First, I am forced realize that those objects I have been remembering as marbles (i.e., small glass balls) in CRACKING UP were actually peanut M&M's! Second, I learn from Lucas (in a paragraph not reproduced here) that the final resting place of Bava's decorative glass balls is not technically a murder scene, as I call it in my recent "post." But to be fair, I assumed it was a murder made to look like something else. So I guess you can say that only one thing is really bothering me: my human fallibility. Everything I believe and observe is wrong! I guess I'm going to have to get used to it. But at least this clears up the matter of the "Decorative Glass Balls" and I think we can all rest easy tonight and for many nights to come. (Top, some of the actual "decorative glass balls" from 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON. Bottom, from the same film, some of the mod variety of furniture that McNeil likes to see in a movie.)