FF XIV, 14

Frank’s Fax Facts and Reviews

Vol.. XIV No. 14

Sunday, June 30, 2013

       Heat and rain have typified our weather, as Summer came barging in as if  determined to make us pay for those heavenly colder days of winter that at least a few other souls and I thoroughly enjoyed.

       Tuesday, I had the best bridge hands I have seen for what seems like 40 forevers; and while I did not win, I had two scores (with the same lady) that were over 6000 points! Bernice Redeberg was my partner’s name, and she went on to win high score all by herself!

       Dale Hudson came to visit on Thursday, and to deliver the music and CD’s of my three chamber operas to USM’s music faculty. They are going to look at them (and, I hope) listen to them to see if they can use them in any way. These are their titles: The Centerville Ghost (from a story by Oscar Wilde) A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) and The Taming of the Shrew (William Shakespeare).

       I had made shrimp Jambalaya for our lunch, with yellow rice and a beet and cucumber salad, followed by fresh Strawberries, covered with ice cream. He insisted (not that it was hard to convince me)  I let him treat me to supper at Wintzels, where the seafood is always fresh and luscious. We both had the
“Half and Half,” which means you get to order any two seafoods. I thought I was ordering half raw oysters and half fried ones, (that’s the way it has always been when Mike and Patricia take me)  but eating a double order of fried oysters was a mistake that really did not bother me that much. Dale had fried oysters and fried shrimp.

       Ginger really over-reacted towards Dale (and he had never seen her and could not believe what a beautiful feline she is!) and to make a long story short: Thursday night she cried until I got up and opened the room to our bedroom, and she walked over to his door, which he had left ajar, and crawled into bed with her. He admitted later that he enjoyed her sweet warm body near him. In spite of this rather bizarre behavior, I will be only too happy to have him back for another visit. Friends like that are few and far between!

Cat Fax

“If cats could talk, they wouldn’t.”

Nan Porter (Who knows whereof she writes!)


A Sicilian in Italy

Pompeii. A dream come true!

       There were two tragic events that had me absolutely spellbound as a young boy, growing up in Richton, Mississippi: the volcano that totally buried the city of Pompeii, and the much more recent sinking of the Titanic! Of course, the latter occurred after our parents were born; so we were often told the story of that ill fated ocean liner. I almost wore the pages out with reading, time and again, about these tragedies in our Books of Knowledge, and a cheap set of encyclopedias Daddy had bought for us (he’d often sit at  the dining room table with his “always patched  up reading glasses hanging from his nose). I have already written about seeing the movies of the Titanic’s tragedy (I have seen at least four different screen versions) but the one I disliked the most was that last spectacular version that won so many awards! In my estimation, it fell far short of the Fox version of 1953, with its far-more-interesting Romance: Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck held me spellbound. And, of course after they raised the ruins of the ship, it all seemed so really sickening that they didn’t have even half as many lifeboats as they needed!.

       With my other “favorite Tragedy”, I got to see the RKO’s 1935 version of The Last Days of Pompeii, in Detroit, Michigan when I was there in 1949. It had been well worth waiting for, but so far as I can see, this RKO version is the only one made into a film in the US.

       If I  was thrilled to death when I had lucked up and seen the movie, quite by accident with She (another filmed version of a book I had fallen in love with, by H. Ryder Haggard!) was the other half of a double-bill!

       Now, after all those years, I was arriving at the Ruins of Pompeii! My heart was pounding like a trip-hammer!

       Our tour was absolutely wonderful, and seeing those houses (with plumbing and central heat) boggled my mind; seeing those loaves of bread, which were in the ovens when the volcano erupted, still looked so normal that I could hardly believe the centuries that had passed since they were shoved into the oven; probably for some rich family’s evening meal.

       There were, of course, many more worthwhile discoveries (and other reasons to know just how far advanced  Pompeii was than the rest of the world. I was lost in the past as we were taken back to Naples.

       The day I left Naples (which was May 1st) I took a cab to the US Air Force location, and was able to book an early afternoon flight to London! I was delirious with joy at the mere prospect! And the best part of all: since I was in uniform, the trip cost me nothing! I believe they were referred to as MAT flights, but do not quote me.  (Lynwood and I had tried, the last time we were in Paris, to get on one of these military flights, but all seats were taken, both days we tried to get on.) Consequently, he never got to England, other than that stopover night visit we had experienced on the ship that transported us to Germany, and we were not allowed to leave the ship: only the officers were given that. I have been on two week-long theater tours of London since becoming a civilian, once more.

       I stayed in the area until time to board the plane, and can never forget how miserable I was when I was told I had been bumped  by some General (or less) But there was no point in crying over spilt milk: so I  accepted the offer of a free flight to Rome, where I would be closer to Denmark, and have more choices of how to get from there (from Rome)..  I was so glad that Lynwood had taught me to put on my furlough lots of places that I would like to visit, just in case what had happened, should happen, And Copenhagen was like another dream come true!

