WEIRDLAND: Jerry Lewis
Showing posts with label Jerry Lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerry Lewis. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

“Marilyn, Madness and Me”, All the Beautiful Girls

Cal State University, San Bernardino, Palm Desert is doing a month-long tribute to the Rat Pack and they’re now presenting local writer Frank Furino’s stage fantasy of what could have caused Marilyn Monroe's death in “Marilyn, Madness and Me” at the school’s Indian Wells Theater. The story is “an intriguing fantasy that speculates on many rumors about legendary events in Marilyn Monroe's life and fits them into a pat, plausible hypothesis." The Rat Pack celebration continues March 16-17 with a tribute show to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., and March 23 with cocktails at Melvyn's, where Sinatra held his pre-wedding party in 1976. 

And watch for the world premiere of "Becoming Marilyn Monroe" at the next American Documentary Film Festival April 6-14. “Marilyn, Madness and Me,” a play by Frank Furino as part of the Rat Pack in the Desert celebration, 6:30 p.m. wine reception, 7 p.m. play, Indian Wells Theater, CSUSB Palm Desert campus, 37500 Cook St., Palm Desert. Source:

In All the Beautiful Girls (2018), a novel by Elizabeth J. Church's, Lily Decker becomes a Las Vegas showgirl in the 1960s. Her feathery, sequined reinvention on the Vegas strip introduces a world of romance, riches and fame, but perhaps only love and a true sense of agency can banish the shadow of her past. This touching and deftly written novel moves from the tragedy of untold pain into a glamorous world of Ratpackers and movie stars. Las Vegas in the 1960s with its neon lights, topless showgirls, high rollers, glamorous superstars like Frank Sinatra, is the glittering backdrop for this novel. Feeling guilty for the car accident that killed Lily's parents, ‘The Aviator,’ whom Lily nicknames Sloan, funds her dancing classes. As a showgirl in Vegas, she wears sky-high headdresses, stilettoes, and costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones. Gaudy Vegas and life in the sixties at the dawning of more liberal times is conjured skillfully in a novel that also explores the complex issues that era presented for our loveable yet flawed heroine.  Source:

Miami Beach, Florida, February 1965: Frank Sinatra was going to be performing at the Fontainebleau Hotel for a few dates and had invited me to fly over with him from Vegas. Frank never referred to him and the guys as the Rat Pack. That came from the newspapers. He always referred to their meetings in Vegas and their shows at the Sands, as the Summit. The limo took us along Collins Avenue, which ran parallel to the beach, and before long the hotel loomed ahead of us. It also fronted the beach and was the most lavish hotel in Miami Beach. Frank had filmed a scene from the movie A Hole in the Head at the hotel in 1959. In 1960 it was also the setting for Jerry Lewis’ movie The Bellboy. Jerry shrugged, looking up at the dancing stage. “I wouldn’t mind meetin’ some of them girls.” I said: “You’re such a bullshitter, Jerry.” He jerked his head back to me. “Huh?” “You’re way too much of a shy gentleman to meet those girls,” I said. “Maybe,” he said, almost indignantly, “I ain’t as shy as I used to be.” He’d been super shy with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, but maybe he had changed since then. I remember he was big brother friendly with those ladies. —"I Only Have Lies For You: A Rat Pack Mystery" (2018) by Robert J. Randisi

A new study by a group of psychologists at SUNY Buffalo led by associate professor of psychology Julie Bowker is the first to show  that a type of social withdrawal could have a positive effect – they found that creativity was linked specifically to unsociability. They also found that unsociability had no correlation with aggression (shyness and avoidance did). Some people withdraw out of fear or anxiety. This type of social withdrawal is associated with shyness. This was significant because while previous research had suggested that unsociability might be harmless, Bowker and colleagues’ research paper showed that it could actually be beneficial. Source:

Jerry kept stealing glances at me. He was completely drawn to my orbit, acting like a schoolboy pursuing his first crush. I thought he was so cute in the way he kept trying to sneak a peak at me which made me feel so sexy. Without saying a word he'd grab me by the waist and kiss me. When there were people around, Jerry usually acted like the perfect putz. Nobody suspected that we were amorous with each other. There was something about his naivetĂ© that made me as hot as a firecracker. One night I was seated on the edge of the bed, peeling off my stockings. “I don’t care what kind of girl you are,” he said. “I'm sure it's my kind!” the jokes never seemed to cease with Jerry. That night he looked a little wistful and he mumbled: “I don't really expect you to believe me but I care about you.” That caught me off guard and I just said “you’re being awfully decent and I believe you.” —"Jerry Lewis, the Bombshell and  The Last Vegas Show" by Jeanne Harvey Source:

