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Dark Victory

This film is a premake of The Magnificent Ambersons, without that pesky loss of wealth.  Bette Davis plays a fabulously wealthy, arrogant spoiled brat who is fawned over and adored by just about everybody, including Humphrey Bogart, as her lowly, insubordinate, Irish, horse trainer and George Brent, the manly, heroic, saintly, lying, crusading brain surgeon who diagnoses her inoperable brain tumor.  The brat’s comeuppance impends from the very opening moments, and drags its heels maddeningly-slowly through this 104 minute star-vehicle.

Miss Judith’s sad predicament would probably have been far more interesting (to me) if Bogart’s moment of egalitarian honesty with her, late in the plod of the plot, had led to the human revelation of reciprocated carnal tension  —  and Brent were a bit of a charlatan, whose matrimonial intentions really revolved around Judy’s enormous financial inheritance &/or her surprising ample rack — and Ronald Reagan’s affable, uppercrust sot had been mercilessly brutalized by everyone capable of inflicting pain on his ass with spurs, blunt force and cramming innumerable riding crops up his dark victory.

I guess I despise this tale’s conspicuously mythic principles:

  1. The lives of ordinary people are terribly insignificant; in keeping with the indefatigable conceit that inherited wealth makes anybody beautiful, adorable and important.
  2. Never tell the whole truth to a person with a limited lifespan.  (Pssst…that’s everyone, so always bullshit your ass off).
  3. Happiness and virtue reside in prolonged denial.
  4. Irish actors (Brent and Fitzgerald) feign haughty Anglo-American accents, while Bogart needs a plebian brogue for no discernible reason.
  5. Always photograph 31-year-old Davis (playing 23) through focus-softening gauze unless you can pull the camera back to Cleveland.  (Tootsie humor)
  6. The best people die alone, finely and with dignity.

Irrational segue into a brighter vane:  After Top Hat and (even more-particularly) Swingtime, Carefree is an enormously disappointing experimental let-down.

Segue 2:  I read somewhere recently that David Suskind cited The Golden Age of Television as having begun in late 1938.  Most everybody else thinks it started ten to fifteen years later.  I think he meant that Orson, Winston and Adolph demonstrated the unlimited and barely-imagined power of broadcast media to rock the planet with panic, confidence and aspiration.  If I’ve caught his drift correctly, it’s an extremely insightful statement about the crass, commercialization of quality entertainment bent to the proprietary ends of the special interests that own it — who aren’t necessarilly vapid assholes, that’s just the role they’ve actually played in the corruption of TV from the transcendentally teletheatricality of Marty, 12 Angry Men and Patterns to Fox News (which might well be Murrow’s worst nightmare).

17 Jun 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dinner?

Scott —

I’ve set aside time for four supporters like you to join me for dinner.

Most campaigns fill their dinner guest lists primarily with Washington lobbyists and special interests.

We didn’t get here doing that, and we’re not going to start now. We’re running a different kind of campaign. We don’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special-interest PACs — we never have, and we never will.

We rely on everyday Americans giving whatever they can afford — and I want to spend time with a few of you.

So if you make a donation today, you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to be one of the four supporters to sit down with me for dinner. Please donate $75 or more today:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

We’ll pay for your flight and the dinner — all you need to bring is your story and your ideas about how we can continue to make this a better country for all Americans.

This won’t be a formal affair. It’s the kind of casual meal among friends that I don’t get to have as often as I’d like anymore, so I hope you’ll consider joining me.

But I’m not asking you to donate today just so you’ll be entered for a chance to meet me. I’m asking you to say you believe in the kind of politics that gives people like you a seat at the table — whether it’s the dinner table with me or the table where decisions are made about what kind of country we want to be.

It starts with a gift of whatever you can afford.  Please make a donation of $75 today, and we’ll throw your name in the hat for the upcoming dinner:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

I’ve said before that I want people like you to shape this campaign from the very beginning — and this is a chance for four people to share their ideas directly with me.

