Thursday, October 29, 2009

One little duck went out one day

I've just spent the day at the State Library of Victoria at a conference on early childhood literacy. Absolutely inspiring but most awfully tiring. It's quite something to be in a room with over a hundred children's librarians, all singing Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day and Incy Wincy Spider. Of course, the SLV always to the best catering ever; I ate mine sitting at a pint sized desk in the children's section. I think it will be rather diff not to speak to Mr C in rhymes tonight: What would you like for dinner? said the girl from Come In Spinner.

In the meantime I've been looking for pictures of hairstyles to take to my hairdressing appointment next week. Got slightly sidetracked by this gorgeous photo of Ginger Rogers.
What a cutie! Hair pictures not going so well as I'm not sure how much I can control my curls. But I'm darned well going to have a go at getting a Middy cut. I've also just finished a book on a British secret agent in WW2. I've had it from the library for an absolute age and was feeling less than enthusiastic about it - but it's an absolute ripper. It's called Agent Zigzag something something and I'll do a proper review on the weekend. Now reading about the homefront in Melbourne which is fascinating but inexcusably without pictures. I'll share some treats from that later too. But for now, adios! I'm going to have a cup of tea. (Melbourne tea rations during the 40s allowed for only 3 cups a day! Oh! The HORROR!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dance, girl, dance (1940)

What an odd duck this is from Dorothy Arzner, one of the few female directors of the time. During the 70s Arzner was firmly claimed by feminist film theorists who proceded to mould her into their desired image, along the way discounting her own view of her films, aspirations and ideals. Much has been made of 'disrupting paradigms' as if being gay automatically made one a revolutionary in all aspects of one's life and the image of her in masculine clothing has been as much analysed and over interpreted as her work. Which is a shame because this is quite an enjoyable film.

This is the story of two dancers - one makes it big as a burlesque star, Miss Tiger Lily White, one sticks to classical ballet but accepts the $25 dollar paycheck to act as a stooge - stick a ballet number after a red hot burlesque number and you've guaranteed they'll be howling for more of the Tiger Lily.

Arzner, speaking of another film, rather let the feminists down when she said her favourite character was not the strong women but the male who suffers for not knowing his own heart (an uncomfortable moment for feminist critics). Much the same element is noticeable in Dance; there is much sympathy for the suffering of the male romantic lead, who is clearly not in love with his leading lady. And his leading ladies are pretty fabulous. Maureen O'Hara, she who suffers for her art, is a real sweetheart who has the sense to recognise her naivety. Lucille Ball - oh how I love her in her early days, all streetwise savvy - a real wisecracking broad who knows where the money is and man does the girl have chutzpah! She makes a fabulous burlesque queen - a wink from her certainly packs a punch! Here there is no case of good girl / bad girl. In fact this is one of the real features of Azner's movies - the lack of typical Hollywood judgement. Sure the girls have a bit of a cat fight, but they're all square by the end of the film. No one has to choose between a career and love. No one is saved by love. The leading man goes back to his wife but you're pleased for him. Maureen gets her art and possibly love - but the main emphasis is on her new career opportunities. And Lucille gets the money and a flourishing career she's clearly in charge of - she's certainly not going to get chewed up and spat out by 'bad' low class vaudeville.

There's a fabulous 'go girl' moment when Maureen turns upon the jeering crowd and returns their gaze - the objectified performer returning their stare levelly. It's not so much 'oh you're horrible men' as 'you foolish men' for these girls know just exactly what they're doing and they're calling the shots. A lot has been made of this and, while I'm suspicious of much of the rhetoric surrounding this director, it is a great moment of female solidarity.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-feminist. And I've only passing familiarity with Azner scholarship. It just seems that just because Azner was a lesbian, every decision she made has become politicised. And in this way you deny her the right to be an individual. I'm also probably a bit cranky with film theorists in general and their impenetrable discourse. I dunno. I've watched six films in a row and think the little grey cells are a bit tired.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting my nails done

My dear neighbour Fleur treated me to a manicure and pedicure this evening. I must confess I was thinking of someone along the lines of the manicurist in The Women - looking smart in a trim uniform and ready to gossip. I was slightly discomfitted to find a tiny Vietnamese lady wearing a face mask and speaking very very little English. It was difficult to sit there and ignore her as the other ladies did but conversation wasn't really an option. I compromised with trying to look politely interested in what she was doing - which is rather diff when someone's sloughing off the gammy skin from the soles of your feet and in any case went completely unnoticed. She did do a marvelous job. I wasn't sure that she'd understand a half moon manicure (very popular in the forties) where you leave the white moon of the nail near the cuticles unpainted. So I went for a lovely shade of red for both fingers and toes. I feel very lovely and pampered and ever so natty and ladylike. I do keep waving my hands around!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Good Day

Today was most definitely A Good Day. Work was great. My hair didn't fall down. I went to the gym and unleashed the fury! It was kinda sunshiney so I didn't have to wear stockings (yay bare legs!) And now I'm having breakfast for dinner - my favourite meal of the day! I'd have breakfast all the time if I could. I made an appointment with a new hairdresser. Which is actually a super scary thing to have done and if I hadn't had such a super great day I probably would not have done this. Mr C's Christmas present arrived - one day after we ordered it online! Which is wonderful but does make me worry about THE SHIRT I ORDERED 67 YEARS AGO IS!!! Still waiting... Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Battle of the bulge

I'm in the tail end of my flu hurrah hurrah. Which means my interest in the Jetsons is waning and I'm starting to worry about things I need to do at work and fretting about getting back to the gym. I do seem to have lost a teensy amount of weight (1 kilo!) but suspect this is sick bed dehydration rather than any efforts with the cross trainer. Sadly, this weight appears to have disappeared from my bust rather than my waist!

