Monday, July 13, 2009

Movies, Chorus Girls, Porcelain, Poetry, and a Little Swine Flu

We watched two terrific film noirs last night ... both of them have been favorites of mine for a long time.

We kicked off our mini-film fest with 1953's Pickup On South Street, starring Richard Widmark and Jean Peters, with one terrific supporting performance by Thelma Ritter (Oscar nominated) and tautly directed by Samuel Fuller. Grifters, fallen women, spy rings, waterfront saloons and rainy streets: all the ingredients for a perfect film noir. The opening sequence, in which Widmark unwittingly lifts a piece of microfilm from floozie-turned-Communist-courier Peters as he picks her pocketbook on the subway, is a marvel of directing and editing. Not only does a long sequence of pick pocketing hold our attention - it's suspenseful and intriguing...and one bang up way to set up a film noir! It is also a classic example of film exhibiting an overcrowded space filled with people who are alone. Fascinating! If you can get a copy, and you enjoy film noir, this is one for you. I guarantee it will have you glued to your seat for the entire film!

I love this shot from Pick Up on South Street - Widmark has just discovered Peters ransacking his waterfront shack...and gives her a solid right to the jaw. Ms. Peters can take a sock to the jaw as well as the next man! And, of course, her eyelashes stay firmly in place.

The second half of our double feature was the 1954 film that started Kim Novak's career, Pushover, starring Fred MacMurray. Although filmed ten years after his turn with Barara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Fred again plays a not-so-bright lug who is duped into theft, murder and betrayal by a sultry and conniving blonde blombshell.

By the time Pushover was made, film noir was on the downside of its heyday. And though this has all the classic ingredients of a good film noir, it also recognizes the importance of the suspense film as being superbly crafted at the time by Alfred Hitchcock. In fact, like Hitchcock's Rear Window, this film has a lot to do with voyeurism - though it can't be said to rip off Hitchcock's film, as they were being made at the same time.

Almost the entire film takes place in the u-shaped apartment building in which Novak lives ... and the claustophobia of the setting enhances the film's suspense. Of course, we still have rainy streets, cocktail lounges, and nighttime settings - however, in this one Jean-Louis has done the costumes for Ms. Novak, so she looks far more elegant than the usual film noir babe.

It's no wonder Kim Novak became a star in this film. In an early scene, when MacMurray asks what she would like to do for the next couple hours, Novak breathes more meaning in the words "surprise me" than most actresses could do with a paragraph of suggetions! It's interesting that Novak was being groomed as the "next" Marilyn Monroe by Columbia. The two have nothing - beyond being well-shaped blondes - in common. While Marilyn was a bubbling, effervescent joy on screen, Novak is almost melancholy in her determined aloofness. While Marilyn was soft-edged, Novak is a glittering sharp-edged loner.

Again, I recommend this film wholeheartedly. It works as a film noir - it works as a suspense thriller - and it works as a curiosity, seeing Kim Novak in her film debut, and watching MacMurray give another honest portrayal as a sleazy double-dealing slug before his years as the wholesome and clean good guy for Disney.

I had to laugh when I came across these two photos. Once in a while somebody will ask me what is about France - and all things French and fabulous - that attracts me so much. These two pictures tell the story. Now really. Take a guess which one is a photo of chorus girls from America and which one is a photo of chorus girls from Paris!

Isn't this wallpaper amazing! Vintage 19th century texured wall covering that one hundred years later is still rich and vibrant. It must have looked as rich as raw silk when hung on a wall.
I ran across this photo of Rosenthal china on a blog (I have lost the address, so if it's your photo, let me know and I'll definitely credit you!!!). I remember my grandmother had this exact china when I was a child. The saucers were different (they matched the cups), but the cups are exactly the same. The gold decoration was somewhat raised, and I can recall my mother telling me to stop "picking at it" because I was always trying to lift up the gold with my fingernail.
This is only because it's after 10am and I haven't had breakfast yet. This just looks too yummy and it's exactly what I want. Unfortunately, I think I'll have to settle for a bagel. We seem to be out of all frosted delights in the kitchen this morning. sigh. Life is cruel.
...looking in mirror this morning, something seemed a bit off - and I'm somewhat concerned I have a touch of swine flu...
Before completely abandoning blogland for real life this morning, I'm leaving you with this poem that I think is very provocative. Hope you enjoy it, too.


No one has entered
the stone of this place
in a century, the dust has powdered
even the cat's lashes. Still I sit, robes folded, crown
pinned upon the river of my braids, their diamond
points have not forgotten how to find the door.
It is kept open. Someone might yet care to find his fate.
Once there were feasts here, tables set in silk, glazed peacock
and pomegranates so ripe a look from me would tear their skins.

I love the quiet.
The void of voices begging me
for youth and vengeance, for the fastest way
to travel over water or how to spy by moonlight.
I love how my hands do little but settle on my velvet lap.

