Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Favourite movies: Duck Pimples (1945)

I used to think I was pretty hot stuff when it came to the movie buff game. I thought I knew my Disney. All that was before HIMSELF, THE BOY came into my life. Gavin has his challenges (autism/developmental delay), but the kid knows Disney. It was HIMSELF, THE BOY that introduced me to the wonderful and wacky Duck Pimples, a short from 1945. Based on a story by gagmen Virgil Partch and Dick Shaw, it is unlike any Disney or Donald 'toon before or since. It's directed by Jack Kinney, who also gave us the delightful Donald's Diary wherein Donald's inner voice is the dulcet tones of Ronald Colman. In Duck Pimples, Donald is thrown into a surrealistic, noirish nightmare that abounds with animated gags and thrills.

The Donald expert, director Jack Hannah referred to his protagonist as "the duck" and explained that "the duck" was such a good character because as Mickey Mouse became a star he could no longer get away with the cheeky antics of his youth. Bad-tempered, hard-luck Donald fulfilled that comic need. Animator Ward Kimball put it this way: "Is there anything we didn't do to poor Donald?"

Well, the duck is certainly put through his paces in this short that HIMSELF, THE BOY and I enjoy particularly at Hallowe'en. We're sure you'll enjoy it as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw4ogWuFv4k.

Note: Hugh Hennessy was an animator whose work for Disney spanned from The Band Concert to Lady and the Tramp.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Favourite movies: The Facts of Life (1960)


Lucille Ball and Bob Hope
star in "Brief Encounter with Laughs".

Directed by Melvin Frank and written by Frank with Norman Panama, The Facts of Life is an adult love story that will surprise you. Frank & Panama are Bob Hope experts, multiple Oscar nominees and the creators of such classic comedies as The Court Jester and Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Kitty Weaver and Larry Gilbert are two perfectly nice suburbanites. If Kitty's husband (Don DeFore) seems a little preoccupied with work and his gambling habit, and Larry's wife (Ruth Hussey) a little too caught up with the kids - well, that's life. They have no thought of straying. They certainly have no thought of straying toward each other. However, Fate (in that way of hers) forces these two perfectly nice people to spend time together. Kitty discovers that "the jerk who tells the lousy jokes at the country club" is a genuinely warm and funny fellow. Larry sees a softer side to that stuck up Kitty. Love blossoms with the added complications of vows and conscience.

How Larry and Kitty deal with their feelings, their need to be together and the realities of their lives is played out in a frank, touching and very funny manner. It is wonderful to see two actors who happen to be bona fide comic geniuses working together in such perfect sympathy. The humour of character and situation also involves some gut grabbing slapstick, and some quiet moments that will make you smile or sigh a sentimental sigh for two perfectly nice people.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Broadway to Hollywood Trivia

Did you know that Eduardo Ciannelli (1889 - 1969) played "Diamond Louis" in the 1928 Broadway production of The Front Page?

Did you further know that Abner Biberman (1909 - 1977) played "Diamond Louis" in the 1940 film version of The Front Page, Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday? And did you also know that in George Stevens' classic 1939 adventure Gunga Din that Mr. Ciannelli played the rebel guru and Mr. Biberman his loyal son, Chota? Go forth and enlighten the masses, my friends.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obey those rhythmic impulses!


One day "Way Out West" Chill Wills and The Avalon Boys were jammin' in front of the saloon when a couple of strangers rode into town:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Arajua9lxYA

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Election Day - Vote early, vote often!

The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed.
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751 - 1816)

Certainly the goal of a democratic society is an informed and interested electorate, but the reality is that many forego the privilege and duty of voting. A privilege and duty fought for by brave men and women. Also, since it is your vote, your reasons are your own - do you not like a candidate's hair, do you vote the way your family tells you, do you vote when the polls have forecast a winner - it matters not as it is your vote.
This is a particularly special election. The amazing Janet has just turned 18 and it is now her privilege and duty to participate in democracy. Her vote choice is unknown to me, but I have come upon her and her rowdy friends sitting on the front stoop discussing politics. These teenagers are interested and enthusiastic and I think this is a good sign for the future.
A note to my American friends: we have had 37 days of campaigning. 37 days and it's over. Jealous?

