Friday, April 29, 2022

Saturday 9

 Saturday 9: As Time Goes By (1958)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song begins with, "You must remember this." Do you often write things down to help you remember? I regularly write my grocery list on a piece of paper, slip it into my jeans, and forget about it until I find it when I go through my pockets in the laundry room. I'm just hopeless.
2) The lyrics tell us that moonlight and love songs are never out of date. Tell us about something else that seems timeless. Pearls and a black dress.

3) Originally written in 1931, "As Time Goes By" is best known as the love theme from the 1942 film, Casablanca. According to the American Film Institute, there's only one song from a movie soundtrack that's more expressly identified with the film: "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz. What song reminds you of your favorite movie? I just saw The Sting at the TCM Classic Film Festival, and so this has been going through my head.
4) This version is from The George Sanders Touch, an LP recorded by an Oscar-winning character actor. There is scant evidence that it sold well. Tell us about something you thought was a good idea at the time, but looking back, would have done differently. About 12 years ago, my friend Barb offered me a job at her agency. I didn't take it because I was worried about the impact it would have on our relationship. (She would have been my boss.) It's hard to know for certain, but I'm pretty sure I'd be better off financially today if I'd made that move. Plus, she moved away and we drifted apart anyway. Oh well, la de dah. What's done can't be undone.
5) This album was really something of a consolation prize for George. He worked with a vocal coach, hoping to win the romantic lead in the film version of South Pacific, but alas, the role went to a younger man. He had fun making this record instead. Have you recently taken lemons and made lemonade? I think it's cool that George got to reap the benefit of his singing lessons, even if he didn't get the part in South Pacific. (I never really liked that musical anyway.) I try to make lemonade out of lemons all the time at work. Clients (or, more precisely, my client's lawyers) make changes to our work and it would be easy to get discouraged. But I take those revisions and often find that, with imagination, the work can still be good. Different, but effective. 

6) He usually played suave but unsympathetic characters. That's why he gave his autobiography the self-aware title, Memoirs of a Professional Cad. What would you call your life story? Either "The Thing of It Is" or "Frankly ...", because those are two phrases I use often.
7) The night he won his Oscar, George Sanders accepted the statuette, bowed deeply and then, safely behind the curtain and away from cameras, surprised onlookers by crying. Have you ever cried tears of joy? Cried? No. I've choked up and come close, though. The Cubs World Series, seeing my niece's happiness on her wedding day ...

8) George Sanders wed perennial talk show guest and occasional actress Zsa Zsa Gabor in 1949. Sixteen years after their divorce, he married Zsa Zsa's less famous but also glamorous sister, Magda. After a month, George and Magda thought better of it and had the union annulled. Sam thinks this is one of the oddest romantic tales she's ever stumbled upon while researching Saturday 9. Have you ever known anyone who divorced one sibling and then married another? (Hallmark movies don't count.) No. The George Sanders/Gabor sister saga was wild. Especially because he was 65 when he married Magda, old enough to know better!

9) Random question: You're in a line of 25 people at the post office. How many of those other 24 are more patient at waiting than you are? As long as I've got headphones or a book, I'm pretty patient.


At the Movies -- Day Four


The last day started early with old friends, Nick and Nora Charles and After the Thin Man (1936). I love this series. I smiled the entire time.


Then I leaned against the bar at The Roosevelt with Will, listening to Piper Laurie. She's been acting for (gulp!) 70 years and has earned three Oscar nominations. She had great stories about Tyrone Power, Paul Newman, Dana Andrews ... Most of all, I liked how unpretentious she was. She seemed genuinely amused that she's best known for "dirty pillows," her most memorable line as the dangerously nutty mother in Carrie.

Seeing The Sting (1973) on the BIG screen was great fun. Newman and Redford are simply the coolest guys ever. I don't know if you have noticed, but they are also not unattractive.

The screenwriter, David Ward, was in attendance. Dear Lord, what a script! He talked about his research, talking to confidence men. They don't take your money, he said, they are too elegant for that. Instead, they persuade you to give it to them.

Tony Bill and Michael Philips, the producers, were there, too. Tony Bill cracked me up because he STILL isn't happy with the casting. Newman and Redford just weren't who he had in mind. Gondorf should be older and Hooker should be younger. Peter Boyle and Jeff Bridges would have been "better." Really? REALLY? 10 Oscar nominations, 8 wins (including Best Picture). I don't think "better" is possible!

I ended the Festival with the 30th anniversary showing of A League of Their Own (1992). I'd never seen this movie. In the summer of 1992, I was working very hard on Bill Clinton's Presidential campaign and just didn't have time for movies. Also, I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate Madonna.

But this year, following both the Yankees and the Cubs, I realize that I not only love my team, I love baseball. I love the sounds. I love the history. It was thrilling to see my beloved Wrigley Field on the big screen. Tom Hanks is very good at playing a very flawed man. But baseball is really the star of this film, and I luxuriated in it.

Waiting in line, I met a man who is a tour guide at Wrigley Field! I asked him if he's noticed a dip in fan enthusiasm since last August's trading of Bryzzo and he says yes, without a doubt. More complaints about that than about this past spring's lockout. He also has met Anthony Rizzo's entire family and told me how indiscreet Rizz' dad could be when talking to fans. It must be hard to be thrust into reflected celebrity like that.

So TCMFF 2022 is in the books. Can you tell I'm already looking forward to 2023? 