In most relationships we don’t encounter an entire person; we experience a composite of the bits of that person we want. The felt burden of this is what, in a poem, D H Lawrence termed ‘image-making love.’ The truth is we like to use people. For validation, for entertainment, for simple relief from boredom. Perhaps (as Marx argued) this dynamic is intensified by capitalism, which makes commodities of people, transactions of relationships. But our instrumentalism runs deeper than this. Capitalism only exploits what is already lurking there: our all-too-easy tendency toward a vicious, unwavering selfishness. Real love, the sort of love people wander through their lives craving, wants above all to distance itself from lust by shedding its preening self-regard. Falling in love is partly the terrifying realisation that you have stepped into reciprocity; that someone is now able to cause you terrible pain. Even if indiscriminate love is impossible, it is a glorious and gloriously daunting ideal. Even ‘in the mud and scum of things,’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘there alway, alway something sings.’  Source:

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Sinatra in Palm Springs, The Real Jerry Lewis

“Somehow, the myth of Sinatra is very much alive. And you hear people in bars, restaurants, tell stories, tall tales. ‘Oh, I knew Frank. We were friends.’ And you wonder, wait a minute. This can’t be. Is this true?” wondered Leo Zahn, a filmmaker who has directed and photographed more than 600 commercials throughout his career. So he set out to make a whimsical film about all the myths surrounding Sinatra in the desert. But then he met socialite and philanthropist Nelda Linsk who actually knew Sinatra and was a close friend of his latest wife, Barbara Sinatra. “She connected me with a lot of people who I would not have been able to get otherwise,” said Zahn. What he created after two years of interviews, filming, editing and clip approvals, was the documentary “Sinatra in Palm Springs – The Place He Called Home.” It explores Sinatra’s deep attachment to the resort city and the Coachella Valley, which is where he lived for almost 50 years.

The documentary celebrates its world premiere at a sold-out screening on Feb. 20 in Palm Springs during Modernism Week. The film will show again on Feb. 25 as part of Modernism Week’s new film festival called the Architecture Design Art Film Festival which features about 26 films, documentaries and shorts, over three days.The 92-minute Sinatra documentary is Zahn’s second feature-length film. His first was a documentary on architect William F. Cody called "Desert Maverick." His film on Sinatra features more than 65 clips from movies and television appearances and includes interviews with some of Sinatra’s desert friends, family and people who knew him including comedian Tom Dreesen; entertainer Trini Lopez; Desert Sun reporter Bruce Fessier; Sinatra's wife, Barbara; and restaurateur Mel Haber. 

Both Barbara Sinatra and Haber have died since the interviews. The documentary pays tribute to the unique lifestyle Sinatra led in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage and takes viewers to a bygone era when Sinatra ruled the desert. Palm Springs was Sinatra’s retreat. His refuge from all the hubbub of Hollywood. It was also a playground for him and his Rat Pack buddies who visited and wound up living in Palm Springs as well. Source:

The Rat Pack: Neon Nights with the Kings of Cool by Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell, was written and published in 1998, just before the death of Frank Sinatra on May 14, 1998. It starts with Humphrey “Bogie” Bogart and his original Rat Pack, which was the shortened variation of “Holmby Hills Rat Pack,” which included Sinatra, Judy Garland, Lauren “Betty” Bacall, Sid Luft, Bogie, Swifty Lazar, Nathaniel Benchly, David Niven, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, George Cukor, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen. Following that, the book introduces Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and does talk about their breakup, followed by the story of Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and lastly Joey Bishop. Some members came and went in the good graces of Ol’ Blue Eyes, but when you were finished, you were finished. Source:

Camille Paglia on Movies, #MeToo and Modern Sexuality: "The movies have always shown how elemental passions boil beneath the thin veneer of civilization. By their power of intimate close-up, movies reveal the subtleties of facial expression and the ambiguities of mood that inform the alluring rituals of sexual attraction. But movies are receding. Many young people, locked to their miniaturized cellphones, no longer value patient scrutiny of a colossal projected image. Furthermore, as texting has become the default discourse for an entire generation, the ability to read real-life facial expressions and body language is alarmingly atrophying. Endless sexual miscommunication and bitter rancor lie ahead. But thanks to the miracle of technology, most of the great movies of Hollywood history are now easily accessible — a collective epic of complex emotion that once magnificently captured the magic and mystique of sex." Paglia’s new book, Provocations, will be published by Pantheon Books in October 2018.

