Friday, December 27, 2013

"American Hustle" Features Sleazy guys, Floozies

Big screen offerings have been disappointing of late, but this one has got something for everyone.  Howard Hughes, if you are reading this, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are your kind of women.  There’s more hooch kookie in AH than I can remember in “Underwater” or “The French Line.”
I worry that Robert DeNiro, in a cameo scene, runs the risk of being typecast as a gangster, heaven forbid.  It doesn’t bode well for any future romcoms with DeNiro and Katherin Hegl or Tina Fey.
I also worry that gents of Italian origin from New Jersey by inference are viewed with suspicion in this 2:20 minute look at the seamier side of politics and business American style.  The story comes alive when the Jeremy Renner character appears onscreen.  Christian Bale mumbles and whispers so I need to await the DVD with closed captions for his lines.  daz

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Secret Partners" Book Reveals 1920s Corruption

The lawless anarchy that disrupted the lives of many St. Paul residents in the Roaring Twenties did not occur in a vacuum, but rather was aided and abetted by corrupt business owners, police officers, politicians and an inept FBI headed by J. Edgar Hoover.  
The speakeasy era fascination never fades and now is being revived  by Timothy Mahoney’s excellent book, “Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang.” Most recently a cable TV move, “Bonnie and Clyde,” capitalized on the public interest in Depression era gangsters.
Unlike the glamorous movie characters, the real life gangsters were monsters and with no assurance of police protection for law abiding residents. that led to lives of desperation here.
Tom Brown, the discredited officer and police chief, is just one actor in this sordid bit of history that also includes the Hamm and Bremer families, the prominent St. Paul brewers, the county attorney and the police commissioner.
Elsewhere on my blog I wrote about “Bloody Mama” wherein film director/producer Roger Corman portrays Ma Kate Barker as a “blood thirsty gangster” when in reality the FBI killed an “old woman who had not committed a crime,” Mahoney writes.
There are many characters in the St. Paul Twenties crime spree and often it gets confusing,  but it’s worth the effort.  If you enjoy true crime stories, this book is for you.  
Many landmarks of the era exist today in the Twin Cities and the political payoffs of the Twenties explain why gangsters migrated to St. Paul.  It wasn’t for the weather.  daz

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gangster Lovers Get Four Hour Cable Movie

The big thrill in the four-hour cable TV movie “Bonnie and Clyde” is the epilogue which features newsreel footage of the funeral for the notorious Depression era pair (40,000 attended Clyde Barrow’s and 50,000 Bonnie Parker’s).  Also shown is the newsreel is the bullet riddled car where the couple met their violent demise.
The locales and costumes are noteworthy and Holliday Grainger and Emile Hersch are believable in the leads, but it’s not worth four hours (50 minutes of commercials).  We also learned that the two had visions; for Clyde it was a white house and for Bonnie it was an acting or dancing career.  Poor girl was born too early.  She could have been swingin’ and swayin’ with Jack Osbourne on DWTS 80 years later.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Minnesota Monster Trucks Event Draws Crowd

Forget the Ordway, Guthrie and Minnesota Orchestra, real Minnesotans love their Monster Truck Pulls and that was the happening event last night at the Dome.  We were on the train from Bloomington with an enthusiastic crowd of truckers — moms, pops and the kids all with their sound deafening ear muffs in hand.
Monster Truck Pulls reduce Idaho’s Snake River Stampede to sedateness of a church choir picnic.  I don’t get it but then I’m from Idaho, a refined state of tranquillity compared to roar of those monster engines.  Keep on truckin’.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Corman's Shlock Movie Legacy Chronicled in Book

Although several directors churned out lurid, cheap drive in movies in the 50s and 60s no one is more acclaimed in this genre than Roger Corman who is remembered in the new biography “Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses ” by Chris Nashawaty.

The advertising posters are far more interesting than many of the actual movies. This is illustrated in the 1957 Corman epic “Attack of the Crab Monsters,” wherein angry, expensive seafood make amends for the nuclear holocaust by murdering scientists stranded on an island.  One of the scientists is Russell Johnson who must have benefited from the tropical life since he recycled the role in “Gilligan’s Island” as the professor.  The lovely Pamela Duncan provides romantic interest for the professor in this Allied Artists film.

In the next decade the posters became more suggestive.  See page 98 for “Angels Hard as They Come” (“big men with throbbing machines and the girls who take them on.”)  The interview with Scott Glenn, leading man in this biker thriller, is worth a read.  On the next page, I enjoyed comments by Bruce Dern on “Bloody Mama,” possibly Corman’s best movie for American International Pictures.  Shelley Winters headlines this 1920s gangster movie that introduced Robert DeNiro, a Winters’ protege.  “Mama” has everything you want in a Corman movie, including gang rape, incest, nudity and gratuitous violence.

Nashawaty speculates that Corman had a vision that resonated with shlock movie fans.  The last half of the book is less interesting because the movies had lost much of their cheap vulgarity.  The book lacks an index and is not organized by chapters so you have to thumb through it to find what you want.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Haunted by Streetcars in "Hell Bound"

It’s this haunting image of the discarded Los Angeles streetcars in the 1950s that is etched in my memory from the 1957 film noir “Hell Bound” with John Russell as the bad guy.  In the final scene he is being chased and hides in a streetcar in a junk yard which I assume is near the Harbor Freeway.
It’s a sad reminder of how greed trashed a environmentally friendly transportation system to enable freeways and smog.  That’s progress.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shoe Dog Nightmare Haunts My Nights

A nightmare about selling women’s shoes awoke me this morning and I need to purge myself of the hoax I perpetuated in the ‘50s and 60s on gullible consumers.  I was a women’s shoe dog for entry level retailer Edison Brothers Stores (Leeds, Bakers and Chandlers) in Spokane, Seattle, and Oakland.
Teen girls were a challenge with one asking to see “boss” shoes and I assured her that the boss’ size 11s would not be to her liking.  Then I would get the prospect who plopped down in the chair and announced that she “was waiting for a party.”  (The last party were had here was a bust.)
I hated myself and loathed the customers.  I was fired from Chandlers in Seattle when I went home to Spokane for spring break during Easter, a prime sales time then for shoes.  Particularly scary were wedding parties buying fabric shoes to be dyed to a fabric sample the ladies supplied.  One always hoped the shoes would be a perfect match but you couldn’t rely on the artisan who did the dying and also doubled as the janitor.
At all these stores we were expected to sell “extras” like handbags and shoe polish which resulted in extra commission.  I was particularly dysfunctional in littering the store with scores of shoes and the poor customer couldn’t make a choice.  But then many customers viewed shoe shopping as a sport and had no intention of actually purchasing.
I graduated to a public relations job at Fisher Blend KOMO-TV (ABC) in 1962 so I kissed off shoe sales but returned to it in Oakland in 1964 when I was unemployed.  My last shoe gig was in 1980 for a day or two as a “floater” at Sears in St. Paul which was really easy.  