At the Movies -- Day Three


Saturday was my day for tough decisions. At the TCM Film Festival, we have access to five movies on five different screens at any time, plus interviews and book signings. Usually what I wanted to see what clear cut. My choice were not always those of my Chicago film-going buddies (Will and Karen), but that's fine. I was very comfortable going my own way and chatting with people I knew from the 2019 Festival or new folks I met in line.

But Saturday! Saturday I wanted to be in two or three places at once and that just isn't possible -- not even in the magic world of Hollywood!

My day started early. I had to skip the free breakfast and leave the hotel at 8:00 to make sure I got my "queue card" (guaranteed seat) for the 9:00 movie. But which one? The Return of the Secaucus 7? This low-budget 1980 film influenced a spate of Baby Boomer/coming of age flicks (most notably The Big Chill). Or The Third Man? This 1949 classic is considered one of those essentials everyone should see, but I somehow haven't.

I went to The Third Man, and my world was rocked. It really is that good. A down-on-his-luck American author travels to Vienna to work with his lifelong friend, Harry, only to learn Harry just died.  He's shocked, at loose ends, with no money and nothing to do and tries to figure out what happened to his friend. What he learns is dark and disturbing and very moody and twisted. Everything about this movie is strangely beautiful, from the zither music to chases through bombed-out post-war Vienna. And the writing! The baddest of the bad guys justifies his filthy actions by saying, "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” 

I will never be able to look at a cuckoo clock again.

The experience was enhanced by the intro. The "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller and director/cinematographer Ernest Dickerson explained how this movie was made and what sets it apart. I learned a lot. I also found myself talking baseball with a pair of women from Cleveland. I mentioned Anthony Rizzo -- as is my wont -- and they certainly know him. He made the last out in the classic 2016 World Series against Cleveland! 

Usually I wouldn't miss a chance to see To Kill a Mockingbird, but Saturday I skipped it. Because The Last of Sheila (1973) was being shown at the same time. It isn't a great movie. But boy, it's fun. The only screenplay ever credited to Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, it's funny and smart and filled with pretty people. If you love reading mysteries, you'll love this movie, I promise you.

The film's star, Richard Benjamin, discussed the movie afterward and I'm happy to report he enjoyed making it as much as I enjoy watching it. Also, Edie Bricusse -- onscreen for about a minute as the luckless Sheila of the title -- was there, too.

Everyone from my movie group went to see Baby Face (1933), a pre-code that has a sterling reputation even though I found it more smutty than shocking. So I went my own way and had lunch with Trudy. I met her at the 2019 fest and we've become Facebook friends. I was touched that she expressed her sympathies over my little man, Reynaldo. Very kind of her.

Then came my biggest decision of the festival: the 1949 Little Women with Beth herself, Margaret O'Brien, introducing it, or Heaven Can Wait, with Warren Beatty in attendance? Or Blue Hawaii, where Elvis sings "Can't Help Falling In Love?" I do love Elvis movies and would enjoy seeing one with an audience ready to praise the King, not bury him.

Margaret O'Brien cancelled, which made it a little easier. I went with Warren. Because of Warren. I've always been a fan, he's 85 now, and when will I ever get to see him again?

Photo from

I still wish I'd been able to see Elvis, though. Sigh ...

At the Movies -- Day Two


The TCM Classic Film Festival began at 9:00 AM, but I admit, I was still in bed. When I finally rolled down to the lobby for my free continental breakfast -- newly reinstated after covid! -- the crowd was finishing their bagels. I recognized a familiar voice. KAREN! She and I have been spending one night a week together for over a year with our Zoom movie meetups, but we have never met! Here we were, 2000 miles from home, and we were finally able to hug. She was there with her charming 20-something daughter, who snapped pictures. Bob, a rabid Beatle fan who also belongs to our movie group, was there, too. After all the video contact, it was good to finally see one another 3-D.

My first movie of the day was at 10:30. The Group (1966). I saw it on TV when I was a teenager and to be honest, I didn't understand it. Based on Mary McCarthy's very adult best-seller, it follows 8 co-eds into their lives after graduation. There was adultery and abortion and breast vs. bottle and careers and date rape and lesbianism and dependent, aging parents. What was ground-breaking and artistic in 1966 seems overwrought and overstuffed now. Still, I'm glad I saw it. Candice Bergen at 20 years old was so beautiful it's ridiculous. She also wasn't very good. We know from Murphy Brown that comedy is her forte, and there are precious few laughs in The Group.

The film was introduced by actress Diane Baker. She compared The Group to her own film, The Best of Everything, and said this one was better. I disagree. The Best of Everything was great, soapy fun while The Group was heavy going.

Then it was time for more Doris. Will, Guy and I saw The Pajama Game (1957).

Another new-to-me movie, another movie that isn't shown very often. We were completely charmed. I also liked the message. As TCM host Eddie Muller pointed out in his introduction, there aren't many musicals focused on the importance of labor unions.

From there it was off to the BIG theater. The Chinese Theater. 916 seats. The perfect place to see the restored print of Giant. This was, after all, the theater were it originally premiered in 1956, where Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson left their hand/footprints in the forecourt.

I love this movie. Always have. Now I remember it especially fondly because my late mother loved it. I was also excited to see Steven Spielberg in person. He was one of the moving forces behind the restoration of this film. He spoke of it in terms of film making (dissolves and long shots) and story telling (racial tensions and feminism).

It's also a great popcorn movie. Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor were both still in their 20s and both staggeringly beautiful. They're as gorgeous as the panoramic shots of wide open spaces.