—Jerry Lewis: “When I’m directing, I become a father; when I write, I perform the man; when I act, I perform the idiot.” —Steven Alan Green, founder of The Laughter Foundation (2010): “You wanna know what fucked me up the most when it came to [meeting] Jerry Lewis? That perhaps in an unintentional way, Jerry Lewis took me through the fourth wall. If you know your comedy terms, that's pretty fucking incredible. I think my life perspective has almost been reversed. Because that's part of what Jerry Lewis did. He in fact, forced me to do that in order to deal with him; that man was not of this earth.” 

The Real Jerry Lewis: Jerry was a master at candidly acting out personal vignettes about three areas of real life—relationships, situations, and predicaments. They form the backbone of his comedy. I tried to understand what he was saying, beyond the words, when I read the notes he sent me; the “I love you’s” written across my makeup mirror at home; and the longer messages I found on my desk. In 1966, one late summer afternoon, I found the following and took it to the garden to read: “To ask how deeply I feel is like asking, ‘Where is God?’ We can answer with nothing more than “if’s” and “maybe’s.” In other words, the answers are really intangibles. My feelings, where my wife is concerned, are very deep and very sacred…She is the very reason I live…for she is the only reason I know that makes living worth anything…and the boys that she produced for me are equally worth it, but one day they’ll leave and then there will be only us… She is the first human thing that has ever cared about me or for me…Oh, there were a few beings that cared, but not enough that I could have survived. It was only when she came into my life that I realized I had a life to live…”

“As I got older, I didn’t much care about being better than them anymore… I just cared about staying alive and getting some degree of respect as a human… After so many years of being made to feel like nothing I guess I worked on being something so much… The responsibility of taking care of the loves I had always had made me feel like, “Why should I care for what one day will discard me anyway?” I don’t know if that’s the case, but it sounds right…and coming from someone who loves those tremendous loves as I do, it certainly confuses me… My constant silence, I think, has been fear… of what my love would think of what I’ve done… fear of doing the wrong thing… and losing the respect I have always felt I got from her…to be placed in the position of being disrespected and disregarded again has always knotted up my insides so badly that silence seemed the only way to avoid the possibility of rejection… very often my hiding was part and parcel of that fear…The feeling of being nothing again, or being looked at with disdain, has, for as long as I can remember, been tearing me up inside… And those tears have come out looking like torment…Well, tormented I am, and have been, and pray one day soon I won’t know the feeling anymore…”

“My wrapping myself up so completely in my work helped for a while, but the “ego” that came across was never there… I have none. But I work desperately at displaying “ego” to cover the real emptiness I know inside… As a director I have found infinite peace because I am to so many an authority, a man who knows, and not someone who is treated with “pity” or “charity”…That’s the biggest reason for the love of creativity I have, for a man is free when he is creating. The feeling of “behind the camera” feels safe, and warm, and special, and certain…“Out front camera” has been very hard and trying for me…and for the first time in my life I think I can honestly admit I hated doing it and I still do… I need all the care I can get all the time… and I only seem to be able to get that from my love, my wife… I don’t ever want to appear “indifferent” to my wife… but that appearance, too, I think is just hoping not to be a burden and an annoyance to her… I just can’t remember ever being anything but an annoyance… and when I’m told I’m not, I can’t seem to recognize that is possibly the case.”

“I know I need help… but I really believe the help will come from within… Admitting to “hating performing” might help me adjust sooner… Admitting the love I have for writing and direction will, I’m sure, take me out of the depths of my depression… and will ultimately take me into the realm of peace and contentment. I want to talk more, I want to communicate more…I want to say so much, and get help from her, I want so much to scream the things that tug away at my heart and my soul…And when I try, the hurt is so strong, and deep, and festered that I clam up, and the relief I want doesn’t come… Now to bury that grief… I find someone who has equally as much or more than I so that I can be the helping hand… For if I can help, then my hurts can’t be so bad… And for years I made that a practice…to give of myself only to forget I needed more giving than anyone…”

“With it all I am a very lucky man…to have found the real, right, and perfect human being to spend my years with. I want so much to do the right thing to keep her straight and happy and healthy. When she is ill, the reaction to it isn’t any different than when the spike is forced into the vampire’s heart…it’s the only emotional thing that can kill me, and that’s when she hurts…or when I’ve caused her pain…but my intentions are never to hurt her, never to do her a moment’s pain…Never to create a frown on her lovely face…Why those things happen are a complexity to us both…And I will serve myself from here on in as a student of care and concern and caution as to how she gets treated and how I allow much of my feelings to affect her… I can only answer “God” honestly, and he knows my worth and my intentions, I have no fear of his wrath…for I know he knows I’m basically good, and fine, and honorable when it comes to my love for her… I have no guilt about what I have done thru my blindness… And “God” knows my heart is talking, not the typewriter.” —‘I Laffed ‘Til I Cried” (1993) by Patti Lewis