Now it’s all self-service at Kohl’s, DSW and Penneys.  Maybe Nordstorms actually has sales help.  Who cares.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Courthouse Makes Commanding Presence in Downtown Spencer

The historic Clay County Courthouse in downtown Spencer, Iowa, is a notable architectural achievement.  It grabbed my attention on a visit to Spencer on Tuesday and inside I found a 1930 exhibit on the Civil War “relics of the Grand Army of the Republic" presented by the Women’s Relief Corps.  The building was restored in 1981-82.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fond Memories of Movies at Two Spirit Lakes

IOWA — The great thing about growing up in the 1940s is that you could go to super neat places like Spirit Lake, Iowa, (shown here) as Gary H. did and see a great movie at the downtown theater, which sadly is closed. 
Of course, our family had several lake choices in the Inland Empire including Spirit Lake, Idaho, with its funky movie house where I saw “It Happened on Fifth Avenue” with Victor Moore and Gale Storm.  I also cut my foot on a beer bottle in the lake and had stitches and a tetanus shot.
The Iowa Spirit Lake has a lot more history including a massacre and a famous tour boat, the Queen, which is remembered with a statue of the captain (shown here).  Also it is near the two Okobojee lakes and an amusement park with a wood track roller coaster.  It doesn’t get any better.

Although it was never part of my life, a kid couldn’t go wrong at Saltair on the Great Salt Lake in the early 1900s.

Movies on Recently Erected Drive In Screen

IOWA — The recently built Super 71 Drive in Theater near Spirit Lake is somewhat of a head scratcher.  Why when most drive ins have been demolished is anyone  building a new one?  Obviously this is creative capitalism, going against the grain.  I was glad I could actually verify with my owns eyes that the Superior 71 exists but is closed for the season.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Students Score Hit with Fiddler Musical

After receiving a standing ovation Saturday for their performance of “Fiddler on the Roof,” it will be difficult for the Edina High School students to return to planet earth on Monday with locker doors slamming and teachers’ dirty looks.  
Having seen a professional production of Fiddler in October, I had low expectations that were quickly dispelled by the take charge teen attitude.  Here’s a musical with definite baby boomer appeal and it has endured more than 40 years.
The very tricky ghost of Lazar Wolf’s wife in the dream sequence was flawless which is a miracle considering the actress was perched on a lift.  Other scene stealers were Zach Farhat as Tevye and Tori Adams as Hodel.
When I look back at the humble efforts of the Lewis and Clark High School actors in 1958 with “Lil’ Abner” I realize we have advanced with student productions given “Fiddler” which makes “Glee” almost believable.

There are sufficient reasons why the Twin Cities has the third highest theater attendance per capita in the country and I think it starts with the public schools here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Crawford Swings the Axe in "Strait Jacket"

Academy Award winner Joan Crawford recycles a grotesque version of Sadie Thompson in the 1964 horror flick “Strait Jacket” and and the results are hilarious in a cheap flowered dress and fright wig.  
The scene that is borrowed from “Rain” is where a vampish Crawford turns up the music on the phonograph and makes vampish moves on her daughters young boyfriend.
Crawford’s late career script choices were quite bizarre and “Strait Jacket” and “Bizerk!” have similar plots which I won’t spoil.  “Strait Jacket” is a William Castle drive in movie exploitation vehicle and Crawford made another film for him at Universal-International.  

It was a tough time for golden era stars and Bette Davis made “Bunny O’Hare” for American International that is unbelievably and hilariously bad.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Opera & Politics Don't Mix

Jeff Johnson in a Sunday Pioneer Press opinion piece wants us to believe, without offering any supporting evidence, that Minnesota lacks a “true level playing field,” whatever that means, and this makes us less attractive to business.

Johnson is recycling an old conversation about government vs. business and the role of government as if it hasn’t been on the agenda during 20 years of Republican and libertarian governors and now a Democrat governor.  

Instead of offering us facts and figures, Johnson got bogged down in cliches like “the best of times and worst of times” that really don’t make much sense in the context of state government.  Unfortunately he squandered an opportunity to offer new ideas in this opinion piece.

Dads who need to marry off their daughters to get cash inflowing are the topics in the opera “Arabella” and in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”  Unlike the opera/musical “Les Miserables,” “Arabella” doesn’t generate any sympathy for the central characters.  Who gives a rip if Arabella marries the country bumpkin or not?  So my opera buddy fell asleep in the first half and I watched the time during the remaining acts wondering if I would retrieve the Chrysler before 11 pm when the parking ramp closes.  The pace at which Arabella was moving toward the altar gave me pause.
The Minnesota Opera Co. does a spectacular job of presenting singers and orchestra in beautiful sets and costumes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

“The Conqueror” Comes at End of Golden Era

More Vegas production number than Mongolian tribal ritual, is the dance of the scantily clad ladies in the 1955 Howard Hughes RKO Radio spectacular “The Conqueror.”  But then this should be expected in a Hughes movie.
In a classic bit of miscasting, John Wayne plays Genghis Kahn and Susan Hayward is the object of his lust who is featured in the sensuous dance sequence which is probably a reason to watch.
Special mention goes to Victor Young for a thrilling soundtrack and to Utah’s Escalante Desert, which, according to the Halliwell book, was the site of nuclear bomb tests.  Much of the movie was filmed in Utah and several of the actors, who also were smokers, died of cancer including Wayne, Hayward and Dick Powell, the director. 
“The Conqueror” came two years after the first Cinemascope film, “The Robe,” also a big budget epic.   Wayne was believable in “Back to Bataan” (RKO) and was good in “Flying Tigers” (Republic) but John Carroll  was the scene stealer in the later.
With a better actor in the lead, “Conqueror” might have been decent.  Wayne was intrigued by the script when he saw it on a desk at RKO Radio studios.  Wayne apparently decided he would play it as an Asian cowboy.  
Powell capped a distinguished movie career with “Conqueror,” having been in ‘30s Warner Brothers musicals and in the ‘40s RKO Radio film noir.  He is remembered for the “Four Star Theater” on TV.

