Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 2016 Fishing Tournament at Bush Lake

With the temperature in the high 50s, I headed to Bush Lake for the Fishing Tournament where thin ice warnings didn’t keep spectators and SUVS off the lake.  Later in the week it will be back in the ‘30s.  (2/27/16)


Friday, February 19, 2016

Big Eyes, Trumbo

I was in Frisco in June 1962 visiting Jan and Alan in Oakland when the Walter Keane big eyes “art” was the buzz up and down Market Street.
“Big Eyes” is a gaze at ‘60s sexism, co-dependent relationships and old fashioned American hucksterism.  Amy Adams is quite convincing as the Stepford wife Margaret married to Walter Keane who is a clownish charlatan as played by Chris Waltz.
In the interviews on the DVD, director Tim Burton discusses good vs bad art and compares the Keanes to goofy movie director Ed Wood who is immortalized in an earlier Burton film that I adore.  In a revealing aside, Burton reveals that he cast Kristen Ritter in a supporting role because she looks like Barbara Steele, who was the “queen of gothic horror” in Mario Bava and Roger Corman ‘60s AIP movies.  Burton can’t help himself.  He must have been influenced by the horror kings on late night TV as a kid like we all were.

Like a Frank Capra story, the little guy stands up to the power elite and reclaims his good name before the curtain drops.  And the crowd at Minneapolis’ Riverview Theater applauded last night as the credits rolled.  The movie was appropriate for today’s events that feature billionaires, big banks and a seriously diminished middle class.
The hero is Dalton Trumbo who was uncooperative with the House Unamerican Activities Committee in the late 1940s so he was put behind bars.  The villains include the venomous Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper brilliantly portrayed by Helen Mirren as an anti semitic snake out to destroy the pinko/red script writers.  
Other heroes include actor Kirk Douglas, director Otto Preminger and B movie producer Franklin King played by John Goodman who threatens a Congressional investigator with a baseball bat.  The movie short changes the accolades that should be showered on Trumbo’s script for the King Brothers’ Monogram film noir “Gun Crazy” and the Kings’ “The Brave One” that earned Trumbo an Oscar under a pseudonym.

These melodramas where we can cheer for the downtrodden and boo the villains are best seen communally by the like-minded in a mid century modern setting like the historic Riverview.  I am glad I could have been there for the fun.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Girl Most Likely and Best Little Whore House

When I first saw “The Girl Most Likely” in 1957 at Spokane’s State Theater, who knew it would take 58 years before I would own a copy.  The DVD arrived this past week and it was worth the wait for Gower Champion’s choreography and Jane Powell vocals in RKO’s last movie at 790 Gower St.  
When I sat at the same picnic table with Jane and Louis Nye at NBC in 1963 I wisely didn’t butt in to compliment her on “Girl” but the water ballet, “Balboa,” is super.  (Jane must have been rehearsing a Vegas act.)
Now I am starting a campaign to get Universal to release on DVD “The Second Greatest Sex,” a western musical with George Nader, Jeanne Craine and Mamie VanDoren. I saw that at the Riverside in Spokane.  It has a good cast.
Elsewhere … the campy Mexican horror movies, “Brainiac” and “The Vampire’s Coffin” on Netflix are worth a few laughs, particularly the monster with the paper mache mask in “Brainiac.”

BLOOMINGTON —  “Too much cussin’,” opined the matron next to me Sunday at Artistry’s “Best Little Whore House in Texas” staging with a spirited group of “college football players” doing a Texas line dance that looked like clogging or tap dance.  Kudos to Tyrone Russell the lead college boy and director Joe Chvala for this memorable moment in an otherwise forgettable 1978 Tommy Tune Broadway musical.
Remiscent of Ted Cruz as a Texas windbag politician was Hazen Markoe as the mayor and Senator Wingwoah, also inspired by the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.
The Texas line dance was such a smash that it was reprised during the curtain call by much of the ensemble.  Those who left during the curtain call missed a lot of fun.

Kudos to Jim Pounds as Sheriff Ed Earl, a good ole boy no doubt inspired by Dukes of Hazard.  Anita Ruth on the honky tonk piano provided the right notes to make us believe we were at the notorious Chicken Ranch where Texans played when they weren’t at the local Baptist church.