A primary mechanism underpinning the development of depression is perfectionism. Whilst this perfectionism-depression link has been widely documented, the present research focused on the possibility of self-compassion as a moderator of this link. Defined as setting extremely high standards, and accompanied by a highly critical evaluation of the self in pursuit of these standards, perfectionism is a complex multidimensional construct. Several studies have shown that the striving to attain high personal standards in and of itself is not necessarily destructive. But perfectionism that involves self-criticism and concerns about being negatively evaluated by others has been linked to various forms of psychopathology, thus lending credence to the conceptualisation of perfectionism as a premorbid personality type which increases vulnerability to depression. Indeed, perfectionism has been identified as a trans-diagnostic construct which underlies and maintains many forms of psychopathology including schizophrenia. The authors found that self-compassion partially mediated the link between perfectionism and depression. Positioning self-compassion to be a mediator theoretically suggests that the perfectionism reduces self-compassion and reduced self-compassion in turn increases depression. As noted by Kristin Neff in Self and Identity, self-compassion is ‘a useful emotion regulation strategy, in which painful or distressing feelings are not avoided but are instead held in awareness with kindness, understanding, and a sense of shared humanity.’ Source:

Monday, January 08, 2018

Americans’ retreat from cinemas, Matt Damon's controversia, Witness for Prosecution

"Eventually stardom is going to go away from me. It goes away from everybody and all you have in the end is to be able to look back and like the choices you made." -Matt Damon

Not even “The Last Jedi” will reverse Americans’ retreat from cinemas: Tickets sold per head have declined to their lowest point since the early 1970s. Expensive flops have prompted studio executives to complain that Rotten Tomatoes, a ratings website, is killing off films before their opening weekends. Americans are losing the film-going habit as new sources of entertainment seize their attention. Netflix and other streaming services have made it more convenient to watch movies and TV programmes anywhere, on internet-connected TVs, tablets and smartphones. Apps such as Facebook and YouTube are fine-tuned to keep users gawping. Americans spend more than eight hours a day on their various devices, compared with just over four hours a day on TV in 2002, according to Nielsen, a research firm. Americans are on track to have bought around 3.6 movie tickets per person by the end of the year, down by 30% from 5.1 in 2002. They pay $8.93 for a ticket, 54% more than 15 years ago, which means higher total takings, but attendance is expected to decline further. Frequent filmgoers have dwindled, from 28% of North Americans in 2002 to 11% in 2016, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. 

With the exception of Disney, profits are stagnating. Last year the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of the film studios at Fox, Time Warner, Universal and Viacom (Paramount) added up to $1.8bn, down from $1.9bn in 2010, MoffettNathanson estimates. When “Revenge of the Sith”, another “Star Wars” film, was released in 2005, retail sales, rentals and downloads of all films totalled $25bn, with the studios taking fat profit margins. That market collapsed to $12bn last year. Streaming revenue is on the rise, but less of that money goes to the studios. Studios rely increasingly on international markets for box-office returns, especially fast-growing emerging markets such as China. Studio and cinema executives argue that the secular trend in American film habits is less about decline than a change in tastes. Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former head of Disney’s film studio and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation, observes that American film-going has evolved from a “blue collar egalitarian” habit to a more “upscale” experience, at cinemas with luxuriant comforts and IMAX and 3D screens. That may be true, but there is a limit to how long new technology can justify rising ticket prices for the silver screen. Source:

Matt Damon's wan 2017 at the box office: The A-list actor capped off a year of box office disappointments—from ‘The Great Wall’ to ‘Downsizing’—with some poorly considered comments about sexual harassment. Downsizing—which opened in December to mostly bewildered reviews and flopped badly—is a precise mixture of goofiness and heartbreak. Thus concluded an awful year for Damon at the box office. Thanks in large part to his response to the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal, Damon’s year as a public and nominally political figure was much worse. Playing an affable Nebraskan occupational therapist with a solid-enough marriage and common-enough economic anxiety, he’s still plenty charming enough to come across as an everyman in Downsizing, even if the everyman role requires him to suppress most of his charm. 

He’s gone puffy and pale and hapless plenty of times before—see Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 comedy The Informant!—but here, with just a slight paunch and slightly thinning hair and a mildly dazed demeanor, the effect is somehow magnified. He is at rest, but far from at peace. Downsizing is an odd mix of bone-dry humor and squishy earnestness, its calls for human decency and dire warnings about climate change achingly sincere. As with his other major 2017 movie, oddly enough, Damon once again plays a largely apathetic civilian whose potential is awkwardly unlocked by a far more vibrant costar: a fiercely noble soldier played by Jing Tian in The Great Wall, and in Downsizing, a Vietnamese dissident played by Hong Chau. Both women do their part to save the would-be white savior; neither result, at least artistically, is an outright failure. The Great Wall, an absurdly literal depiction of Hollywood’s awkward attempts to conquer China’s booming but volatile film industry, didn’t make enough money in China, and made nowhere near enough money in the United States, with estimated losses of more than $75 million.