YouTube features “The Conqueror.”

Monday, November 04, 2013

Jennifer Eckes Hits Right Notes for Bacharach

I was transported Sunday to 1966 dream-like at Joe’s LB in Boise with a combo performing “The Look of Love.”  Actually I was at the Bloomington Black Box Theater listening to Jennifer Eckes performing that same haunting melody which was also a hit for Brazil 66.  

“What the World Needs Now: The Songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David” was a much appreciated salute by singer Eckes and Arnie Fogel, longtime Twin Cities performer and radio personality.  It was sobering to see the advanced ages of all those attending yesterday because I consider B&D music cool and contemporary and how did we all get so old?

Forty-five years ago as young adults we had music choices.  We could hear B&D music on MOR radio stations such as KHJ, LA; KFRC, SF; and KBOI and KIDO, Boise.  I  think those stations rivaled the Top 40 in listenership back then.  Now I listen to B&D music on Pandora.

The highlight of the show was Eckes singing “One Less Bell” in a mash-up with “A House is Not a Home.”  The musical backup was minimal and of course a synthesizer or an orchestra would have been ideal, but then we were in a very small theater.

Eckes is a performer who deserves a bigger audience and I hope she gets it.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

NBC’s Dracula Suffers From Poor Scripts

Halfway through the NBC Dracula series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers I switched to my DVD of the ’43 PRC vampire feature “Dead Men Walk,” which was more entertaining.  Meyers is a super actor and I love him in “Velvet Goldmine,” but this NBC series is boring.

What “Dead Men Walk” has is some interesting B actors of the era including George Zucco, Dwight Frye and Fuzzy St. John.  Frye plays the vampire’s best friend in this feature and is remembered as the bug eating Renfield in the ’31 “Dracula.”  You can’t beat Frye for crazy guy and of course St. John is always fun as the back woods simpleton.

There’s also a hysterical old lady and the innocent young woman played by Mary Carlisle who was paired with a handsome hero whose name escapes me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mike McCarthy Captivates in “Blithe Spirit”

Charles comes to very harsh judgments about his mother and two dead wives in the 1941 Noel Coward play “Blithe Spirit” performed Sunday by the River Valley Theatre Company at Shakopee West Junior High School Auditorium.

Actor Mike McCarthy owns the title role of Charles and is cool on and off stage as we learned after the play discussion with the cast.  My theater buddy Gary made some thoughtful observations in the after play time and we enjoyed this Halloween ghost comedy.

Also commanding the stage is Daphne Siegert as Madame Arcati, the flamboyant soothsayer who projects to the back row of the spacious auditorium.

The production is noteworthy for its attention to detail in costumes and props as well as the ghost like effects.  Coward’s plays still attract an audience but have to be a hard sell.  Plan to see it.

According to Sunday’s Pioneer Press, Mayor Chris Coleman is leading a tour of the downtown Palace Theater in hopes of getting state bonding money to renovate and reopen the abandoned vaudeville and movie house.  Coleman envisions the Palace as a contemporary music venue.  Will anyone over 30 be interested?  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forget "Gravity," See "Phantom Planet"

With a the buzz over Sandy and George in space in “Gravity,” I decided to peruse the 1962 science shocker of the space age, “The Phantom Planet,” which I got for 25 cents.  The plot is similar to “Queen of Outer Space” where a macho space cowboy stumbles on the planet “Rheton” where the women are beautiful and the guys are 6 inches tall so our hero has a chance. 
A distraction from the Moon Maidens is the Anthony Dexter character who challenges the hero played by Dean Fredericks to a fight.  It ends well and they patch over their differences.
The real reason for seeing this is the introduction of newcomer Dolores Faith who I swear is a Liz Taylor look alike.  Folks will be buzzing over Dolores for years t o come.
Minnesota native Coleen Gray also headlines this mess.  She will be remembered for “Nightmare Alley” and “Kansas City Confidential” rather than “Phantom Planet.” 
Famous silent film star Francis X. Buschman makes his final appearance in this movie as the king of Rheton so this is another reason to watch.
Space travel is challenging and you never know what you will find when you get there whatever there is.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Living the Diamond Life With Liz in New Cable Movie

A boozy Liz Taylor played brilliantly by Helena Bonham Carter is reunited in 1983 with ex-husband Richard Burton (Dominic West) for the Noel Coward Broadway play “Private LIves” in the BBC TV movie “Burton and Taylor” shown Wednesday.  This is another installment in the saga of women who who lived large like Peggy Hopkins Joyce and Donattelle Versace.

Fans of “Virginia Wolfe” will recognize a Martha and George dynamic in B & T with Burton attempting a serious reading of “Private Lives” and the tipsy Liz clowning and mugging for an appreciative audience.  The play, an ill-advised train wreck and curious sideshow, was panned by the New York critics.  Yet theater arts professor Bill from Iowa probably enjoyed it when he saw it with Liz and Dick on Broadway.  Working at cross purposes, the venture is doomed from the get go with Taylor hoping to rekindle romance with the British actor and Burton trying to reestablish his theatrical credentials.

In a remarkable scene, Taylor makes a grand entrance following a gaggle of dogs on leashes, reminiscent of Mrs. Joyce in “International House.”  Bonham Carter is so much Liz with the walk and talk that we forget that it is an act. 

Unfortunately the version shown on cable last night was interrupted every 10 minutes with commercials and naughty words were bleeped out.  This is another reason to kiss Comcast goodbye.  Hopefully an unedited DVD will be available in the near future.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Versace, Black Sunday are both Italian Horror Movies

Drug crazed fashion designer Donatelle Versace struggled with a pesky family and  cutthroat high fashion competition in the Halloween Lifetime movie “The House of Versace” with Gina Gershin as DV.  The actor who was Veronica Mars' dad  appears briefly as Gianni Versace.

