Saturday, January 26, 2013

Busted Up Bicycles and Stuff

I started my graduate class by showing some of the Martin Scorsese movie NEW YORK, NEW YORK, which I believe I described to the kids as as his "much-reviled musical" - is that accurate? Anyway, it put me in the mood to see Francis Ford Coppola's "much-reviled musical" ONE FROM THE HEART (pictured). That's one I'm pretty sure I've seen before but can't remember. So I open the dvd and there's Francis Ford Coppola in the liner notes, writing about the influence of Jerry Lewis on the making of the film. Right away I saw the obvious debt to Lewis's film THE LADIES MAN in the sound design, lighting, and sets, though Coppola wasn't that specific. I will say that near the end Frederic Forrest is comically electrocuted and his hair stands straight up. Immediately thereafter he steps into a bucket and stumbles around. All of this may be Coppola's way of saying, "Thanks, Jerry!" though nobody in a million years ever considered Frederic Forrest the heir to Jerry's crown, nobody but Francis Ford Coppola, I guess. Oh, and near the beginning of the movie, Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle sing a song in which they tell each other "I'm tired of picking up after you" - it's a real contribution to the "scuffed-up furniture inventory genre" of songwriting, the existence of which I recently proved ("This railroad apartment is held together by glue," I think Waits sings). Later, Tom Waits sings a whole different song about busted up old bicycles lying around in the rain, of course, but I don't think I can count that - I'm a purist! Hey there's something else I can't remember watching, but I think I did. I was walking down the corridor outside the English Dept. when I saw some free VHS tapes discarded. One was a Harold Pinter play directed by Robert Altman and starring John Travolta (!). The cover looked weirdly familiar, and I think I rented it at the strange Phar-Mor drugstore in Mobile, Alabama, so often an object of our contemplation here. So I picked it up and one day I'll tell you about it and won't you be excited. Now I am thinking of the time I talked to Francis Ford Coppola outside a restaurant in San Francisco on the day of the feast of Saint Francis, 1999, but I'm suddenly realizing maybe it was just some guy with a beard. I did get a monk to bless the cats, though! It didn't entirely work.