Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 3

Sunday, April 7, 2013                                                                                         

I have tried everything I know to set these margins normally, but this piece of garbage that I call a computer has a mind (?) of its own! My apologies. ]

On Thursday, I visited my dentist, Dr. Chris Salter, to see if he could tell me what has happened to my jawbone, since he pulled my last wisdom tooth, and I felt as if he were taking off my head, it took so long. Not to mention the agony! After carefully examining the cite of the excavation, he massaged my face at the affected place, and suggested hot and cold packs to be placed on the area. He said, for the time being, I have to go on a soft diet. So, that night I had rice with some of the gravy that was left over from the pork chops (a la Brother George) which I had served to Charlie Smoke (who had returned some CDs of my Chamber Operas). This will probably do the most good, since I have been trying to eat normal meals (not like those I usually enjoy).

Then, as though this had not been enough, I managed to fall: for the first time in well over a year. Again, it was in the kitchen, when I must have turned around too quickly, and ended up careening into the cabinets of the back wall (at the sink). I was stunned, and unable to get up, but also determined not to press my “Life Saver”, which would have caused someone to come out here to help me. I finally managed (by sliding my kitchen stool over and using it as a firm foundation on which to lean) to get up and attend to the damage to my poor old wrinkled body: there was a lot of blood on my bath robe (which I was wearing) and when I got to the bathroom, to get peroxide to wash the spot with, I could see that it had reopened some spots that had never cleared up from my nightmare sleep walking incident! I washed the wound (actually it was the only one that had bled) and covered the entire area with oversized waterproof Band Aids, which I now must quickly replace for forthcoming accidents.

This was very traumatic for me, because I had done so well for so long, without falling, that I allowed myself to get overly confident. I walked several times to my mailbox and back without walker or cane, and had dared to hope I would soon be able to make this my usual method. Alas! No.

Draft Dodgers Anonymous: Operas and Operettas

I have a small black plastic frame with a round silver medal on which the bust of Richard

Wagner is held in place by two black metal dots. On the black background, printed in white is “Festspiele 1954”. That and a very beautiful bronze bust of my favorite composer, Frank Liszt, on a marble base. These two items were purchased by me on that first day of my visit to Bayreuth, along with souvenirs to send to my family.

        I walked all around the beautiful little city most of the morning, then ate a quick and inexpensive lunch and returned to my rented room where I slept, then got dressed for the concert that evening.

        At this point in my life, I had made up my mind that Beethoven had no charm for me. Therefore, I was not exactly wild about an entire evening devoted to his last Symphony. But after three or four measures of the magnificent work, I was absolutely spellbound! Then, before I knew what was happening, the audience was clapping and shouting Bravos!  Could it be over already, I asked myself. It seemed to have lasted less than twenty minutes (in reality, about an hour and a half). That’s how fascinating I had found it! After the thunderous applause and shouting had ended, I made my way back out into the night air feeling light headed, but happy.


        The next night the opera Das Rhinegold was given a beautiful performance.. This opera is set in the Rhine River: not on it! Dr. Barbour had described as being so wonderfully staged (with all manner of Special Effects that made it look just as if the Rhine Maidens were swimming through real water on the magnificent stage.) According to my teacher, all of the characters wore unusual but very justified costumes. And I might as well admit, that each performance made me almost weep with its simplicity. Both male and female characters were in austere Robes, which to me meant it looked more like an oratorio than a fantasy opera. I was further disappointed when, the second opera let us catch our first glance at Brunnhilde. There were no suits of armor, nor yet to mention an iron brassier! I was, at least, counting on that familiar picture. Alas, the entire Ring Cycle, while sounding spectacular, was a bitter disappointment, visually.

`       After Siegfried, the third opera, there was an evening with no performance. I asked my land-ladies if they could suggest anything that I could do in one day, and the elder one said, “Oh, I wish you would visit my home town! It’s very close to here, and several trains go at almost any time.”

        It happened that the  home town she of which she spoke, turned out to be the setting for one of the best post-war dramas to come out of Hollywood: Judgment at Nuremberg. I thanked her for the suggestion and assured her that I would be look happy to visit her Heimat Stadt!