The Versaces lived large in the 90s when business was good with mansions in Miami Beach, Italy and elsewhere.  Keeping up appearances has got to be tough.  The roof came crashing in on the enterprise after Gianni was murdered by Mad Andy and DV took over the business, running it into the ground with unmarketable rags.  Driven by hatred for her deceased brother who basically cut her out of his will and other issues, she binged on cocaine and whatnot.

Finally the day of reckoning came with the family intervention and her trip to a drug rehabilitation facility.  Rather than some Minneapolis dump, she is comfortably housed in a tropical facility where she is deprived of her stiletto pumps. Such an ordeal!  Refreshed from  rehab and sober as a judge she is reinstated in the House of Versace where she apologies to the help for her bad behavior.  So the melodrama ends on a sweet note.

Much is made of the Versace  designed revealing dress that actress Elizabeth Hurley wore to an awards ceremony.  That dress brought a lot of positive buzz to the Versace brand but if Ms. Hurley had appeared in public in a gunny sack with her puppies popping out the results may have been the same.

Nightmare alert:  Lifetime followed the movie with a Behind the Story documentary on the Versaces and let me tell you the real life DV suffers by comparison with the actress Gershin.  Don’t let the kids watch.

Make a double feature of it with the Italian Gothic horror classic “Black Sunday” featuring Barbara Steele as Katia who is revisited by a presumably dead witch who was horribly executed.  Katia is treated badly but then she wasn’t tops at house keeping with her fog enshrined dungeon like mansion decorated with cobwebs.    Mario Bava directed “Black Sunday,” a horror masterpiece in black and white from the ‘60s.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Peggy Joyce Was Outrageous Roaring Twenties Icon

Peggy Hopkins Joyce was called “superficial, shallow and an unabashed slut.” The biography “Gold Digger” by Constance Rosenblum concludes that PHJ was “high spirited” and was the pioneer in the media driven rise of celebrities.  My interest in all matters Joyce was prompted by the 1933 all star comedy “International House” which was headlined by Joyce and W.C. Fields.  This is a fun filled double entendre romp comparable to Mae West’s “She Done Him Wrong.”  Some said she lacked any visible talent other than being glamorous.
In the 1920s when average Americans were struggling on $1,000 a year, Joyce went on a million dollar shopping spree in Manhattan.  She probably was the inspiration for many songs of the day.  In fact she “ala carted with barons and earls” and some said “The Lady is a Tramp.”
She was married six times and engaged to countless other men  Some of her lovers included King Gustav of Sweden, Charlie Chaplin and auto tycoon Walter P. Chrysler who was giddy enough to buy her two Isotta Fraschini cars and a $300,000 blue diamond, an 18th century bauble found in Brazil and now housed at the Smithsonian Institution.
Our fascination with people who  are famous for being famous and are today’s marketable commodities exploited by super market tabloids and TV shows like “Insider” and “Extra.”  Zsa Gabor and Liz Taylor certainly were adored for their diamonds and marriages and Kim Kardashian is another story.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Murder, Torture, Death Camp Told in Kovaly Memoir

A survivor of Aushwitz and the cruelty of Stalin’s communism and the widow of murdered Jewish deputy minister of foreign trade has written a devastating memoir, “Under A Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-68.”  This 1986 book by Heda Margolius Kovaly, was a must read for my Central European history class on the U of M Campus.  Kovaly's first husband was Rudolph Margouilis who was hung by the communist government in a show trial prompted by Stalin's anti semitism.
This is my great Central European fall where I was surprised to learn that the 1971 movie “Fiddler on the Roof” was filmed in Yugoslavia, a communist country ruled by the maverick Marshal Tito.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nia and Toni Are Super in "Connie & Carla" drag queen comedy

“I loved you in “What’s the Matter With Helen” (a campy 70s AIP horror slasher flick with Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters) a drag queen says to Ms. Reynolds in the musical comedy “Connie and Carla.”  C&C is a redo of “Some Like it Hot” with straight women played by Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette escaping from the gangsters and doing very bad cabaret numbers.  I am mean but I love the reference to “Helen” and too bad no one asked if a redo of “Bundle of Joy” might be considered?  C&C has it’s moments and more worthwhile were the interviews with the director and stars on the DVD.  Ms. Collette is memorable in a whole bunch of films and the TV series “United States of Tara.”  Seen with “Girls will be Girls” (a men in drag comedy), C&C is a fun night at the movies.  The Debbie warbles a few notes as well.  Also  plan to see “Helen” on Halloween.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rain Musical is Big Bloomington Hit

Kudos to Bloomington Civic Theater music director Anita Ruth and “Singin’ in the Rain” director Michael M. Ferrell on the sold out performances on going.  Not since “”42nd Street,” have local audiences appreciated the familiar tunes and the ‘30s nostalgia that is the big draw.  Enough with Sondheim!
Although the stage was free of rain, it worked for me.  Jeffrey Nelson is a standout as Cosmo, the Donald O’Connor role in the movie.  Some of the more memorable tunes are “You Are My Lucky Star,” “Good Morning,” “You Stepped Out of a Dream” and of course the title song.  Too bad you missed it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Madame X" is Hilariously Bad, Smaltzy Melodrama

I am screaming at the TV to Keir Dullea, “she’s your mother,” where Lana Turner is dying in the final scene of Universal-International’s 1966 schmaltzy melodrama “Madame X.”  Ms. Turner’s acting must have been inspired by Veda Ann Borg’s scenes in “Revenge of the Zombies,” but then Ms. Borg didn’t have any dialogue in that Monogram epic.  We are asked to believe that a 40-something Turner is the mother of a toddler.  Pleaz.  Somehow I think this would have been a better effort with Douglas Sirk directing and Dorothy Malone or Piper Laurie in the title role.  This was a Ross Hunter production and he scored successes with “Imitation of Life” and the Doris Day Rock Hudson comedies.  After MGM unraveled Ms. Turner found herself at U-I, which was definitely a different kettle of fish for her.  Poor thing.  She would have been great in “This Island Earth.”

