Saturday 24 February 2018

The future of education...

I swiped this from Steve Hoffman's Twitter...

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Re-shooting The Big Sleep

Mystery of 'The Big Sleep' Solved

William Grimes
The New York Times
9 January 1997

Some film classics are born. Others are made. ''The Big Sleep,'' Howard Hawks's classic mystery starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, falls into the second category.

The 1946 film that audiences have known and loved is actually a revised version of an unreleased ''Big Sleep'' that was made in late 1944 and early 1945 and left forgotten in the Warner Brothers vaults for nearly half a century.

The original film was discovered several years ago by Bob Gitt, the preservation officer of the Film and Television Archive at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The revised film, which was cut to accommodate 18 minutes of new material, ran 114 minutes, making it 2 minutes shorter than the 1945 version of the Chandler story. It played up the glamour and sex appeal of Ms. Bacall by adding more of the saucy back-and-forth between her and Bogart that audiences had loved in her first film, ''To Have and Have Not'' (1944). It also added a scene between Bogart and Martha Vickers, who plays Ms. Bacall's sex-crazed sister, Carmen.

To make room for the added Bogart-Bacall material, Hawks cut an important scene, more than nine minutes long, in which Bogart and Regis Toomey review the facts of the case for the district attorney and a police detective. As a result, the 1946 version of the film has always confounded viewers trying to figure out the plot. ''The 1946 version is definitely a more enigmatic film, and there's more of Lauren Bacall in it,'' said the critic Leonard Maltin. ''The original is more linear, a bit clearer and somehow a little less intriguing. Stylistically it's less exotic.''

Mr. Maltin saw the original film in July when it was shown for the first time since 1945 at the Festival of Preservation, an annual event organized by the University of California Film and Television Archive.

The road from ''Big Sleep I'' to ''Big Sleep II'' is a twisted one. The original version was ready for release in March 1945, when historical events and the iron will of Ms. Bacall's agent, Charles K. Feldman, intervened.

''With World War II coming to a close, Warner Brothers was concerned that films with wartime themes would be dated, so they rushed them into release,'' said Mr. Gitt. One such film was ''Confidential Agent,'' Ms. Bacall's second film, which was put ahead of ''The Big Sleep'' on the studio's release schedule. Unfortunately, the film was a failure that put her career in jeopardy.

''She was universally panned,'' said Mr. Gitt. ''The critics said the acting was wooden and that she was miscast.''

In November 1945, Feldman, who represented Ms. Bacall and Hawks, wrote to Jack Warner, the head of Warner Brothers, urging him to reshoot several Bacall scenes in ''The Big Sleep,'' especially her entrance, in which her face was hidden by a heavy black veil.

''Give the girl at least three or four additional scenes with Bogart of the insolent and provocative nature that she had in 'To Have and Have Not,' he wrote. Feldman added a warning: ''Bear in mind, Jack, that if the girl receives the same type of reviews and criticisms on 'The Big Sleep,' which she definitely will receive unless changes are made, you might lose one of your most important assets.''

Warner agreed, halted release of the film and ordered a reshoot, although the 1945 film was shown to American servicemen stationed overseas, who customarily saw Hollywood films before the general public. In February 1946, Warner watched a sneak preview of the new version, which ''comes off great,'' he wrote in a wire to the studio's New York executives. ''In my opinion we have a 100 percent better film,'' he added.

The new, sharpened Bacall scenes worked magic. ''It's not that the role expanded or that there's more depth to it,'' said Mr. Maltin. ''She has a couple more good scenes with Bogart. It's as simple as that.''

Sharp-eyed viewers will notice several other changes. In the 1945 version, when Bogart returns to the Sternwood house holding the semiconscious Carmen, he has a conversation with the butler; in the 1946 version, the scene plays between Bogart and Ms. Bacall. In the film's final scene, in the hideout of the gangster Eddie Mars, Mars's wife, played by Peggy Knudsen in the 1946 version, is played by Patricia Clarke in the earlier version.

