Well, dear readers, I have finished the orchestral works of one Strauss, Richard and I found it all quite enjoyable – a few of the pieces are, to my ears, incredible, and the rest were nice to hear. It was a lot of music to listen to, but nothing makes me happier than to hear music and especially to discover new music I did not previously know. I also heard some more SACDs yesterday – finished with the Cluytens Ravel SACDs and I’m afraid they’re going on the sale pile – I compared them to the big box o’ Cluytens and frankly they don’t sound as good. Yes, they may technically be more true to the source, but the CDs are warmer and have more bottom end, while the SACDs, to my ears, sound harsh. Whilst listening to them I also read some fun bits of tid from a book about the Alfred Hitchcok Presents and Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows. I gotta tell you, hearing Our Man in Hollywood just takes me right back to my fifteen-year-old self (when this album came out – 1963), sitting in my bedroom with my stereophonic record player and loving every cut on what would essentially be considered easy listening music. This is one of those Spanish RCA releases, most of which don’t sound very good since they’re from copies of the master tape rather than the actual master tape, but this one sounds great, actually.
Yesterday was a relaxing day – I got nine hours of sleep, and just loafed around the house loafingly. First I answered some e-mails, then I had a telephonic conversation, then did just a spot of work on the computer. After that, I rustled up some Wacky Noodles with some sautéed chicken and ate that all up – it was excellent and very filling, even though I only made about five ounces of pasta. After that, I listened to music, then sat on my couch like so much fish.
Yesterday, I watched the Twilight Time Blu and Ray of Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie. I loved it when it came out and saw it bunches of times. It would be the last real Billy Wilder film to garner laughs like that – every time I saw it the audiences roared, mostly at anything Walter Matthau did. But even back then I found anything involving Cliff Osmond a trial to sit through. I know he was supposed to be funny but I thought he was not funny at all. He’s already appeared in two other Wilder films – Irma La Douce, which I’d seen but he basically had nothing to do in that one, and then Kiss Me, Stupid, which wasn’t around long enough for me to see. When I finally did see it years later, he and Mr. Ray Walston were, for me, singularly unfunny and unpleasant to boot. So watching The Fortune Cookie now I am struck by how I still can’t stand his performance and how he almost ruins the film for me. I also wasn’t completely mad about Judi West, but her character is pretty awful. And there’s a very mean undercurrent that runs under the film. But I’ll tell you something – Matthau gives one of the greatest comic performances ever. His every grimace, forehead rise, line reading, is pure genius. And this may be the last Jack Lemmon performance where I felt he wasn’t becoming labored and unfunny. And Ron Rich is terrific as the football player who accidentally injures Lemmon. Some of the dialogue is classic Wilder (and I.A.L. Diamond) and Wilder’s direction is, as always, wonderful, as is the black-and-white scope photography and Andre Previn’s score. So, these days, for me, a bit of a hit and miss proposition. I have to say, for an MGM/UA transfer it looks pretty fantastic – one of their best. If you love Wilder or you love Matthau and Lemmon it’s definitely worth the purchase.
I also began watching Robert Mulligan’s The Man in the Moon, the movie that brought Reese Witherspoon stardom – I enjoyed it when it came out and I’m enjoying it now, too. I also checked a bit of Twilight Time’s The Valachi Papers. It’s really not very good, but I’ve always liked it since I saw it on its release. Charles Bronson is always fun to watch, and I’d enjoyed the book very much. The film is clumsily directed by Terence Young, who did much better in other movies, and there’s some pretty bad post-dubbing due to it being an International production. But even with those caveats I’m enjoying it. The Sony transfer has raised no eyebrows in reviews, which surprises me because the movie has never EVER looked good and they’re not even questioning the look itself. But this transfer perfectly replicates the look of the film so it’s exactly as it should be.
After that, I listened to more music, as per paragraph one, and even late in the evening I was still very full from the Wacky Noodles with sautéed chicken bits.
Today, I have some work to do, mostly getting the announcement of our new release ready – I’m waiting on some information for the track list and then we can finish prepping it. The plan is for tomorrow morning at six for the announcement. Then I’ll hopefully pick up some packages and then we have our first Kritzerland rehearsal, which I’m looking forward to. I may then have dinner with a couple of our cast members. We shall see. Then I’ll relax and do some work on the film music event.
Tomorrow we have a little rehearsal for the film music event, and I’m hoping I can hear everything and figure out the show order because until I do I can’t really start writing the commentary for it. Fortunately, someone already gathered the information about each film, so I don’t have to go hunting around for it. Then the rest of the week is meeting and meals, the second Kritzerland rehearsal, another film music event rehearsal on Friday, our stumble-through on Saturday, sound check and show on Sunday, and film music event on Labor Day Monday. Whew!
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, prep our new release announcement, hopefully pick up packages, have a rehearsal, sup, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films starring Mr. Charles Bronson and Mr. Walter Matthau? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have been a lazy loafer on a Sunday.