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hedlund is Amazing in "On the Road" Movie

The iconic subversive ‘50s heroes Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy have finally made it to the big screen in the art house film, “On The Road.”  It took 61 years of breathless anticipation to reach this happy day.

For what it’s worth, Garret Hedlund is a knockout as the manic Neal Cassidy and Sam Riley isn’t bad as Kerouac.  Our erstwhile adventurers get wasted on drugs, booze and sex, but learn something about life if they could only remember what it was.  I felt like I was on the road to San Franciosco and Mexico with those amazing lads that were like a fantasy as I read the classic novel in the early 1980s. 

I am always late to the game and in my case I was watching “Father Knows Best” while Jack and Neal were boozing and debauching internationally.  Although Kerouac has been dismissed as a great or talented writer, “On the Road” and references to Jack and Neal are part of the lexicon we know. Women are relegated to submissive roles in both the movie and book and that is addressed in the documentary “New York in the ‘50s.”  You will also enjoy the “Ken Kessey’s Magic Tour” movie where Cassidy is the driver so get ready for adventure (in the ditch).  I watched both after seeing “On the Road.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Late '60s Were Prime for British Comedies

The romantic comedy has been much maligned in recent years, but it wasn’t always a formalistic tired mess.  My all time favorite romcoms are from the late ‘60s and feature nebbish heroes, their flawed mentors and direction that reflects the free spirited sexual liberation underway then.
I saw all of theses at the Vista Theater in Boise and all are available on DVD or VHS.  They would be considered ‘art house by today’s standards.
British director Richard Lester led the way in 1965 with “The Knack” featuring Michael Crawford and Rita Tushingham, both kind of virgins lost in London, who navigate their way through a maze of crazy people to find each other.  Lester is best known for directing the Beattles in “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Was Frances F. Coppola influenced by the “Knack” when he made “You’re A Big Boy Now” in New York in 1967?  There are a lot of whimsical moments reminiscent of “The Knack” involving Peter Kastner and the bitchy go go dancer Barbara Darling played by Elizabeth Hartman, who is the object of his desire.  This is another poor soul lost in the big city who finds happiness with the girl next door type played by Karen Black.  Geraldine Page is memorable as the neurotic mom and Julie Harris is brilliant as the sexually repressed landlady.  The city is celebrated including the Bryant Park library and Central Park in Big Boy.
Another British gem is “Bedazzled” with nebbish Dudley Moore selling his soul to the devil played by Peter Cooke.  Moore, Cooke and British actress Elizabeth Braun lead us on a merry romp through unrequited love in contemporary London with a bit of social commentary on advertising and religion. Stanley Donen was the director who also directed two other British gems at that time, “Two for the Road” and “Charade,” and the later two had memorable Henry Mancini music

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wall Street Crime, Marriage Featured in Woody Film

News of a big New Jersey real estate stink involving Vikings owner Ziggi Wulf broke a day before the new Woody Allen movie, ‘Blue Jasmine,” also dealing with corporate shenanigans, opened here.
Good for Woody working today’s headlines into a drama about marriage infidelity and insanity in New York and San Francisco, a bi-coastal affair as it were.
Poor Woody must be in a dark mood theses days because although Blue Jasmine got four stars in the Tribune our small group found it disturbing and wished we had spent the $10 elsewhere.
The story is an eerie likeness to actual events in the 50s involving an aunt by marriage and the breakup of their marriage.
Cate Blanchett no doubt will be nominated for awards as well as Woody Allen, the director.  Alec Baldwin plays the corrupt capitalist/cheating husband.  Myself, I would have preferred Tina Fey as the wife with Tina and Alec exchanges GE and Comcast jibes.  I console myself with Netflix which has “Manhattan” at my fingertips.  Call me old fashioned.

Bacharach Has Written His Autobiography

Rod McKuen wrote a song, “For Bert,”which honored band leader Bert Kaempfert who had some hits in the 50s so why hasn’t anyone done the same for the Burt who wrote the music of my life?  Based on his autobiography, “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” Burt Bacharach commands a biopic or a song.  Anyone up to the task?
Bacharach certainly had the Hollywood leading man looks to star in his own biopic.  There is a rich history of Hollywood music industry musicals with Republic Pictures leading the way in the late 30s -- “Rhythm in the Clouds,” “Sitting on the Moon,” “Manhattan Merry-go-round” and “The Hit Parade.”
Burt B. is definitely a “babe magnet” and much of the book chronicles his romantic life including Angie Dickinson (wife) and Slim Brandy (girl friend with a funny name.)
My eyes glazed over with much of the fine detail on recording studio personnel but his hit song for Jack Jones, “Wives and Lovers,” is my sentimental favorite from 1963 played on RKO’s KHJ-AM in 1963.  We love you Burt.
Incidentally, his father Bert B., was a syndicated columnists for Hearst and I would read him in the Seattle P-I.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Way Way Back, Can't Stop the Music, both amusing

Eighteen year old newcomer Liam James is what the movie “Way Way Back,” is about-- a 14 year old in a dysfunctional family with mom played by Toni Collette and her boyfriend, the jerk,  played by Steve Carrel.  James keeps your interest but it’s Allison Janey as a middle aged floozie who steals scenes. Yet Collette could have played that part as well.
If you enjoyed “Away We Go,” this is the movie for you where the teenager is the catalyst for change and an affable water park manager played by Sam Rockwell is his off center mentor.  WWB is an unexpected surprise during a spring and summer where I have had difficulty staying awake in the multiplexes.
I haven’t checked, but James has got to be on the cover of every preteen fanzine at Walgreens and CVS.
If you enjoyed Janey as the uptight mom in “Hairspray,” than WWB will given you a different slant on motherhood.

