FF XVU, 38

Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 38


Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010


Patricia and Mike Simmons arrived back in Shawnee Tuesday night. They said they had thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving and being with George, Helen and me. I certainly loved every minute they had here in Mobile!


Friday evening, Gerald Kutzman, his friend Frank (I did not get his last name) Ken Williams and I enjoyed the Tulsa-USM football game which was carried by CBS Sports (who televised four of Southern’s 10 games carried on the tube this year. That’s the most we ever had in one year. Since I am no longer physically able to get to the games, I was especially thrilled to watch nine of the games on TV (we were unable to watch the USM-Tulane game, as it was broadcast down here by Cox, which none of us had access to.)  I had cooked a big pot of Chili (Ken and I felt that since we had won two games in a row, with his wearing a Golden Eagles cap, and my having served chili both times, it was a sort of lucky charm to help the team win the final game of a highly successful year (8-4 with a bowl game to go)-the best in   years. Gerry called and asked if I would mind if he brought a houseguest, and I am so glad that he did. It was an exciting game: Tulsa had the ball first, and marched down the field and scored the first TD in minutes. The group groaned and felt USM had lost already. On the ensuing kickoff, the return was all the way back for USM’s tying TD. And so the game went. It soon became apparent that whichever team had the ball last would win. Sadly, it was Tulsa, who won by six points (2 of USM’s other losses were by ONE point each. The only team who won by a larger score was the season opener against South Carolina- and they beat Alabama!)

After my guests had eaten their desserts and left, I tried to wash a sink full of dishes, but found that I had no hot water! A trip out here proved that my worst fears were correct: the place was inundated with water! I called everybody back (they were in two different cars) and the got the water heater disconnected- (mine have always been electric) and the floor dry enough to last until Saturday. I was lucky enough to have a new GE water heater installed by noon.

 Cat Chat

"There is no need for a piece of sculpture in a home that has a cat”
--Wesley Bates




Responses from those reading the first installment have been solidly encouraging: here are a few of the first messages I received:
“We got your FF and were enthralled with your Thanksgiving activities and the start of the immigration of your family to the USA.  We look forward to the next installment of what happens next when he disembarks and starts his travel into the hinterland.  Keep us on the list.  We anxiously await the next Chapter of events.’  (Bill McGlasson)

’Thanks for such a beautiful story in Frank's Fax Facts today.  You know I am very much into history.  Your family will thank you for a long time for writing all this down.  I can't wait for more.’  Jim Freeman

Frank,  I just finished reading the prelude to Sempione.  It was wonderful and I want more, much more.  How do I access your blog?  You probably told me before, but I don't have it.  Thanks.  Jean

Old Movie Review
A Star is Born (Warner Bros)
I had first seen this remake of the 1937 Janet Gaynor-Fredric March story of Esther Blodget, who leaves her small town home and goes to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune. She finds more than she bargained for, but manages to achieve her main goals. She falls in love with, and marries a successful movie star, who just happens to have a real drinking problem. His career begins to fall apart, as Vicky Lester (the name the studio changed Esther’s to) becomes one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

The 1954 version was filmed as a semi-musical with Judy Garland and James Mason. The film ran to 181 minutes and went way over budget, due to Garland’s usual habits that had caused her to be ousted from MGM. After previewing, the original film was butchered and reduced to just less than two hours (so Warner Bros. could recoup some of the money the film had cost, by allowing more screenings in each day). It was again edited in 1963, and was pieced together with many scenes with still photographs to which the original soundtrack had been restored. (This was the same fate that was applied to Columbia Pictures’ “Lost Horizon”: the original version). Leonard Maltin gave the released version of “A Star is Born” three and a half stars, and the restored version ****.  I have seen the original release several times, and loved it (although I wondered why they had cut several good musical numbers from the movie.) It is well worth watching this monumental musical again-trust me!

After the original release, Judy Garland was considered the front-runner for that year’s Academy Award. Grace Kelly had been nominated also. But everybody was so sure Garland would win, that they had the television cameras at the ready in her hospital room. She had just given birth to a son.  Grace Kelly was awarded Judy’s “Oscar” and I, along with millions of her adoring fans, consider it one of the so-called Academy’s grossest mistakes. She was nothing short of sensational in every way. Kelly’s tepid performance; miscast (in my opinion) as the wife of alcoholic actor, Bing Crosby, trying to make a come-back (here the two films take on a grim similarity) does not even approach Garland’s heartbreakingly wonderful performance. And that’s not even counting the musical numbers: which included Harold Arlen-Ira Gershwin’s “The Man that Got Away”; the longest production number at the time, “Born in a Trunk” sequence by Leonard Gershe, plus a dozen more!
I can never watch the movie (which I first saw in Heidelberg, Germany, with a German friend, Helmut Hort) without aching throat and moist eyes and cheeks, as Judy speaks those final words, ”This is Mrs. Norman Main.” Helmut looked at me and said, “I believe she is a great actress!” I nodded and dabbed at my eyes.

The film was again screened for the third time in 1976 (I refuse to say it was brought to life) by two of my favorite stars at that time: Barbra Streisand and Kriss Kristofferson. There is hardly enough of the two earlier versions to justify calling it be the same name. I absolutely hated it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010