Sunday, May 31, 2009

within these walls

here are only two works of art that made up the vast collection of paintings owned by mr. and mrs. edward g. robinson.

top/van gogh's 'country road below/cezanne's 'black clock'

and here's to you mrs. robinson

i should not speak lightly as in this case, edward g. robinson's precious art collection was severely divided during his divorce, devastating him in the process. here stands mrs. robinson with film producer collier young beneath one of eddie's renoir's.

bottom photo: why not just shoot me?

something in common

some women reach an understanding based on a mutual experience. in the case of actresses ida lupino and joan fontaine, it was perhaps a bond established by the fact that they were both (at different times) married to the same man, film producer/writer collier young. that plot thickened when ida put on the director hat for 1953's 'the bigamist.' in this film the two actresses are married to the same man at the same time. wow. even if the film is not absolutely great, their performances are. joan fontaine is just so excellently unaware when playing annoying roles.

photo: the perils of public transportation. married man meets single woman on a bus and in no time at all he marries her. ida lupino with co-star edmond o'brien.


ralph meeker! i love this actor. here he is playing the role that immortalized marlon brando; 'stanley kowalski.' it must have been sometime in the mid fifties.

rehearsal, i presume

karl malden, kim stanley, marlon brando and vivien leigh going through the motions of 'a streetcar named desire.'

cool fact

actor richard widmark was married to his first wife for 55 years (till her death). they had one daughter who married legendary baseball pitcher sandy koufax. sandy was a lefty for the dodgers for 11 years (1955-1966). play ball!

widmark sweet tooth

once a friend of mine was working on an amex commercial. he described the actor/spokesperson as 'that idiot karl malden.' i admit that i continued to see karl in that light. however, i also know that he is a wonderful actor. what i just found out is that he was also a director.
1957's 'time limit' stars one of my faves, richard widmark. karl directed richard and rip torn in a very intimate, no frills, account of a commanding officer up for court martial. widmark is as great as always, rip torn gets to seriously break down, and karl kept everything out of the way so that the drama about the consequences of war that takes place among men on the same side rang true. you can see it on

Saturday, May 30, 2009

my blog's namesake

i just found an amazingly interesting blog called 'nickel in the machine.' very british. here is what i read about the debut stage production of 'look back in anger':

In actuality, after the first night the Guardian wrote: ”The author and actors do not persuade us that they ’speak for’ a new generation.” The London Evening Standard called the play “a self-pitying snivel”.
The next day the director of the play Tony Richardson and Osborne sat in the little coffee shop next to the Royal Court theatre utterly depressed. Richardson broke the silence, and said:

“But what on earth did you expect? You didn’t expect them to like it, did you?”

Although the play was generally initially dismissed by most of the critics, a prescient 39 year old Kenneth Tynan wrote in the Observer -

“All the qualities are there, qualities one had despaired of ever seeing on the stage … I doubt if I could love anyone who did not wish to see Look Back in Anger.”

photo: kenneth haigh and mary ure (she was cast in the film as well)

another lifetime

look at marilyn! back in the day when slipping into one's swimsuit may not have been fraught with starvation strategies.

tyrone moment

tyrone power, pure joy.

rip it up

rip torn began life in texas as elmore rual torn. beautiful name. his film debut was in 1956 in the terrifically tender 'baby doll' in which he played one scene as a very young dentist having a little chit chat with baby doll, much to the chagrin of her older husband played by karl malden. in very few moments he managed to unhinge karl and as folklore will have it, many more to come. this wild man of the movies never fails to entertain. he has film credits an arm long and it keeps getting longer. what makes me think he is a royal pain/treasure to work with?

hot beauty tip

avoid cigs. simone signoret did not.

Friday, May 29, 2009

'the tramp'

japanese designers have done a pretty good job at creating clothing that projects some of the qualities that chaplin mastered in his character of 'the tramp': the vagrant with refined manners who holds onto personal dignity despite his monetary circumstances. this effect can be achieved without spending the thousands of dollars that it would take to be dressed head to toe by 'comme des garcons' or 'yohji yamamoto', two designers that have excelled in pauperism at it's most chic. pants a little too big, a jacket a little too small is a start. what's comfort when one's going for charlie?

romain duris

the streets of paris are not exactly teeming with faces like this actor, but apparently that is where he was approached to think about the profession. he has played so many different kinds of characters and with a wonderful face like he has, i hope one day he plays chaplin's 'tramp.'


michelangelo's masterpiece of the renaissance was created between 1501-1504. the statue was meant to show the biblical 'king david' before he went into battle. 'david' stands 17 feet tall in the beautiful galleria dell' accademia in florence, italy. looking up from below is a time stopping experience.

