Archive for Gregory LaCava

Intertitle of the Week: Taxi Driver 1928

Posted in Comics, FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2009 by dcairns

What would the seminal Schrader-Scorsese TAXI DRIVER have been like if it had been made as a silent movie in 1928? I know we’ve all lost sleep wondering about that, but your worries are over with this smart new reconstruction of the movie as it never was. Just imagine Bernard Herrmann’s theme music played fast on a tinkly piano, and voila!

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Images (photographed — badly — off my TV screen) from TAXI DRIVER, “The End” from some British Hitchcock, intertitles from FEEL MY PULSE, a Bebe Daniels comedy directed by Gregory LaCava. Not a bad little film. Thinking about it, LaCava’s origins in silents explains his improvisational approach to dialogue somewhat. This one has William Powell as a bad guy, showing off his physical comedy skills with a great pratfall, and there’s a wild moment when a smashed bottle of chloroform sends a room full of extras into slow motion…

Quote of the Day: The Man in the Bright Nightgown

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by dcairns

Fields steers his ferryboat for the Western Lands.

“By the close on 1946, W.C. Fields had spent 14 months, the last several drinking only ginger ale, at Las Encinas Sanitarium in Pasadena. The end came as “The Man in the Bright Nightgown” (as W.C. referred to death) paid his call 12:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, 1946. Fields, a hater of Christmas since age eight, was 66 years old.

“The death certificate lists the cause of death as ‘Cirrhosis of the liver’ (duration, five years), due to ‘chronic alcoholism’ (duration unknown).

“[Fields’ mistress] Carlotta Monti later claimed to have comforted the old man to the very end, and that the dying words of W.C. Fields were, ‘Chinaman…Goddamn the whole frigging world and everyone in it but you, Carlotta.’ Ronald J. Fields is convinced by his own research that Carlotta wasn’t there — she was, he claims, with a lover that Christmas day in Santa Barbara. Only W.C.’s secretary Magda Michael and a nurse were present at the time of W.C.’s death.

“‘He brought his forefinger to his lips to signify quiet,’ wrote Ron Fields, ‘winked, then closed his eyes; and “the Man in the Bright Nightgown” took him away.'”

~ from Hollywood’s Hellfire Club by Gregory William Mank with Charles Heard & Bill Nelson.

Will everyone please stop LYING? Neither of those accounts sounds remotely credible to me. But I love Gregory LaCava’s eulogy for his friend ~

“Bil never really wanted to hurt anybody. He just felt an obligation.” 

Incidentally, fans of Fields’ 1934 classic IT’S A GIFT might like to know that dangerous blind man Mr. Muckle is named after a word in the Scots tongue meaning “very large”. The influence of Scotland on Fields is not too be underrated: not only did he seemingly derive his character name in THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY, The Great McGonigle, from Scotland’s greatest bad poet William Topaz McGonagall, but it was here in Edinburgh that he first tasted strong liquor. So I guess we killed him.