Hope to see you soon,

Barack

No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on 6/30/11. You may enter by contributing to Sponsor through https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-With-Barack. Alternatively, visit http://my.barackobama.com/Dinner-With-Barack-Alt to enter without contributing. Four winners will each receive the following prize package: one round-trip
ticket within the continental U.S. to a destination to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion; hotel accommodations for one; and dinner with President Obama on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate combined retail value of all prizes $1,075). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States and District of Columbia and 18 or older (or of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official Rules and additional restrictions on eligibility. Visit http://my.barackobama.com/Dinner-Rules for full details, restrictions, and Official Rules. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601.

ONE DAY LATER 16JUN2011:

Scott —

I’ve worked for President Obama for almost five years — but I’ve never actually sat down for dinner with him.

That’s why I’m excited about (and maybe a little jealous of) the opportunity you have to join the President for dinner.  He’s going to sit down and swap stories over a meal with four supporters, and you could be one of them.

You should really give this a shot. Donate $75 or more today to be automatically entered for the chance to sit down for dinner with the President:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

This isn’t going to be a formal affair or a banquet for hundreds of guests.

It’s just you, three other supporters, and President Obama, sitting down together for an evening among friends.

It’s not often you get to talk to the President one on one about your hopes for the country and your ideas for this campaign. So I hope you’ll put your name in the running.

Donate $75 today, and you’ll be automatically entered for the chance to claim your seat the table:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

Good luck,

Julianna

Julianna Smoot
Deputy Campaign Manager Obama for America

18JUN2011

Scott —

Since we launched our “Dinner with Barack” contest on Wednesday, we’ve been getting asked a lot: “Is this for real?”

Yes, it is.

President Obama is really going to sit down with four supporters for dinner. And if you donate to support this campaign before 11:59 p.m. on June 30th, you’ll be automatically entered for the chance to be one of those guests.

Make a $75 donation today:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

We’re able to put on a contest like this because this campaign isn’t like other campaigns.

The organization we’re building across the country is for supporters like you to help shape. And unlike ones that count on special-interest PACs and Washington lobbyists to foot their bills, we rely on support from grassroots donors like you. So I’m asking you to own a piece of the campaign — and when you do, you’ll get a shot at a once-in-lifetime opportunity to have dinner with the President:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

Thanks,

Rufus

Rufus Gifford
National Finance Director
Obama for America

21JUN2011 6:52 AM

Scott —

The President and I have a routine — we get lunch together almost every Friday.  But all I get is lunch. You could be one of four supporters to have dinner with him soon.

Donate $75 or more today to have your name automatically thrown in the hat here:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner-with-Barack

I’m reminded every week that sitting down for a meal with the President of the United States — without TV cameras or a big crowd — is something only a few people will ever get to do.

You’re not going to want to miss this chance.

I wish you luck,

Joe (Biden)

No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on 6/30/11. You may enter by contributing to Sponsor here. Alternatively, click here to enter without contributing. Four winners will each receive the following prize package: one round-trip ticket within the continental U.S. to a destination to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion; hotel accommodations for one; and dinner with President Obama on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate combined retail value of all prizes $1,075). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States and District of Columbia and 18 or older (or of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official Rules and additional restrictions on eligibility. Click here for full details, restrictions, and Official Rules. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601.

Given the eccentricity of my crackpot ideas, they’d probably send me to dinner at Gitmo.

30JUN2011

Scott —

If you’re planning on donating to this campaign at any point in the next 16 months, you should do it now.

Tonight at midnight is not just your last chance to enter the “Dinner with Barack and Joe” contest, it’s also a hugely important fundraising deadline for this campaign — the first time we’ll report on our progress to the public and the press.

The next few hours are critical for us. Please donate $75 or more today:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner

Come next fall, people might not remember this date — or make the connection between the strength of our campaign then and the steps we took in these early months.
But anyone worth their salt in politics knows tonight is one of the most important tests we’ll face as a campaign this year. Let’s hit it out of the park.

