July 08, 2011:
"A SOW'S EAR"
Well, dear readers, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Conversely, you cannot make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. I once tried to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear - first of all, have you ever tried taking an ear from a sow? Those sows are ornery about things like that. They do not care for things like people trying to just take their ear, willy-nilly and also nilly-willy. And when I finally got the damn ear and made it into a purse it was certainly not a silk purse, it was a sow purse. I gave it to a neighbor. All this by way of saying that The First Nudie Musical has never sounded very good – not in its theater engagements and not on cable and not on home video. It’s not BAD, but it’s just sort of what it is – a low-budget 1970s movie with ordinary monophonic sound. So, I knew going in we would not be turning that sow’s ear into a silk purse, but I was very pleased with the way it all came out. It was a little dispiriting that whilst the engineer put sound to picture we were watching on a cheap, uncalibrated 4x3 monitor – so we weren’t even seeing the hi-def image at all and everything was too yellow on that monitor – I got a little freaked out until he told me they just use that because they don’t really need anything high-end to lay the sound back. We were able to fix the rubbery lip-synching in the first verse of the first number and it’s perfect now. Everything else went very easily and we finished a half-hour ahead of schedule. The engineer had never seen the film and I must say he was laughing out loud from start to finish and told me he really loved it.
So, sound and picture are married and now it’s on to the clean-up phase. But even watching it on the crappy monitor, it really didn’t look like that’s going to be a huge deal – the most important stuff is getting rid of the cue marks at the end of each reel, and then whatever they can do to remove some of the really light scratches will be fine, and there’s a bit of work that can hopefully be done to the emulsion lines in the end credits. After I left there, I came home, but it was just too hot to do the long jog, so I went and had a bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich – small – and that was very good. I then did some errands and whatnot and picked up one small package. Then I answered e-mails and did stuff on the computer, after which I did the four-mile jog at five-thirty. Doing it then was much easier, so I really do have to do it either early morning or late afternoon. After that, I sat on my couch like so much fish.
Last night, I watched two count them two motion pictures on Blu and Ray. The first motion picture on Blu and Ray was entitled People On Sunday, a German silent film from Germany. People On Sunday is a very interesting film for many reasons – it was made by a bunch of young filmmakers who all would go on to have Hollywood careers. It shows us Berlin in 1930 and it tells a non-story about some people and how they spend their Sunday – the actors were non-pros playing themselves in a sort of fictional story. Apparenly all of it was pretty much improvised, although the bones of the story was created by someone named Billie Wilder (who would get rid of the “ie” and add a “y” and become one of the greatest screenwriter/directors in the history of film). The film was directed by Edgar Ulmer and Robert Siodmak, although Wilder contended that everyone who worked on it directed it. Ulmer would ultimately become a hardworking B-film director and would give the world the classic sleazy noir, Detour. Siodmak also came to the US and became a great director, also doing some classic noirs for Universal and then ultimately ending up in television, where he continued to do great work. The assistant cameraman was someone named Fred Zinneman. The film itself has real charm and I enjoyed it very much. There’s not a lot of meat, but what’s there is cherce. Transfer is as good as it can be considering the source material.
I then watched the second motion picture on Blu and Ray, which was entitled Hannie Caulder, starring Miss Raquel Welch, Mr. Robert Culp, Mr. Ernest Borgnine, Mr. Strother Martin, and Mr. Jack Elam. The latter three are the villains who routinely murder anyone in their way, kill Miss Welch’s husband for no reason, and then all three have their way with her and she seeks revenge. Now, that could have been a good yarn, a good oater, done in the Italian style that Mr. Leone had made popular with the populace. And we do certainly get that style in terms of photography and the way in which Miss Welch is dressed rather like The Man With No Name. I normally enjoy Burt Kennedy-directed films but Mr. Kennedy really came a cropper here. Why? Because you can’t have vicious, violent villains who kill and rape and have them played like The Three Stooges, which is exactly what happens here. It’s ludicrous and you never ever take the story seriously because of it. The film was, oddly, a British production, so we get weird things like Christopher Lee as a gun maker in Mexico – no pretense at an accent – it’s just Christopher Lee talking like Christopher Lee. And we get a one-minute cameo by Diana Dors as a dance hall girl – again, no pretense of an American accent – she’s just as English as can be. And weirdest of all, halfway through the film, for no reason, Stephen Boyd shows up. He has no dialogue and he is on the screen in a couple of scenes for maybe ninety seconds all in – no billing, no talking, so why? It’s not one of Miss Welch’s finest hours either. The transfer is okay and the color is excellent, but the film is a complete stinker. You wouldn’t know that from visiting the imdb, where everyone thinks it’s a masterpiece and an undiscovered gem (as is every film ever made, no matter how stinky).
After that, the Kritzerland designer and I kind of finalized the design for the Blu-Ray packaging of Nudie Musical. We’re still playing with a couple of things, but the layout and design are settled on. Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because frankly this section of the notes is beginning to feel like a sow’s purse.
Today is going to be very busy – I have to prep the Jason Graae album for release – writing a blurb, getting the eBlast ready for Monday’s announcement. I also have to finish writing the last two episodes of the web series and I have to talk to cameramen here and in New York – we’re only a month away now and it’s beginning to scare me. I also have to finish casting. I’m actually not concerned about the LA shoot at all, as I’m here and can do it as I need to do it. But the New York shoot is complicated and involves all these actors who are starring on Broadway – so everything has to be coordinated very well. I’m probably going to ask a friend in New York to associate produce those episodes, so they can take care of all those details. I will do the long jog, I will hopefully pick up some packages and an important envelope, and I will do a bunch of errands and whatnot. I also need to book an appointment with Teddy because I’m looking ever so unkempt.
Tomorrow, I have stuff during the day and then I’ll go out somewhere and have a nice meal, which I really need. Sunday is a rehearsal and during all of this I have to finish casting the next Gardenia show and I have to choose the songs, gather the music, and make CDRs – I’m about a week behind now, so all that has to get done this weekend.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, prep a release, write, jog, cast, hopefully pick up packages and an important envelope, do errands and whatnot, and eat something light but amusing. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Friday – what is currently in your CD player and your DVD/video player? I’ll start – CD, catching up on all sorts of soundtrack releases, some of which I like and many of which I don’t. Blu and Ray, not sure what’s next. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I continue to try and make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.