Quote of the Day postsMonday June 15, 2009
Now That's Good Writin': Kehr on Lemmon
"In a career that spanned almost 50 years Jack Lemmon was seldom a soothing presence. Sweaty, stammering and hyperactive, Lemmon seemed to embody the countertype of the monumental, granite-jawed leading men of the 1950s — stars like John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck.
"Where Peck, for example, seemed to embody the World War II squadron leader slipping into middle age and forced to operate on the unfamiliar corporate battlefields of Madison Avenue (“The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit”), Lemmon was the junior officer eagerly polishing the brass of his superiors (in his Oscar-winning supporting performance in “Mister Roberts”), a tactic he queasily carried with him into the business world (“The Apartment”). Lemmon’s recurring predicament is that of the desperate conformist who ultimately discovers that conformity comes at too high a price."
—Dave Kehr in his NY Times article, "Everyman, Tempted" about a new Jack Lemmon DVD collection
"Free, White and 21"
James Allen: Must you go home?
Helen: There are no musts in my life. I'm free, white and 21."
—from "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" (1932). The Worldwide Dubya isn't much help with the phrase. One assumes it was a semi-common, possibly regional (i.e., southern) comment back in the day, but I don't see any specific reference to it before this film—which, I should add, includes a lot of black actors in roles that, while mostly non-speaking, aren't too embarrassing for the time. The line subsequently wound up in a few other films from the era: "Dames" (1935) and "Kitty Foyle" (1940). It also became the title of indie movie from 1963 about an African American on trial for the rape of a white woman.
Now That's Good Writing: Denby on “Up”
“Up,” which begins in the nineteen-thirties, is steeped in the style of that period, with its gee-whiz appreciation of exotic adventure and its worship of heroes who have journeyed to strange, distant places. A little boy, Carl, watches newsreels at a theatre, and sees an explorer, Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), first celebrated then humiliated: no one believes the skeleton of a large flightless bird that Muntz has brought back from South America is authentic. When Carl leaves the theatre, he imagines the newsreel narrator describing his walk home, turning his stepping over a crack in the sidewalk into a vault over a canyon. It’s a gracious moment: the co-directors, Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, who also wrote the screenplay, pay affectionate tribute to daydreaming as a noble and necessary human activity. In dreams begin responsibilities, and in dreams begin movies, too.
—David Denby on “Up” in the June 8th New Yorker. Read on and discover why Denby feels Pixar at its best is better than Disney at its best.
...And he's only 54
“In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, [John] Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.”
—Jeffrey Toobin in his New Yorker article “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” Worth reading in its entirety. I was a little perplexed that we got this now, rather than at the end of June when the decisions in the more controversial Supreme Court cases are announced. And the end of the piece is a little weak, particularly for Toobin, who's such a good writer. But worth reading, and considering, as the more vocal part of the conservative nation picks-a-little, talks-a-little about Pres. Obama's recent U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
The Do-Little Academy
"The Academy Awards race was hardly a gentleman's game in the 1960s. If campaigning was less costly and public than in more recent years, it wasn't due to a sense of decorum as much as to the fact that the Academy itself was half the size it is today, much more heavily populated with rank-and-file studio employees, and thus easier to manipulate and control. Oscar prognostication was not yet a blood sport; each year, the movies that would be the subject of campaigns were selected by their studios, and then essentially dictated to selected gossip columnists and writers from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and the Los Angeles Times, the only major publications that then took much notice of the nominating process."
— from Mark Harris' "Pictures at a Revolution," pg. 385