Archive for June, 2011

“Adua and Her Friends” (1960)

June 25, 2011

If Marked Woman had been done in the style of Seduced and Abandoned, it might’ve looked a lot like Antonio Pietrangeli’s Adua and Her Friends. In the late ’50s the so-called Merlin Law officially closed the brothels of Rome, causing thousands of prostitutes to crowd onto the streets in a matter of weeks. Adua begins with the closing night at one brothel, where four of the hookers—a dream team consisting of Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva and Gina Rovere—are about to open a restaurant in the country. They plan to moonlight, working tables by day and the beds upstairs at night, but their efforts to get the restaurant off the ground succeed too well: it’s a hit, and bit by bit they find themselves ready to give up the old life. The only problem is whether society will accept their new roles, a problem crystallized by their financier—a businessman who, while perhaps not a hardened criminal on paper, certainly is in his pocketbook. He’s not interested in hearing any goopy stories from his whores; he wants his money.

This is one sneaky picture, one whose stylishness and depth of feeling reveal themselves only gradually. Piero Piccioni’s jazzy score mixes it up with pop hits of the day, Mastroianni shows up (and is perfect) in an important part, the women’s characters are all psychologically detailed and convincing, and Petrangeli unifies a variety of tones without ever settling into a single genre. (Watch out for that ending, though—it has a barb on it.)  I’ve seen only one of his other films, one of the shorts in The Seven Deadly Sins, though he did second-unit work on Ossessione and he was one of the writers on Europa ’51. As of tonight, though, he’s at the top of my list. (His filmography’s sadly truncated: he drowned at 49, while working on his last picture.)


June 23, 2011

Most of this is distressing to the max, but here’s a compilation of near pristine color footage from WW II. In a couple places I had the sensation of seeing these events with fresh eyes—no mean feat.


June 14, 2011

Courtesy of the redoubtable DVD Beaver, two famous pairs of eyes from The Cincinnati Kid:

June 10, 2011

Iamb, I Said #7

June 3, 2011

Home for Thanksgiving

I bring myself back from the streets that open like long
Silent laughs, and the others
Spilled into in the way of rivers breaking up, littered with words,
Crossed by cats and that sort of thing,
From the knowing wires and the aimed windows,
Well this is nice, on the third floor, in back of the billboard
Which says Now Improved and I know what they mean,
I thread my way in and I sew myself in like money.

Well this is nice with my shoes moored by the bed
And the lights around the billboard ticking on and off like a beacon,
I have brought myself back like many another crusty
Unbarbered vessel launched with a bottle,
From the bare regions of pure hope where
For a great part of the year it scarcely sets at all,
And from the night skies regularly filled with old movies of my fingers,
Weightless as shadows, groping in the sluices,
And from the visions of veins like arteries, and
From the months of plying
Between can and can, vacant as a pint in the morning,
While my sex grew into the only tree, a joyless evergreen,
And the winds played hell with it at night, coming as they did
Over at least one thousand miles of emptiness,
Thumping as though there were nothing but doors, insisting
“Come out,” and of course I would have frozen.

Sunday, a fine day, with my ears wiped and my collar buttoned
I went for a jaunt all the way out and back on
A streetcar and under my hat with the dent settled
In the right place I was thinking maybe—a thought
Which I have noticed many times like a bold rat—
I should have stayed making some of those good women
Happy, for a while at least, Vera with
The eau-de-cologne and the small fat dog named Joy,
Gladys with her earrings, cooking and watery arms, the one
With the limp and the fancy sheets, some of them
Are still there I suppose, oh no,

I bring myself back avoiding in silence
Like a ship in a bottle.
I bring my bottle.
Or there was thin Pearl with the invisible hair nets, the wind would not
Have been right for them, they would have had
Their times, rugs, troubles,
They would have wanted curtains, cleanings, answers, they would have
Produced families their own and our own, hen friends and
Other considerations, my fingers sifting
The dark would have turned up other
Poverties, I bring myself
Back like a mother cat transferring her only kitten,
Telling myself secrets through my moustache,
They would have wanted to drink ship, sea, and all or
To break the bottle, well this is nice,
Oh misery, misery, misery,
You fit me from head to foot like a good grade suit of longies
Which I have worn for years and never want to take off.
I did the right thing after all.

W.S. Merwin

The Symbiotic Fucked-Upness That Is Sarah Palin & the Press

June 1, 2011

Y’know, I gave up writing about Sarah Jane Mabel Ann Palin a long time ago because there’s no percentage in it, but her latest move is just too good to be ignored. The ex-gov is apparently in the middle of some kind of hobo bus tour which may or may not have something to do with running for president (that whole part of it’s unclear), but the beauty part is this: Palin announced today that she’s no longer going to tell the press where she’s going.

When you think about it, this is exactly what we’ve been praying for—a Sarah Palin traveling incognito to Tea Party rallies which nobody even knows are happening—and this might’ve been the perfect opportunity for American history to finally give her a big wet kiss goodbye. Except that the press, of course, won’t stand for it. No, by golly, they’re just going to keep on following Sarah Palin, and keep on reporting about her, and if the country’s sick to death of her and she herself does nothing but show them her ass all day, well, that’s tough. We’re getting more Sarah Palin stories whether we want them or not.

As a result of the announcement, the two parties have fallen into a Borgesian roundelay about who should be be held responsible on the inevitable day that some vanload of stringers, rushing to catch up with Sarah Jane, takes out a group of schoolchildren. Will it be Palin, whose announcement is an obvious ploy for even more of the “lame-stream” media attention she claims to despise, or will it be the masochistic and gutless press corps, which’d let itself be manipulated by a dog so long as a few bucks were there in the end? The scary thing is, the media is so easily entranced by its own behavior and memes that all it will take is one good chase for the whole mess to become observable from the outside, and then the pursuits themselves will become the story. After that, it’s “Katy, bolt the door”—a reality show can’t be far behind. It wouldn’t surprise me if the first one’s happening now.

Norman Saunders Does Tom Blog

June 1, 2011

Sometimes when I post these galleries I have a hard time finding enough good images to make it worthwhile, but  that wasn’t the case here. Saunders did 800+ covers in a wide variety of genres, and I could find something that interested me in practically all of the ones that are online. Every American of a certain age knows his work even if they never suspected the man behind it actually had a name; I mostly know him through the Nazi-Bastard-Torturing-a-Stacked-Chick covers he did for the mens’ magazines, which was a surprisingly crowded market considering I never saw anyone buying a single copy of one of them. The sample I’ve posted here has a relatively light brutality-and-titillation quotient, though I do give style-points to that guy with the gas-can. A lot of the covers went a lot, lot further, to the point that it’s slightly unreal to think that they were openly displayed in drug stores and supermarkets back in the old days.

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