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A good scare…


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HW:  Do you find that audiences are frightened by different things now from the things that frightened them when you started, what, 30 years ago… 35 years ago, making films?

AH:  No, I wouldn’t say so, because after all they were frightened as children. You have to remember this is all based on “Red Riding Hood,” you see? Nothing has changed since “Red Riding Hood.”

In 1964, Huw Weldon (later, Director General of the BBC) interviewed Alfred Hitchcock for the BBC series Monitor

Part Two here

HW:  Have you ever been tempted to make what is nowadays called a horror film, which is different from a Hitchcock film?

AH:  No, because it’s too easy… I believe in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.

[TotH to Brain Pickings]

***

As we reach for our security blankets, we might recall that, though accounts of an unusual aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster was born when a sighting made local news on this date in 1933.  The Inverness Courier ran the account of a local couple who claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.”  The story of the “monster” (a label chosen by the Courier editor) became a media sensation: London papers sent correspondents to Scotland and a circus offered a 20,000 pound reward for capture of the beast.

Photo “taken” in 1934, later proved a hoax (source)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May 2 pastregular service should resume May 6

Written by LW

May 2, 2012 at 1:01 am

The Master meets the Godfather…

“From high art to low trash, and back again!”– Media Funhouse has been dishing it out on Manhattan cable access and on its blog for over a decade-and-a-half.  The work of Ed Grant (editor of The Motion Picture Guide and Movies on TV), it’s a continuous stream of appreciations, oddities… an enthusiast’s delight.

Consider, for example, this recent episode:

A Deceased Artiste tribute to three very talented individuals. This time out, it’s three individuals who took a powder at the very end of last year. First up, I salute Eartha Kitt with her sexy performances from the stilted but invaluable musical New Faces (1954). Then it’s on to an auteur who was known as a specialist in “Southern children” pictures and portraits of moon-eyed horny teenagers, Robert Mulligan (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Summer of ’42). My favorite film by Mulligan, featured here, is the underrated, low-key neo-noir The Nickel Ride (1975) starring Jason Miller. From Mulligan’s doomed noir hero, we move on to the man whose plays were landmarks in English (and world) theater, the master of modern mis-communication and strategically-placed silence, Harold Pinter. Despite his stylization, Pinter’s confrontations are as raw – although not as verbally violent – as those of his successor, David Mamet. The Deceased Artiste department of the Funhouse is one of the few places these folks could meet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That said, there were other places that unlikely folks met.  Consider The Mike Douglas Show:

The show was 90 minutes long and on five days a week, so the guests had to be stacked up like cordwood, and very often they had nothing whatsoever in common with the week-long “cohost”…  [the clip below] features a [1969] daytime talkshow appearance by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch has nominally come on to promote what might be his worst American film Topaz, and gets to shake hands with the three guests who are already on the panel: bestselling poet and songwriter Rod McKuen (“Seasons in the Sun,” Listen to the Warm), Joan Rivers (when she was a mousy housewife comedian you could look at without wincing), and the One and Only James Brown. Yes, the two legends from completely different disciplines were on the same stage, just because the bookers decided that was the best day to get ’em both on the air.

More wonderful weirdness– essays, clips, podcasts– at Media Funhouse.  [TotH to @jessedylan]

As we Say it Loud! I’m Fat and I’m Proud!, we might refrain from mowing the lawn in birthday tribute to Walt Whitman; he was born on this date in 1819.  Whitman grew up in Brooklyn, where over time he moved from printing to teaching to journalism, becoming the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1846.  He began experimenting with a new form of poetry, revolutionary at the time, free of a regular rhythm or rhyme scheme, that has come to be known as “free verse.”  In 1855, Whitman published, anonymously and at his own expense, the first edition of Leaves of Grass— which was revolutionary too in its content, celebrating the human body and the common man.  Whitman spent the rest of his life revising and enlarging Leaves of Grass; the ninth edition appeared in 1892, the year of his death.

Whitman and the Butterfly, from the 1889 edition of Leaves of Grass (source: Library of Congress)

A good scare…

source

HW:  Do you find that audiences are frightened by different things now from the things that frightened them when you started, what, 30 years ago… 35 years ago, making films?

AH:  No, I wouldn’t say so, because after all they were frightened as children. You have to remember this is all based on “Red Riding Hood,” you see? Nothing has changed since “Red Riding Hood.”

In 1964, Huw Weldon (later, Director General of the BBC) interviewed Alfred Hitchcock for the BBC series Monitor

Part Two here

HW:  Have you ever been tempted to make what is nowadays called a horror film, which is different from a Hitchcock film?

AH:  No, because it’s too easy… I believe in putting the horror in the mind of the audience and not necessarily on the screen.

[TotH to Brain Pickings]

As we reach for our security blankets, we might recall that, though accounts of an unusual aquatic beast living in Scotland’s Loch Ness date back 1,500 years, the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster was born when a sighting made local news on this date in 1933.  The Inverness Courier ran the account of a local couple who claimed to have seen “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface.”  The story of the “monster” (a label chosen by the Courier editor) became a media sensation: London papers sent correspondents to Scotland and a circus offered a 20,000 pound reward for capture of the beast.

Photo “taken” in 1934, later proved a hoax (source)

Movies for the temporally challenged…

From MovieBarCode, every frame of a film, compressed into a single image.  E.g…

The Big Lebowski (1998)

A Single Man (2009)

And from “ultraculture,” via the ever-estimable Roger Ebert, “death scenes from 36 of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, synchronized to climax in unison”…

[TotH, respectively, to Jesse Dylan and Nell Minow]

As we scale back our popcorn orders, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that the fledgling Warner Brothers (WB) television network aired the inaugural episode of what became its first bona-fide hit series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Buffy [when asked in their first encounter by Giles, who will become her mentor, if she knows anything about vampires]:  To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. And then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing. Mostly they’re just gonna kill you. Why am I still talking to you?

 

 

All Singing! All Dancing!– All Free!…

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From Chaplin and Keaton to Astaire and Olivier; from Kurosawa and Godard to von Sternberg and Tarkovsky; from Scorsese and Hitchcock to Ford and Huston– 300 Free Movies Online.

(Readers should be sure to look through the list to the very bottom, where they will find a list of links to more streaming riches…)

As we politely refuse butter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married; they celebrated their 50th anniversary just months before Newman succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 83.

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Looking back…

…if you think that, in the past, there was some golden age of pleasure and plenty to which you would, if you were able, transport yourself, let me say one single word: “dentistry.”
– P.J. O’Rourke,
All the Trouble in the World

Still, nostalgia has its uses.  The economy seems poised for another dip in the tank; the weather is delivering hotter, wetter warnings of the wages of climate disruption; health care costs are reaching escape velocity; education and infrastructure are (literally) crumbling, as state funding implodes…  one could go on.

Instead, one turns one’s gaze to the past; one conjures up the remembered comforts of times gone by:  “it didn’t use to be this way”…  As P.J. O’Rouke suggests, it’s more often that not the flimsiest kind of illusion– out-of-context features of a whole-cloth past, selectively recalled (indeed, too often imagined), then amplified by the need for consolation.

Still, one does it– one “remembers”– because…  well, because it’s what one does.

And so, Dear Readers, three “seed crystals”– three blasts from the past– that can, your correspondent hopes, help one (as they’ve helped him) spin stories that amuse, even as they help us find our way past the challenges that are the stuff of our days…

First, from the ever-informative Brain Pickings, “7 Must-See What’s My Line Episodes“:

The premise of the show was simple: In each episode, a contestant would appear in front of a panel of blindfolded culture pundits — with few exceptions, a regular lineup of columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, actress Arlene Francis, Random House founder Bennett Cerf, and a fourth guest panelist — who would try to guess his or her “line” of work or, in the case of famous “mystery guests,” the person’s identity, by asking exactly 10 yes-or-no questions. A contestant won if he or she presented the panel with 10 “no” answers.

