Monday, December 01, 2003

Spent the weekend at Carole Lombard double features at LACMA. To wit:

Friday: -Nothing Sacred- (1935) -- somewhat disappointing, I think it's been hyped because the available prints have been poor and hasn't been screened much, but it's forced compared to the best screwballs. The satirical element is overly blunt; Hecht solo rather than with MacArthur (about whom it would be interesting to know).

-Twentieth Century- (1934) -- a masterpiece, thanks as much to Barrymore as Hawks, though the editing/pacing are an element. More proof that 'filmed plays' oughtn't be dismissed so readily. Maybe the third time I've seen this in a theater.

Saturday: -True Confession- (1937) -- very much on the old marrying for money/marrying for love tip. Ralph Bellamy a very odd presence; I think we're supposed to find him tragically handsome, but standards have changed a bit. Nice spatial bits with the relation between the apartment and roof; as Ashbery says about -The Seventh Victim-, sometimes studio work mysteriously captures 'New York' as well as or better than location shooting. "You'd be beautiful if you had blonde hair." "I do have blonde hair." "I know." Fred MacMurray as, you know, 'a hunk of man,' apparently his typecasting in the '30s before his noirs, much less -The Absent-Minded Professor-. (Interesting to recall that he owned most of the block of Wilshire that LACMA is on.)

-Love Before Breakfast- (1936) -- amusing enough Taming of the Shew sort of thing, apparently co-written by an uncredited Preston Sturges; I think maybe I see his hand in the sidekick character of "Blinky," played by a Sterling Holloway soundalike. Some of these movies are kicked down a notch by the practice of having characters laugh uproariously at their own 'funny' actions. This one also has the problem of all the characters starting rich and staying rich; pure Depression escapism with little of the class-conflict (or at least -consciousness) of the best in the genre. (Or at least some tension beyond the romantic between the lead characters -- e.g. -Bringing Up Baby- or -The Lady Eve-.) I suppose this was tried here with the 'button-pusher/bulldog' metaphor, but it doesn't really resonate.

Sun: about 1/2 of The Uncalled For's set, and some of The Small Group (who I expected to be artier) at Spaceland.

Not much meaningful work done this weekend; a lot of futzing w/ the guitar re a half-completed song. Practiced w/ Kyle and Daniel Sat. afternoon for New Year's Eve gig.

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