January 20, 1929: In Old Arizona

I give the talkies six months more. At the most a year. Then they’re done.

Charlie Chaplin, 1931

 

 

 

The things you find on YouTube.  Ninety-years ago the movie In Old Arizona was released.  The first full length “talkie” filmed outdoors, it featured the O. Henry character The Cisco Kid and was based on the O. Henry short story The Caballero’s Way.  The film was a hit, helping to establish that “talkies” were not just a fad, and the now forgotten Warner Baxter would receive the best actor Oscar for his rendition of The Cisco Kid.  In the Thirties he would go on to star in a number of films and was at one time the highest paid actor in Hollywood.  He died in 1951 at age 62.  With the passage of years, most fame is indeed fleeting.

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Hal Holbrook on Playing Lincoln

 

Hal Holbrook starred in a miniseries back in 1974 where he played Lincoln.  The series was based on Carl Sandburg’s romantic, if dubious historically, take on Lincoln in his Pulitzer winning biography.  The episodes in the miniseries do not tell the entire life of Lincoln, but rather focus on vignettes from Lincoln as a young lawyer up to his years as President.  The series had its moments, Holbrook being an actor of considerable ability, but I chiefly remember it for the makeup job of Holbrook as Lincoln:

 

It simply didn’t work for me.  It struck me as fake looking, although I admit that your mileage may vary.  A decade later Holbrook would portray Lincoln in the soap operish look at the War in North and South, and I thought the makeup was much better done:

 

 

 

Playing an historical figure who has become a national icon is rough, and especially so with Lincoln who had a strikingly unique appearance and mannerisms, and who lived before the time of audio or film recording.  It is no wonder that efforts to capture the man on stage or on film so often meet with negative or mixed results.

Published in: on January 16, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Hal Holbrook on Playing Lincoln  
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Star Trek the Music

Something for the weekend:  Star Trek Mega Suite.  Something easy to star off the year, various Star Trek musical themes.

Published in: on January 5, 2019 at 7:37 am  Comments Off on Star Trek the Music  
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Requiescat In Pace: Stan Lee

( I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the comic mavens of Almost Chosen People might be interested in it.)

Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee, passed away today at age 95.  A World War II veteran, Lee  worked for virtually his entire adult life, except for his time in the Army, for Timely Comics, which became Atlas Comics and, by the early sixties, Marvel Comics.  After DC comics, the colossus of the comic book world at the time, met great success with its revival of superheroes in the mid fifties, Lee followed suit in the early sixties, but with a twist.  His superheroes had human frailties and wrestled with the type of problems that normal people deal with.  In short, he made superheroes more realistic.  He understood that such realism made his heroes and heroines more heroic, not less.  His strategy worked, and Marvel unseated DC, which was rather like Avis beating Hertz.  Lee assiduously also developed a loyal fan base.

For the past few decades Lee has not been involved in the operations of Marvel Comics, contenting himself with being the public face of the company and with humorous cameos in the numerous films based on Marvel comic book characters.  His wife of 69 years died last year, and recent stories about him have focused on allegations that his daughter, or others, have been attempting to take advantage of him, the type of very sad conflicts that often seem to surround the very elderly with money. Unlike in comic books, happy endings are not assured in real life.

However, none of this can diminish the entertainment and inspiration that Mr. Lee gave to hundreds of millions over the years, including me during my boyhood.  Excelsior Mr. Lee, and may this quotation now stand you in good stead:

“There is only one who is all powerful, and his greatest weapon is love.”
Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Requiescat In Pace: Stan Lee  
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Death of a Nation: A Review

 

 

I saw Death of a Nation, the latest film of Dinesh  D’Souza, on Saturday with my bride and son.  Overall I was disappointed by it.  The review is below the fold and the caveat as to spoilers is strictly in force.

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Published in: on August 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Death of a Nation: A Review  
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Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace

 

Something for the weekend.  I Say A Little Prayer, sung by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  She died this week at age 76, leaving behind a body of work that will give joy to generations to come, and that is not a bad legacy.

Published in: on August 18, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Aretha Franklin: Requiescat in Pace  
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Sad News

“I’m afraid you have it all wrong, all of you.  I’ve been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion, but he couldn’t. Well, don’t you understand? It’s not the sun up in the sky. It’s the Son of God.”

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, Star Trek, Bread and Circuses episode

 

 

Sad news that actress Nichelle Nichols, at age 85, has been diagnosed with dementia.  Prayers for her and her family.

Published in: on August 13, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Sad News  
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The Untouchables: Death Theme

 

Something for the weekend.  The Death Theme from The Untouchables (1987).  With all the news about Chicago violence this week, my thoughts have turned to this wonderful, albeit ahistorical, movie.  The music by Ennio Morricone is wonderfully evocative of time and place.  The sad and powerful music recalls for me the line from The Lord of The Rings It is a sad thing to be a Man, but it is a proud thing too.

 

Published in: on August 11, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Untouchables: Death Theme  
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The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61souSkwDk4

 

Well that took a while.  I have eagerly anticipated Season Three of the Amazon Prime Series The Man in the High Castle, and it will finally premiere on October 5, 2018.

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

Dick’s novel brings out the contingency of history, a factor overlooked by many people.  History is what has occurred.  While we are living it, making our contribution to what will be the history of our times, we understand that what will be is the result of many factors and predicting the future is a fool’s game.  The past seems rock solid by comparison.  Understanding however the events and circumstances that shaped the past, and also comprehending that different paths could easily have been followed, gives us a different view of the past and the present.    It is one thing to go through life with the philosophy that “what will be, will be” and quite another to appreciate that the future depends upon what we and our contemporaries do now.

Published in: on August 7, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Man in the High Castle Season Three: October 5, 2018  
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The President on the Duke

The things you find on the internet! President Reagan being interviewed in 1988 about John Wayne:

 

Wayne was ever a friend and supporter of Reagan:

 

Published in: on July 12, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The President on the Duke  
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