Archive for April 15, 2008

Quote of the Day: Miss Lonelyhearts

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2008 by dcairns

The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (are-you-in-trouble? — Do-you-need-advice? — Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. On it a prayer had been printed by Shrike, the feature editor.

“Soul of Miss L, glorify me.

Body of Miss L, nourish me

Blood of Miss L, intoxicate me.

Tears of Miss L, wash me.

Oh good Miss L, excuse my plea,

And hide me in your heart,

And defend me from mine enemies.

Help me, Miss L, help me, help me.

In saecula saeculorum. Amen.”

Although the deadline was less than a quarter of an hour away, he was still working on his leader. He had gone as far as: “Life is worth while, for it is full of dreams and peace, gentleness and ecstasy, and faith that burns like a clear white flame on a grim dark altar.” But he found it impossible to continue. The letters were no longer funny. He could not go on finding the same joke funny thirty times a day for months  on end. And on most days he received more than thirty letters, all of them alike, stamped from the dough of suffering with a heart-shaped cookie knife.

~ from Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West.

Miss L

I love that Rod Serling leap into the metaphor zone at the end there — purple and fully extended.  

Images from THE LOVED ONE and REAR WINDOW.

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The Many Faces of Ernest Thesiger

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2008 by dcairns

Ernest Thesiger is one of the ’30s Hollywood thesps raved about in the piece B. Kite and I wrote for The Believer magazine. Although he was British born, bred and based, his work for James Whale across the pond is what he’ll doubtless be remembered for — BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OLD DARK HOUSE. This is a little visual celebration of his ever-changing countenance as seen in the 1938 thriller THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT.

Pensive!

Hat on!

Effulgent!

Dyspeptic!

 “And this is the real me!”

If I can go mad and QUOTE MYSELF, without vanishing into some kind of chrono-synclastic infundibulum, “Ernest Thesiger belongs, almost, to an unofficial group of effete British actors who created a parody of the upper classes and worked extensively with their nostrils.”

E.T.’s best British work is probably THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT, where Alexander Mackendrick cast him as a malign, wheezing magnate. Are there many cases of a filmmaker being struck down by an illness he has made light of in his work? Mackendrick considered it an awful form of poetic justice that his own later years were blighted by emphysema.

As an asthmatic I sympathise. You easy breathers have no idea how wonderful a thing inhalation really is. You certainly come to appreciate it when deprived of the ability. Note to filmmakers — you always get this wrong — asthma doesn’t make you cough. Wheeze, yes, cough, no. You can get the air into your lungs, you just can’t make them do anything WITH it. Imagine that, then let’s be glad for our health.