       The only “Fly in the Ointment” was that when I saw the plane I was being transported to Rome in, I almost backed out of going anywhere, except back to Karlsruhe! It was a very old and decrepit two-passenger airplane of long ago! I had to sit in that second seat, while the pilot was just out of my reach! I was literally scared out of my senses (remember, my flying experiences up to that point were (1) the day Marcus and I had been flown to Columbia, SC, as we became GI’s, and (2 and 3) the short flights from Columbia to Meridian, MS (on leaves) where Helen and Tom met me and drove me home, then would have to reverse the procedure to get me back on time.!

       I sat, teeth rattling with horror, as the tiny place flew upward and onward. The flight probably took less than 45 minutes: but to me, it seemed endless! I shall never forget that May Day back in the 1950’s!

       But it led to the wonderful city which Danny Kaye made so popular, with his truly fascinating Hans Christian Anderson movie!

(Next Week)

Old Movie Reviews

The Barrets of Wimpole Street

In 1934, Norma Schearer, Fredrick March, and Charles Laughton showed everybody one way to live in London in the days of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. I do not know how accurate the biography was, but the father of all the Barrets had to have been a “Piece of Work” to be even half as mean spirited as both movies[ versions on the same book presents him. He admits to the entire family that Elizabeth is the only one he loves, and eventually it dawns on her that he has more than parental interest in her. That is when she decides she has no choice but to elope with Robert.

This supposedly factual story of how Robert Browning (March) manages to steal his “Portugese”  poet” right from under the nose and noise of past-master-villain, Charles Laughton; and by the time that happens, you are exhausted from the tension engendered by this trio, and several brothers and sisters: Maureen O’Sullivan went straight from this role to the unwed mate in Tarzan, the Ape Man. As a younger sister to Elizabeth, she falls in love with an army officer that she has had conversations with, in spite of their father’s strict laws that he imposes on them, she manages to slip out of their house and finally, she, too, gets married.

I had always wanted to see this first talking picture of this wonderful book, and had enjoyed the later version (with Jennifer Jones) as Elizabeth, but this was more full of the London of that time: it was just too ridiculous to be believed: or were people really that domineering?

A Hole in the Head (1959)

United Artists

       I remembered having seen this back when it was released: I remember that Frank Sinatra and his son (played by Hattiesburg’s own Eddy Hodges- who had been the perfect choice The Music Man when it played on Broadway). I also remembered the great duet father and son had, “High Hopes”. Well, let’s cut to the chase: I admit to crying through this entire film, so full of happy memories for me! And I did not know THIS until about five minutes ago, when I checked on its release date: the director was Frank Capra! NO wonder it is such a tear-jerker!

Sinatra plays a loveable widower (with a young son who adores him, and whose greatest fear is that he will be taken from his father and left with an uncle and Aunt-Edward G. Robinson and Thelma Ritter). Also present are a gorgeous

Eleanor Parker (in one of her most exquisite roles) and Carolyn Jones

 (remember her?) make for quite a cast!

There is, of course, the typical Capra Happy Ending (by which time I had thoroughly wet a couple of handkerchiefs) 



June 30th, Old Movie Quiz

1.     Who were the stars of State Fair’s second screening (with music by Rogers and Hammerstein)?

2.     Who was the Met. Opera’s  contralto who was Bing Crosby’s Going My Way co-star?

3.     What Irish folk Song was prominently featured in this Oscar winner?

4.     A sequel to Going My Way starred Ingrid Bergman with Crosby. Can you name this movie?

5.     Miracle of the Bells had another male crooner as a Priest. Who was this younger singer?

6.     This same actor won an Oscar for his performance in what WWII drama?

7.     He was silent pictures’ most popular star, who (tragically died at a very early age: his funeral (in the 1920’s) had more mourners than any other funeral has had since then,

8.     What was Walt Disney’s second Animated feature film?

9.     What was Theda Bara’s Hollywood title?

10.  Which Warner Bros. beauty eared for herself the title, “The Oomph girl?”

Answers to Last Week’s Quiz

1.     Orson Welles was Citizen Kane in the film of that name.

2.     Joseph Cotten (first seen in the above) was in The Third Man.

3.     Orson Welles (again) was the male star in The Third Man

4.     Vienna was the world Capital in which the climactic scene (a Ferris wheel) is photographed.

5.     David O. Selznick produced RKO’s Little Women in the 1930s

6.     Max Steiner, Oscar winning composer won the 39 award for the best music for a movie, also wrote Little Women’s score.

7.     Jennifer Jones was the star of  Portrait of Jenny.

8.     Both the  Portrait of Jenny and The Picture of Dorian Gray were filmed in black and white (athough Jenny used two other special cameras) and both of them have a shock waiting for the audience, as both paintings appear in Technicolor, which changes the looks of both portraits drastically!

9.     Angela Lansbury, sang about a “Poor Little Yellow Bird”, in The Picture of Dorian Gray

10.    Angela Lansbury never got a leading role from MGM in all of those years. When she went to TV and Broadway Musicals (Auntie Mame and Sweeny Todd, she began winning Tony Awards for her musicals and Emmy’s for Murder, She Wrote.



Monday, July 8, 2013