FF XVI, 43


Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 43

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011

It was a stressful week for me: Tuesday, there was Mike Davis’ funeral to attend; Janet Morris, who suffered a fall over a week ago, had to undergo surgery on her shoulder, which was broken when she fell; Meanwhile the doctors are trying to decide what to do with her, or where, so that she can begin therapy tomorrow. As if this were not bad enough, Saturday morning, Dale Hudson called from Hattiesburg to tell me that our mutual friend of many years, Ed Kohler had died Friday night. Dale had called me on Friday, telling me that Ed had suffered a stroke that afternoon. He was 62.

I first met Ed when I began teaching at USA in the fall of 1965. He was a sophomore, and I had the pleasure of teaching him for three years. During this time, we both seemed to be equally happy in each other’s company; plus the fact that he had one of the sharpest minds I have ever encountered. His knowledge and capacity for learning were absolutely phenomenal. He was good at anything he tried to do (including building me a patio from the bricks left over when this house was built in 1969! He is irreplaceable.

But, sadly, life does go on.


MacDonald’s Best-Kept Secret

Several years ago, when she was visiting here from Baton Rouge, my niece, Muriel, asked if I had ever tasted a McRib Sandwich. (We were just passing a McDonald’s at the time) I had to admit I had never even heard of it. She then assured me it is a delicious, boneless spare-rib that has been barbecued and served on a bun. She bought us each one of them, and it was love at first bite! She warned me that they do not have it available except sometimes during the winter months.

Recently, while riding with Father Gorman, I saw a sign advertising the

McRib Sandwich and told him how much I had enjoyed them in the past.

The next thing I knew, he had pulled into the drive-in lane of one of the chain’s many local restaurants and ordered one. I naturally assumed he was ordering it for himself or his sister, Sandra. Imagine my surprise when he handed the package to me! I told him I could not possibly eat it after the huge brunch we had just consumed at his favorite Waffle House. “Have it for your supper, then,” he said. Heated in my microwave later that evening, I was surprised at just how wonderful tasting, as well as tender and juicy it was.


Tuesday, after Mike Davis’ funeral, I was extremely hungry, having had only a slice of cheese toast for breakfast and nothing else since then. It was almost 2:30, so I stopped at the McDonald’s nearest my house and walked in. My eyes were scanning the various menus and advertisements that always cover the walls, and my heart sank when I saw no mention of the McRib. A clerk finally ambled over to where I was standing and asked what I would have. ”

“I bet you don’t still have the McRib sandwich.”  I tried to sound glib.

“What?” he sounded even more stupid than he looked, so I rearranged my question: “Do you still have any McRib sandwiches?”

“How many do you want?” was his rather startling reply.

I smiled happily. “Just one.”

“Anything else?” he didn’t even sound concerned.

“That’s all.”

”That will he three fifty nine,” or some such figure. I was so sure it had to cost more than five bucks, even though this was McDonald’s, that I was taken aback. My eyes, when they focused again, rested on a neat row of French Fires on the grill. “Lemme have a small fries,” I said magnanimously.

Back in the privacy of my kitchen, I could enjoy “Pigging Out” with a Diet Dr. Pepper and that which I now consider the World’s Largest Hamburger Chain’s finest creation. I wondered why the store that had sold it to me did not see fit to hang even a tiny sign advertising it. After all, there were so many signs advertising many “Starbuck Imitations” in both hot and cold drinks, as well as some tremendous number of chicken fingers for five dollars, that I had almost walked out without bothering to ask if it were still available!


Cat Fax


The Ragdoll and the Maine Coon are the two biggest cat breeds, weighing 20 pounds or more.

The Singapura is the smallest breed of cat.

The most recently documented smallest cat is Mr. Peeblies, a domestic short hair that resides in Pekin, Illinois. He is only 6.1 inches tall, 19.2 inches long, and weighs 3 pounds.

The world’s fattest cat was a neutered male tabby named Hammy, owned by Thomas Vyse of Queensland, Australia. When Hammy died of respiratory failure, he weighed a whopping 46 pounds.

(“Strange but True Cats”; Cliff Road Books)



Reviews of Some Antique Films

With the present feeling so hopeless and depressing; and the future absolutely dreadful, I am retreating (as my brother before me) into the past more and more.

Turner Classic Movies had a series of older (but not silent ones) films recently that I recorded and enjoyed with varying degrees of entertainment. Here’s the list and a few words about each one.