In October came George Clooney’s disastrous Suburbicon, which made way less money, and stunk. A 1950s noir based on a 30-year-old Coen brothers script, it sold itself as a nasty but fizzy upper-middle-class spin on Fargo—there’s Damon’s comforting everyman-as-Adonis face, pinched by clunky eyeglasses and artfully bloodied—but immediately revealed itself to be a profoundly ill-advised suburban-racism allegory. Nobody saw it, and most of the people who did would rather not talk about it. Source:

Jessica Chastain defends Matt Damon amid Weinstein scandal: 'He's a really good guy.' If the full range of offensive male behavior is going to be eradicated, as Matt Damon also advocated, it needs to be confronted and discussed rationally. To do that, men need to be heard too. And not every woman who makes an accusation should be automatically believed. The effort by Project Veritas to use a woman to try to lure The Washington Post into reporting false allegations about Roy Moore proves that. A degree of healthy skepticism rightly tests credibility. Yet urging caution or restraint in the age of #MeToo puts a person at risk of being Twitter-shamed as a generationally out-of-touch enabler. The anger of Weinstein’s victims is understandable. But turning that anger against anyone who questions the rush to condemn every man for every touch — that sets up a modern day bonfire of the vanities. Source:

"There's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn't be conflated, right?" Damon said. "We're in this watershed moment, and it's great, but the preponderance of men I've worked with don't do this kind of thing and their lives aren't going to be affected, most of the people I know don't do that," Damon told Business Insider while promoting "Downsizing." "If I have to sign a sexual-harassment thing, I don't care, I'll sign it," he said.  

Vanity Fair: -What do you consider your greatest achievement? Matt Damon: -"My marriage, so far." Asked by Vanity Fair when and where he was happiest, Damon answered: "In our bed, making our children, and in the hospital watching them being born." -Do you feel women understand men? Damon: -"Oh, I think they understand us totally. I just don’t think we can completely understand them."

In a time when many couples meet via dating apps, Miles Teller is proud to have met his fiancĂ©e Keleigh Sperry in a more traditional manner. "I like human interaction. Tinder puts all of these girls in front of you, so you don't have to go to a bar and you don't have to have the balls to ask a girl for her number. But it's not something that I'm like, 'Oh god, they're having so much fun.'" Marriage is important to Teller, whose grandparents have been married for over 50 years. "My philosophy is Respect the person you're with." The 30-year-old actor popped the question to his longtime love after they enjoyed a thrilling African safari. The news was shared via Instagram on August 21 2017. "It was a beautiful and intimate proposal," a source told E! News.

Overlooked Performance of 2017—Miles Teller in Only the Brave (2017):  Joseph Kosinski’s real-life firefighting drama was completely forgotten at the box office, which is a shame. Even Geostorm, which opened the same week, did better. Only the Brave actually contained a whole host of wonderful performances — from Josh Brolin and Jennifer Connelly to Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch. But onetime wunderkind Teller was the true standout, playing a part quite far from his comfort zone — a melancholy pothead and perpetual screwup trying to set his life straight after learning he has a kid on the way. Always exhausted, never quite right in the head, but quietly driven, Teller’s character, Donut, eventually becomes the beating heart of this movie, and he also gets what might be its most devastating moment, right near the end. We all knew Miles Teller could act, but Only the Brave showed us the awesomeness of his range. —Bilge Ebiri (Village Voice)

“You can’t write love off or put it on hold. It stays with you until death." —Jerry Lewis

A minority of people are genuinely turned on by intelligence, according to new psychology research. The study, recently published online in the scientific journal Intelligence, found that most people desire a partner who is smart. Furthermore, a small percentage of them reported that they were specifically sexually aroused by intelligence. The researchers also found that people rated those with a higher intelligence as more attractive. But this effect appeared to have a ceiling. “We found that the association between desirability of a prospective partner and IQ of the prospective partner is curvilinear: it peaks at an IQ of 120 (90th percentile) and drops a bit from 120 to 135 (99th percentile),” Gilles Gignac told PsyPost. In other words, people were most attracted to a potential partner who was smarter than 90% of the population. They found someone who was smarter than 99% of the population to be slightly less attractive as a partner. Source:

