Archive for Hitler

Night of the Long Schnozz

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , on May 30, 2012 by dcairns

In BOSKO’S PICTURE SHOW, we get to see an entire 1933 cinema programme, including wurlitzer sing-a-long, newsreel, short subject and feature, condensed into a single cartoon. We also get a particularly startling gag in that fake newsreel. After an intertitle announcing that a famous screen heartthrob is taking a European vacation, we cut to this image –

Jimmy Durante: “Am I mortified! Am I mortified!”

The joke is as funny as cancer, but since this is Warner Brothers we can at least be sure it comes from a warm place.

It all hang from Durante’s nose — let’s see if we can unpick it, if you’ll forgive the expression. The first assumption (and all jokes are based upon shared assumptions, often in the form of stereotypes) is that Jimmy Durante has a big nose, and some Jewish people have big noses, therefor J.D. might be taken for a Jew (he was Italian-American and Catholic). This means that if Jimmy Durante went to Nazi Germany, he would be in danger of being personally murdered by Hitler. Hilarious!

While the idea of laughing at this stuff seems ghastly now, Warners probably deserve points for talking about this stuff so early, even if they’re not doing it in a way that treats the subject with the seriousness it deserves.

Quote of the Day: “Broadvay? I must tell ze birds!”

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , on March 18, 2008 by dcairns

 Otto exhausts

Sotto voce: quietly, under one’s breath, in a whisper.

Otto voce: very very loudly, at the top of one’s lungs, screaming purple-faced with forehead veins standing out like an orgy of earthworms.

Foam rubber cummerbund?

‘And I directed Margin for Error by Claire Booth Luce, which opened on November 3, 1939. I remember the date because a German actor called Rudolph Forster was to play a German count — he was a great star in Germany. (Much later he played a small part in THE CARDINAL.) One day I came to rehearsals and he wasn’t there. In the middle of rehearsals, just a week before we were to open out-of-town, he had left, writing a very funny note for me: “Dear Otto, I am leaving to rejoin Adolf. Love, Rudolf.”

‘… We couldn’t find anybody to play the part, so Claire Booth Luce suggested that I play it. She had watched me when I rehearsed the actors and she said I could very well play a nazi.’

~ from The Cinema of Otto Preminger, by Gerald Pratley.

Otto man empire

I was initially puzzled that Otto would re-hire Forster after being left in the lurch like that, and for such a dubious reason! Then I reflected that a) Preminger was perhaps grateful for the incident that sparked his acting career, a useful sideline, and b) Preminger must have been aware that working for him was NO TREAT, and this was perhaps his oportunity at long last to scream his head off at Forster, twenty years after the original offense.

Anyhow, Otto’s nazi was well-received, even garnering praise from Albert Einstein (great physicist, but was he a good judge of theatre?).

The play later became a film, which Otto directed, relaunching his stalled film career, with uncredited script work by Sam Fuller, still in uniform at the time – it’s arguably the first film Otto really put his heart and soul into, and it’s NOW AVAILABLE.

Does anybody know? #1

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2008 by dcairns

Wayward Hayworth 

Does anybody know if Columbia Pictures ever made a good musical?

I was all set to enjoy YOU’LL NEVER GET RICH — I like Robert Benchley*, and I love Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. The film has an amusing credit sequence, there’s a little dance between Fred and Rita which is quite charming, and then it becomes a shapeless unfunny lumbering thing without appealing characters or interesting situations or even much good musical action. I haven’t seen all of it but I probably won’t watch more unless somebody tells me there’s a great dance at 1hr 22 mins or something.

I haven’t watched the other Rita and Fred show, YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER, but am I wrong in assuming it’s identical in every way?

I got a deja vu feeling and remembered how much I’d disliked DOWN TO EARTH as well — forced and unfunny and kind of DUMB in a way that even really silly Hollywood movies weren’t, usually.

In a flash, I just remembered THE SKY’S THE LIMIT, which has Astaire’s great angry dance to “One for my baby”, but checking it, I find it’s an R.K.O. Radio Picture.

TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT kind of bored me too, and it had some really horrid colour schemes, like M.G.M. seen through a hangover, though there was one nice bit where a young artiste tap-dances to a Hitler broadcast: “No, leave it on, I often dance to this fellow.” You don’t see nearly enough of that sort of thing.

It might actually be that I just don’t like Columbia. Their idea of greatness was Capra, who I’m rather iffy about. My favourite Columbia films were made by visiting independents — ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. I love GILDA, but the director of that one, Charles Vidor, ended up suing studio boss Harry Cohn for psychological injury. This could be one of those studios that I’m just temperamentally unsuited to.

(I love Paramount, especially 20s-30s. Love Warners, esp. 30s-40s. Love R.K.O. — almost everything. Love lots of different things from Universal. Love M.G.M. musicals but almost nothing else from that studio, and even with the musicals I have to leaven them with something drier or I tend to break out, and not in song.)

happy shiny person

*I like Benchley for his dreamlike qualities. There’s an essay that starts something like this: “So, on top of all this other work I’ve got to do, they tell me I have to build the Hoover Dam. I said to them I was already very busy and couldn’t they get somebody else, but no, it had to be me.”


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