Friday, July 7, 2006

There’s no place like home

Okay, it’s a bit clich├ęd—but in this case, it’s also a completely accurate way to describe “the Luthersville experience” of the past few days; it’s always good to get back to your familiar stomping grounds…particularly if you’re a forty-two year old man who’s having to sleep on a futon.  (The ‘rents’ accommodations were a bit more comfortable: they opted to crash at a Hampton Inn in nearby Newnan.  I offered to use my La Quinta connections to snag them an employee rate, but Mom is trying to rack up enough Hilton Honors points before next year’s Shreve reunion…an event that the thought of which makes me break out in a cold sweat.)

But the title of this post is also accurate because my niece—affectionately known as the Peanut—watched The Wizard of Oz on DVD during our stay; the first of what I hope will be many visits to the Emerald City to come.  Her mother, sister Deb, experienced some trepidation over letting her view this American film classic, particularly due to its high Wicked Witch-winged monkey content.  (Deb has a tendency to be a tad overprotective at times; she reminds me of a woman in a Robert Klein routine who screeches at her son: “Don’t touch that!  You’ll get cancer!”)  But her daughter insisted that the darker elements in Oz would not bother her (she kept repeating “I’m brave” in a mantra-like fashion whenever Margaret Hamilton did her thing onscreen) and for the most part, she dug the movie up until the final ten or fifteen minutes.  When I asked why she was so fidgety, sister Deb explained that she had already seen the ending during a showing at her church.  The Peanut did, however, watch Disney’s Peter Pan with rapt attention and enjoyed the heck out of it.  Her mother, on the other hand, was not amused when I explained to her daughter just why the crocodile was constantly following Captain Hook.

Other Peanut-related activities included taking her swimming (she breathlessly informed her father via phone about how she jumped off the side from the four-foot end and touched the bottom!) and to the Mall of Georgia, where she was disappointed at the lack of a play place (there may or may not have been one, we never got the opportunity to see) but settled for a ride on a merry-go-round at the food court.  On the way home, Mom decided to drive around Deb’s alma mater, Oglethorpe University, and as Deb pointed out to her daughter the various buildings I heard an audible sigh from the back seat that seemed to say “Why did we get off the Interstate to see this?  This is cutting into my play time!”  Long treks are an anathema to my niece; we took a trip to Athens to scope out the house that her Aunt Kat will be moving into come mid-August and it was difficult for her to shake off the “Are-we-there-yet?” syndrome.

To address Pam’s query, the only equine-related activity during our stay involved feeding some leftover corn-on-the-cob to the horses—Peanut was much more stoked about a tiny litter of kittens that was dumped onto my sister by persons unknown.  Except for the sleeping arrangements, I enjoyed every minute of my vacation—though the old adage of “It’s never long enough” certainly applies here…plus, it’s difficult to shake off a night auditor’s sleep pattern in such a brief span of time; I found myself rising early enough to catch Green Acres and Gunsmoke reruns on TVLand.

Monday, April 10, 2006

“Down these dark streets…”

Jaime Weinman at Something Old, Nothing New pointed me towards an interesting article by Jonathan Rosenbaum at DVDBeaver.com entitled “Ten Overlooked Noirs.”  Jonathan lists each noir by category, noting a film that’s readily available on disc and one that is not.

It’s a very good read, and I love some of his choices for noirs that should be on DVD but aren’t: Ace in the Hole (1951), for example.  This underrated classic—directed by the one-and-only Billy Wilder—stars Kirk Douglas in one of his preeminent rat-bastard roles; that of an unscrupulous newspaperman who uses a man trapped in a cave-in to crawl his way back to the top of the print journalism game.  This corrosive film—dubbed by Paramount wags as “Ass in the Wringer”—was remarkably prescient in its examination of today’s media, and of course, it co-stars TDOY fave Jan Sterling as the man’s wife who has one of filmdom’s most memorably cynical retorts: “I don’t pray.  Kneeling bags my nylons.”  Someone mentioned a while back that they were finally going to release Hole—also known as The Big Carnival, its re-release title—on DVD but unfortunately that version is a documentary about the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Other “SBA’s” (should be available) noted by Rosenbaum include While the City Sleeps (1956), Fritz Lang’s better-than-it-ought-to-be account of the hunt for a serial killer by a team of reporters who spend most of their time getting sloshed in gin joints throughout the film’s running time, and The Sound of Fury (1950, a.k.a. Try and Get Me!), a movie that features OTR veteran Frank Lovejoy’s finest hour on the silver screen as a man who stupidly allows himself to become enmeshed in the schemes of a seriously-disturbed Lloyd Bridges (this flick was based on the events dramatized in Fritz Lang’s first American offering, Fury).  Another movie mentioned oh-so-briefly by Jonathan is The Phenix City Story (1955) a little-seen Phil Karlson docu-noir based on the corrupt Alabama town of the same name.  (I’d buy all these for a dollar!)