       The train ride to Nuremberg was almost too short. But I was not complaining: one weekend I had taken a train to Heidelberg that stopped at every little station between these two cities, and I thought the train would never make it! I learned to look at the schedule to find if it were an express train, or a local one.

        As I walked around after leaving the train station (Bahnhof) I passed a cinema with an advertisement for a Laurel and Hardy comedy that was playing that day. I determined then and there to see it, if I had time. It was one that I had never seen before.

        The one place my landlady had told me not to miss was a palace, whose founding nobleman had a thing for fountains. She had told me that they were world famous, and after walking all over the grounds if this lovely place, I had to admit that I had never seen its equal. And nothing, since then, had even come close to comparison.

        By the time I made the Pilgrimage to Karlsruhe, I had purchased a good little camera from the PX at the base. It was an Agfa, and was the first camera I ever owned, with the exception of my Kodak “Brownie” that Josephine had given me when I first started to public school. I had really used that little black box, and my photograph albums have many priceless gems that I captured on its 7-picture rolls: pictures of Josephine’s wedding to Bill Sibley, and Helen married to Tom Prince. These were taken just as they were coming back to the house in Richton. There were numerous pictures of kitty cats, as usual. I quit taking picture long ago, except to photograph my Judies, Trudies, Chipper and Ginger. They are the perfect posers!

        I must have looked like a real tourist, with my camera dangling from my neck. When I saw the first fountain I took pictures of it from every angle. I was taken inside the mansion, where the fellow’s fountains of all imaginable types did their things.

        When I got back to camp and had the rolls of film developed, I was very pleased with my results. I had some interesting angular shots, as well as some quite-by-accident shots that look totally professional. Among all of these snap shots, there is a picture of a German Woman, standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to get red, so she could cross the street. She looked totally unlike a typical German housewife, but a lot more like an American movie star! I had seen her and felt as if I should have known recognized her! She wears a black and white plaid skirt, with a beautiful white blouse. Her hair is worn in a straight and rather short dark brown fashion. That was the prettiest German I saw all the days I was in Germany! The German men are usually good looking, at least, and often very handsome. But the poor old Hausfrauen are anything but glamorous.


That photogrsph had been taken as I walked around town and managed to reach the theater where Laurel and Hardy were playing. I had never heard of this picture, but probably wouldn’t have recognized it because all American films (as well as French, Italian and any language other than German) are dubbed by German actors. Thus, Vom Winde Vervait (or some such title) was Gone with the Wind! Marilyn Monroe was very popular with the Germans, and her newest film, at that time, had been Wie Angelt Mann eine Millionaire (literally  How A Person fishes for himself a Millionaire”) The CinemaScope was translated into BriteWand (which Helmut said meant “Broad Screen”) By the way, he loved Marilyn (which he pronounced Die-the- Mar-leen) as much as I did. We both liked Jane Russell (Yon-ee Roosell) accent on “sell”) So, I bought my ticket and walked into the darkened cinema. Laurel and Hardy have always remained (in my heart) the funniest and cutest of any comedy twosome. When George and I had seen Martin and Lewis, we found them refreshingly funny (I had even, believe it or not, thought Abbot and Costello hilarious for the first four or five movies) and when they split up, I felt sorry for Deano, thinking he’d never get another role without Jerry. Boy, was I wrong!

I learned, through my association with Helmut, that the Germans, in general, think The Three Stooges, are the greatest comedy team. I learned this disgusting fact when he and I saw Kiss Me. Kate one Sunday in Heidelberg. I had seen it in English[FI1]  when it came out earlier, but in watching it, the translation was so good that I was roaring with laughter. I kept glancing at Helmut, who was having trouble staying awake! When we were eating, later, I asked him if he did not find the humor in the musical comedy, and he explained it very patiently to me. The Germans find Slapstick really funny, but anything with subtle humor is a bore. I suppose this is rather like the fact that most British humor leaves me cold. But when the Brits get it right (as in Good Neighbors) they really get it right.