Putting the world in Mr. Damon’s hands is smart. At once preternaturally boyish and middle aged, Mr. Damon has become the greatest utility player in movies: No one can better vault across rooftops and in and out of genres and make you care greatly if he falls. He’s so homespun that he could have sprung wholly formed from a corn silo (he shares James Stewart’s extraordinary likability if not his later-life, postwar neurotic edge). But it’s the ease and sincerity with which Mr. Damon conveys moral decency — so that it feels as if it originates from deep within rather than from, say, God or country — that helps make him a strikingly contemporary ideal of what used to be regularly called the American character. Source:

Ben Affleck is in talks with Fox to direct and star in a remake of courthouse drama “Witness for the Prosecution.” Christopher Keyser will write the script, and Affleck will produce with Matt Damon, Jennifer Todd and the Agatha Christie estate. The 1957 adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story, directed by Billy Wilder, starred Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Laughton and Best Supporting Actress for Lanchester. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Marlene Dietrich’s entrance is a swift piece of storytelling in Witness for Prosecution (1957). But take note, we are not to trust everything we see or hear from characters who claim to know each other well. Dietrich’s work here paradoxically went “unawarded,” possibly even disbelieved, because it depends so much on a discovery folded into that don’t-you-dare-spoil ending. Dietrich’s acting talent was an unusual instrument, meant to be carefully wielded and always with the dangerous possibility of overuse, but here she gives an intelligent and careful performance, one fraught with many possible pitfalls but one where she made all the right choices. Dietrich manages to be both direct and elusive, stiff and intense.

She brings that cold blooded, calculating, haughty quality that was already part of her screen persona, but adds to it an uncharacteristic fragility and even some hysteria. Dietrich reveals herself as a perceptive maneuverer; she sees Power’s a user and lets herself be used so she can use him in return. Dietrich’s brief pause before we get our first reveal, that scene where she stops for a moment to relish her own genius and the effect of the bomb she’s about to drop. Her face, her demeanor completely changes in a millisecond as her ego takes over, and with a knowing, mocking grin she proceeds to tell Laughton what she did, lunging at him to drive the point home. That is the moment that very, very few actresses would have been able to pull off. Wilder reportedly thought Rita Hayworth wasn’t capable. Dietrich seems uniquely suited, practically made to deliver a compressed, distilled bit of intimidating acting like that and seamlessly weaving it into her whole performance. Source:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Merry Christmas with Lucille Ball & Jerry Lewis

Despite his grudging acceptance of the role of Seymour, Jerry Lewis was brilliant in "My Friend Irma" (1949) directed by George Marshall. In December 1948, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin made a NBC radio show. Lucille Ball was their guest, singing “The Money Song” with them, and Jerry ended the show by stepping out of character to thank the audience and make a plea for the March of Dimes—his first recorded charity pitch. The NBC radio show did, in fact, include a routine from My Friend Irma almost verbatim—but the ratings foundered and the network had trouble finding a sponsor. However, Martin & Lewis were a success on their debut film My Friend Irma. Crediting the “comedy know-how” of George Marshall, Variety described Martin and Lewis as “a team that has decided film possibilities if backed with the right material and used properly.” Lewis, the review said, “will rate loud guffaws for his mugging.” Dean, however, it noted, “needs to tone down nitery mannerisms for films.” 

Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis Christmas Show, on December 5, 1949. My Friend Irma had been released on September 28, 1949.

I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, a new one-hour special featuring two back-to-back colorized episodes of the classic series, will be rebroadcast Sunday, Dec. 24 (8:00-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL features "The Christmas Episode" and the newly colorized "The Fashion Show." Both were colorized with a nod to the 1950s period in which they were filmed. The main titles and end credits are seamlessly combined into one set at the beginning and end of the hour, with no interruption between the episodes.

"The Christmas Episode" was first broadcast on CBS on Christmas Eve, 1956. The episode was not included in the series' long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication. Long thought to be lost, the program was rediscovered by CBS in 1989. In "The Fashion Show," Lucy convinces Ricky to allow her to spend up to $100 on a dress at the fashionable Don Loper Salon in Beverly Hills. However, when an opportunity arises for Lucy to participate in a Loper fashion show featuring glamorous movie star wives, Lucy winds up spending five times that! Lucy hopes that if she gets a mild sunburn, Ricky will feel sorry for her and forgive her for spending so much, though, as always, she goes a bit too far!

