| During the allotted Bleat time my wife got a call from an old friend, so I went downstairs to keep Gnat from pestering Mom. We colored Disney Princesses, a stable of babes that now includes Tinkerbell (hottest winged butch-cut tomboy in the Disneyverse) and Minnie in those silly medieval pointy hats. We also looked through the new National Geographic, which had a big map of the world at night. The coasts of the United States blaze bright white, and you can see the density peter out as it heads from east to west, running along the arteries of the interstates. We found the tiny dot off Yucatan that summed up Cozumel. We considered the empty expanse of Africa, the fires of Australia, the dead sucking black hole of North Korea. We looked at the pictures of birds and fossils and lightning and fly infestations and all the other delights the National Geographic presents. “The world is pretty cool,” she said.
She’s going to a museum Wednesday to see bones and stuffed snakes; she’s very excited. She has a point. The world is pretty cool. “Cool” is a concept outside of good or bad, but those things come later, during the Crushing Disappointment phase of life. I hope it’s short, and quickly leads to Clear-Eyed Evaluation Leavened by Hope and / or Faith, but you never know.
Anyway, this has to be short, since it’s a column night. I skipped the Noir Review last week, and probably just as well; didn’t have much. The movie was “Out of the Past,” which has two advantages: a script so elegantly written that the hardest, cruelest lines still slide down like melted butter, and Robert Mitchum, who makes Bogart look like Jim Carrey. (And I love Bogart.) Bonus points: the bright-eyed brilliant nutso criminal is played by Kirk Douglas. Can’t recommend it enough. One scene bears framegrabbing:
That was 1947. The scene today. Damn right that’s a comfort. Then there's this guy:
He showed up years later in a Star Trek episode playing "Finney," the guy Kirk was supposed to have killed during a drill. You know the story - Kirk had a lawyer . . . what was the name of the actor? It'll come to me. Anyway, that's Star Trek. Don't want to get into that.
Last Friday I watched Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing,” which is his “Resevoir Dogs,” I suppose. I do not subscribe to the Kubrick = God school – no genius, inasmuch as that word is applied to filmmakers, but an impressive if frequently cold and off-putting talent. I can watch the first half of “Full Metal Jacket” any day; I can drop in on “The Shining” and be glued to my seat for the rest of the show. I need only watch “2001” once every five years or so, if that. “Clockwork Orange” is one of those movies you’d rather write about than see. “The Killing” was an early crime-caper movie, and it has a great reputation as a seminal noir film. Can’t quite see why. It’s not great by any means, and I won’t bore you with the reasons. Some frame grabs: here's the nebbishly loser fall-guy.
Elisha Cook Jr., of course. He played Kirk's lawyer in the episode where the Captain was accused of killing Finney, above - but no, I don't want to go there. Anyway: When the caper kicks into action, the big muscled-up brute picks a fight at the bar to attract attention. They cast a professional wrestler. He rips off his shirt and performs pro-wrestler moves. It’s ridiculously contrived in retrospect. But hey: this was their wire-fu. It was 1956, and pro-wrestling was big on TV. Using this guy was like putting a rapper in a modern action movie.
Nice work, Stanley. Do the turkeyneck, you auteur. Now: What’s unusual about this picture? Oh, nothing much.
Unless you freeze it and zoom in.
And then there’s the music. It’s a horrible score. Loud, clangorous, overbearing. But after a while it sounded familiar; I heard things in the score I’d heard elsewhere. Could it be? Nah. They all wrote like that back then. Unless . . .
Googling . . .
Well, of course. I’ll leave it up to you. Here’s one clip. Here’s another. Check the beat. The orchestration. The tell-tale flourishes. It's unmistakable. Gerald Fried. He did have a style of his own.
If you know which TV show this guy scored, your name is Jonah Goldberg. Or possibly that other Lenny. The one with the ears.