Mr. Gitt, meanwhile, continues to rummage. ''It's always interesting what you find in studio vaults,'' he said.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Indians playing table tennis between Wild West Shows

Photographed by John C. Hemment, 108 Fulton St., New York (1901?)

Friday 16 February 2018

Dead Poets Society #67 d.a. levy: the suburban prophets

the suburban prophets by d. a. levy

for R.D.D.

oh its an easy cool
that roling of long grass lawn tranquility
and long grass philosophy
sounds almost as absurd
as suburban hipsters
smoking long grass
like panama red while subtly discussing
plato ouspensky sartre or zen
putting it down
its easy
from the long grass lands &
from the long grass lands
'everything is good'

"everything is good"
in the land of shad trees
"Everything is God"
"the universe is one"
walking in the long grass lands with flowers
within reach of quiet hands

"You bet motherfucker,
let me tell you about
the satori i had last week!"
in the suburbs
its easy
to remember
golden rules & golden days
& god is good even tho non-existent
its a good world in the suburban long grass
you can watch the grass grow
& smell progress in the open sky
and its easy to forget
across the city
are streets of hunger
and that suburban tranquility
doesnt feed those hungry streets
and that suburban tranquility
doesnt mean a good fuck
on suburban lawns

its easy to think there
are jobs for everyone
when youve got one

its easy to quote lau tzu
when yr wife inst on the streets
and dont have to dodge the
welfare children

its an easy cool
laying on the quiet suburban lawn grass
"in tune with the universe"

and its like smoking long grass
panama red
you just slip into
an easy forgetting
and its easy to forget
some men are starving
and some men with guns…

Wednesday 14 February 2018

John Gavin RIP

Image result for john gavin psycho
John Gavin, 'Psycho' and 'Spartacus' actor who became ambassador to Mexico, dead at 86

Associated Press
LA Times
9 February 2018

John Gavin, the tall, strikingly handsome actor who appeared in "Spartacus," "Psycho" and other hit films of the 1960s before becoming President Reagan's ambassador to Mexico, has died at age 86.

Gavin, a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, died Friday, said Brad Burton Moss, manager of Gavin's wife, actress Constance Towers. Moss did not provide the cause of death.

After appearances in a handful of 1950s B-movies, Gavin's breakthrough came in 1958 when he landed the lead role of a World War II German soldier in "A Time to Love and a Time to Die."

The film was based on an Erich Maria Remarque novel, and Universal Studios, having won an Academy Award in 1930 with its adaptation of Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front," was hoping lightning would strike again.

With a postwar audience hungering for escapism, however, it didn't happen, and neither the film nor its leading man fared well with critics.

The New York Herald Tribune found Gavin "a very personable young actor, remarkably unpretentious and quite lacking in mannerisms," while gossip columnist Hedda Hopper wrote, "He is handsome and has a silken sort of threat which gives women chills up and down the spine." Others dismissed Gavin, with The New York Times calling him "a good-looking, awkward young man" with a dull delivery.

Universal didn't lose faith, however, starring him opposite Lana Turner in a remake of the soap opera "Imitation of Life" the following year. Then came the role of Janet Leigh's divorced lover, Sam Loomis, in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic "Psycho."

Gavin's performance, though, was overshadowed by those of Leigh as the tentative, frightened thief who steals $40,000 to keep their romance together and by Anthony Perkins as the psychotic owner of the Bates Motel where she seeks shelter on her way to meet her lover.

Gavin went on to make a flurry of films over the next two years, playing Julius Caesar in "Spartacus," appearing opposite Susan Hayward in "Back Street," Sandra Dee in Peter Ustinov's Shakespearean spoof "Romanoff and Juliet" and again with Dee in "Tammy Tell Me True."

His career began to wane by the end of the 1960s, and a minor role in the 1967 musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie," starring Julie Andrews, marked the end of his association with Universal.

He made a few other films and appeared on such TV shows as "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat" and "Hart to Hart," but he was already on the road to another profession, diplomacy.