"The Fashion Show" was originally broadcast Feb. 28, 1955, and became an immediate favorite not only of viewers, but of Lucille Ball herself. The episode features a few of her real-life personal friends: Mrs. Gordon MacRae, Mrs. William Holden, Mrs. Van Heflin, Mrs. Forrest Tucker and Don Loper himself. "I Love Lucy" Christmas specials have aired on the Network the past four years, each combining the holiday-themed episode with a different comedy classic. Beginning in 2015, "The Christmas Episode" has been shown colorized in its entirety, with fully-colorized flashback scenes. "I Love Lucy" was broadcast on the Network from Oct. 15, 1951 through June 23, 1957. It was voted "The Best TV Show of All Time" in a 2012 viewer poll conducted by People magazine and ABC News. "I Love Lucy" stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the Ricardos' friends and landlords, Ethel and Fred Mertz. Source:

One of the most important things that Lucille Ball showed was that women could be funny and attractive all at once—a groundbreaking concept for the day. This was particularly admirable given that Lucy was beautiful enough to be a conventional film star, and, in fact had become a Hollywood movie sensation as ‘Queen of the B-Movies.’ But she shrugged off the persona of a cool beauty, instead reveling in the chance to get a laugh. She was never afraid to look foolish, silly, or even ugly for the sake of a good gag and her public loved her for it. By proving this formula, she paved the way for generations of funny women to come. Think of Carol Burnett, Roseanne, Gilda Radner, Candice Bergen and Joan Rivers—they all owe at least a part of their success to the amazing Lucy. Molly Haskell, one of the most prominent and discerning critics of popular culture, had her say in a piece entitled “50 Years and Millions of Reruns Later, Why Does America Still Love Lucy?” To Haskell, the answer lay in Ball’s subversive approach.

“Although the Lucy persona would disavow any connection with feminism,” the author asserts, “in her own foot-in-mouth way, she cuts a wide swath through male supremacy, saying anything that comes into her head and taking down sacred cows and chauvinist bulls along the way. Trying to say ‘thank you’ to Ricky’s pompous Cuban uncle, and garbling her Spanish, she calls him a fat pig before accidentally (?) shredding his foot-long, hand-rolled cigar—symbol of Lucy’s assault on puffed-up male potency.” Lucy may surrender at the final clinch, but she is no surrendered wife. Molly Haskell’s affectionate tone was amplified by another pop culture critic. Writing in the New York Times, Joyce Millman argued that Lucy “waged an unspoken battle against Ricky’s attitude of male superiority—you could feel her sense of injustice burning behind every scheme.” How did I Love Lucy become television’s most popular sitcom in a deeply conservative era? “It did not violate viewers’ comfort zones, particularly female viewers’ comfort zones. If Ball had been too forthright, she might have turned women away from the show.”

So Ball couched her characters’ bold ambitions in peerless physical comedy. She looked silly and unglamorous. And as a clown, Ball was a radical, powerful figure; it was as if she was daring you to think it was unseemly for a woman to put on a putty nose or a fright wig and throw herself into a joke with body and soul. (Decades later, physical comedians like Lily Tomlin and Gilda Radner finished what Ball started, turning chaotic energy into a feminist statement). Statements like these would have astonished Lucy, who had gone public with her view of the Movement: “Women’s lib? It doesn’t interest me one bit. I’ve been so liberated it hurts.” In High Anxiety: Catastrophe, Scandal, Age, and Comedy (1992), University of Wisconsin history professor Patricia Mellencamp uses Lucy to underscore her investigations of 1950s America: “When it comes to money, there are two kinds of people: the earners and the spenders. Or more popularly known, husbands and wives.” To Mellencamp, “this ‘ethos of gender’ recognizes a key facet of postwar ideology, a cluster of ideals and expectations at the crossroads of mainstream representatives of gender roles, marriage, domesticity, and consumerism.”

Every week for seven years, she reminds us, “Lucy, the chorus girl/clown, complained that Ricky was preventing her from becoming a star. For twenty-four minutes, she valiantly tried to escape domesticity by getting a job in show business. After a tour de force performance of physical comedy, in the inevitable reversal and failure of the end, she was resigned to stay happily at home serving big and little Ricky. The ultimate ‘creation/cancellation’—the series’ premise, which was portrayed in brilliant performances and then denied weekly—was that Lucy was not star material.” In one celebrated episode (“The Ballet”), Lucy throws a pie in Ricky’s face during his solo at the Tropicana.

In large measure the praise of I Love Lucy is due to Lucille Ball's talent and grit. She was not only funnier than anyone else on TV; she was also more beautiful—a matchless combination. But there is another component in the mix—Lucille Ball was a festival of contradictions: a woman who yearned for her own family and didn’t know how to relate to her children; a demanding wife; a cold-eyed, exacting businesswoman who made others cry—and then retreated into tears when her authority was questioned.

