Our Black girl in the White House is slowly but surely being made the most recent scapegoat for those sweet sixteen words, re: WMDs in Iraq. Monstah Wisdom predicts they'll be able to easily fall back on that old, threadbare canard of the underqualified, we-knew-it-was-too-good-to-be-true, non-white male person/6-degrees-of-separation-style impostor.
Watch for these tropes from the racists on the right, the (L)ibertarian and the left.
Bush lied, people died - As wholeheartedly as I agree with this sentiment, it is quickly become the stuff of bumpersticker sloganeering, in danger of reducing the lives of all those guys and Ms. Piewistewa to a cute rhyme. Sorry, but this just makes me even angrier at this whole Iraq mess.
Your score was 100. Very quirkyalone:
Relatives may give you quizzical looks, and so may friends, but you know in your heart of hearts that you are following your inner voice. Though you may not be romancing a single person, you are romancing the world. Celebrate your freedom on National Quirkyalone Day, February 14th!
Oh, honey, you don't know just how quirkyalone.
Celebrate? I don't even celebrate gay pride, and I shutter the windows for the dyke march. Feb 14 is but a distant abstraction. Last time it meant anything resembling reality was some time in 2000. I still have the card and heart-cut onyx stone I should have given him.
I'M PRO-REPARATIONS, AND PROUD
And I don't care if you don't like it
No, not reparations for slavery. Reparations for Jim Crow, the legacy of which ALL of our parents and grandparents -- white and nonwhite, immigrant and non-immigrant -- carry with them, and which is still quite alive and well.
(Well, almost. Anything Peter Merholz says is news! :-))
Love Me or Leave Me, with Cagney and Day
Peter over at Peterme.com put up a post about Love Me or Leave Me (MGM/Taurog, 1955). He liked it and was impressed, which makes me happy. LMOLM has one of my all-time favorites, my beautiful Cagney, as well as co-alum from Warner Brothers, Doris Day, playing Ruth Etting, a prohibition-era songstress. I really dug this film, and apparently I am not alone. The following is a response to Peter's post.
To start, some advice from an MGM musicals nut: please do not make the mistake of Auteurishen film students, and dismiss studio system flicks of the mid 50s!
A bit of context. This is directly out of the post-war and post-LB-Mayer MGM as headed by Dore Schary, which gave us such rarities as Adam's Rib (Cukor, 1949), Asphalt Jungle (Huston, 1950), An American in Paris (Minnelli, 1951), Singin' In the Rain (Donen 1952), and Bright Road (Mayer, 1953), a prim, socially-conscious Dorothy Dandridge vehicle.
Then again, it also blessed us with the likes of Duchess of Idaho (Leonard, 1950), Sombrero (Foster, 1952), and Joan-Crawford-does-darkface in Torch Song, (Walters, 1953), to which I can only say, "yikes". 1955 was MGM's year of Kismet (Minnelli/Donen), It's Always Fair Weather (Donen/Kelly), Guys and Dolls (Goldwyn/Mankiewicz, dist by MGM), Blackboard Jungle (Brooks), I'll Cry Tomorrow (Mann) and Interrupted Melody (Bernhardt). The latter two starred Glenn Ford, husband of song-and-dance girl Eleanor Powell, whose musicals would lay the foundations of the Freed Unit. Schary has story credits for two such movies, Broadway Melody of 1938 (Del Ruth, 1937) and early Taurog-directed film, Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940).
Schary was known throughout the business as the vocal liberal, lending name-brand support (if only that) to the Hollywood Ten and other left causes. The Anti-Defamation League currently offers scholarships carrying Schary's name to young filmmakers they feel carry on his own ideals, "in keeping with the Anti-Defamation League's mission to promote human rights, combat bigotry and prejudice against all groups and to secure justice and fair treatment for all people". From ADL's biography:
In his eight years in that position, he endeavored to strike a balance in the company's output between escapist entertainment and serious, issue-oriented films, while also attempting to resist the political witch-hunters and blacklisting of the McCarthy era
Film historian Thomas Cripps credits Schary with kicking off the "message movie cycle".
From spring through autumn of 1949 the studios brought forth Stanley Kramer's Home of the Brave, Louis DeRochmont's Lost Boundaries, Darryl Zanuck's Pinky, Clarence Brown's Intruder in the Dust, and Joseph Mankiewicz's No Way Out.
Smeared and gay-baited in rightwing tabloids as favoring "his Red Boy Friends", Schary's name was also linked with Dalton Trumbo, Dashiell Hammett and the outspoken John Howard Lawson. He was called to the stand as a "friendly witness" to the House Committe on Un-American Activities, brilliantly satirized in an early Mel Brooks sketch delivered by a very young Paul Lynde in Fox's New Faces (Fox/Horner,1954). Still, it was clear to all that he was far from it. From his own autobiography, Schary relates:
One newspaper, in Los Angeles, ran a banner headline printed in bright crimson that proclaimed: STUDIO HEAD SAYS HE WILL HIRE REDS.
Later, when I appeared at the Writers Guild and sated that I opposed the studio policy but supported the effort to form some sort of talent guild council to stave off reckless indicments, I was clobbered. The nicest name I was called was "thief." Those bold members who stood up to defend me were either booed or silently rejected.
It is accepted in some circles that Schary was responsible for the some-time safe placement of MGM's liberals such as Gene Kelly and wife-at-the-time Betsy Blair, away from the pressures of HUAC and conservative blacklisting. Too bad Libertarian siren Raimondo has retreated from critique of war, returning to his red-baiting (and tacitly Jew-baiting) hovel, ever-vigilant against the latest Communist Menace, currently in the form of post-Trotskyist neocons. If we are to believe rightwing screechers like Ann Coulter and Raimondo, Senator Joe McCarthy -- although disgraced by his own lying yap -- has historically gotten a bad rap from those incorrigibly hegemonic libberelz, neocons, and other inauthentic conservatives, the poor thing. In one interview, Blair gives some insight as to working condititions for leftists in the entertainment industry at that time. Call me dense, but I happen to believe her, if only because I see it happening again.
I went through three auditions, and finally I read with Ernest Borgnine. [Writer] Paddy [Chayefsky] wanted me to be in it, and [director] Delbert [Mann] was very enthusiastic. The blacklist was never mentioned, although I hadn't worked in four and a half years [she had been "named" in Hollywood Reporter as a "red", actively involved with the controversial Actor's Lab. Blair says she was also listed in Red Channels, although my copy does not contain a separate entry for her name --IM]
Finally [prospective director and a HUAC witness who "named names" --IM] Harold Hecht said to me, "I'm sorry, Betsy, but anybody connected with me they look at very closely" -- meaning, "It's my fault, but . . ." --"so you're going to have to write a letter." I said, "Harold, you know I can't write such a letter, but I'll try. I'll write something." What I wrote was hopeless: that I believed in American democracy and I loved my country, et cetera. I wrolte likea twelve-year-old girl in civics class. Of course, it wasn't what they wanted, and it didn't pass.
[...] So Gene, who was shooting It's Always Fair Weather, I think, went in to Dore Schary ... and said, "Listen, Dore. Betsy says Marty is a great script, she's read for the director three times, she has all bug got the part. You know her. You've played charades with her. You know she's not going to overthrow the country. You have to do something about her being blacklisted, or I'm going to stop shooting."
Dore telephoned the American Legion in Washington in front of Gene and said he would vouch for me. So I was in Marty, because someone had vouched for me, and it was the same thing as before -- the blacklist was over, but only for one movie. I got an [Oscar] nomination, I won the [Best Actress] award at Cannes, I was hot for two hundred days, and I never got a single offer to do another Hollywood movie.
And I love this particular comment from her:
Of course there was a Communist conspiracy in Hollywood. There was a conspiracy to get a black character into a movie or to express a liberal idea in a movie. It's a joke that it was a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the country.
Yes, but -- as we all know -- we are dealing with people who think a man in a dress and a woman in pants somehow exemplify the imminent downfall of western culture (which, somehow, prides itself on individuation and presupposes non-conformity as ethical value and moral absolute). That new immigrants are best utilized as scapegoats for our own personal failings. That the presence of one non-white person anywhere for miles signifies absolute contamination and impurity. Such is the conspiratorial paranoia of the right. Not much has changed in this reagard, I've noticed.
As is so often the case at Interesting Monstah, things will eventually end up at Nina Simone, and LMOLM is no exception. Ms. Simone did a few interpretations of "Love Me or Leave Me", the first as a 1957 Bethlehem single release, then on 1958'sJazz As Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club . No doubt it was on the heels of the success of the movie. She also cut her first version of "My Baby Just Cares For Me" on the same album. (Mp3 links to come soon).
Both these tunes are associated with Whoopie!, another Eddie Cantor vehicle for screen. The stage version (Ziegfeld, 1928) had starred Ms. Etting. Buddy Ebsen, which we covered in the last installment of "Classic Musicals in the News" also appeared in this stage version, which was made into the two-strip Technicolor movie (Goldwyn/Berkeley, 1930). That movie also doubles as Busby Berkeley's directorial debut.