Unlike some who win ambassadorships as political favors and are sent to countries they know little about, Gavin arrived in Mexico in 1981 well equipped for the job. His father had invested in the country's mines, and ancestors of his Mexican-born mother were among California's first Spanish settlers. Gavin had often visited Mexico in his youth and was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

While in the Navy in the early 1950s, he served in Panama as Pan-American affairs officer to the Navy commandant, and during a lull in his acting career he was appointed special advisor to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States. His assignment was to promote President Kennedy's Alliance for Progress to help Latin American countries improve their economies.

He had also become friends with Reagan when both were actors at Universal, and their friendship continued when Gavin became president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1961, a position Reagan had previously held.

When Reagan appointed Gavin ambassador, he cited the political turbulence in Latin America and quipped, "If you're not attacked at least once a month, I'll feel you're not doing your job."

Born John Golenor on April 8, 1931, in Los Angeles, Gavin attended Stanford University and served in the Navy. He was unsure about a career path until a family friend, producer Bryan Foy, suggested he try acting.

Although he had studied drama at Stanford and made a few appearances on TV and in the theater, he played that down during his screen test with Universal.

"Probably if I told the studio I had come out of the Stanford drama school, done a little theater and TV, I wouldn't have had a chance," Gavin said in 1958. "But they seemed intrigued by my lack of credentials."

Soon the studio had given him a new name and seasoned him in such movies as "Raw Edge," "Behind the High Wall" and "Four Girls in Town."

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Monday 12 February 2018

Friday 9 February 2018

Dead Poets Society #66 Harold Norse: We Bumped Off Your Friend The Poet

Image result for harold norse poet

We Bumped Off Your Friend The Poet by Harold Norse
Based on a review by Cyril Connolly, Death in Granada, on the last days of Garcia Lorca,The Sunday Times (London), May 20, 1973

We bumped off your friend the poet
with the big fat head this morning

We left him in a ditch

I fired 2 bullets into his ass
for being queer

I was one of the people
who went to get Lorca
and that’s what I said to Rosales

My name is Ruiz Alonzo
Right-wing deputy
alive and kicking
Falangist to the end

Nobody bothers me
I got protection
The Guardia Civil are my friends

Because he was a poet
was he better than anyone else?

He was a goddamn fag
and we were sick and tired
of fags in Granada

The black assassination squads
kept busy
liquidating professors
doctors lawyers students
like the good old days of the Inquisition!

General Queipo de Llano
had a favorite phrase
“Give him coffee, plenty of coffee!”
When Lorca was arrested

we asked the General what to do

“Give him coffee, plenty of coffee!”

So we took him out in the hills and shot him
I’d like to know what’s wrong with that
He was queer with Leftist leanings

Didn’t he say
I don’t believe in political frontiers?

Didn’t he say
The capture of Granada in 1492
by Ferdinand and Isabella
was a disastrous event?

Didn’t he call Granada a wasteland
peopled by the worst bourgeoisie in Spain?

a queer Communist poet?

General Franco owes me a medal
for putting 2 bullets up his ass

                                                                San Francisco 1973

Wednesday 7 February 2018

John Mahoney RIP

John Mahoney obituary
Actor who starred as Martin Crane, the cantankerous father in the hit US sitcom Frasier

Anthony Hayward
The Guardian
Tuesday 6 Feb 2018

Kelsey Grammer had star billing in the TV series Frasier, which took a character from another hit American sitcom, Cheers, the pretentious psychiatrist Frasier Crane, home to Seattle. There the actor John Mahoney, as Frasier’s cantankerous but charming father, Martin Crane, injected a crucial contrasting dimension into a programme lauded for its witty dialogue.

Mahoney, who has died of complications from throat cancer aged 77, said: “Martin was a great character. I loved him – and so did everybody else. People liked the fact he constantly punctured his two pompous, silly sons.”