Thanks,

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager Obama for America

No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on 6/30/11. You may enter by contributing to Sponsor here. Alternatively, click here to enter without contributing. Four winners will each receive the following prize package: one round-trip ticket within the continental U.S. to a destination to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion; hotel accommodations for one; and dinner with President Obama on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate combined retail value of all prizes $1,075). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States and District of Columbia and 18 or older (or of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official Rules and additional restrictions on eligibility. Click here for full details, restrictions, and Official Rules. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601

and at 15:30

Scott —

I wanted to say thank you before the midnight deadline passes. And I’m looking forward to thanking four of you in person over dinner sometime soon. If you haven’t thrown your name in the hat yet, make a donation of $75 or more before midnight tonight — you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to be one of our guests.
https://donate.barackobama.com/Dinner
More soon,
Barack
No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on 6/30/11. You may enter by contributing to Sponsor here. Alternatively, click here to enter without contributing. Four winners will each receive the following prize package: one round-trip ticket within the continental U.S. to a destination to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion; hotel accommodations for one; and dinner with President Obama on a date to be determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion (approximate combined retail value of all prizes $1,075). Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States and District of Columbia and 18 or older (or of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official Rules and additional estrictions on eligibility. Click here for full details, restrictions, and Official Rules. Sponsor: Obama for America, 130 E. Randolph St., Chicago, IL 60601.

 

 

02JUL2011

Scott —

I know we’ve been asking a lot of you.  In the first major test of this campaign, you delivered.

More than 475,000 people decided to own a piece of this campaign in just our first quarter — a promising sign of what’s to come if we all stay focused and work together.

We’ll be in touch with more information as we continue to crunch the numbers. But for now, I wanted to pass along a quick video I think you’ll like.

If you missed it, the President held a press conference earlier this week. The last few minutes were really something special. It’s a good reminder of why we’re fighting so hard to get him re-elected:

Watch the President give a nice reminder of what we're fighting forhttp://my.barackobama.com/Thank-You

Thanks again. Hope you have a great holiday weekend.

Messina

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

26SEP2011

 

Scott —

Here’s something you don’t have in common with 140 other supporters of this movement who tell us they live in Foster City, CA.

That many of your neighbors have decided to own a piece of this campaign by making a donation of whatever they could afford. For some, that meant just $5. For others, it meant $100 or more. But each had their own personal reason for giving.

Our records show that you aren’t one of the 140 people where you’re from who have stepped up for 2012. Now’s your chance to change that.

Make a donation of $25 or more today to support the campaign before the critical September 30th deadline.

Here’s why you should join your neighbors in supporting this campaign: We’ve been running the numbers, and with hundreds of thousands of individual donors across the country — we are now well on our way to a million people.

In the 2008 campaign, it took us more than a year to reach that milestone. This time around, we could cross it as soon as October — just six months after the launch of the campaign.

Between now and then, we have an important fundraising deadline.

Our opponents have significant operations on the ground in key battleground states, full-time candidates without day jobs, and a lot of media attention to fuel their campaigns.

President Obama has you. And when you’re building a grassroots organization from the bottom up, the first person gets the next one involved. And the first 140 provide the foundation and inspiration for the next 140.

Support the campaign before the deadline, and bring us closer to one million donors — give $25 today:

https://donate.barackobama.com/One-in-a-Million

Thank you,

Messina

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

15 Jun 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reginald Rose Likes To Stir Fans

The Velvet Alley DVD includes commercials and an end bit promoting viewership of next week’s episode of Playhouse 90,  A Quiet Game of Cards.   In this trailer, the contemplative faces of William Bendix, E.G. Marshall, Gary Merrill, Barry Sullivan and Franchot Tone are seen filling the screen, one-by-one, individually as no one speaks, but each man’s thoughts are spoken as they sit quietly around the card table, utterly immersed in thought.  Untalking heads?  Visual media isn’t supposed to be any damned good at that, I was, nonetheless, absolutely riveted.  Curious about an engaging show I may never get to see, I found these two unrelated articles in a pdf of a newspaper page this morning:

By Steven H. Scheuer for the Herald Statesman (Yonkers, N.Y.) 12May1959

http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2010/Yonkers%20NY%20Herald%20Statesman/Yonkers%20NY%20Herald%20Statesman%201959%20Grayscale/Yonkers%20NY%20Herald%20Statesman%201959%20Grayscale%20-%203340.pdf

