Monday, January 31, 2011

Untitled Box 2011. Mixed media. 7" x 7" x 5"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Affair in Trinidad 1952

A very weak 2nd cousin to the wonderful 1946 pairing of Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in Gilda this was Columbia Pictures 3rd and final attempt at duplicating the heat and sexual tension that the two stars brought to Gilda. It didn’t work. This cold war plot is pretty ridiculous. Rita who is a performer in a Trinidad hot spot learns that her husband a failed painter has committed suicide or has he? It turns out that her husband was involved in some kind of spy business with what I assume are Russian agents (this was 1952 after all) who want to get their hands on some top secret weapons so they can blow up the United States. Rita is approached by the police captain played by Torin Thatcher to infiltrate this espionage crew that is headed by the very rich Alexander Scourby (who was making his movie debut) because he has the hots for Hayworth. Scourby lives in a big unCaribbean mansion that looks like it should be in Beverly Hills and not in the tropics and has a lot of tough guys and one mean dog guarding the place. Glenn Ford who plays her brother- in -law gets on a plane to Trinidad (and winds up sitting next to one of the villains) because his brother wrote him a letter telling him that there might be a good job waiting for him and has no idea that his brother is dead. Upon arriving and learning of his brother’s death he blows up and wants to know the truth about what happened. Cheaply filmed mostly on the Columbia backlot, the only compensation of seeing this movie is the fantastic Hayworth who does two steamy musical numbers. Her singing is dubbed as usual but the dancing is all Rita and no one in movies ever moved like her. Hayworth who was 34 at the time, was still gorgeous and although she looks bored she really comes alive in the dance numbers. Rita who was one of the most beautiful of female movie stars ever did only a handful of movies after this one, and watching her I realized that this here was one gorgeous woman, not like the current crop of poor excuses that try to pass themselves off as movie stars, but are really either girls pretending to be woman or starting to go over the hill over botoxed broads. Meanwhile Glenn is twisted over what is going on, and starts to fall for Rita, never mind that his brother has been dead for a few days and this is his sister-in-law. In one of the unrealistic plot ploys, The police captain tells Rita not to tell Glenn what is really going on, so Glenn thinks that Rita is having an affair with the nasty Scorby, but of course Rita isn’t she’s just playing him along to get the info on the spies and find out just who really murdered her husband.. This is the kind of film that really needed the light touch of Hitchcock and not the heavy handed one of Vincent Sherman who did lots of woman’s movies over at Warner Brothers in the 40’s and early 50’s and who then moved on to directing for television. Also in the cast is the lively and enjoyable Valerie Bettis who did one other film and then pretty much disappeared. Here she plays the alcoholic somewhat sluttish bitchy wife of one of the spies who really knows how to dish. Also notable are Hayworth’s gowns designed by Jean Louis that got an Oscar nomination and in a small but noticeable role the African American Juanita Moore who plays Hayworth’s outspoken and compassionate Trinidadian housekeeper Dominique. It was uncommon to say the least to find a person of color cast in such a real and interesting part in the early 50’s.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Notebook pages for sale

You can view all the pages that I am offering for sale at this link. The drawings are only $200.00 each. You can reach me at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Notebook paintings, collages and drawings From January 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Short Takes

Animal Kingdom, 2010. Sensational first film from down under by David Michôd about a small time crime family living and dying in Melbourne. A perfect fit for the genre with standout performances by Ben Mendelsohn and 17 year old James Frecheville who plays the nephew of this highly dysfunctional and dangerous family. In a startling opening scene we see Frecheville on a couch watching tv with a woman who appears to be napping, but it turns out that she is dead from a heroin overdose and is his mother. He is soon brought back to the criminal lair by his grandmother played by Jacki Weaver the Matriarch of the brood and the mother of his dead mom. Looking like a dried up apple with a blonde wig, tiny Weaver plays the mother from hell in a hair raising performance that is low keyed with her cards held close to her chest so you really don’t know where she’s coming from or going. When she tells one of the characters “You've Done Some Bad Things, Sweetie” you want to duck and take cover. If there is any justice, she would be taking home an Oscar. The violence and blood letting is there but its not in your face gory or grisly. With Guy Pearce as a good cop trying to do his job. One of the years best films

Shockproof. Part of the Sam Fuller collection of early films of his, this offers up a screenplay which Fuller co-wrote with .Helen Deutsch .and with direction by Douglas Sirk. The movie starts off real good, with a just released from prison Patricia Knight making her way through a montage of her changing her look before she heads up to meet her parole officer played by Cornell Wilde looking sexy and sharp. Knight and Wilde were married at the time, so the sexual tension and attraction is actual even though by this time they had been married since 1937. Knight who had a nice look, was sort of a second tier Rita Hayworth and is trouble from the word go. Hanging out with bad people, breaking her parole and giving Wilde a ride for his money. Soon Cornell is falling for the dame, and here’s where things get dicey and the film starts to fall apart with unbelievable and improbable twists and turns and an unsatisfying ending that Deutsch soften up from Fuller’s much tougher ending. Still its an easy film to watch, thanks to a nice transfer, good on location L.A. scenes, some tart dialogue and eye candy Wilde and Knight.