Dr Frasier Crane’s plans for a carefree bachelor life on becoming host of a radio phone-in show were thwarted when he had to look after Marty, a widowed policeman forced to retire after being shot during a convenience store robbery. With him came a Jack Russell terrier, Eddie, and a ghastly recliner chair he insisted on installing in his son’s plush designer flat.

Also in the mix was David Hyde Pierce as Frasier’s neurotic brother and a fellow psychiatrist Niles, who pursued Martin’s English carer, Daphne (Jane Leeves), and eventually married her.

Frasier was one of the most popular spin-off sitcoms in television history, screened worldwide and winning 37 Emmy awards during its 11-year run (1993-2004). Mahoney appeared in all 263 episodes.

He was born Charles Mahoney in Blackpool, Lancashire, the seventh of eight children, to Reg, a baker, and Margaret (nee Watson). His pregnant mother had been evacuated there from the family home in Manchester during the first year of the second world war. They returned to Withington when Charles (who later changed his name to John) was three months old and he went to schools there and in Ardwick Green. His ambition to act was fuelled by performances with Stretford children’s theatre, including playing Polonius in Hamlet when he was 12.
Image result for john mahoney
A year earlier, in 1951, he had travelled to Illinois to visit his sister Vera – who had married an American sailor during the war – and the US made such an impression on him that he returned eight years later under her sponsorship.

He was homesick at first but studied at Quincy College, then joined the US army to speed up his application for citizenship before gaining a master’s degree in English from Western Illinois University. After briefly working as a teacher, he became editor of a technical publication, the Journal for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.

In 1979, having studied acting at St Nicholas theatre, Chicago, Mahoney turned professional on being invited by John Malkovich and Gary Sinise to join their fledgling Steppenwolf company in Chicago, which needed actors for older roles, and he continued to perform with it for the rest of his life.

His Broadway debut, as Artie Shaughnessy in John Guare’s comedy The House of Blue Leaves (Plymouth theatre, 1986-87), won him a Tony award. He returned to Broadway two decades later to star as the Old Man in the 2007 revival of Craig Lucas’s romantic comedy Prelude to a Kiss.

Mahoney was seen in many character parts on US TV in the 1980s, then landed starring roles in two dramas before his success in Frasier. He played Chief Patrick Meacham, of the New York City Fire Department, in H.E.L.P. (1990) – with a cast that included David Caruso and Wesley Snipes as police officers – and Dr Alec McMurtry, dedicated to treating patients’ physical and emotional needs at a metropolitan teaching hospital, in The Human Factor (1992). He also had a guest role as an inept jingle writer in a 1992 episode of Cheers, set in a bar in Boston where “everybody knows your name”.

Later, he played Walter Barnett, a business executive prone to panic attacks who consults Gabriel Byrne’s psychologist during the second series (2009) of the drama In Treatment. He also played Roy, a waiter in the city adopted by three female entertainment industry veterans, during two runs (2011 and 2014) of the sitcom Hot in Cleveland.

Mahoney’s film breakthrough came with the part of Moe Adams, Richard Dreyfuss’s hospitalised mentor, in the comedy Tin Men (1987), directed by Barry Levinson. His subsequent roles included the manager of the corrupt White Sox baseball team, Kid Gleason, in Eight Men Out (1988), and Ione Sky’s embezzling father in Say Anything (1989), directed by Cameron Crowe. His performance drew the critic Roger Ebert to write: “This actor can be as convincingly nice as anyone in the movies. He exudes decency. That quality is right for this role, in which we learn that there is a great deal Diane doesn’t know about her father.”

The Coen Brothers chose Mahoney for the role of WP Mayhew in Barton Fink (1992) because of his resemblance to William Faulkner. Both Faulkner and Mayhew were heavy drinkers and writers who later worked in the film business. Mahoney also voiced Grebs in DreamWorks’ 1998 animated film Antz.

His final screen appearance, in 2015, was his first in a British TV drama – Foyle’s War, as an ailing, bed-bound former Texas oil tycoon.

• John Mahoney (Charles Mahoney), actor, born 20 June 1940; died 4 February 2018