Monday, October 13, 2008

How carnivores celebrate Thanksgiving!

My baby, baby, baby sister outdid herself with the most scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner ever! A variety of steaming vegetables. Moist turkey and tastey ham. Gravy so rich and savory it should have been served with a straw! Apple crisp! Homemade pumpkin pie! Swell music and lotsa laughs. We have plenty to be thankful for. (Miss Tracey is quite a gal.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm beginning to think my husband may be right!



I have lived my life assuming that I know all and am right about most things and that the rest of the world is out of step with me. Hubby shakes his head and has been telling me for 20 odd years that it is me who is out of step.

The headline of the Financial Post read "Should Stephen Harper Be More Panicked About the Economy?" I pondered the question as I rushed to catch the streetcar. Well, if he is (I thought), I don't want to know it. People don't vote for people who are going to get panicky. Or do they? A few days back NDP leader Jack Layton berated Harper for not reassuring the Canadian people regarding the economy. Ha (I laughed). Does he think we're a bunch of crybabies who need politicians (of all people) to pat us on the head and tell us everything will be alright. Canada may not be as bad off as some places, but it is obvious that, if nothing else, things are going to be slow for the next little while. We've been through this sort of thing before and survived and we can do it again. Geesh! A few days later, the Harper had to switch tactics because the polls said Canadians did want to be patted on the head and told everything was going to be alright. Again I say, geesh.

Number one reason I am not a politician: I obviously don't get people. I'm not a join a party and stick to it person. I have never and don't ever expect to agree 100% with any political party or politician and the perception of those who belong to a group is that they go along with everything they think the group stands for, which may be totally different than others think the group stands for. (See picture of confused infant.) For many, a political party defines them and I think that is just wrong.

Second reason I am not a politician: Very few issues have excited me to action beyond voting, which I deem a privilege and a duty. I am glad there are people who do feel that way about politics. If they like to stand on committee and live in Ottawa - more luck to them.

Whenever there is an election I do start to ponder such matters and find myself in danger of taking the whole thing much too seriously. It is then I re-read a favourite chapter of Mr. Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. I'll save you the trouble of hunting up your copy:

It appears, then, that the Eatanswill people, like the people of many other small towns, considered themselves of the utmost and most mighty importance, and that every man in Eatanswill, conscious of the weight that attached to his example, felt himself bound to unite, heart and soul, with one of the two great parties that divided the town--the Blues and the Buffs. Now the Blues lost no opportunity of opposing the Buffs, and the Buffs lost no opportunity of opposing the Blues; and the consequence was, that whenever the Buffs and Blues met together at public meeting, Town-Hall, fair, or market, disputes and high words arose between them. With these dissensions it is almost superfluous to say that everything in Eatanswill was made a party question. If the Buffs proposed to new skylight the market-place, the Blues got up public meetings, and denounced the proceeding; if the Blues proposed the erection of an additional pump in the High Street, the Buffs rose as one man and stood aghast at the enormity. There were Blue shops and Buff shops, Blue Inns and Buff Inns;--there was a Blue aisle and a Buff aisle in the very church itself.

Of course it was essentially and indispensably necessary that each of these powerful parties should have its chosen organ and representative: and, accordingly, there were two newspapers in the town--the Eatanswill Gazette and the Eatanswill Independent; the former advocating Blue principles, and the latter conducted on grounds decidedly Buff. Fine newspapers they were. Such leading articles, and such spirited attacks!--"Our worthless contemporary, the Gazette"--"That disgraceful and dastardly journal, the Independent"--"That false and scurrilous print, the Independent"--"That vile and slanderous calumniator, the Gazette"; these, and other spirit-stirring denunciations were strewn plentifully over the columns of each, in every number, and excited feelings of the most intense delight and indignation in the bosoms of the townspeople.