“Can’t Stop the Music,” a campy 1980 musical with the Village People, Bruce Jenner and Valerie Perrine, was a special request that I showed at a movie party today four of my friends.  It’s over the top fun with lots of glitter and bad acting.  The movie’s plot was lifted right out of  the 1935-37 Republic musicals about enterprising song writers and agents trying to make it big in the music business.   I found it quite diverting and thank you Instant Netflix.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Keyes Biography is Entertaining Look at 40s, 50s Hollywood

Evelyn Keyes writes eloquently about navigating the stormy seas of romance and matrimony in the 1940-50 period during quite paternalistic times.  Her poor choices in suitors included Charles Vidor, John Huston, Mike Todd and Artie Shaw, all sexists and in some cases racist.  There’s way too much in ‘Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister” about John and Mike and not enough about her outstanding acting in “The Prowler,” a film noir released by United Artists  that is basic Movie 101 viewing. 
Apparently there is no ghost writer on this book which makes Ms. Keyes the author of one of the best written Hollywood biographies.
Those of us that watch the Sony movie channels are treated to many of her ‘40s movies including “Johnny O’Clock” and “The Jolson Story.”
Her recollections about Artie Shaw’s compulsive obsessive behavior confirms what I heard in 2005 from a cousin who was friends with the famed bandleader.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Own Private Idaho, Revisited

BOISE -- I had much needed respite from Minnesota in Idaho this past week starting with "Sweeney Todd" at outdoor amphitheater and the performance exceeded my expectations.
Took friends Duane (from Mrs. Cook's boarding house) and his wife Nancy to the Stampede, a real red neck Christian conservative hootenanny.
Stayed at most exotic Idaho Heritage Inn, former mansion of the Falks (department store) and Gov. Chase Clark with special display of books and photos featuring Sen. Frank Church, husband of Bethene Clark.
Big music award event this weekend at the Egyptian Theater, lovingly restored with private money.
We ate at most wonderful Boise Stage Stop on Highway 20-30 and who can forget the story I wrote for The Statesman on the 20-30 Trots and food poisoning.  Food at Stage Stop was excellent.
Trip to Camp David (see photo) was most exotic mountain adventure with blue waters of Cascade Reservoir and smell of the forest.  Dave Frazier wants to cut down trees but I told him to resist that urge.  Dave and I were fishing buddies and coworkers at The Idaho Statesman in the 60s.  What a time to be a reporter.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Comcast Compared to Gilded Age Monopoly

Here’s a good summer read:  “Captive Audience:  The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,” by Harvard University professor Susan Crawford.
This is about Comcast which has such a commanding presence in high speed internet, cable TV and now movies and TV shows with the NBC Universal merger.  Is this something I should worry about given that I severed ties with Comcast three years ago?  Probably not.
What I did learn is that customers who need something approaching high speed internet are captives of Comcast and the rest of us are settling for considerably less.  According to Prof. Crawford, customers are leaving DSL in favor of Comcast internet and WIFI is not the answer.  So whatever the unfortunate telco is charging for DSL is too much.  We should be able to negotiate lower DSL fees given their anemic presence in the high speed internet world.
Instant Netflix with its recent Emmy nominations may be a threat to Comcast, we can all hope.  With Comcast, a commanding presence in cable TV, now running NBC TV I would imagine that NBC affiliates are nervous about the future of this legacy news and entertainment enterprise.  As a former NBC employee of the RCA era, I too am concerned but not enough to watch most of the NBC shows.  -- dz

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Singer Jack Jones Featured in Cheezy Horror Movie

Any illusions you had about romantic singer Jack Jones,  the Michael Buble of his day, are shattered in the inept 1978 British horror movie “The Comeback,” which features Jones in the lead role.
Incredibly ill-advised was this career ending move to make a low-budget thriller rip-off of “Psycho.”  It’s a slash-fest dripping with fake blood on plastic dummies.  The murderers seek revenge for Jones’ recordings that corrupted their teenage daughter years ago.  They must have been listening to some bootleg 8 tracks not readily available in the U.S.
The movie is made in the mansion of the director Peter Walker who may be some rich dilettante who fancies himself a movie director.  Poor Jack must have been at the end of his rope when he appeared in this mess shirtless with dyed light brown hair, a gold tooth and smoking. 
Jones does sing a couple of forgettable numbers that may be available on a RCA LP somewhere.
Masochists will want to visit Instant Netflix to muddle through “The Comeback” which should be called “The Setback.”

Friday, July 05, 2013

Lone Ranger May Be Summer's Box Office Turkey

Having grown up with the “Lone Ranger” on ABC and Mutual Radio and then early TV in Spokane, of course I was drawn to the new movie of the same name with Johnny Deppp as Tonto.  Since I own a DVD of three episodes of the 50s TV show, I was primed with all things LR before going to the movie Thursday.  So I was blown away that the movie uses the same bad guy characters, the Cavendish Gang, that appear in the old TV show.  What took 50 minutes in the 1950s now is 2.5 hours long.  Glenn Strange, the Frankenstein monster at Universal in the 40s, played Butch Cavendish in the 50s TV show
They could have shown this movie in the small Ritz Theater in Spokane for the handful of people who showed up yesterday.  Who remembers the LR and the William Tell Overture theme?  Army Hammer is well cast as the handsome hero as was Clayton Moore in the original.  Much overwhelming are the special effects action scenes involving trains and whatnot.  The surround sound will wake the dead.
Depp is heavily encased in weird makeup and some Halloween costume that would shock the bejezuz out of Jay Silverheels, the original Tonto.
Certainly the Disney Studios has become more generous with violence and suggested gore with the new Lone Ranger than I can remember in any of their offerings of yesteryear.  Also Miss Helena Carter Bonham plays a charming prostitute.
The saving grace for this mediocre movie is the characterization of the railroad capitalists as warmongers involved in evil schemes that result in wholesale carnage.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Subversive, Whimsical "Urinetown" Is Too Much Fun

The satirical whimsical musical “Urinetown” launches well deserved barbs at greedy capitalists, environmental polluters and overblown Broadway musicals including Les Miserables.  It’s the poor versus the rich melodrama set to music.
Directed by John Command, has assembled a talented cast for this over the top spirited romp at the Jungle Theater promises to be this summer’s must see entertainment.
Several clichés are employed here including the handsome hero Billy who battles the evil industrialist Cladwell who is in league with slimy politicians to raise fees at public restrooms.   Cladwell  is a caricature of the Monopoly game capitalist figure with top hat and mustache.
Of courses Billy falls for the blonde beauty, Cladwell’s daughter, another cliché.  Moreover, show stopping production numbers borrow heavily from overblown Hollywood musicals with the Charleston chorus line and the “Negro” spiritual.  All of this poking fun at bad musicals is most endearing.
Although I was most skeptical about this endeavor given the title “Urinetown,” I lost myself in the moment which has to be seen to be believed.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Douglas Captures Flambouyant Liberace Character

Michael Douglas and Matt Damon were very brave to do “Behind the Candelabra,” an entertaining biopic of legendary gay performer Liberace.  Kudos go to the makeup artist or digital genius who transformed the actors from old to gay and back again.