Hammer Film Noir. Bad Blonde & Man Bait. This is vol.1 in a 3 set series and features a group of Hollywood has been’s and never been’s in low budget melodramas made in Great Britain that stretch the definition of film noir. Bad Blonde from 1953 stars the real life Bad Blonde Barbara Payton who personal story is more riveting and sleazy than any B movie she could have made including this one. Payton plays the American wife of Giuseppe Vecchi an irritating and vulgar Italian prize fighter promoter played with hammy relish by Frederick Valk. Into the mix comes a young fighter Johnny Flanagan so so played by attractive Tony Wright who when he gets one look at Payton putting on her nylons its Postman Always Rings Twice time. Directed by Reginald Le Borg a master of B’s and shlock including the Joe Palooka series.

Also on the disc is Man Bait from 1952 which stars George Brent, Marguerite Chapman and Diana Dors. whose real name was Diana Fluck. This is a somewhat enjoyable little mess of a movie that I found entertaining and unusual because it’s set in a bookstore, and has a lot of musty bookstore atmosphere that rings true. Brent gives his usual dull sleepwalking performance as the manager of the store who gets caught up in employee Dors sticky tangled web which leads to blackmail and murder. Directed by Terence Fisher who would go on to direct many of the Hammer horror films of the late 50’s and 60’s.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dennis Oppenheim 1938-2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Paintings on Paper from the late 80's & 90's


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Carole Lombard Still Matters

 This past week I had some hell of a cold, so to pass the time I watched six old films starring one of my favorite actresses from the golden age of Hollywood Carole Lombard. Why and what about her makes me love her so. Is it her beauty, her style, her laugh, her talent of course its all of the above and maybe something that I can’t even put my finger on. From the first time I laid eyes on her at a screening of “Nothing Sacred” at the old Museum Of Modern Art back in the 60’s it was love at first sight. Seeing her films back then was not easy, (not that its so easy these days either) so I had to be content with chopped versions of My Man Godfrey and To Be Or Not to be on television She had an interesting life, ups and downs. A short marriage to William Powell that most Art Deco of actors, and then the very publicized marriage to Clark Gable that was also short lived because of her tragic death at 33 in a plane crash on her way back from a war bond drive. Her mother was also killed. It’s hard for us to fathom how devastated the country was when news was received of her death. It was top of front page of the New York Times, when celebrity deaths were hardly given that kind of notice. Many of her films are just plain fluff and nonsense, the kind of films that the ordinary young female stars of today turn out at a rate of about one a month. But unlike these nothings she brought great style and dedication to them, the same style and skill that she would also bring to her classic films. She had been around a long time making films in the 1920’s where she worked with Mack Sennett, and you can see this experience in her no holds barred attitude to physical comedy that she demonstrated in many of her movies. If she had to fall on her rump, then she would take that fall herself. Her big breakthrough was in the classic and some say first screwball comedy “Twentieth Century” with John Barrymore, and its with this great frenzy of a film that she became what we call today a superstar. Her laugh. I like it when an actress has a great laugh and Lombard definitely had a great one robust and strong. Other actresses with great laughs are few and far between, Debra Winger, Patricia Arquette and Catherine Keener come to mind. Julia Roberts is noted for her laugh, but I find it forced and annoying, like everything else about her. Lombard’s style. No one wore clothes better than Lombard, the silky gowns and outfits designed for her by Travis Banton and Edith Head made her one of the best dressed stars during the 1930’s. Her Beauty. Yes one of the screen’s great beauties, her lovely complexion with the faint scar on her cheek from a bad car accident. She took a chance and had what was at the time cutting edge plastic surgery which worked and saved her face. The camera and the studio photographers loved her. Her co-stars. A who’s who of screen greats and near greats, Stewart, Jack Benny, Gable, Grant, Barrymore, Fred McMurray in several films, Bing Crosby, William Powell, Fredric March, the list goes on. Her last film To Be Or Not To Be was released shortly after her death, and there is a sadness in her performance. Maybe it had to do with her shaky marriage to Gable who was rumored to be having affairs with other actresses or I just might be reading into it, a feeling after the fact.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

susannah york 1939-2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Front Porch Review

Front Porch Review has just posted two of my photographs in their latest on line issue. You can view the photographs and the entire issue at this link, Thank you Front Porch Review.

