Sunday, June 15, 2014

Big White Pie

First of all let me say maybe I was a little too hard on IF A MAN ANSWERS yesterday. I mean, if I didn't find the image of the big white pie arresting would I have spent so long searching the "internet" for it? Like J. Hoberman said in the New York Times today, "'The Nutty Professor' both depicts and manifests inadvertent disclosure," and I'm certainly no better than Jerry Lewis in that regard. And how snobbish of me to suggest that the film could not be put into conversation with LA CHINOISE. The palette of the fantasy pie sequence is pretty close to Godard's, and who knows? Godard might get a kick out of that big white pie. It's not hard to imagine an entirely white pie in a Godard movie. That big white pie might have put Godard in mind of his man Tashlin. And anyway, when Godard was making LA CHINOISE he wrote this on a big poster, according to the book I have about Godard: "It is the rich who create languages and who endlessly renovate them from top to bottom... A school that selects, destroys culture." Know what I mean? Because I don't. I sort of do. I think I do. Besides, the big white pie makes me think of a line I like from a recent New York Times obituary. It's for the original "Miss Subways," upon whom "Miss Turnstiles" was based in my sister's favorite movie ON THE TOWN, and it tells how a later Miss Subways "was said to have received 258 marriage proposals, at least 182 orchids and, from a lovelorn bakery worker, a vast lemon meringue pie." I've watched a couple of Will Rogers movies in my Lonely Film Festival. "He's like Brando!" I yelled, but I yell that about everybody. This one Will Rogers movie, STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND, has a musical saw in it, which reminded me of when Megan and Jimmy got so excited about Marlene Dietrich's ability to play the musical saw. In the movie, Anne Shirley goes to see her betrothed in jail (he's set to be hung for murder!) and he shows her how he's been spending his time learning to play the musical saw. He plays "There's No Place Like Home" and all the other prisoners hum it with intricate harmonies and lugubrious pathos. (The book that came with my John Ford box set [Ford directed STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND] quotes Darryl Zanuck poking fun at "the kind of thing John Ford does when he is stuck and has run out of plot. In these cases, somebody always sings and you cut to an extreme long shot with slanting shadows.") This movie also has a wax museum in it, which is, as we know, something Megan Abbott generally enjoys. Anne Shirley's character's name in STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND is Fleety Belle, which is the kind of thing Jimmy and Megan might like too.