david and lisa

top: david

below: leonardo da vinci's 'mona lisa.' this painting is also known as 'la gioconda.' the artist began this portrait of a silk merchant's wife in 1503. it was completed in 1519.

by way of illustration

touch me now

for all of us who love the film, 'diary of a mad housewife' here is another tender and thoughtful film by the same director, frank perry. his film debut as a director began in 1962 with 'david and lisa' which continues to be a highly regarded movie. actor keir dullea can communicate 'otherness' so well and his portrayal of a severely frightened young man is special. janet margolin co-stars in this story of two unique people whose isolation is penetrated by one another.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

bernardo bertolucci

by way of illustration

doomed to fail

the story of 'the conformist' is very upsetting but elucidating regarding what makes a man a monster. in this story, based on the brilliant novelist alberto moravia's book, a boy has a shameful experience which leaves him feeling different from everyone. as he matures, in an attempt to blend in with society he chooses to side with the political power at that time (italy/mussolini) with the confidence that his secret otherness will somehow fade away. his success as a fascist, married to a conventional young woman begins to crumble when he falls in love with the wife of his next victim.
the cast is superb. 'il conformista' was filmed in 1970 by the great bernardo bertolucci. starring jean-louis trintignant, dominique sanda, and stefania sandrelli, it is truly a nightmare. in the hands of bernardo and his comrade, cinematographer vittorio storaro, you will wonder how is it possible to capture a dream so expertly. the answer is these filmmakers are geniuses at what they do.

photos: jean-louis as marcello.


cinematographer vittorio storaro's work is very humbling. what this man achieves with color makes me dizzy. with nearing 60 film credits, he has worked with both bertolucci and beatty many times. with warren he won an oscar for 'reds.' he is responsible for the stunning palette of 'last tango in paris.'

photos: vittorio storaro/a scene from 'the conformist.'

every kinda cute

elvis claimed he met his match in ann margaret.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

julie as 'lara'

i am reading a biography of julie christie. i was not aware of how important a film 'dr. zhivago' was for the industry. the director and screenwriter knew that the role of 'lara' was extremely important. this woman had to be young, pure, and as the lover to married zhivago, hold our sympathy. none of the suggested actresses pleased the filmmakers till julie. here she is with co-star omar sharif. guess i shall be seeing it again soon.

who knew....

frank had a mustache? ava.

besides the blue eyes...

and everything else, sinatra had one heck of an interesting face.

ava gardner

pre movies perhaps. definitely pre sinatra.

Monday, May 25, 2009

tiny dancer

edgar degas made many paintings of ballet dancers. the only sculpture of a ballerina he shared with the world is the breathtaking 'petitie dansuese de quatorze ans.' this perfect piece was created between 1879-1881. in 1920 several casts were made. recently one of them was sold to an individual for 19 million pounds.

danilova 1903-1997

only a prima ballerina can resemble a butterfly.

there is a crater on the planet venus (pictured) named after the dancer danilova.

the russians are coming...

i just finished reading the autobiography of russian born/world famous ballerina alexandra danilova. known to her friends as 'choura' this dancer wrote so well about her gypsy life on her toes. working with and at one time living with the great choreographer george ballanchine, i was swept up into her wondrous world. her idea of true ambition was for dancers to never skip class. so refreshing. now, if i can find a copy of the film 'the turning point' for less than hundreds of dollars, i will probably notice more than i did when the film first came out. 'the turning point' had a stellar cast including shirley maclaine and anne bancroft. the beautiful dancer mikael barishnikov both danced and acted his way into the hearts of most of us. he went on to act in film and t.v.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


filmmaker lou ye won for best screenplay at this year's cannes film festival. in 2000 he directed the sublime 'suzhou river.'

china girl

'my little china girl/you shouldn't mess with me/i'll ruin everything you are. i'll give you television/i'll give you eyes of blue/i'll give you men who want to rule the world.
and when i get excited my little china girl says.'oh jimmy, just you shut your mouth.....' iggy pop/david bowie

what an amazingly great song. they both recorded great versions. my favorite chinese actress is xun zhou. i saw her in 2000's 'suzhou river' and her character and performance never left the gallery in my mind where i hang the most beautiful images from films. i love every garment she is wearing in these publicity shots. exquisite.

the legendary libertine

the legend of 'don juan' goes back to the 14th century. the notion that the life of a libertine is something to strive for might be reconsidered when reading about what became of don juan. lured by the ghost of the father of one of his conquests, don juan accepts an invitation to dinner only to be welcomed into the grave.
in 1873 ford maddox brown painted this stunning image called 'finding of don juan by haidee.'


maybe joni was paying homage to veruschka.
top/veruschka self portrait below/joni mitchell's record 'don juan's reckless daughter'

cinema don juan's

top/john barrymore below/johnny depp