January 23, 2005:
"THE DANNY THOMAS SPIT TAKE"
Well, dear readers, itís the beginning of a brand spanking new week. This shall be a nice busy week for the likes of me, and that is always a good thing. I shall be writing, I shall be doing the ASCAP/Disney workshop, I shall be doing oh so many things in oh so many ways, and I shall try to have a splendidly splendid time each and every day. Yesterday, for example, I had a splendidly splendid day not doing much of anything at all. Oh, I visited Sierra Madre, met Mr. Ray Harryhausen, saw my pal Bill Stout, and came home with some treasure. I even managed to write a little bit, and then I settled in for some fine DVD viewing. It was all very relaxing and enjoyable. I had no irritating messages or e-mails, and the day and evening was as smooth as a gazelle doing back-flips. Isnít that exciting? Isnít that just too too?
Yesterday I watched two count them two motion picture entertainments on DVD. The first was yet another film by the director Iím most fond of these days, Patrice Leconte. Not many of his films are available on DVD in the US, but there are some gray market Chinese DVDs, so I bought one of those. It was entitled 1 Chance Sur 2. Unfortunately, the film is shot in scope (2:35) but the DVD, except for the credits is presented in 1:85, most annoying. However, the film is a total delight. All of Mr. Leconteís films are completely different from each other, and so far the five Iíve seen have all been marvelously marvelous. The nincompoops on the imdb have no idea what this film is Ė they all think itís some kind of spoof or James Bond film. You do wonder what film these people are actually watching. In any case, the basic premise is that a young girl gets out of prison (for having stolen a car), and she receives a cassette tape left by her recently departed mother. On the tape the mother says that she was once in love with two men at the same time, neither of the men knowing about the other. One of the two is the girlís father, and the mother suggests she find them. The girl, the utterly adorable Vanessa Paradis, sets out to do so. Concurrent with that, there is also a parallel story going on about a drug deal, Russians, and fifty million dollars in a suitcase. The girl finds her two potential fathers Ė one played by Jean Paul Belmondo, the other played by Alain Delon. From there on the stories converge and the film becomes one great big ball of fun Ė with dangerous doings and fantastic camaraderie between all three stars. For me, the concoction was an utter delight and now that Iíve seen it, Iíll be ordering the French DVD (in French only) just to watch it again in its proper ratio. I am now going to seek out the rest of Mr. Leconteís oeuvre. I understand weíll be getting some proper editions of many of his films later this year. Mr. Leconte is a real movie director in the best sense of the word, and his ability to work with excellent writers on a variety of subject matters and genres marks him as one of the most versatile directors working today. I then watched a 20th Century Fox motion picture which Iíd never seen all the way through: A Letter to Three Wives. What a terrific film Ė a real ďtalkingĒ picture in the best sense Ė sparkling dialogue from a master storyteller, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The conceit of the film is really fun, as is the off-screen narration of Celeste Holm as Addie, the woman who sets the plot in motion. Wonderful performances all around, especially from Ann Southern and Linda Darnell. Jeanne Crain is fine, too, as are the men Ė Paul Douglas, Kirk Douglas and Jeffrey Lynn (who actually has the most thankless role in the film). Best of all, we get the amazing Thelma Ritter Ė one of her bits involving a Chinese screen, caused me to do the Danny Thomas Spit Take. The transfer is okay Ė I didnít quite understand the softness of it or the murkiness of it until I went to the ďrestorationĒ comparison. It seems the camera negative is lost and they had to go from various prints, so that explains everything. Itís shocking that a major studio would lose a camera negative to anything let alone a classic film. Go know.
What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why donít we all click on the Unseemly Button below, and why donít we all do the Danny Thomas Spit Take whilst doing it. On the count of three: One, two, three!
Did we all do the Danny Thomas Spit Take? I know I did. Iím wiping off the monitor screen now. I just love doing the Danny Thomas Spit Take, donít you? Itís ever so much fun at parties, especially for those sitting nearby. Perhaps weíll all do it at the New York get-together.
For some reason, itís taken a very long time to write these here notes. I donít know why, really. I started at the usual time, and itís taken about fifteen extra minutes. Certainly there is nothing earth-shattering in the notes that should have taken an extra fifteen minutes. Well, the Spit Take took a few extra minutes, maybe thatís it.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must drive about in my motor car for a short time, I must do some things around the home environment, I must write a few words if I feel like doing so, and I must watch a DVD or three. Todayís topic of discussion: Itís free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to choose the topics and we all get to post about them. So, letís have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, whilst we all do the Danny Thomas Spit Take for our friends and neighbors.