Happy Birthday, Errol Flynn!

Liz, ever informed, told me that today is Errol Flynn’s 104th birthday. If this talented Aussie has never crossed your path before now, let me remedy that at once:

You’re welcome.

Who needs Russell Crowe when you’ve got Errol Flynn?

 In The Seahawk.

Anyway, Beaver and I couldn’t let this day pass without a post (and dessert) in his honor. He suggested cake. We settled for a cupcake instead.

beavererrol Happy Birthday, Errol Flynn!

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Summer films: Some Like it Hot

Liz: It’s summer, so we’ve chosen two movies with beach settings—two very different movies.

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Speaking of settings, one of the interesting things about this week’s movie, Some Like It Hot, is the shift from prohibition era/gangster-filled Chicago to a peaceful Florida beach. It felt like a shift in time as well as place. But as Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon were being hunted by the mob, a shift in place was an absolute necessity for them, and since they couldn’t really shift in time as well, they disguised themselves as women—in a female band headed to Florida.

Trouble of a less violent nature, but worse than those high heels they had to wear, finds them in Florida as Tony Curtis falls for fellow band member Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon is pursued by a millionaire.

But, at least, no mobster would ever look for them in an all women band, right? No, they wouldn’t look, but gangsters take holidays too.

Jaz: For this post I would like to introduce you to my classic film companion: Beaver the guinea pig.

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He’s a little shy with strangers.

What with the general viewing public’s short attention span, it gets harder and harder to find willing victims. Beaver will watch anything, provided he has something to munch on.

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Beaver thinks Tony Curtis makes a convincing female.

Technically Some Like it Hot isn’t a summer film, since everything happens around Valentine’s Day. Most of it happens on a sunny Florida beach, though, so that works for me. The film is a comedic masterpiece, largely due to Jack Lemmon’s performance: tango dancing with Joe E. Brown, a flower between his teeth, Lemmon in the midst of the girl band’s midnight bunk party, Lemmon likening Monroe’s movement to “jello on springs.”

 Tony Curtis’ millionaire act made me laugh too, especially since his stuffy accent sounds almost exactly like Cary Grant’s.

This was my first introduction to Marilyn Monroe – or perhaps I should say her character role.  Ditzy, unbelievably naïve, with a weakness for tenor sax players and wearing a dress that reminds me of ancient Minoan fashion. You know, the ones that highlighted the women’s … er … curves.

No, this isn’t the dress.

If you cut through the comedy, you can glean some nice social commentary on society’s objectification of women (which is interesting, considering how Monroe’s image is Hollywood’s epitome of objectification). In one scene, Lemmon storms into the room after getting pinched in the elevator. “Look at that! I’m not even pretty!” he gripes to the mirror. Curtis: “They don’t care, just so long as you’re wearing a skirt.”

Beaver gives this movie 5 carrot sticks (out of 5). I concur.

Bibliomaniacs, Bollywood & Brits

“Too few people,” writes Eugene Fields in The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac, “seem to realize that books have feelings.”

If that’s true I have a few miffed – if not positively irate – books in my possession. Louann Brizendine’s The Female Brain adorns the coffee table, neglected for weeks (given the topic, I’m sure it understands). I picked up Julie Powell’s “Cleaving” two weeks ago and now it’s hidden under Breakfast at Tiffany’s and School of Rock. But The Man Who Loved Books Too Much (nonfiction, Allison Hoover Bartlett) saw eager page turning and I’m proud to say I have reached page 112. Aha!

Anyway, that’s what I started reading in May. Bartlett describes the antique book culture, bookstores, libraries, so vividly I want to rush out and buy armloads of books. Smell the pages, feel the coarse paper on my fingertips … And then I remember the books I read as a young child, books like King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, Piggins, Wednesday is Spaghetti Day, and my very own copy of Madeline my mom bought at a Houston book fair.

Piggins the mystery sleuth/butler. 

That’s when I sympathize with bibliomaniacs. But book theft? No way.

I also read the Harry Potter series voraciously over the past two months. After that I saw several film adaptations, and have this to say: they are but poor shadows of the originals. I prefer my imagination.

After that I watched the French film Le Concert (breathtaking music, moving, humorous), British film The Scapegoat (promising beginning, dull ending), Indian film Barfi! (off-beat, thought-provoking, beautiful), and started on the Japanese anime series titled One Piece (funny and weird).

Note: The Scapegoat reminded me of a Mexican telenovela called La Usurpadora: Two women who look alike switch places with not-so-unforeseen consequences. If you’re choosing between the two, I suggest checking out the telenovela.