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November 20, 2020:

COLONEL FIELDING, COLONEL FIELDING!

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, listening to another Klemperer box, this one entitled Romantic Symphonies and Overtures, so a little Schumann, a little Schubert, a little Tchaikovsky, some Franck, and those types.  Again, I am blown away by the sound on these albums – so brilliantly recorded and Klemperer has really become a favorite conductor.  The Schubert 8 and 9 here are right up there with the best I’ve heard.  But let’s not talk of such things when we can talk about Martians.  Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, we’re going to talk about Martians because I don’t feel they’ve been given their due recently.  But watching Mr. Rudy Giuliani and his team of clowns was as close as we’re ever going to probably get to seeing real Martians.  But we don’t need to talk about that because the insanity of it was in full view of the American public, many of whom, of course, buy the bull that was being slung, although even those cult types must have seen how crazy this thing was.  No, let’s talk about fun Martians, shall we, although back in the mid-1950s I didn’t think there was anything fun about the Martians who scared the HELL out of me at the Lido Theater on a triple bill scare show matinee.  I don’t really remember the other two films, but the other one was seared into my memory instantly and became a movie I’d watch whenever it was shown on television, albeit in black-and-white rather than color.  Of course, I’m speaking about the classic sci-fi film, Invaders from Mars, which spooked an entire generation of kids, both in its original showings in 1953, and then later scare show showings like the one I saw.  I watched the old Image DVD last night and loved it all over again.  Boy, does it push a lot of paranoia buttons.  In the first Kritzer book, Benjamin thinks his parents are Martians and is convinced they have the little “X” thing in the back of their necks.  And talk about imagery that scars for life, how about that head in the bubble with the tentacles?  And little Jimmy Hunt constantly running through Martian corridors yelling, “Colonel Fielding, Colonel Fielding.”  The colonel is played by veteran character actor, Morris Ankrum.  And in six degrees of whatever, his son David ended up playing Adam on Tabitha, when I wasn’t able to do the second pilot, the one that sold.  Invaders from Mars is a tight seventy-five minutes of wonderfulness.  The director, William Cameron Menzies, who was a set designer before graduating to director (he designed Gone With the Wind and many other classics) does wonders with no money. The little boy, Jimmy Hunt, is terrific and so easy to empathize with, and the adult actors are all excellent in conveying when they’ve been Martianized.  And then there’s the score by Raoul Kraushaar, which is brilliant.

Of course, there is some controversy about the score and who wrote it.  The son of composer Mort Glickman says his father wrote it, and wrote other scores for Mr. Kraushaar, but Kraushaar himself denied that and said Glickman only orchestrated.  He said, she said or some permutation thereof.  Given the score and the film itself, one would like to believe that a composer with a name like Raoul Kruashaar would have done it rather than someone named Mort Glickman.  I suppose we’ll never know, but it’s a great score.

The film is now “owned” by one Wade Williams, of whom the less you know the better, the kind of guy who bought up public domain films and copyrighted them under his own name, which I don’t think can be done anymore.  He says he got the rights to Invaders in a deal with its producers.  He has many prints and says he has a negative, but if he has a negative then why are the laserdisc and DVD sources obviously prints and not new or even good prints at that.  I personally owned a Kodachrome print of it that looked much better than what’s been released on home video.  He’s had inquiries about licensing, but for him all he cares about is money and no one’s going to license it unless he has a source that’s decent.  And he’s said he’ll do it himself, but of course he’s said that for a decade now – he used to post regularly on the Home Theatre Forum, but I suppose he got tired of being ridiculed, which he deserved.  And then there was someone overseas who apparently has a negative of some sort that’s in excellent shape.  But that person can’t do anything because Williams will go after him, most likely.  It’s a horrible situation and why people like him should never be allowed to do things like he’s done.  But that’s just my opinion and what do I know?  When the laserdisc was done, they wanted to include the British ending, which differs from the American ending.  They couldn’t get it from old Wade so who do you think they got it from?  Li’l ol’ me – can’t remember how I came into possession of it, but I had it on a short reel of 35mm film and let them transfer it.  I’m even credited on the laserdisc for it, but not on the DVD, unless I missed it.  Anyway, I love it dearly.  And now we’re having a bit of Schubert sherbet called symphony number five.

Yesterday wasn’t as annoying as the previous day.  I was up at seven-thirty after four hours of sleep, but after checking e-mails and such, I went back to bed, finally fell asleep and slept until one, so I suppose I got eight hours of sleep somehow.  I then went to the mail place and picked up a couple of things, then came right home.  Postmates had sent me a 30% off code so I ordered pasta papa from Hugo’s and it was cheaper than if I’d just ordered myself and picked up.  It arrived about forty minutes later and was excellent as always.  After that, I did a little work on project two, then had to shave and shower and get ready for the Zoom read-through of Doug’s short little playlet.  It’s just a cast of five.  I gave my usual little speech even though I’ve directed all but one of the cast.  Then they read the play and that went fine.  I asked Doug to make two tiny little dialogue adjustments and he did. It’s only nine pages long so the shoot should go smoothly in that regard.  I did mention to everyone that we’re doing to shoot it like an actual film rather than just doing an entire go-through in a wide master shot, with a second camera doing close-ups and following characters.  This is a memory play and the leading lady goes from being a grandmother to younger instantly and I’ve already figured out how I’ll do that.  So, when we block on Sunday, I’ll then know how I want to cover things.  We’ll probably have three more rehearsals next week, and then we’ll maybe shoot next weekend.  Each of the playlets has five hours and we should be able to get it done in that amount of time if everyone is on their game.

After that, I did some work at the piano and on the computer, then sat on my couch like so much fish and finished Stavisky, which certainly is not a wholly satisfying motion picture, but an interesting one and I really do love the Sondheim music.  Then it was Invaders from Mars, which made me very happy.  The rest you know and now Klemperer is doing a wonderful Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn – just beautifully beautiful.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, and then we have three Zoom rehearsals, after which I’ll try to mush on with project two, and then at some point watch, listen, and relax, especially relax.

Tomorrow, she of the Evil Eye comes and since I won’t go to Art’s Deli again, I may try a local eatery and hope because it’s that early that I can get seated.  Then, later in the afternoon, I’ll have a visitor for a couple of hours and that will be fun, and then I have to prepare for our rehearsal from one to three on Sunday.  I can’t imagine not being able to block this in its entirety in two hours – hell, I’ve been known to block an entire act in three, and there won’t be anything complicated here.  Then next week will be rehearsals to get everything where it needs to be and then we’ll shoot it.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, hopefully pick up packages, eat, have three Zoom rehearsals, and then watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/Blu and Ray player?  I’ll start – CD, a Franz Schrecker opera called Irrelohe – I really like his music a lot, so I’m looking forward to hearing the opera.  DVD, I’ve got a lot of stuff on the couch, so I’ll choose one.  Your turn.  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, where I’m sure I will dream of yelling “Colonel Fielding, Colonel Fielding!”

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