Grotesque, vain and stupid best describe the characters in this melodrama.  Douglas plays Walter Lee Liberace and Damon is his young lover Scott who is not the brightest bulb.  Google Scott Thorson to update his sad story.

Noteworthy are the performances of Debbie Reynolds as Lee’s mom and Rob Lowe as the quack plastic surgeon and happy go lucky drug dispenser.  Reynolds does her Zsa Zsa imitation and Lowe is grotesquely transformed into a 70s nightmare.

For those who lack HBO, this is worth a view on DVD.  The costumes and sets are over the top and it captures the excesses of the era. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Leonardo is Believable as J, Gatsby

The wealthiest Americans indifference to the poverty surrounding them is a theme in the new “Gatsby” at theaters now.  None of the characters are likable in the latest adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel “The Great Gatsby”
What is incredibly tacky is the music, with hip hop signaling the arrival of the African Americans and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” when affluent whites are on screen.
The excessive party scene is overkill and reminiscent of a similar scene in “Moulon Rouge,” also directed by Baz Luhrman, an Australian.
The History Theater here is performing “This Side of Paradise” which has a reference to Fitzgerald’s disillusion with Long Island which may explain Gatsby.
The actress playing Daisy Buchanan whispers and mumbles so I need to get the DVD with closed captions to decipher that mess.  She also has two moles on the side of her neck which look strangely like vampire bites but I don’t recall her in any clinches with Ian Sommerfield or Paul Westerly on “Vampire Diaries.”
The movie is also available in 3-D but I don’t know why.
Leonardo Decaprio look like a leading man in this film as opposed to the sad sacks he played in “The Aviator” and “J. Edgar.”  He is believable as J. Gatsby.  It’s all an illusion.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


In her late career circus movie “Berserk,” an aging Joan Crawford in skimpy attire loses the center ring spotlight to Golda Casimir who plays a singing, dancing bearded lady.  More than a five o’clock shadow, Ms. Casimir sports whiskers that jut out at a 90 degree angle.  Daniel Day Lewis should have been so lucky in Abe Lincoln.  This hilarious bit has to be seen to be believed.
Also unbelievable is the screen affair involving Ms. Crawford and Ty Hardin, a 20 something square jawed hunk who appears shirtless.  Needless to say with the voluptuous Diana Dors involved, both ladies compete for Mr. Hardin’s attention.  Ms. Dors is at her best and treats us to a knock down cat fight with other ladies in the circus troupe.  This inept mess involves murders and a crazed daughter of Crawford played by Judy Geeson.
Crawford recycles her tough broad role bit she is known for in “Johnny Guitar” and “Rain.”  This movie has something for everyone:  Crawford for fans of golden age movies, Hardin for the ladies, Dors for dad and Casimir for fans of the weird.


For her cinematic revival, Barbra Streisand should have picked a circus venue rather  than a road trip with Seth Rogen in “Guilt Trip.”  Fortunately for us and Chevrolet the movie didn’t involve much slapstick with the Chevy Aveo in which they were entombed throughout.  But what was disturbing was the stereotypical Jewish mom role that Streisand recycles here.
Much of the movie is quite boring.  One wonders if Striesand had teamed up with hubby James Brolin for a remake of “Amityville Horror” would it have been more enjoyable?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Entertaining Topp Twins Combine Music and Comedy

The Topp Twins champion equal rights for gays, lesbians and the native New Zealand Maoris in the Topp Twins documentary available on DVD. 
The lesbian ladies take aim at the Kiwi middle class.  In this spot-on comedy bit they shun their quaint every day attire for over the top girlie garb and the dialogue goes something like this:
“You really need to feature gays in your parties and events because they bring so much color.”
“Oh yes, I agree.  They have color.”  (So gays are an entertainment option for straight upper middle class events.)
The triumphs and trials of the sisters are chronicled in this entertaining documentary.  Although the twins appeared in the U.S., I was not aware of their presence on the global stage until a couple of friends recommended the film.  This is definitely time well spent.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Hot Springs Cabins Haunted By Zarkin, Roy Rogers

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. -- A 40 plus year reunion for me was held this past week at the Historic Log Cabins in Hot Springs, S.D.  Last time I was here was September 1969 when I was driving from Boise to Minneapolis to start Fall Term at the University of Minnesota.
I  had dreams featuring Bob Berg and Mrs. Cook, people from my life in the 60s, while at the Roy Rogers cabin.  Photos of the Republic Studios cowboy great decorated the wall.
Last week our group of five enjoyed a one night stay in the historic cabins, only a few blocks from Evans Plunge which was not open when I wanted to go. 
Hot Springs also features a “historic” movie theater and given more time I would have seen “GI Joe” there.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

"Bunny O'Hare is Stinko Romcom For Seniors

The much anticipated TV showing Friday of the 1971 American International romantic comedy “Bunny O’Hare” will be remembered for Academy award winning actress Bette Davis’ closing statement:  “”Eff ‘em.  Let’s go to Mexico.”  Thus did Ms. Davis comment to another Academy award winner and her co-star in “Catered Affair,” Ernest Borgnine.  The closing statement refers to her bank-robbing efforts on behalf of her selfish idiot adult children. 
In this later career effort, Davis portrays a widow who has lost her home to a heartless bank and Borgnine is a convicted robber.  She seeks revenge. Romance blooms with the senior citizens on the road robbing banks and on a motorcycle.
Esteemed stage actor Jack Cassidy appears in this inept face as a sexist bumbling cop who does a Maxwell Smart shtick.  All the leads interact with counter culture hippies who applaud any attempts to undermine capitalism.  No doubt this was a script device to draw the young to the drive-in for a romantic movie about wild senior citizens.
Fans of end-of-career movies of talented actors will either weep or snicker at this forgettable film.  It had been reported that Davis sued AIP to prevent the release of Bunny and AIP sued Davis.  It is rarely shown on TV and is not available on DVD or VHS.  I am no fan of romcoms so this may be as good as it gets for that genre, “Admission” included.
When asked about Joan Crawford in Republic’s “Johnny Guitar,” Ms. Davis was reported to comment, “I hear it’s a real stinker.”  Some will disagree but there can be little doubt that Crawford in “Trog” and Davis in Bunny are not reminiscent of their Golden Age days at Warner Bros. or RKO in the 1940s.
Fans of romantic bank robbing couples would be well advised to obtain the 1949 Monogram United Artist classic “Gun Crazy,” a title apropro to today’s headlines.  Peggy Cummins and John Dahl are the Bonnie and Clyde  heroes and spark sexuality in this riveting classic drama directed by Joseph Lewis.