While writer Reginald Rose’ A Marriage of Strangers, starring Red Buttons and Diana Lynn on Playhouse 90, Thursday may not stir up fans as much as his previous effort on 90, A Quiet Game of Cards, Rose thinks it will shake them up a bit.  As mentioned before in this column, A Marriage of Strangers is an expanded version of Studio One’s Three Empty Rooms done several years ago.  Rose then wrote a full-length screenplay of it for RKO, only to have the studio go out of business.  So the screenplay, with new acts, becomes TV fare again.  A Marriage of Strangers concerns two lonely people in New York who meet through a friendship club and marry, and together try to overcome their loneliness.  In the original Three Empty Rooms, the story took place as the couple, just married move into an empty apartment.  In this script the couple meet, get to know a little about each other, marry, and then face the problems in joint housekeeping.  Actors Enthusiastic  Actors in Rose plays are enthusiastic over their parts – they have meat to work with for a change – and Red Buttons is following the pattern.  “Red and I flew out together,” said Reginald, speaking softly in a dark, dark Hollywood restaurant which had a fake gas log flickering away in the fireplace.  “I showed him the cuts and revisions on the script and, by the time we landed, Red said he had the first act in hand.  He’s quite enthusiastic about the part.”

Same holds true for Barry Sullivan and Franchot Tone, who are still talking about their roles in A Quiet Game of Cards two months ago.  “Sullivan even wants to do it on Broadway,” added Rose.  Rose received bundles of mail on A quiet Game of Cards, a tale of a group of successful businessmen who decide to murder for the thrill and benefit of the community, and pick out a good man as their target. “We got a reaction all right,” said Rose.  “Some people thought it was one of the best TV plays they’d seen, others vehemently complained that it was immoral.”  Rose plays like Thunder at Sycamore Corner and 12 Angry Men bring fans out of their lethargy and to their writing desks.  “I think fans like to be aroused,” said Rose mildly.  He likes to jab at them, but writes to please  himself first of all.

He then told about a controversial series he and writer Rod Serling, together with producer Worthington Miner, participated in.  “We came out to the Bel Air Hotel and sat in our rooms for four days  dreaming up outlines for the proposed series.  We ended up with 39 subjects and many script outlines where we presented two sides of an issue.  We had one on loyalty oaths in which a school bus driver refused to sign, figuring that if he were honest, he should be proved dishonest.  He is fired, and then the kids strike on his side.

“We had one on divorce and another on free speech.  I’d come across a fact about Benjamin Franklin, of all people, banning the press while representatives of the 13 colonies in 1789 were drafing the Constitution, thus avoiding the power and forces of each colony’s special interest.”  Needless to say the series never saw the light again. Brave sponsors are not to be found.  Meanwhile Rose spends six mornings a week at his desk writing.  His 12 Angry Men will appear on Broadway in  the fall and he also has another play in the works.

Hoover Asks Publicity About Young Hoodlums

WASHINGTON D.C. — FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover says it’s time to start getting tougher with young hoodlums.  “We can no longer afford to let ‘tender age’ make, plunder into a trifling prank, reduce mayhem to a mischievous
act and pass off murder as a boyish misdemeanor.”  Hoover told Congress.  Hoover, who was named chief of the G-men just 35 years ago Sunday, recently gave his views on juvenile delinquency and other matters to the House Appropriations Committee. The testimony was made public Sunday.

In other subjects, Hoover said:  1. There have been 108 bombings or attempted bombings having a racial or religious aspect since the start of 1957. Twelve have involved schools, 16 had churches as targets and the other 80 involved private homes, amusement places, business establishments and other places.  2. The railroad industry in recent months has been singled out as one of the primary targets for Communist penetration. Other recent Communist party activities, he added, include efforts to infiltrate Negro and labor groups to create agitation, and confusion.  In his testimony on juveniles,  Hoover said figures for 1957 show that only 3.3 per cent of youths under eighteen were arrested.  This indicates, he said, “that about 97 per cent are growing up to be decent Americans and who resent, I think, very strongly, the unfavorable publicity that comes to them as juveniles due to the conduct of a small segment of their age group.”  Hoover told the House group “in recent years, reports on youth crimes have, indicated a mounting savagery,’ a senseless brutality which leaves little doubt that in the interest of self- preservation, now time for sterner measures to be taken by the congress and the courts.  “I see no reason for secrecy. I feel when a felony is committed in a community, there Is no reason for withholding the name of the youthful offender and he ought to be treated in the same manner of an adult.”

“Youth should not be treated cruelly, but when they do not measure up to their responsibility of obeying the law, they must be made to accept the responsibility for their acts.”  He recommended more publicity for the many youth organizations which are doing a valuable job for the nation’s young people.

