I said I was going to have something, and here it is. I had forgotten that Monday was a holiday when I laid out this week a while ago. And I mean a while ago; the Bleat, as of today, is laid out through the third week of July - meaning the below the fold stuff. This stuff up here is daisy-fresh! I wouldn't fob off something old that's pretending to be new.
Anyway, here we are, the start of the summer; it'll be a long one until the conventions, especially if Cruz takes California.
Kidding. Ha ha! The fun we have here. To be honest, I've already written tomorrow's Bleat, and was intending to put it here - but Monday is a holiday and I intend to do little. Jack and / or squat. Right now it is Sunday night, and I'm listening to the OIWF's fountain splash in the background, a stream of water whose filth is about 10X Ganges. This will be solved when I commence the final Water Feature Fixing Project (step one: nuke it from orbit) but for now, well, it's not like anyone's swimming in it. Or drinking. The sky is quiet; few planes lately, for some reason. Usually on Sunday it's a conga-line heading in. There are mosquitos out, because the local mosquito control agency uses friendly, sustainable methods that possibly consist of birth-control filmstrips played near stagnant shallow ponds. I remember when the planes came overhead in Fargo and sprayed chemicals on everyone and everything. Everything had a high bright tang for a while and food tasted funny and you got dizzy for a day or so but we were all right in the end. Had to reshingle the roof three times a summer, though.
I have two additions to the annual griefs of summer: the gazebo, and the Oak Island Water Feature. These will be told later this week; the story isn't over, and needs a kicker. For now I will give you something that sums up the glee of a new summer, with something I did not expect would happen. Something I thought was broke came back to life; something that had been silent for two summers began to sing again.
Happy? Just delighted.
And now, a bunch of different stuff!
From 1942, the women of the Miss Subway beauty pageant. This year-end compliation ran in Life to tell everyone around the country what they missed by not sitting in an underground tube looking up at beer ads.
Rosemary Gregory: Sperry Gyro worker. Miss Subway for August 1942.
Mrs. - sorry boys, she's taken - Michael Dorothea Mate. If she wanted to write once the kids were out of the house, it doesn't seem as if she published. At leas the Internet doesn't think so.
Will we find one whose fame extended beyond the ads? That's what this week will explore.
Last week we did the German original - now it's time for the 1951 remake.
I didn't like when I first saw it. When I started watching it again, taking notes as I watched, I wrote: "I hate this movie."
You should too; everyone should hate the movie about a child killer, because why would you want to enjoy a movie about a child killer unless he's torn limb from limb by shrieking harpies summoned from the depths of hell at the end?
Tthe original, by Fritz Lang, is well-regarded for its direction, and of course Lorre's performance. At the end of "M" - and I think that 80+ years on, I needn't say "spoilers" - the villain is put in a mock trial by the underworld, which is inconvenienced by the copper crackdown intended to find the child killer. Lorre gives a shrieking indictment of himself, but the key line has always been this: "I can't help myself."
Oh yes you could, buster. The problem was you helped yourself, with skill and foresight. If you were a madman you would knock over cops to snatch up a child, but you didn't.
It's the start of the 50s, and LA looks beat. Interesting, but beat.
It starts out with the very bad guy (David Wayne!) wandering around looking for targets; we meet a mother whose daughter is a few minutes late from school, and sense her mounting panic.
I snapped this just to get the typical interior of a 1950s lower-class apartment in San Francisco. What style was that? The mid 30s? It's not an old place, but it looks old. It's not stylish, so we know what class of people we're seeing.
There are some nice shots that Lang might have liked:
As it happens, Lang did use that shot, although his staircase was seen from above, and was more maze-like.
Instead of the balloon caught in the wires before it flies away, symbolizing the child's murder, we get a ball that rolls away on its own.
Not as effective, but the trash gives you the sense of something being devalued and discarded. That works. So maybe this isn't a slavish remake? It can't be, because things are different now. There's a TV broadcast about the things your kid shouldn't do, and it's a PSA dropped right in the movie.
Lots of inadvertant documentary. It's either low-budget or cinema verite or just what they decided to do: shoot from the window of the car and hope the passersby didn't notice.
Could that have been the inspiration for the Beach Boys song? Well, it wasn't one originall; it was first recorded by the Regents in 1961.
Can you tell what Barbara Ann was? There's enough there to figure it out.
Last week I noted a movie poster in the original M, and said it was unusual to see posters for actual movies in movies. Well:
More about the movie here; it's an English ballet weeper.
It's also foreshadowing something, but I don't know if they knew it when they filmed it.
As for the underworld heavy, they don't get heavier than Ray Burr, all hatted out for extra menace:
Love the punks and toughs of the era. Man, shirts with no collar under a jacket? These are some tough hombres.
Eventually we switch back to the Tortured Sad Killer as he scoops up another kid, and you have to wonder why anyone would go along with this fargin' gargoyle.
The abduction is not successful. This is the part where he gets identified by the old blind balloon seller and the street gang marks him with an M. It's done in an amusement park that's really a big messy gum-on-the-sidewalk piece of old LA:
Ocean Park Pier. Long gone. The Fox Dome Theater in the back gives us the precise address. Today:
Unrecognizable. More about the theater here, with a picture of the area.
Here's where our killer lears he's been marked; like the German movie, it's full of brand names, but they're just random, crowding in like mad thoughts in an overloaded brain:
The rest is flight. Literally, in this case - I think it's by Angels Flight (which is where the movie opens, to great effect.) Looks as if there were other staircases, weathered away by millennia of erosion:
Annnnd guess where they end up.
It's LA in the 50s. Everyone has to end up at the Bradbury. The odd thing is the scene that shows them taking refuge in the building; it's not the Bradbury.
I'm guessing it's up the block from the Bradbury:
I should note that it's just full of great noir shots - it's all sweaty, gritty, rumpled, down at the heels. You don't need any explanation to know who's the cop and who's the crooks.
Eventually we have the Underworld Trial in a parking ramp, and again, the composition is stark and impressive.
I thought it was a pallid version when I first saw it; I was wrong. It's a truly American reinterpretation, and while it's not a fun movie, it's damned good.
Oh, er, ahem:
That'll do, except for the matches; of course there are matches. See you tomorrow.