It’s cold. Vindictive wind, scudding clouds rolling low, dry air: perfect soccer weather! (G)Nat had a game tonight, and it was my turn to take her and sit by the sidelines, cheering – even though she doesn’t want that because IT’S EMBARASSING and gives me the zip-lip / throat-cut gestures.


She let in two goals, but made three magnificent blocks, two of which put her on the ground for a few seconds. One in the bread basket, one in the leg. The sun went down; the lights came on in the adjacent football field, but the ball disappeared in a black sheet of shadows, and the game was called a few minutes early. People ran for the cars. It took 30 minutes to get sensation back in my hands.

When we got home I turned on the fireplace in the Battle Bridge, and we watched some old Silly Symphony cartoons. It’s been a while. It’s been a few years, I think. We aged; they didn't. Hence the charm, in part. She still loves them; she used to watch them every day. I have to thank Leonard Maltin for his introductions, because I think he encouraged her to learn how to use the SKIP button on the remote. We also watched some Mickey cartoons from the 40s; one was “Mickey’s Birthday Party.” Goofy tries to make a cake. Hilarity results. He tries to turn the oven up to VOLCANO HEAT to cook the cake quickly; the cake shoots a sweet treacly pyroclastic flow of confectionary magma everywhere, and –

Wait a minute. I ran upstairs, opened up the iPhoto collection of our Disney trip. I'd taken photos in Mickey's house in Toontown. This wasn’t the exact kitchen from the cartoon, but it was close: 

Zoomed waaay in to the stove:

Volcano Heat. Disneyworld, I am certain, possesses a nearly infinite number of inside jokes. They don't have to do this, but they do all of this, and more. I showed these pictures to (G)Nat, and she was delighted: somehow this meant she had been inside that cartoon, sort of.

It’s Noir Wednesday, our look at peculiar images or interesting details from the great B movies of the 40s and 50s. Today’s hit:

And whom does it star?

Gosh, I didn’t get that. Mitch- something? Oh, Mitchum. He plays a doctor – not particularly convincingly, really; he looks like he’d deliver anesthesia by slugging the patient. He meets a dreamy Femme Fatale who just came back from the Soft Focus Salon:

What about her?

Anything else?

Downright Byronic, this one. She was Faith Domergue, one of Howard Hughes’ protégées. Supposedly she was groomed to be a star a la Jane Russell, something this photo supports, but you can tell she didn't fit the mold. I say that as a compliment. Faith seemed smarter. If you’re wondering she had any children who went into  urban planning, the answer is yes; his company also has a YouTube channel.

Anyway. In the movie, Faith is a Troubled Woman who lures the doctor into her world of deceit; we meet the man who’s been controlling her life – or so we think. Here he is. Recognize?

No? Well, that’s after she’s pushed him a bit too far. Minutes earlier, he was the model of civilized composure:

There is no movie on earth that cannot benefit from the presence of Claude Rains. If I could redo the Star Wars sequel I would have made Yoda look like him and sound like him. Shocked. Shocked am I to gambling find here.

The couple runs off on the lam, and end up in a border town probably called Backlot Mesa. Note the car on the right:

That’s one of the more larval designs ever produced. You can tell it’s a border town, because it has a jumping bar with a beltin’ red-hot mama. She looks as if she’s about to eat the sole patron’s head. Come here, honey, and let momma spoon out yer brains!

What a town: Hotel Brignz, Hung Café. The piano player, incidentally, is Phil Boutelje, a composer and music arranger for the second tier of Hollywood productions. He got his start with the Whiteman Orchestra; his most famous tune was probably “China Boy,” covered here in 1936:

The couple tries to get across the border to fabled lawless Mexico, and enlist the help of a fellow you could describe, in the terms of the era, as a B-Movie Vaguely Ethnic Heavy, Grifter Division. It’s sad little Phil Van Zandt, the poor man's Peter Lorre. Rode a handful of pills to the boneyard when his career guttered out. This is a classic Noir shot, lightened somewhat to bring out the details:

Hero in the middle, with the light blooming behind his head; frail on the left, heavy on the right. And an accordion in the foreground. You must have the foreground accordion. Film students, take note! Actually, no, but it’s the angle of the shot that makes it noir: set low, looking up. Everyone’s connected; you can tell the story by the eyes, by who’s looking at who, and how. You could write six short stories based on this image.

I don’t want to give the ending away, but let’s just say it doesn’t end well for everyone.

Hark, hark, the rosco doth bark:

As a B-movie, I’d give it . . . a B. It’s part of the Film Noir vol. 4 collection, which I recommend with gusto.


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