Hiel Palin

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cafe Press

 Visit my Cafe Press Shop at this link

Where you can buy tee shirts, mugs, journals, prints and more with my designs at dirt cheap prices.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The King's Speech 2010

This is a charming gooey and moist fruit cake of a movie. It’s another masterpiece theatre like ride down the British royalty road that Americans love to take, and this time the take is on the stuttering Birdie better known as Prince Albert and his problems with speaking before the public. Birdie who will become King George VI right before the credits roll is played with superb fineness by Colin Firth who will absolutely positively win the Oscar this coming February. Also in the fine cast is Geoffrey Rush as his unorthodox speech therapist Lionel Logue, Helena Bonham Carter as his loyal, loving and witty wife Elizabeth, and a host of marvelous British actors and actresses. I must say that I was most taken with Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII and Eve Best as his lady love the multi divorced American Wallis Simpson and I would love to see a film made about that dangerous pair. The film is of course impeccably dressed, set and coiffed with just a hint of the usual wax work feel that is a given with these sort of films, oh look isn’t that Winston Churchill. Still I’m pleased to see that an intelligent yet entertaining film is doing well at the box office (the afternoon show that I went to was sold out) and I can easily recommend it.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Films of Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith Is a youngish British horror movie director who is obviously very smart and knowledgeable about the genre. I’ve seen three of his films recently, all with one word titles, CREEP 2004, SEVERANCE 2006 and TRIANGLE 2009 and unfortunately like most contemporary films of this genre they tend to come undone and fall apart around my feet. Still he does have an original streak in his filmmaking and is full of good and odd ideas. He sets his films in places that one would not want to be caught dead in: a deserted “ghost ship”, an isolated cabin in Eastern Europe and the tunnels of the London underground and peoples them with very good attractive, and vulnerable (a given in this genre) young actors who are usually set upon by crazed maniacs and killers. Sounds like the usual set up for grizzly horror movies, but Smith has more going on in his vision and has more juice and talent than most directors who slosh around in the genre. Creep pits an attractive, but not particularly nice or endearing strong young woman against a horrible creature (and I do mean horrible, wait until your peepers get a gander at him) who lives in the London underground and kills at will. In Severance a group of young employers from a multi-national weapons company on a sales retreat get lost in the mountains of what might be Slovakia or Hungry and are killed off one by one a scary rogue group of soldiers, and in Triangle which is the most supernatural of the lot, a young group of friends go sailing and encounter very serious problems on the open sea. Sometimes droll and tongue in cheek, the films do offer up quite a few jolts and jumps without resorting to extreme violence and gore. Now that opinion is mine, a seasoned and hardened horror aficionado and some people might still find his films too violent and gory for their taste. If they do they have no business loitering around this genre, because yes there is blood and gore, but he also mixes in a nice blend of humor and an unexpected political awareness that is particularly evident in Severance. There are also lots of loose ends along with big gaps and holes and unexamined and unexplained threads in the plots but these are common defects of the genre and not just his films.

First Collage of 2011. Mixed. 9 1/2" x 12 1/2"

Friday, January 07, 2011

Where Love Has Gone. 1964

It should have gone down the crapper, that’s where this movie should have gone. Loosely based on the Lana Turner scandal of the late 50’s which involved her teenage daughter who supposedly plunged a knife into Johnny Johnny Stompanato Lana’s gangster boyfriend. This lurid and sad scandal was later turned into a trash novel by nasty and untalented Harold Robbins who dredged his potboilers with thinly disguised characters based on real life movie stars and celebrities.. In this film adaptation of his novel and acting up a storm, and a very bad storm at that is Susan Hayward in the Lana Turner part, but instead of an actress she plays a “sculptress” living in rich and lavish style in pretty San Francisco due to her very wealthy family headed by her gargoyle of a mom played by none other than Bette Davis. Bette gussied up in Edith Head frocks and a silly silver toned gentle wig is a bitch, a nasty piece of work who is never at peace with her daughter. Supposedly the two divas hated each other, and their scenes together show an animosity not in the lousy script which only adds to the morbid sick fun that this movie offers. The film opens with screams as a hand picks up a chisel and plunges in into the stomach of a bit actor playing the part of Susie’s lover. What follows is nearly two hours of hysteria with Hayward’s 15 year old daughter played by the twenty year old Joey Heatherton in a performance that might very well be the worst ever committed to celluloid being arrested for the crime and dragged into juvenile court. Joey is protected by her father who has been divorced for years from Hayward but comes back to San Francisco to stand by his daughter and is played by a wooden and inept Mike Conners who has dyed black hair and an immovable face that is incapable of showing any emotions or for that matter life. He’s dead from the neck up. Heatherton is thrown into a juvenile home awaiting trial and whines and moans to daddy about losing her sweater, and always loving the wrong people. Heatherton’s voice is unique. It sounds like a combination of a squeaky door hinge, a car alarm and fingernails scratching at a blackboard. It set the dogs in my neighborhood to barking and gave me a splitting headache. The director of this big can of camp garbage is none other than Edward Dymtryck who was at one time a good capable director and who made some pretty good films before he was blacklisted. Maybe this was his revenge on Hollywood, but why Eddie takeout your revenge on me and the moviegoing public. I didn’t blacklist you. The film is also very sloppily made, flashbacks 15 years into the past make no attempt at period clothes, sets, hairdo’s or cars, the characters look exactly the same age in the past as they do in the present and I had to think what war Mike was going off to fight. The two actresses, the bargain basement Bette Davis as Time Magazine once referred to Hayward and the real one give very bad performances without any nuance or subtly. Lines are screamed and screeched, with Hayward doing most of the screaming and screeching, and the scenes of her, welding, chiseling and making her awful figurative expressionistic pieces of sculpture are a total hoot. The lurid and grim ending comes out of left field, and looks hastily conceived and filmed. Its best to leave this one alone.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Wonder Bar 1934