Jerry Lewis was once quoted as saying about female comedians: “a woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me, but sets me back a bit.” In 2014 Lewis clarified he thought women were funny, but not as crude standup comics. "Seeing a woman project the kind of aggression that you have to project as a comic just rubs me wrong. And they're funny—I mean you got some very funny people that do beautiful work but I have a problem with the lady up there that's going to give birth to a child—which is a miracle." And Lewis called Lucille Ball "brilliant." In many ways, Lucille Ball was the female equivalent of Jerry Lewis, both having reached the peak of their popularity during the 1950s. —"Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball" (2007) by Stefan Kanfer

How about Lucille Ball's reputation as one of the wealthiest women in Hollywood? Unamused, her voice boomed out loud and clear. “For God’s sake, are you dumb, I haven’t seen a paycheck in 20-some years. I know what I owe. Nobody in Hollywood has any money with our taxes. It’s a lot of crap to say I’m a business tycoon and such,” Lucy emoted on, with a straight face, though she had sold her Desilu production company for $17 million and is the Hank Aaron of TV residuals. “The only people who have big money are some little old ladies in Boston or some Maharaji Cuckoo in Arabia—that’s real money. We all have jobs, not money. I have great credit, that’s my real credential as a businesswoman. The better the year, the more I have to borrow. That’s one reason Cary Grant quit the picture business.” Source:

Film Tribute to Jerry Lewis at the MIC (Interactive Museum of Cinema) in Milan, Italy (Viale Fulvio Testi 121), scheduled from 12-23 December 2017. The ticket cost for admission is 6,50 € (7,64 $).

Tuesday, 19 December, 5:00 PM: The Nutty Professor (1963)
To improve his social life, a nerdish professor drinks a potion that temporarily turns him into the handsome, but obnoxious, Buddy Love. Jerry Lewis directed, co-wrote and starred in this riotously funny movie that set a new standard for screen comedy. Co-starring Stella Stevens as his love interest Stella Purdy.

Thursday, 21 December, 5:00 PM: The Patsy (1964)
When a star comedian dies, his comedy team, decides to train a nobody to fill the shoes of the Star in a big TV show (a Patsy). But the man they choose, bellboy Stanley Belt (Lewis) cant do anything right. The big TV show is getting closer and Stanley gets worse all the time. Source:

"I look closely at the world. I see it as it is, but I'm twisting it to make it funny." —Jerry Lewis

Hampton Fancher (screenwriter of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049) remembers Jerry Lewis as an egocentric sentimentalist, describing the person he met as "this guy who has everything, except he doesn't have enough. I kind of liked him. When you see him in person, he was actually a handsome guy. He's got beauty in his face. He's a serious guy. Takes himself very seriously. Not a funny guy. I met a lot of comedians: Jack Benny, Buddy Hackett... Funny people who socially were quite the opposite. Anyway, Jerry Lewis was the opposite and also very sad and not about any particular thing. I could see that he was the classic Chaplin City Lights kind of thing. He was alone and he doesn't want to be alone. He said to me, when the shoot for the movie (Romeo und Julia 70) was finished: 'You want to stay? I can get you back to L.A.' I was sorry I didn't stay. I felt that kind of sentimental guilt. I was too interested in my own future and I was not happy with him."

"I felt for him. In his persona there is a neediness, in almost all of his roles. Maybe his only roots were his own myths about himself. When I heard that he died, I thought of three scenes from his films that stuck in my head. The first one is of him working in a hospital: The Disorderly Orderly (1964). He is walking on the grounds and while patients tell him of their ills, he is physically feeling everything they tell him about. I always thought that awareness was great. I could identify with that. Someone tells you how they cut their finger - it goes right through your own body. These scenes are a fantastic exploration of empathy." On Jerry Lewis in The Disorderly Orderly car chase scene Fancher says: "He doesn't even have a stuntman doing it, he is doing it himself. And who comes down on a gurney down the hill? It's Jerry."

"I did have another connection. My girlfriend was one of his best friends. Joan Blackman, she was under contract by Hal B. Wallis, same guy Jerry was under contract at Paramount. And she did Visit To A Small Planet [1960] with Jerry and they became good friends. He was very generous. He gave her and her husband at the time all kinds of things. He was very kind to them. He helped them a lot in their careers. My second scene: Jerry plays a magician and, appropriately, has a pet rabbit who likes to slide on his belly down the handrail of the staircase—so much, the rabbit's belly is all red and smoke comes off it. The rabbit at one point wears sunglasses and has a drink."

I haven't seen this one [The Geisha Boy, 1958] in a very long time. Maybe that's why they like him in France because he has some surrealistic imagination and does crazy things that nobody does. And the third scene is with Dean Martin (You're Never Too Young, 1955) and takes place in a boarding school where he pretends to be a child but he is really a grown up. He is wearing shorts and is doing a musical number, military inspired, with a group of girl students there. R.W. Fassbinder used this scene in his In a Year with 13 Moons [1978]. Source: