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January 20, 2008:

PORGY AND BESS STAY HOME

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, Porgy and Bess stayed home, but Carmen Jones showed up. I ask you, where else on all the Internet can you read such a sentence? Nowhere, that’s where. Perhaps Porgy and Bess were not feeling well, but Carmen Jones, you couldn’t keep Carmen Jones away. What the HELL am I going on about? Well, I’ll tell you momentarily, but first, don’t you think I ought to write this here first paragraph? I think I ought to and hence I will. Don’t try and stop me, Horace, please. What am I, Dolly Gallagher Levi all of a sudden? Speaking of Dolly Gallagher Levi, yesterday was a day in which I did things. I got up rather late, and therefore began writing rather late, but I did manage to get six pages done (I’d done eight the day before, so there you are) by the time I had to leave for a meeting with The Party Animals folks. We spent an hour discussing the future of the show and which directions we should focus on. I felt it was a very productive meeting. After that, I drove down to the Monica of Santa to see a double bill. I could not believe the excruciating traffic on the San Diego Freeway on a Saturday afternoon at five. What should have taken no longer than fifteen minutes under any circumstances, took close to forty (going from my house to the Wilshire Blvd. exit). Once I got to the theater, I purchased the ticket and was informed that Porgy and Bess wasn’t being shown, because there was some rights problem. Upon further digging, it appeared that the theater never quite made the deal with the fellow who owned the print – knowing him as I do, I’d bet the cancellation had to do with him and not any rights issues, since the Gershwin estate has allowed many one-off screenings of this guy’s print. So, I toddled off to have a little food at a French hole in the wall across the street. You know the kind – a few tables, and a big take-out counter. They happened to have carbonara, so I ordered that and a little salad. The little salad was awful – you know the kind – a lot of shrubs and bushes instead of good old-fashioned lettuce you can sink your teeth into, barely covered with something resembling dressing. Then the carbonara arrived and I was a little dismayed at the teeny-tiny portion – it couldn’t have been more than three or four ounces of pasta. What was there was very good, but I wasn’t exactly full when I finished – and there were no rolls to help fill me up. I’d go back, but I’d insist on more pasta even if it cost a couple of bucks extra. Then I toddled back to the theater, got my seat of choice and watched as about sixty other people arrived.

Last night, I saw a film entitled Carmen Jones, directed by Mr. Otto Preminger, starring Mr. Harry Belafonte, Miss Dorothy Dandridge and an all Black cast. It is, of course, Mr. Oscar Hammerstein’s adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen, with all Mr. Hammerstein’s new lyrics. I’ve had the DVD for years – I’d never seen the film before getting the DVD, and it’s a DVD I’ve tried to watch on about eight occasions – I’d always get fifteen minutes in and shut it off. Finally seeing it all the way through, I’d say that I just don’t really care for the source material, and Mr. Preminger in this and Porgy and Bess, showed absolutely no aptitude for shooting a musical – this was an early Cinemascope film, before directors were moving the camera a lot (they weren’t sure how Cinemascope would play at that early stage and those films tended to eschew any elaborate camera moves) – but years later he did the same thing with Porgy and Bess. I am a fan of Mr. Preminger’s, however, and I do like to watch his films from this period, and there are things to enjoy here, most especially Miss Dandridge and Mr. Belafonte, and the large and excellent supporting cast, including Brock Peters, Roy Glenn, and Pearl Bailey. The print was, to my eyes, a recently struck print with almost no wear. Watching it was interesting – it was sharp as a tack and looked great on the nice-sized Aero screen. However, the print, which obviously had excellent color, may have been timed with too much yellow, and therefore the colors didn’t pop the way they should, the skies had NO blue in them (white), and that part of it was not to my liking. I say “may have been timed” because there is another possible explanation and that is that today’s projection bulbs have a yellow bias to them, whereas prior to the 80s (I think) projectors were still using carbon arc lighthouses, which have a blue bias to them. So it could be that. Interestingly, with all that yellow, the film looked very close to a lot of today’s films, where the filmmakers like that washed out non-blue look. Sadly, the print was in mono. When I got home, I checked the DVD, which, as I remembered, has perfect color – not too much yellow and the proper amount of blue and boy do the colors pop and everything looks exactly like it should. If the studios did time it incorrectly, all they had to do was look at their own DVD to see what it should have been. But if it was the projection bulb then I fear for tonight’s showing of Exodus, which, we were told by the guy who gives a pre-show spiel, has great color and looks great. In fact, if Exodus does look great, then we’ll have the answer – and if it looks too yellow, then we’ll also have the answer.

I then came home. From the time I got on the freeway till the time I got off the freeway (the same drive that had taken forty minutes) it was exactly nine minutes.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I need to get my beauty rest so I can be fresh and but alive for writing tomorrow.

Today, as noted, I shall be writing. A new dishwasher is supposed to be delivered, but I’m not sure exactly when their coming (no one has called to confirm) and I don’t think they’re installing, so I’m not quite sure where to have them put it – probably the garage until the handyman comes out to install.

After writing, I shall toddle back to the Monica of Santa to eat and then see Mr. Otto Preminger’s film of Exodus. Miss Eva Marie Saint will be there to introduce the film. I’ll be getting home quite late, as Exodus is close to three and a half hours long. I’m praying for a lovely print. I wish it would not only be a lovely print but I wish it could be in stereo, but I’m thinking that will be a near impossibility.

Tomorrow, in addition to writing, I’ll be getting ready for our informal reading at seven. I have to go out and buy some water for said informal reading, and the author is bringing some foodstuffs.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, write, perhaps take delivery of a new dishwasher, and then see a showing of Exodus. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, and let’s hope that Porgy and Bess show up to the next screening.

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