Released just a few months before the production code took affect, this nasty taste in your mouth Warner Bros musical has more taboos in it than you can shake a Will Hays at. Adultry, a murder that goes unpunished, prostitution, a sucide that is made light of, and the famous scene where a man cuts into a couple dancing only to push the girl away and dance off merrily with the guy, as Al Jolson remarks that “boys will be boys.”. The film is set in a nightclub in Paris called Wonder Bar named after the proprietor of this high class Art Deco joint Al Wonder played with uncomfortable ease by Al Jolson. Why they thought to set it in Paris is beyond me, as there is very little Parisian about it and it could easily have taken place in New York City. It’s a claustrophic Deco delight of a movie that takes place mostly in the nightclub during one night where all the various characters congregate. There are the bickering dance team played by an amazingly beautiful Dolores Del Rio and her partner the sexy Ricardo Cortez who is a cad and a gigolo, who cannot return the love shown by Del Rio towards him which I found hard to believe. They do a nasty wickedly sadistic tango in which Cortez dangerously snaps a whip about Del Rio’s perfect face and who later on gets her revenge. There is also a cheating wife played by the startling Kay Francis rolling her R’s like crazy while hankering after Cortez, who also doesn’t give a shit about her and is only interested in her jewels which she gives him as presents. Dick Powell is there also as the singer in the band, and is as vapid as he usually was in these musicals, singing in his annoying high pitched voice. Powell will do much better and more interesting work down the road when he became older, worn and blistered, and who gave his best performances in a series of noir and detective films in the mid 40’s. Also on hand are two rich American couples who fit the cliches about rich vulgar American couples doing Europe played by Louise Fazenda, Ruth Donnelly Hugh Herbert and Guy Kibee. They are all on the make, with lechery in their booze soaked eyes. And on top of all of this, there is a Busby Berkley production number"Goin to Heaven on a Mule" that is the most racist musical number in the history of American film. The number gives Jolson an excuse to do his famous blackface shtick and he’s soon singing to a young white child in light blackface about when he was a young Pickaninny and how much he loves his donkey and for some reason Jolson and his donkey arrive in a blackface heaven accompanied by dancing angels in blackface. This heaven has pork chop orchards with the chops hanging from trees, possum pie groves, a tap-dancing number in front of waving watermelon slices, and a strange machine that turns out fried chicken.. I suppose that as a historical record of America’s very visible in your face racist past this number serves a purpose, but I sat there in total disbelief and embarrassment wondering if there was not one liberal minded person at Warner Bros. that would have been offended by this, and could have stopped this thing from ever reaching the screen. Evidently not. The songs by Harry Warren & Al Dubin are unmemorable and the other Busby Berkeley number"Don't Say Goodnight" is done in his usual eye popping kaleidoscopic style and is breathtakingly vulgar and over the top, and I of course loved it. Costumes by the great Orry-Kelly and the marvelous (and a favorite of mine) illustrator and designer Willy Pogany is listed in the credits as co-art director, but I could really see nothing of his unique style in the film. With direction by Lloyd Bacon a Warner Bros. assembly line director who is probably most remembered for 42nd Street, which is mostly remembered for the Busby Berkeley numbers. This is part of the Warner Bros. Archive and is only available for sale, or if you are lucky like me, and live in a city with a great library you might be able to borrow it from their dvd collection.

I feel like Crying

Jill Haworth 1945-2011

When I was 18 me and a friend got standing room tickets for Cabaret maybe a week into its very long run. Jill Haworth had broken or sprained her leg and was doing the performance that we saw with her leg in a cast. A real trooper, and I only remember her being marvelous. The show was fantastic and the cast was amazing, Joel Grey, Lotte Lenya and Jack Gifford.
Site Meter