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I’m here. WiFi and power outlets by all the tables. Have a few hours to myself, and came here because I can’t stand Caribou anymore. The coffee tastes wrong. It tastes like I imagine replicator coffee would taste – perfect, exact, but somehow a total failure you would drink only if you were in deep space and the alternative was sme Broth of Goat or some such beverage . Same with Starbucks. I think the reason people adulterate the stuff with flavors and whipped cream and milk is simply to hide the brackish taste of the original product. That said, the Starbucks I buy at Target – yes, Target – makes fine coffee, because I make it to my liking. But you know what’s even better? Archer Farms. I bought some on sale at Target, hoping it was good because – all together now – I liked the packaging. This is why I’m amusing by those old devious anti-Mad Av stories that warned us how we were being manipulated by the clever brain-clouding evil geniuses of Madison Avenue. They used sex and beauty and attractive colors to entice us. Really. Sink me, Percy. I guess that’s why never see a big pull-out ad with a feces-smeared crone spelling out “FRESCA” by vomiting into the snow. Because we’re being manipulated by attractive images.

Well, of course we are. And I enjoy it. Flatter me, if you would; present some nice design in the hopes I will put a lorgnette to my eye and pay it a second or two. Who doesn’t want to open up the cabinet and see nicely designed packages? Not me! Ugly seventies remade logos for me!

Now, the week’s Noir feature, which has been changed to the Gangster feature while I chew through this box set. It began with a preview:

That he does. It’s your jolly satanic ageless Bellboy from Hell, Jimmy Cagney, appearing in “Blonde Crazy,” aka Larceny Lane. It was the preview movie on WB’s “Night at the Movies” feature. Let’s examine the rest of the entertainment – together!

The comedy offering was an Edgar Bergin Charley / McCarthy feature. I hate ventriloquism. They’re trying to fool me. I don’t like being fooled. And those wooden things with the dead painted eyes are like clowns that have stopped pretending they’re not evil. The skit is set at an eye doctor’s office, where Charlie has been sent by his school. At the end of the bit the doctor has taken Charlie’s invitation to go fishing, which is how Charlie likes to play hookie. In the last scene they’re down at the lake. And Charlie is in the doctor’s lap, of course. Ohhhkay. Next.

Harman-Ising, your guarantee of krep. I’ve never liked these guys’ work, and I don’t care that the medium was young. This stuff has not aged well. This one’s “Smile, Darn Ya, Smile,” and it’s “Steamboat Willie” with a train:

That’s not Mickey, in case you’re curious. And this isn’t Minnie:

It’s Foxy and Roxy, who bear the same relation to Mickey and Minnie as the characters in “Dinosaurs” bear to the Honeymooners.

Now, the movie, which was "Public Enemy." What a piece of work. Tough, hard, smart, with some amazing camera work - the opening has a long tracking shot that seems to belong to a film from 30 years later. I love the titles. Now this is a criminal.

As is this:

The scene below is amusing, sort of. Cagney’s on the way up in the mob world, which requires new sharp clothes. (See Nails, above.) He goes to a tailor, and while he’s fitted he asks to make his waistband really big. “Plenty of room in here,” he says, pointing to his trousers. This gets the tailor all enthused. “Oh, sir. Here’s where you need the room,” he says, palpating Cagney’s bicep. “Such a muscle.”

It sticks out to modern eyes and ears, because for some reason you just
don’t expect obviously gay characters in old old movies, do you? Open homosexuals did not exist in old movies. This guy seems to have teleported in from another era.

Now, the famous grapefruit mashing scene. Ignition.

Impact. She doesn’t seem aware yet.

He reallly works it in. Well, I hear it's good for the complexion. Here's
Harlow’s first appearance:

She’s horrible in this movie, incidentally. In the featurette the ubiquitous Scorcese comments on her very unusual line reading, as if he possibly can’t bring himself to say how bad she is. What I love about this screen grab is the way the world looks so new, so hard. The sidewalk has been remade with those paving stones that recede into the distance. The crowds all look black and white and grey. It’s a world in which the possibility of color has been considered, and rejected on aesthetic reasons.

I clipped this not so much for the headline on top, but the little highlighted text.

Television, in 1931. The seeds of the future we never end up anticipating are always around you – sometimes on the front page of the paper.