Regarding Ms. Day, there isn't much to say about her that hasn't been said already, or that isn't automatically trite and cliche, so let's just cut to the flicks. If you'd like to see more of Ms. Day kicking butt, give some of her other movies a spin, particularly Tea for Two (1952) a screen remake of No No, Nanette (1925) and Lullaby of Broadway (1951), which capped on the earlier successes of Berkeley, and musical team Dubin and Warren. She bends gender quite well in Calamity Jane (1953). She really is quite badass, at times.
LMOLM was out of the Pasternak unit, which at that time was the B-level unit of such Technicolor wonders as 1955's Hit the Deck, precisely the type that film students love to sniff at, but in my experience have typically never seen. When Joe Pasternak wrote his 1956 autobio, it was apparently too early for him to say anything about LMOLM. He did have a few remarks, however, about his part in Deanna vs. Judy, circa 1937.
Over at Metro they've got two kids under contract. They both have remendous possibilites, I think. I'll get the film and run it for you. I'm pretty sure they're dropping one of them."
I could hardly wait until the next day when the film arrived. Everything Rufus said was right. The girl was warm, lovable, natural, charming. She sang in a way to win your heart.
"That's the girl," I shouted when the light went up in the projection room. "What do you say, Bobby?"
Bobby agreed. We turned, beaming huge smiles at Rufus. He kept swallowing, staring at us, unable to make a word come out of his mouth. "What's the mater, Rufus?" I said. "Don't you understand? We like her, she's terrific. You can sign her."
A thin stream of words finally camou out of Rufus. "Remeber I told you they had two girls and were dropping one? This is the one they decided to keep."
Bummer days, dude...
To make a long story longer, Joe and Bobby liked the other one even better. And this is how Deanna Durbin ended up at Universal, with Joe Pasternak, who would end up at MGM once again with his own prod unit. By that time, "the one they decided to keep," nee Frances Ethel Gumm, was making her way through the Freed unit, the A-musicals unit on the MGM campus.
Director and choreographer Stanley Donen directed Ms. Day's next musical after LMOLM, The Pajama Game, apparently tagged by o.g. Auteur Jean-Luc Godard as "the first left-wing operetta". Godard must have missed the several Warner Bros incarnations of The Desert Song (1929, 1943, 1953), the first of which kicked off the "all talking/all singing/all dancing" explosion of the sound era. Or Casbah (Republic/Berry, 1948), a remake of Algiers (itself the remake of Pepe Le Moko). Or the um...difficult-to-watch, but with one of the best soundtracks, ever...Green Pastures (Warner Bros/Connelly, 1936), with Edna Mae Harris!! (Connelly actually does have his own entry in Red Channels, for those interested.) Then also, despite the reliance of brilliantly silly Eddie Cantor on the problematic sight gag of blackface, there was Roman Scandals (Goldwyn/Tuttle, 1933). That last features none other than Ruth Etting as Cantor's costar and is highly recommended.
And now, our circles are more than complete.
Gotta love Hollywood musicals. Just. Gotta. Love 'em.
Eric Bentley, ed., Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts From Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938-1968, New York: Viking, 1971.
Counterattack: The Newsletter of Facts to Combat Communism, Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television, New York, 1950.
Thomas Cripps, The Green Pastures, Wisconsin/Warner Bros Screenplay Series, Madison: U of WI Press, 1979.
_______, Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie From orld War II to the Civil Rights Era, New York and Oxford,: OUP, 1993.
John Douglas Eames, The MGM Story, New York: Crown, 1982.
The council said the Justice Department continued to act "in the name of combating terrorism when in fact they have targeted broadly Arabs and Muslims" in this country.
The Sept. 11 investigation dragnet in 2002 included special registration requirements that singled out students and visitors from Muslim-majority countries.
Citing examples, it said three Muslim charities had effectively been shut down since December 2001 and were now locked in legal battles against the government.
The report also highlighted FBI (news - web sites) hate crime statistics and said the agency's 2002 annual report said attacks on people, institutions and businesses identified with the Islamic faith increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001.
The report detailed "police profile incidents" where Muslims were questioned while doing mundane activities such as walking on public roads or shopping in malls.
Read about it. Do something about it.
CAIR.org - controversial but actively visible pro-Muslim group, which released the report in question
Bluetriangle.org - fight arbitrary detentions and deportations of immigrants, particularly from Middle Eastern countries or Muslim background