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January 26, 2008:

THE BIG SQUARE HOLE

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I must write these here notes in a hurry, for she of the Evil Eye will be here bright and early and also early and bright. I’m having trouble concentrating because to my left there is a big square hole where once there was a dishwasher, and frankly and even georgely it’s giving me the willies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having a big square hole to my left, and I doubt I’d feel differently if it were to my right. The dishwasher died some months ago and is finally being replaced by a brand spanking new one. In any case, until that’s installed (later today), I have a big square hole to my left that is giving me the willies. Speaking of the willies, yesterday was a day in which there were seconds and minutes and hours, oh my. I got up early, did a few things that needed doing, then settled down to do some writing. After about four pages, I needed a little break so I took one. I did a few errands, then the new dishwasher was delivered, then I went back to writing and wrote three more pages. Then I went out and got some Mexican food for my meal o’ the day, then I came back and Mr. Assistant Handy Man came by and removed the dead dishwasher, leaving me a big square hole to my left. I then toddled off to the Egyptian Theater to see Otto Preminger’s Hurry Sundown.

Last night, I saw a motion picture entitled Hurry Sundown, a film of Otto Preminger, starring Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, Robert Hooks, Diahanne Carroll, Burgess Meredith, John Phillip Law, Faye Dunaway, and lots of other good folks. I must admit Hurry Sundown is one of the few Preminger films I’ve never seen. And the reason I’ve never seen it is the unanimous scorn that has been heaped upon this film over the years. Well, I come to praise Hurry Sundown, not to damn it. A visit to the imdb reveals that for once almost every “review” there is awful – none of the usual cries of “undiscovered masterpiece.” So, imagine my surprise to watch a film that is nowhere near as bad as they say – not only that, imagine my surprise to find a very entertaining, mostly well-written (by Thomas C. Ryan and Horton Foote), and really well directed film. In fact, I don’t know what the HELL these “critics” are talking about, because they seem to have seen a completely different film to the one I saw. The imdb comments actually seem to have been made by people who’ve just read reviews or other comments but actually haven’t seen the film. And I can imagine that if one watched it on TV (which is, after all, the only way it can be seen since it’s never been on home video) in pan-and-scan and interruptions every ten minutes, well, no film can withstand that kind of idiocy. The film has been called trash, sleaze, and I just don’t get it. The scene that always seems to come in for the most ridicule involves Miss Fonda having some oral fun with a saxophone – only guess what – it’s a wonderful scene because the characters are having playful fun and know it’s tongue-in-cheek (to coin an apt phrase). Other imdb people call Dunaway’s performance hideously over the top – again, what film are they seeing? She’s just fine, as are all the actors. Caine has a little trouble sustaining his Southern accent, but he’s very good, Fonda’s terrific, Beah Richards is beyond excellent, Hooks is great, and Burgess Meredith is colorful and perfect as a bigoted judge you love to hate. Also colorful is George Kennedy, who’s really funny in this. Other excellent performances from Robert Reed and Henry Backus and Doro Merande. The film has an excellent score by Hugo Montenegro, and beautiful photography by Loyal Griggs and another cameraman whose name I can’t remember at the moment. Yes, it’s twenty minutes too long, but it held my attention throughout and it’s so much better than the trash they make now. In fact, certain parts of it, with Preminger’s very long takes, made me think that perhaps Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson has viewed this film, since greed is a theme that runs through both Hurry Sundown and There Will Be Blood. And heretical though it may be, I enjoyed Hurry Sundown more than There Will Be Blood. You’ll remember my talking about the IB Technicolor prints of Carmen Jones and Exodus at the Aero and how yellow they looked, which I surmised was because of today’s projector bulbs having a yellow bias. I think I can now narrow that down more specifically to the Aero Theater’s projection bulbs having a yellow bias that turns Technicolor prints to jaundice. Hurry Sundown was shown in an IB Technicolor print at the Egyptian and it looked great – rich colors, perfect skin tones, and I just sat there remembering why I love IB Tech prints so much – the color just has a certain vibrancy that Eastman color prints, good as they may be, never quite capture. I now wish that Carmen Jones and Exodus had been shown at the Egyptian rather than the Aero. In any case, Hurry Sundown was a pleasant surprise to me, and a film that deserves some reassessment. Skidoo is bad – Hurry Sundown, while not up to his best, is certainly worth watching and a lot more entertaining than a lot of stuff from the 60s – and it hasn’t really dated one bit.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because this big square hole to my left is giving me the willies.

Have I mentioned that there is a big square hole to my left that is giving me the willies?

Today, I shall package up a couple of orders, I shall ship said orders, I shall drive about in my motor car, then return to await Mr. Handy Man, who will install Ye New Dishwasher. After that, I shall write at least five or six pages, and then I shall toddle off to see a Preminger double bill of The 13th Letter (which I’ve never seen) and Bunny Lake Is Missing.

Tomorrow I’ll have to decide whether I want to see Advise and Consent – it’s tempting, as Mr. Don Murray will be in attendance. Oh, and I forgot to mention that at last night’s screening Mr. Robert Hooks and Mr. John Phillip Law were in attendance and spoke after the film.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, package, ship, do errands, write, and then see a double bill. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your absolute favorite versions of your absolute favorite songs? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, as I escape to the bedroom environment from this big square hole to my left that’s giving me the willies.

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