Over the 17-year run of the show, nearly every iconic cultural luminary of the era, from presidents to pop stars, appeared as a mystery guest…

Indeed, over it’s 17 year run through the 50s and early 60s, WML was basically the only media property that could “have” any celebrity or cultural figure. (Sullivan could out-book WML on the entertainment front, but only there.) This was perhaps largely due to the involvement of Random House founder Bennett Cerf who, through his deep connections in the journalism and media world, was but a Kevin-Bacon’s-breath away from essentially any public figure.  In any case, no one said “no” to WML.

BP has curated seven of the very best examples of this pull:  Alfred Hitchcock, Lucille Ball, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jean Desmond (a girdle tester), Walt Disney, host John Daly (in an early example of meta-comedy), and…

See them all here.

Second, for somewhat younger readers, from our old friend The Selvedge Yard, a look back at The Rolling Stones when they were still “The Rolling Stones.”  TSY muses on the theme of this missive:

When I’m feeling roadworn, forlorn, or the subject of scorn– nothing takes me to my happy place faster than great old pics of guitar porn.  I came across the below Stones’ porn pic sifting through the internets and became mesmerized by the artfully haphazard array of axes.  You can almost smell the sweat, smoke  and stale beer as you gaze at the overturned cans, ash, and listing guitars.

The late ’60s – early ’70s was an epic time for the Rolling Stones, and Rock & Roll as a whole.  It was a time I largely missed (being born in 1970), but feel like I experienced, partially at least, vicariously through my mom.  She was a music junkie, went to Woodstock, worshipped Janis Joplin.

The Stones' Guitars

Berlin, 1965

Many more here.

And finally, for younger readers still, a glance back at the 80s and one of that decade’s indelible icons:  from Walyou, “16 Cool Mr. T Themed Designs.”

For those who grew up on the A-Team TV Show or are big fans of Rocky, Mr. T will always be a memorable personality which is simply larger than life. Although you do not see him as much in TV or movies these days, he is still a personality to be reckoned with.

This collection of 16 Mr. T designs includes various pieces of art, design, products and more which prove that Mr T is still popular today, and if you don’t agree…then I pity the fool.

Mr T Cookie Jar

Mr. T Infographic

See the rest here.

As we stroll down memory lane, we might recall that it was on this date in 1905 that Ty Cobb, “The Georgia Peach” made his major league debut; playing for the Detroit Tigers, he doubled off the New York Highlanders’s (later Yankees) Jack Chesbro, who had won a record 41 games the previous season.

Ty Cobb

“The map is not the territory”…

The Treachery of Images,” René Magritte, 1928-9

Alfred Korzybski reminds one (in the title-line quote, above), as does Surrealist wit like Magritte’s, that representations are not the things they represent.

Still, they fascinate us– precisely because of their power to evoke the thing that they aren’t.  And when the things that maps evoke aren’t real things at all?  Even niftier!

Consider, for example, two kinds of maps of fictional territories…

For nine years, from 1943 to 1952, Dell published 557 mystery novels with “map backs.”  Some charted fictional action on “real” terrain, for instance…

But most located the imagined plot in an imaginary setting, for example…

and…

In a different imaginary arena (not to say “a parallel universe”), the world of comics, comic books, and graphic novels, maps also play an important role…

Sometimes they are used to elaborate on a conceit in a way that adds narrative credibility through detail, e.g…

Nick Fury’s Tunnel, Strange Tales #141

…and sometimes, simply for dramatic effect, e.g…

Superman throws out the first pitch

Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: A hypperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is never the less the map that proceeds the territory – pressesion of simulacra- that engenders the territory.
– Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra & Simulation, 1994

Or, as someone who isn’t a French Post-Structuralist might say, way cool!

Readers can find more Bantam map-backs at Marble River’s Ephemera (from whence, the examples above) and at Mystery Scene.  Readers can get more graphic guidance at Comic Book Cartography (the source of those examples).  Grateful TotH to reader MH-H for the lead to CBC.

As we endeavor (but not too hard) to avoid the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 (44 years to the day after “Bicycle Day,” the day that  Dr. Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, deliberately took the hallucinogen for the first time) that The Simpsons debuted, as a short within The Tracey Ullman Show.

The Simpsons, as they first appeared

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