Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Precious Blue-Green Jewel

My friend Chico just emailed me this picture of Lou Costello, Elvis, and Jane Russell, the latter of whom has recently passed away. By coincidence, there is a drawing of Ms. Russell in the new issue of THE BELIEVER, the film issue, which came out today. It's a very Robert Mitchum film issue, and what's wrong with that? Nothing, that's what! Ms. Russell is in there because there are drawings throughout the magazine of people who starred in films with Robert Mitchum. There is also a nice little article about Robert Mitchum's keen mannerisms. My favorite of the drawings is Lillian Gish aiming her shotgun at (an unseen) Robert Mitchum in NIGHT OF THE HUNTER. Robert Mitchum does not appear in the drawings - just people who acted WITH him, which is a pretty interesting idea, I think. I once saw Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum ALIVE AND FOR REAL on THE SAME DAY, back when I was working for TBS. I was too scared to talk to either of them. Robert Mitchum was smoking a cigarette with his oxygen tank next to him, but that's not why I was scared. I was nervous to approach his shining aura of awesomeness! Jane Russell was far away, but she was wearing a ring featuring a precious blue-green jewel so large I could see it clearly from a great distance. Later Dr. Theresa (not yet a doctor!) was upset that I hadn't said hello to Robert Mitchum, her favorite favorite actor of all time. "What would I have said?" I asked. When I put the same question to Barry B., he answered, "I would have said, 'Robert Mitchum, you are a bad ******* ******!'" And should I mention that Robert Mitchum, despite his apparent frailty, attempted to become "friendly" in a most surprising manner with Caroline's innocent sister at a luncheon later that day? (I guess I should mention that in those days Mr. Ward and I sometimes worked with Lou Costello's granddaughter out in Los Angeles, because that's what I do, I mention things. Oh yeah, and we were just reading about Lou Costello in my "Dean Martin class" because Lou was the first guy to try to make Dino a big Hollywood star, but Dean just went around running up a huge bill buying really nice clothes on Lou Costello's dime and not trying very hard to be a big star, and finally Lou was like, "This guy's not worth the trouble!" [I'm paraphrasing.] Observe how Lou Costello is biting Elvis's lapel as if to say, "I hate expensive clothing!" Plus - and this may also help explain Lou Costello's aggression here - Dean Martin was one of Elvis's primary influences as a vocalist, as we also learned from our text, which - to give proper credit - is, of course, DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS by Nick Tosches. See? See how I like to mention things? Oh! Like I just remembered when we were out there in Hollywood, there was a crew member who had collected every Abbott and Costello movie on VHS, and I borrowed one from him in which Abbott and Costello play Revolutionary War era ghosts, because Dr. Theresa - a mere undergrad at the time! - was working on a paper about early American history as depicted on film... and now it is occurring to me that I can't recall EVER RETURNING THAT VHS! And I'm pretty sure Dr. Theresa NEVER EVEN WATCHED IT. I wonder if I might rectify this situation!) Jason Polan illustrated my column in the new BELIEVER and did his usual incredible job. In fact, it really floored me! I never know what passage he's going to pick from my little essays (or whatever they are) as the basis for his illustrations. He really surprised me this time! I won't spoil it for you.