Extra hurrah because I just got back from the gym and I've actually lost 3 pounds (yes, we're going Imperial because it sounds a lot better). Here's where I confess to a secret obsession with gym clothes. As if rocking up to the gym with Victory rolls and Ruby Woo lipstick isn't enough! Now I know this isn't of much interest to anyone else but I'm a bit unhappy with my weight at the moment. A year or so ago I put on a whole stack o pounds while I was on a certain med (I don't even remember which one!). Since then, good livin' and no gymin' have had the expected outcome. Now I love my curves, I just want a little less of them. And Mr C loves and adores me whatever the package. So this is for me. I guess I just want to feel fitter.

Today I got a group email from my doctor - saying I should drop into the consulting rooms if I would like to improve my appearance for the racing season. Yep, my doctor, who has failed to contact me with my test results, is happy to email me and offer a 10% discount on botox.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mr Imperium (1952)

A young singer (Lana Turner) on tour in Italy meets and falls in love with a crown prince (Ezio Pinza). As far as MGM musicals go it falls a bit flat and was certainly a flop at the time. It's not bad but it is exceptionally short (87 minutes) and ends extremely abruptly. Pinza, fresh from South Pacific, is in magnificent voice but his grand operatic manner tends to overwhelm Miss Turner (whose own voice was dubbed). These were bad times for her, with a string of bad films to follow. But she's as lovely as ever. Things are a bit creepy at the start of the film, what with Pinza being about twice the age of his leading lady but it ends up as quite a lovely romance between an adult couple. Just one that ends very quickly. Oh and I should mention that it's also got a very young pre-Singing in the rain Debbie Reynolds. Cute as a button!

I'm still sick and snotty and grumpy. Hurrah for Channel Go! and its endless repeats of I dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Hogan's heroes, The Jetsons and The Flinstones. Just what a sick girl needs.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blood and sand (1941)

Now I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to old movies. There's not much that I won't watch. But it had to happen - at some stage a film was going to come along that I couldn't handle. Yes, I think I've met my match. Someone at work bet that I wouldn't be able to get through watching the first ten minutes of this film. Well I got through it and watched this film until the bitter end but - oh! - the agony! I was too sick to fight it.

I actually sought out this film. I got it from Moonee Valley library because it was supposedly a Rita Hayworth film. It even won an Oscar for best cinematography. But I'm telling you, keep away from Blood and sand if you can.

The plot: poor boy rises to fame as a matador and is torn between the love of his sweet wife and that of a bad and beautiful woman. Fame is fickle, bull fighting deadly and money, the entourage and the love of the public soon disappear. Yes, this is a Morality Tale. The cast: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell and Rita Hayworth. The tagline: Love flamed in the shadow of death!

Now Tyrone has very very white teeth. His role is particularly unsophisticated - like that of a rather stupid soccer player rising suddenly to glory and public adoration. So I'm not sure if he's rather good at playing a simple soul or if he's just a ham. This was a role previously played triumphantly by Rudolph Valentino so Tyrone has a bit of competition here. Rita is essentially a man eater. She practically purrs with satisfaction and her red red nails are ready to tear men apart (that's just got to be Jungle Red). She's quite shameless and utterly devestating - this turned out to be her breakout role. You just have to watch 51 minutes of Cinema Hell before she appears. Linda Darnell is beautiful and hard done by and features in a truly surreal scene where she has a conversation with a statue of the Virgin Mary - which goes some way to illustrate some of the problems with this film.

The film is adapted from a popular novel and some of the symbolism and 'literaryness' lapse into melodrama and histrionics when plonked onto the screen. There's lots of hot tempered Spaniards with wounded pride and a great deal of praying before candle clustered altars. It's all a bit overblown and simply drags on to its inevitable conclusion. Which is a shame because there could have been some real drama here. The bull fighting - though apalling - is fascinating and there's almost a religous respect for the ritual of dressing in the magnificent matador costume. But what you get is a leaden rather depressingly long film. I was too sick to turn it off.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's the deal in Dodge City?

Drinkin', gamblin' and killin'. Mostly killin'.

I've got the flu and I'm treating myself to a movie marathon. First up Dodge City with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. I'm developing a sneaking liking for Mr Flynn - he's such a smartaleck! Really, the man's impossible. Dodge City (1939) also stars the handsome Bruce Cabot as the outlaw who rules the roost and Anne Sheridan also crops up in an early role, woefully underutilised.

As a western, DC pretty much does all that it needs to: there's a cattle stampede, a gunfight on a steam train, a racing stagecoach and runaway horses and the best bar room brawl ever! It's all filmed in beautiful technicolour and the early scenes are of golden prairies stretching out to lilac hills on the horizon. This was pretty early use of the colour process so the results are surprisingly muted and earthy (remember, this is the same year as the Wizard of Oz). I must mention here that the costumers really outdid themselves in the shirt department: I was eyeing off Miss de Havilland's gingham numbers most enviously and there's a lovely display of neat and clean plaids in a beautiful array of colours. I really must be sick if that's the highlight of the film but I do find myself with a burning desire for a peach silk neckerchief.