Kindly restore your flying car back-rests to their fully-upright position as you return with us now to Officer Krupke’s utopian future to enjoy this newfound and interesting Serling reference:  http://www.rodserling.com/Commentary1957Patterns.htm

06 Jun 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amazing Stories

Well, the first season almost-completely SUCKED!

Amazon will notify me if/when the second season (of this mid80s television show created by Steven Spielberg) becomes available on DVD.  Twenty-two of the twenty-four amazing tales of fantasy and imagination play like premise pitches or flat jokes told by Spielberg to a writers’ room that faithfully recreated twenty piles of shapeless goo lacking satisfying endings; exactly like the worst SNL sketches that simply peter-out and conclude.  Rumor has it that the second season was more Amazing than the first, but plenty of season-one critiques at Amazon and elsewhere praise its vapid stereotypes and meaninglessnesses to the skies, presumably because Steve was the executive producer.

None of this bodes well for the entertainment value of the second season (if/when), and the only saving graces involved the season one contributions of illustrious/celebrity directors (Spielberg, Balaban, Eastwood, Scorsese, Glatter) and the fact that episodes 22 and 24 were based on stories and written by Richard Matheson.  The Doll and One for the Books didn’t totally suck, and The Amazing Falsworth and Guilt Trip came within spitting distance of story ideas that might have been interesting (in other hands).  In (wait for the chortle) The Black Shield of Falsworth, Gregory Hines and Richard Masur turned in very effective performances because they were excellent actors, and probably overjoyed to be working their magic for Spielberg — but in the closing moments of the episode, Hines locks himself in a closet.  There’s even an insert of the in-knob thumbturn in the vertical position (like you’d find on the inside of a bathroom door).  Who would install a bathroom doorknob backward on a bedroom closet door?  Probably a versatile handyman like Steven fucking Spielberg.  That’s a minor example of the salient details that clearly got neglected along with minor issues like;  if Harvey Keitel can paint his way into a joyous future with his dead wife, can he sell any of his paintings of her? or does he have to choose between creating wealth and painting marital bliss with the dead chick?  THAT kind of question, had it been posed, might have been worthy of obedient compliance with the ridiculous dictates of appointment television.

Since I don’t have to wait a week between episodes, I’m probably a good deal less forgiving than I would have been 26 years ago during my/our patient-obedient phase, when sitcoms and pseudo-dramatic nonsense (Dallas?) ruled the trackless waves between treasured, tiny islands of provocative science fiction, or near-miss slop like this that passed for same.  Back in ’85-87, I regretted my failure to chain myself in front of a screen to watch this stuff I actually longed to see.  Silly me.  Silly us.  Silly television.  What do you want to do tonight, Marty?  It seems as though somewhere between The Richard Boone Show and NYPD Blue we settled for less and less pith and wound up watching reruns of the infantilzingly sappy Isles of GilliganAdventures in Paradise seemed pretty adult, hard-hitting and gritty when I was 12.  I’d like another look now that I’m 60.  But…NO!  Why is that?  Route 66 seems markedly overwrought now, but it still puts me to sleep.

Conversely, The Velvet Alley absolutely kicked my ass by presenting the predicament of an serious New York screenwriter confronted with the intoxicating, corrupting power of his first Hollywood success.  The printed remnant of the film looks and sounds like an unreconstitued kinescope, but the speeches, relationships, pace, varying tones and powerful performances make up for every shortcomming.  This was amazing television, courtesy of Rod Serling, whose osterized feelings about fame, wealth, reputation and success are beautifully portrayed in less than 90 minutes — and remain at least as vitally relevent to a hungry audience as they were in early 1959, probably more.

Now I’m anxious to get a load of whatever remains of Reginald Rose’ work, excluding 132 hour-long episodes of The Defenders.  He must have stuck something explosive up the butt of a really important and immortal asshole.

(Thanks to NetFlix, the six disks of the Studio One Anthology will rotate past me next week.  I kinda figured $40 for The Criterion Collection:  The Golden Age of Television and The Velvet Alley would crash and burn my monthly budget — [but I still say what the fuck!])  This medium can teach.

05 Jun 11 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment