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March 15, 2018:

THE DAY THAT GOT BETTER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, it is late and I must write these here notes in a hurry for it is late and therefore I must write these here notes in a hurry for it is late. Were we just in a loop – loop, of course, is pool spelled backwards, just in case you were wondering. I, for one, was wondering. I, for one, wonder what the HELL I’m talking about.

Yesterday started off poorly but got better as the day wore on. Also, as the day wore on things got better. Of course, I missed most of the morning again – arising at eleven-thirty after having fallen asleep around three-thirty, so I did manage eight hours or thereabouts. Once up, I had a little texting volley and then I answered e-mails and did some work on the computer. We’re having a terrible time finding a pianist for the April show – none of our usual folks are available for it so hopefully someone will suggest someone. Then I had a nice telephonic conversation that made the day a lot brighter. After that, I rustled me up some Wacky Noodles – about six ounces of ‘em and they were mighty tasty. I had one teeny-tiny cupcake left from the previous day and I had that for my sweet.

Then I did some work at the piano. Grant said he needed protein (he’s working long hours on his book) so he came over since I had some salami and cheese here and he made himself a sandwich (no mean feat). After that, I finally sat on the couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture on Blu and Ray entitled Tom Jones, the new Criterion release. I had the MGM/UA DVD release and some Japanese DVD release, both absolutely wretched.  It’s no wonder that folks watching that travesty of a transfer didn’t care for the film, that and the fact that people today doing the reviewing can’t ever seem to understand the context of when a film was released.  It’s like the kiddies today who see Psycho for the first time and proclaim not scary and boring.  Uh huh.

I saw Tom Jones repeatedly during its initial exclusive long run at the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills.  About fifteen times in all.  Every showing was packed to the rafters, and I am here to tell you that the laughs were huge, boisterous, and often, screaming laughter, every time.  Because the common complaint among the reviews of both the DVD and the two I’ve seen for the Blu-ray is that it’s not very funny.  Well, it’s a different world today. When Mr. Richardson did his recut in 1989 people were baffled by the film then for the same reason – it’s been ripped off so many times by so many inferior talents and the world is simply different now – but at the time, this film was so invigorating and fresh and wild, and audiences ate it up like a C.C. Brown’s hot fudge sundae.   There is a reason it won all those Oscars – it was loved and it was a huge success.

The DVDs were transferred from who knows what, but they were completely brown and faded and disgusting and, needless to say, unwatchable.  So, what do we have here? We have a transfer that’s mostly off the camera negative but with more than a few shots and sequences taken from interpositives and internegatives.  I found it completely obvious when it went from the camera negative to the other negs and it’s a shame that the entire transfer couldn’t be done from the camera negative, because the majority that IS from that looks fantastic.  Sharp, detailed, and COLOR, actual color – greens, reds, blues, browns (rather than all brown mud) – what a treat to see it at least resembling what it was back in 1963.

I do not like the director’s cut at all so here’s a big old warning and perhaps someone can explain to me why Criterion would do this: The first disc you pull out has no identifier as to which version it is.  Why?  So, assuming Criterion would of course put the Oscar-winning theatrical cut on the first disc you pull out, that’s what I watched. I didn’t notice at all that it said “director’s cut” under the title on the menu screen because as soon as that screen came up I hit play.  So, it’s the disc that’s underneath the plastic that you want – that is the theatrical release, and why that wouldn’t be on top is anyone’s guess.  How irritating.  The theatrical cut is much better – Richardson thought he was tightening, but all those bits, many of which are from the first third of the film, are helpful in terms of pace and story.  I recommend watching the film that was actually released back in 1963.

For me, it’s still fun to watch Tom Jones.  It’s wild and wooly and charming.  Albert Finney is great, and the large supporting cast is just brilliant.  Edith Evans made me laugh out loud, just as she did back in 1963.  And a large part of what makes the whole thing work is John Addison’s wonderful score (I put out the very first CD release of it a decade ago) – the love theme is delightful, and the action and comedy scoring is exemplary.

So, I highly recommend this, even with the caveats that the non-camera negative footage is not as crisp or detailed or colorful.  Haven’t looked at the extras but they seem like they might be interesting.

After that, I listened to music, did some work on the computer, and relaxed, not necessarily in that order.

Today, I shall work at the piano, work on the computer, continue casting, choose songs, eat, hopefully pick up packages, and then relax.

Tomorrow is more of the same, then I’m seeing a musical comedy at a high school that dear reader Leslie’s daughter is in. I’m not at all sure what the weekend will bring, but hopefully it will bring merriment and mirth and laughter and legs.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, work at the piano, cast, choose songs, eat, hopefully pick up packages, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Albert Finney and Susannah York? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy that the day, after a poor start, got better.

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