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February 13, 2008:

I’M A LATIN FROM MANHATTAN

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I was contemplating writing these here notes in Latin, but since I don’t know any Latin I decided against it. Hence, the notes will be written in Plain Olde English, but with perhaps an erat or amas thrown in for good measure every now and then. Of course, there is the other kind of Latin – you know, a Latin from Manhattan, and I could throw in words like gracias and adobe. Now I’m confused, Latin-wise. Which Latin is it? Well, I should quidam while I’m ahead. Speaking of ahead, yesterday was a long and winding day. I got up early, I did some work on Ye Olde Laptop and at Ye Olde Piano, and then I had a nice work session. Then I had lunch at Art’s Deli, where I ordered my usual tri-salad plate (two scoops turkey salad, one scoop egg salad). The whole meal I was wondering why the turkey salad tasted so bad – it didn’t even look like it usually does. It wasn’t until hours later when my brain began to function that I realized they’d given me two scoops of their disgusting tuna salad rather than the turkey salad I’d asked for. After lunch, I had a bunch of errands to do, then I had work I had to do on Kevin Spirtas and Sean McDermott’s show, and then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched two count them two motion pictures on DVD. As you know, last week I watched two sudsers with Lana Turner, neither of which made me get emotional in any way, shape, or form. But last night, I watched two motion pictures that one cannot classify as weepies, and yet, there I was, a puddle of weepiness. The first motion picture on DVD was entitled The Apartment, a film of Billy Wilder, with a screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, starring Mr. Jack Lemmon, Miss Shirley MacLaine, and Mr. Fred McMurray. I’ve seen the film many times since seeing it during its initial release and I’ve always thought it was great. But last night, I just realized how truly brilliant it is in every way, from Mr. Wilder’s splendid direction, to the great, great script, to the perfect performances. And I just got so caught up in Miss MacLaine’s Fran Kubelik that I found myself tearing up several times. Mr. Lemmon was never better than in this film – a fantastic performance with both comedy and drama. The way this film walks that tightrope is a lesson in great screenwriting – huge laughs, unforced pathos and drama in perfect complimentary portions. The new special edition transfer is a huge step up from the previous DVD – the only problem is it’s a teeny bit dark, but it’s sharp and the black-and-white scope photography looks great. There is a second disc of extras, which are just more of the same crap that I can no longer stomach and I really have to stop watching them before I hurl not only vile epithets at the TV but my shoe as well. Of course, there’s the ubiquitous and awful Dr. Drew Casper, plus the equally obnoxious-sounding author of some book on Wilder, plus a bunch of other people no one cares about. Thankfully, Shirley takes a brief part (and why brief – the whole damn thing should be her), along with I.A.L. Diamond’s son, Jack Lemmon’s son, Chris, the editor of the film, as well as the script supervisor. But what puts this featurette on the all-time awful list is the director’s shooting of original footage to illustrate things – actors (or models) pretending to be people, typewriters, all sorts of idiotic things. Note to idiot featurette maker: Just show the damn people and let them talk and take your “art” and deposit it in the nearest trash receptacle. I’ll stop before I start throwing in some Latin words. I then watched the second motion picture on DVD, which was entitled Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, a film of Stanley Kramer, written by William Rose, and starring Mr. Spencer Tracy, Miss Katherine Hepburn, Mr. Sidney Potier, and Miss Katherine Houghton. I’ve always liked the film and I still do, very much indeed. It’s not a masterpiece like The Apartment, but it does what it does very well – it’s got huge laughs, it tackles what was then a very touchy subject in a very caring way, and it is, in its final moments, intensely moving for a whole slew of reasons. The film really has only one flaw and it’s a pretty major one – Miss Houghton, whose performance ranges from okay to pretty bad. She looks perfect, of course, being the niece of Miss Hepburn. Mr. Potier is great, as are Roy Glenn and Beah Richards as his parents. Isabel Sanford is wonderful as the maid, and Cecil Kellaway is a delight at the Monsignor. But it is Mr. Tracy and Miss Hepburn who make the film so emotional and Mr. Tracy’s final speech is one of the great moments of screen acting, as are Miss Hepburn’s reactions to it. Of course, there was much personal stuff there, along with the fact that everyone knew Mr. Tracy was dying (he did, in fact, die two weeks after shooting wrapped). And DeVol’s score is great – very underrated (no one ever talks about it anywhere). It beautifully captures the emotions of the film, and Mr. DeVol’s arrangements of the great, The Glory Of Love are just lovely. The new special edition transfer is a step up from the previous DVD but not enough of a step, if you ask me. The film still looks nothing like it did when printed in IB Technicolor. The skin tones make the actors look like they all have jaundice, and the contrast is milky, and really, there is just no excuse for it.

What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly button below before I start writing more Latin words like quid, quod, and qui, not necessarily in that order.

Today, I have much work to do – I will start proofing my book, slowly but surely, and I have work to do on the computer and at the piano, and then I must attend a meeting for that children’s charity event I’ll be helping with.

Tomorrow, is also a busy little day, with lots to do and a lunch with Mr. Jason Graae. Friday, of course, is the first day of the Hollywood Collector’s Show, which then continues on Saturday. I’m sure that will be a lot of fun, and yes, Virginia, I’ll be speaking Latin the entire time.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, work on the computer and at the piano, do errands and whatnot, and then attend a meeting. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we? And don’t forget to pepper your posts with lots of Latin words, such as vox, subito, and audita and Buenos dias, senors y senoritas.

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