Afternoons I rise to circle the gardens, the devil's trumpet large
enough now to shade all that lies beneath it: moss, pond, the small
star blossoms that burst in clumps along the earth, so bright,
so content to bleed their red selves into shadow.

Copyright © 2009 Emma Trelles All rights reserved

Now, go make something beautiful today!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥


Unknown said...

OMG, that little swine flu guy is so cute! You are so funny, and I love old movies. I love old movies, and when I was young I had a crush on Fred MacMurray when he starred in the original Shaggy Dog movie. That wallpaper is amazing.

Happy Monday,


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Oh the delight of film noir and the excellent sensuality (and couture!) of the French!
All I can say Tristan, is while I am a far cry from any of those babes, I can still pull off the *surprise me* as long as I'm dressed and made up right and walking in seamed stockings!!!!
And I sure hope you haven't had contact with the little seems more and more of my friends are under the weather.


Anonymous said...

As you know I am a huge fan of the great Marilyn Monroe.... She was not just sex appeal. She was a fab. actress & comedian. She could even semi-sing. LOL!! Kim Novak??? Not so much....
Swine flu guy??? Gross!! Looks like a breeding experiment gone bad!!! ROFLMBO!!
Glad Your Back!!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i love rosenthal china! one of these days i should start posting my dish collection! find some sugar fast and eat it!

studioJudith said...

Tristan dear ... .
YOU are a remarkable writer!
Really enjoyed your film reviews ..
so astute!!


Tamerie Shriver Halliday said...

Mr Piggy is awfully cute!

Sea Witch said...

Milificent -- could this be Sleeping Beauty's cruel witch as she muses the hundred years of time past and all stopped at sleeps gentle potion? Lovely poem and so full of imagery. Sea Witch

peggy gatto said...

The Stranger, if you haven't seen it!
1938 Mercury theater (cbs), War of the Worlds radio broadcast!!!!!!
I have a teapot set from my mom, Tea??????
Lovely poem. I imagine it is a ghost who wanders an old castle in europe.
Thanks for the morning report!!!!

mo.stoneskin said...

Love the pics. I also like France, though more the wine and rustic countryside than anything else.

Nothing beats a bagel and apparently they're great protection against swine flu, especially when drenched in salted butter. The bagel, not the swine flu.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Bonjour Tristan!
MOI AUSSI! J'AIME BIEN TOUTES LES CHOSES FRANÇAISES! Is it the first photo that are the French chorus girls? They are more daring. LOVE IT! And yes, old movies just have the right touch. Those were the days...Anita

Anonymous said...

Hi Tristan..I love old b&w I think PBS is running them Sat and Sundays at 7pm..shows what kind of life I have..Lawrence Welk or PBS?!
It is getting pretty trashy out her best for me to pack up my cupcakes say goodbye to my cottage and get the hell outta Dodge! I am tired of falling into folks hydrangeas and rose bushes..ouch! the 'white trash/farkle' family tribe across from me have added another poor pitbull puppy to their present 4 pitbulls! Hey that would be a good name for a blog 'Whitetrash Tribe' or a band! Imagine the costumes Heeee..hawww!!!!

Shell said...

I love film noir!! I must go check out the these two films.
I'm glad you like Wire in The Blood too. I pray they never do an American version..they would just mess it up bad.

Julie Fillo said...

Hi Tristan,
Excellent post, sorry to hear about the swine flu,:) but really where is that little piggy person from? I love that image. It makes me laugh. Is it a movie?

a fanciful twist said...

Hahahhaaa! Oh my goodness, where to begin? Divine post, just like you ;) is all I can say ;)

Rhonda Roo said...

Wow you packed so much goodness into one post,its almost like you're rewarding us for hanging tight while you left us sparkle-less in bloglandia :)
But I'll say-OH REAR WINDOW. Mr. Stewart and Mr. Hitchcock were brilliant. I can watch that one over and over..and what was that one-Rope? Also v. good.
Swine flu. You crack me up and creep me out um, swineultaneously?
PS I didnt make anything beautiful but I did post-come see me sometime! ☺

The Joy of Nesting said...

Hello Kiddo!!

So are those tea cups or are they two handled consume cups?? It has always amazed me how Fred went from being a real low life slug to everyone's idea of the perfect father and husband. Only in the world of Movielandia!!

I can't say I've had problems with the shoe wax coming off. Course I always do light layers and buff between. The wax will darken like age/patina but it won't dye. You can always spay a clear finish for protection. :)

Pattie ;)
Mazatlan Mx.

paperbatty said...

Love your jam-packed posts, Tristan. Can't get the image of that little swine flu guy out of my head.

charkstudios said...

Hi Tristan!

That wallpaper with the raised can do that look with two tone raised colored plaster technique. It kinda brought back memories of using a stencil and smearing plaster over it...messy but good final result!


Susan (Between Naps On The said...

Love the really "feel" it as you read it...thanks for sharing.