Crime and Punishment (Columbia) 1935

Peter Lorre’s US film debut is a true “Classic” in every way. The book, which gave us the story is one of literature’s most famous works. It is frequently, even now, on many “Required Reading” lists. I had read it when younger, not because I had to, but just because I was going through a phase of trying to read all of the whole world’s best books. I had plowed through “The Brothers Karamazov”, “The Idiot” but then I kept making excuses for not reading this one. What I discovered was that it was fully as depressing and dark as any book I had read up to that time. But it was powerful and got to me.

This is a low budget film even for the depression; but there is still a great deal to admire about it.  Directed by Joseph von Steinberg, it has many inventive ideas. The thing I found most interesting was the very real feeling of the murderer’s guilt, which ultimately causes him to confess his crime to Edward Arnold (in one of his earliest roles as the smiling criminal lawyer you love to hate.)  (**)


Morocco (Paramount) 1930

Von Steinberg’s introduction of Marlene Dietrich to the American Screen created quite a sensation in its day. The star and her favorite director had made a series of films together, on the continent, so he knew just how to light her most effectively, as well as how to get the finest performance from her. Here she plays a cabaret singer, stuck in the desert, with nothing more cheerful than Gary Cooper (who was Paramount’s reigning “King” and demanded top billing over the real star of the film.) This did not affect their friendship, which began with this film and lasted throughout most of their careers.

This is the film that played a very big role in the creation of the Breen Office, which had taken it upon itself to censor all movies for the next several decades. (Personally, in retrospect, I’m not so sure this was not an excellent idea!) It seems that Marlene’s appearance “in drag” shook up a lot of powerful people; this, and the obvious sexual-innuendoes of the entire movie. It isn’t really much of a film, but it is worth it, just to see how utterly gorgeous she is in men’s clothes!  By the way, Cooper is equally fetching as a Foreign-Leggionaire. (**)


The Safecracker (British) 1958

I found this one very painful to watch: Ray Milland had been one of my favorite actors since “Beau Geste”, “Her Jungle Love” and a whole string of highly successful roles. By the time Hitchcock used him in the film version of “Dial M for Murder”, he was a master craftsman of acting. His “The Lost Weekend: earned him the Oscar for Best Actor of 1945. The award was well deserved.

But as he aged, and his good looks began to fade, he was forced to accept roles that musr have hated to play. For me, his semi-hit “The Frogs” in 1972 had to have been his nadir. But this contrived mess wasn’t far behind. (1/2 *)


Road to Morocco (Paramount) 1942

How well I remember seeing this when I was very young and still living in Richton!

Josephine waited until she thought it safe for her to leave projectionist “Bub” Shannon to close the theater after the last customer had left, and then she joined Sammy (our designated driver) Helen, George and me in the family’s 1938 Chevrolet to drive to Laurel’s swankiest theater, “The Arabian” for their Saturday night Midnight Show.        The same feature would then play Sunday through Tuesday. There were usually two more first-run films that were shown Wednesday and Thursday; then Friday and Saturday.

Sammy has been the first person I knew who was a “Road Show|” devotee, right from the start (“Road to Singapore” had been one of Paramount’s biggest successes in years; but for Sammy, it was the old “Patty Cake” routine played by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope that he had enjoyed the most.)

Now, we were all such fans of the genre* that we could hardly wait to get to Laurel!

For me, this has always been the top of all the famous trio’s Road films (Dorothy Lamour was in all of them, including ‘Road to Hong Kong” in 1962- but a younger Joan Collins replaced her as the “Love Interest”. (***)


*Road movies, like “Thelma and Louise” and even “Easy Rider” are said to be off shoots of this long-lived and highly successful series of nusicals, The songs in “Morocco” were all first rate. Take a look at this one that Bing sings to Lamour:

“Moonlight be comes you- It goes with your hair-

You certainly know the right things to wear.

Moonlight becomes you- I’m thrilled at the sight-

And I could get so romantic- Tonight.

You’re all dressed up to do dreaming-

Now don’t tell me I’m wrong.

And what a night to go dreaming-

Mind if I tag along?

If I say, “I love you,”, I want you to know-

It’s not just because there’s moonlight- although-

Moonlight becomes you so.”


Compare this to any rap”Song”!

These are the words to a truly beautiful and typical Bing Crosby song of the era, How I miss it all!


Monday, January 10, 2011