A SAD WEEK FOR FANS with the passing of Annette Funicello and Jonathan Winters.  Ms. Annette should have stayed on the beach with Frankie and the rest of the beach party gang making Mr. Avalon jealous by making eyes at John Ashley.  A photo of me at the beach where “Beach Blanket Bingo” was filmed appears on Facebook, that dysfunctional mess. 
Mr. Winters is best remember for his campy Grandma Maude Fricke routine with many suggestive double entendres on the Tonight Show with Jack Parr.  Many a night I stayed up for the Grandma.  Winters stole the show in the 60s black comedy “The Loved One” in dual roles.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Documentary is Real Life American Horror Story

In the recent documentary “Queen of Versailles,” the time share scheme king David Siegel rises to fabulous wealth in Florida then sinks into financial despair with the 2008 Wall Street implosion.  By the end of the film Siegel, 74,  is surrounded by dog poop on the floor and a house full of his small children by his third wife, a 40-something cartoonish grotesque who says she will have to see the documentary to find out how the family's fortunes were reversed.

 Siegel “made his own bed” and now is sleeping in the mess, dog poop and all.  At the start of the film he boasts that through illegal means he helped George W get elected president, but he can’t talk about it.

The centerpiece of this real life drama is an unfinished 90,000 square foot home he was building for the family in Orlando that became a white elephant when his financial house of cards fell apart.  Maybe it’s a homeless shelter now.

This is a real American story that will turn the stomachs of some viewers and coincidentally it takes place in Florida where recently a man in his bedroom was sucked into a 60 foot deep sink hole in Tampa.  The Siegels created their own sink hole.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Very Artsy "Anna Karenena" Not a Sizzling Success

Anna is “just a girl who can’t say no” and Count Vronsky is a boy “whose got what it takes and knows how to use it” in the new fun-filled version of “Anna Karenena.”  All the majesty of Imperial Russia dazzles before your eyeballs in scenes that resemble classic paintings.
A very middle aged Jude Law with receding hairline back to his tukus plays the politician husband.  (I didn’t get that is was Jude who was the husband until halfway through this two-hour movie.  He’s no longer the hottie we remember in “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
The movie is entirely too long and the 40’s London Film version with Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson is more to the point:  Annie is a slut and the husband a self-centered ugly old politician who you hate.
Glad I didn’t spend $8 to see it at the theater.  A remake with Tina Fey and Chaning Tatum would be most welcome with Bela Lugosi digitalized as the husband.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Admission" Movie Is Confusing, Too Long

“Admission” was previewed here last night starring Tina Fey, Paul Rudd and Lily Tomlin who has such a new look that it took me much of the movie to recognize her. Cosmetic surgery is great.
Public radio is interviewing Miss Fey now without making any critical comments on “Admission” which I thought was too long with a confusing plot about illegitimate births and college admission. 
The politics of decision-making by college admission officers in judging the worth of prospective students is disturbing and much too long.  The movie ends in confusion and boredom. 
Given the convoluted judgment calls on student admission at Princeton University, revealed here,  students would be well advised to consider Boise State University which has a better football team.
I think all of the actors in this movie would be well advised to seek better scripts in the future.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Deep Blue Sea, Bunny Lake From Britian

Yesterday I was reunited with the adult British film “The Deep Blue Sea” which I hadn’t seen since I was 15 in Spokane’s stately State Theater as a second feature with mom and dad.  One scene which has haunted me for years is when Vivien Leigh contemplates suicide by putting coins in a gas heater (which is a very British thing).  This London Film deals with adultery and also features Kenneth More.  Advertising for the movie advises “not suitable for children” although there was no nudity.  No doubt Julia Ormond created her Vivien look in “My Week with Marilyn” after seeing this film.

Also from Great Britain is the wonderfully twisted 1965 film noir “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Laurence Olivier, Carol Lynley and Keir Dullea.  Almost from the start there is a sense of impending doom where a toddler disappears in a crowded bedlam like day school.   Subsequent scenes in the dark basement of  a doll shop and on city streets add to the nightmare.  British playwright and actor Noel Coward adds to the creepiness as the demented landlord in this Otto Preminger film.  Martita Hunt is great as the daffy head mistress of the school.  It’s a must see for film noir fans.  Cable TV subscribers can see it next month on TCM.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Kim Novak, Noel Coward Found Painting Joy

(Coward photo shown from Jamaica.)  Kim Novak couldn’t stop the tears when she spoke last night on TCM about her paintings that she hopes to display at a public showing soon.  Novak, 80, found tremendous pleasure in painting in the solitude of rural Oregon life which she shares with her husband, a veterinarian.  She had kind thoughts about Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn and Alfred Hitchcock.  She regrets that she wasn’t more assertive when it came to choosing movie scripts.  Her father was a cold fish and also bipolar as is she.  Her told her he loved her on the day he died.  I found the interview disturbing but worthwhile.
It helped to have seen the restored “Vertigo” the night before the Novak interview.
Another celebrity who found joy in painting was writer, actor Noel Coward whose paintings can be seen at his home and burial place, Firefly, near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, where I visited with friends in late February.  The Coward home was a rich experience that apparently only British visitors favor.  I was lucky to have seen the BBC documentary, Noel Coward in Jamaica, before I went on this tour. Some of his fabulous life is on display at Firefly including his paintings and photos which such theater greats as Gertrude Lawrence, Lottie Lenya and Lionel Bart.