I laughed out loud quite a bit, in that movie house in Nuremberg that day. I still could not place it in the history of Laurel and Hardy films. We usually saw them (before Josephine took over the theater in Richton) on Saturdays (with no western or serial). I loved them, from the start, but they usually ended abruptly and completely unexpected. And I did find this one very funny: just watching Stanley crying when Ollie shouts at him, and the way poor old Stan cries, used to be enough to set me to laughing!

I  had walked for miles, just enjoying just being in another historical city for the first (and only) time. I had some good reminders of the day, thanks to me Agfa. But now I was ready to get back to my bed for the night.

(To be continued)


Olde Movie Revues

Bell, Book and Candle

The first time I saw this delightful fantasy was on a Sunday afternoon in Columbia. S.C. Lynwood and I had stayed Saturday night in his old dorm room at the University of South Carolina (without anyone’s agreeing to give us permission).a habit we kept enjoying until the rightful occupants left us a rather threatening note on the locked window the following weekend. He was quite indignant to be so mistreated!

James van Druten’s play is all about witches and witchcraft. It is the exact opposite of all the films I have seen about witches (most of them set in earlier Massachusetts), Kim Novak is at her loveliest in the role of a “Witch.” Her brother (Jack Lemmon) is a “Warlock”:, while Elsa Lanchester is her aunt. Lemon plays the drums, on a band that performs nightly in a club called, The Zodiak. And Hermione Gingold is the witch that James Stewart visits when he learns that he has fallen in love with Kim, to get Gingold to make a witch’s brew to break the spell. This turns out to be the funniest scene in the entire play!

The entire two hours is a truly wonderful escape from reality. I almost left out Novak’s cat (her
“Familiar” who causes all of her spells to work) his name is PiWackett, and he is indeed a beauty! ****


Stewart lives upstairs from Kim Novak’s Shop, and when he finally meets her it is because his telephone had been jinxed by Kim’s aunt (Elsa Lanchester, who is also a witch). Her brother (Jack Lemmon) is a Warlock.

James Van Druten

Old Movies TRIVIA QUIZ #77

  1. What 1930’s blockbuster film has been twice made, and made a star forever of Fay Wray?
  2. Who was the lady that who played the same character in the most recent version?
  3. What tap dancing star was the title character in Revely with Beverly?
  4. In what Civil War movie did a young Shirley Temple star with John Boles?
  5. Who tap danced with Shirley in several films?
  6. Which Afro-American 30s-40s actor’s movie name literally meant. Walk and Bring it?
  7. What was the name of the early cartoon heroine who was noted for saying, “Boo-boo-pe-do?
  8. What cartoon male had an ongoing feud with a man who was always trying to take his girl friend from him? Think of certain healthful foods.
  9. She was the original Lady for a Day. She also played EVERYBODY’s grandmother. Her name has a month in it.

10. Trader Horn was a movie set in what country?

Answers to Trivia Quiz #76

  1. The Emperor Waltz was a musical, set in the Austria of Franz Joseph. Starring Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine (Sister, Olivia DeHavilland won two Oscars of her own)
  2. Johnny Belinda won an Oscar for Jane Wyman,
  3. Lew Ayres was her leading man in the film.
  4. Lana Turner and Richard Burton starred in the misbegotten remake of The Rains Came, titled The Rains of Ranchapur.

  5 .MGM’s Raintree County had Liz Taylor and Eva Marie Saint Starring with Montgomery Clift

    6.  David O. Selznick’s follow up to Gone with the Wind, was a vehicle for his wife. Jennifer Jones. Duel in the Sun.

      7. Edna Ferber’s novel, Show Boat was filmed twice. The second version, this time  starred Kathryn      Grayson and Howard Keel.

   8. The title of an Edna Ferber novel that was made into a film was Giant.

    9. Cher’s first dramatic role was in the play that had this same young star in its title: Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmie Dean

10. Dean Martin, after breaking with Jerry Lewis, went on to make it big in serious films.






Sunday, April 7, 2013