I’ve been meaning to post a little vidclip from “Gilda,” which was last weekend’s noir. It was the breakout role for Rita Hayworth, and it’s a damned odd film. Glenn Ford stomps around looking mad, Rita vamps and teases and weeps and steams up a few scenes in a way you couldn’t do today:


That’s a striptease segment. She removes one glove. If she’d taken off the other one they would have shut down the production for reasons of Unbearable Insinuation. Even now you can hear propane tanks explode down the street if you watch the scene with the curtains open. What really makes the film peculiar, though, is the sexual vibe between the two guys competing for her attention. In case you’re wondering if one was good and one was bad, the lighting helps:

I wondered if I was just reading modern mores into it – the villain is this smooth, cultured, reptilian character who seems pansexual, and he keeps a knife in his cane he calls “my little friend.” Then I looked up the movie in Eddie Mueller’s “Dark City,” the definitive noir collection, and he calls the aforementioned vibe “obvious.” So it’s not just me. It was probably obvious at the time, too, but we’re conditioned not to think such implications existed in the old films.

Anyway, here’s the first time we see Gilda. The villain, Ballin Mundson (what a weevily name!) introduces his, er, employee to the woman he’s just brought home. Glenn Ford’s reaction isn’t exactly subtle: it’s as if every fluid in his body was just replaced with testosterone and hate.


Then again, you can have Rita. If we’re naming faves here, she had nothing on  - well, she was one of those people you can identify from a single shot in a movie that didn’t show her face:


She would have reduced Gilda to tears in about three seconds. Confident and smart. It’s all here in this scene from “Singin’ in the Rain,” still one of my favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it – and shame on you! Shame! – this is part of the long, elaborate and flawless Lullaby of Broadway / Gotta Dance sequence, which I could watch daily and never tire of ; here Gene Kelly meets the flapper temptress, who strips him of his silly civilized trappings, like glasses, a hat, and his dignity. His response is one of the greatest moments in the history of cinema. Wait for 2:00 – 2:07 in the clip, and you’ll see what I mean. Try to imagine it on the big screen: even watching the DVD on my monitor, it’s a fargin’ thunderclap.

Oh, the repressed 50s. After that, it gets even better, but I’m sorry: no blotchy YouTube video of the mile-long wind-blown-scarf dance. It’s like listening to Debussy through a tin can. We could make things like that nowadays; we don’t. Not because we can’t.

Cyd Charisse. As you may have heard, she died this week.

Penultimate day of thrift-store scannage. More flotsam from yesteryear – as opposed to the things I got from the future through the time-space rift that runs through my office, I guess. The first is a cover from Popular Mechanics: one hell of a train.

It appears to be driven by a manniken, just to show how automated and modern trains had become. They hadn't come up with by '39, but they were close. Think of seeing this speed by as you waited at a crossing in the middle of Nebraska: all your life you’d thought of trains as black ungainly beasts, and now, for a minute, the future screams past, looking like something you saw in the Buck Rogers serial. It would be like going to the airport in 1977 and seeing the Millennium Falcon.

Found a children’s travel book:

This style may or may not appeal to you. I understand why it was popular; people were accustomed to scrupulously realistic illustrations in books and magazines, so this flat loose style looked modern and fresh. If done well, I think it was cool enough, but I don’t have the jones for the style some do. It infected cartoons as well – I know the lads over at Cartoon Brew are big fans of the UPA style, and I’ve greatly enjoyed Amid’s “Cartoon Modern” book. But sometimes it makes my head hurt. This is an example of a book that makes my head hurt, because everything is about 17% away from being really cool. For example:


The idea is cute enough – vacationing kid walking out with a cone under that proud and noble sentiment – but it just looks as if the artist couldn’t do any better. I bought the book because it had some pictures of Cocoa Beach motels:

The Sea Missile is gone, but here’s a picture. 

Other motels:

Still around, but Google Earth doesn't show anything good. Here's a word that deserves to be revived:

The control room illustration is better:

I thought of carefully cutting out the pages and joining them together to scan them and preserve them in internet form forever. Maybe not.

As someone who does not necessarily think that Canada and Europe are our betters, I’m always collecting stories that prove my case with the strongest of all possible evidence: anecdotal! Bad for a court of law, but good in arguments. If I had to file this under anything, it would be the “innumerable small rights lost on a daily basis to overreaching courts, ignored by people who concentrate on the supposed revocation of larger rights.”  A judge overturned a father’s decision to ground his daughter from a school trip :

A Canadian court has lifted a 12-year-old girl's grounding, overturning her father's punishment for disobeying his orders to stay off the internet, his lawyer said.

The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting "inappropriate" pictures of herself online using a friend's computer.
The father's lawyer Kim Beaudoin said the disciplinary measures were for the girl's "own protection" and is appealing the ruling.

From another story on the case:

The father, who is divorced but has legal custody of his daughter, cut off her Internet access after she chatted on websites he had tried to block. She then used a friend’s Internet connection to post inappropriate pictures of herself, Beaudoin said.

After discovering that, the father told his daughter she couldn’t go on the three-day school trip. According to Beaudoin, the daughter “slammed the door” and went to live with her mother, who was willing to let her take the trip.

However, the school wouldn’t allow the girl to go unless both parents consented or she obtained a court order. That prompted the girl, with her mother’s support, to take legal action against her father, culminating in Friday’s ruling.

According to Beaudoin, Tessier found that denying the trip was unduly severe punishment. The fact that the girl is now living with her mother also factored into the judge’s ruling, she said.

The judge has been on the bench for a year. Wait until she gets warmed up.  

Heard this on the Medved show today: a fellow called in claiming he had proof of a 30-foot UFO landing on the Capitol in DC. Here it is!

Here’s their home page. Count the seconds until you start to doubt the competence of the website’s designer.  This is one of those sites were you’ll eventually get the true scoop about human history: we’re at war with shape-shifting reptiles. Who are in league with Mormons.

Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

New Motels! Well, just three. But the California site is redesigned, so we'll start here. Trust me, the last few additions are worth it - and there's GoogleMaps street view versions of a few contemporary incarnations.

Tomorrow on buzz.mn: Lance Lawson Thursday. See you there!