Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rose Marie's Turn

Wishing a very happy 94th birthday today to multi-talented Rose Marie, who's been entertaining us since she first stepped on stage as a toddler.

Did you know that there's a new feature-length documentary chronicling her life and work? Go here to read all about it, and find out how you can see it.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grumpy Old Guy at the Movies

Last night I tried for the first time in a couple of months or more to watch a contemporary movie. I made it about halfway through.

Here, in no particular order, are a few of the grouchy gripes I noted before throwing in the towel:

1. The movie was over two hours long, and needlessly so. It wasn't that complicated a story! Was it Harry Cohn who said, "When my ass gets tired, the picture's too long!"?

2. The "naturalistic" acting was so "natural" that I had to turn on the subtitles to understand what one mushmouth was saying.

3. Yes, I realize people have medical procedures done that involve intense pain. Doesn't mean I want to see two of them in 45 minutes, acted out in excruciating detail. Call me squeamish.

4. Put the damn credits at the beginning. I want to know who's in the movie, and who directed it. And speaking of credits, five production companies (each with its own logo, of course) to make one modestly budgeted film? Really?

If this is modern moviemaking at its finest, I'll take the 1940s any day.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Five From the Archive

So, Warner Archive was having this sale a couple of weeks ago, and almost as if by magic, five new (old) DVDs showed up in my mailbox.

Above are the two films I've watched thus far -- the mystery thriller Lightning Strikes Twice (1951), and the comedy-drama Tish (1942). They don't have a great deal in common except I'd wanted to see both for some time now -- and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Interestingly, neither won universally effusive reviews, either upon their first release, or with latter-day classic movie fans. But they suited me fine.

Hey, Warners, how about another sale?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Catalog Capers

It's here! The McFarland Fall catalog of new releases -- or, as we call it in my household, "David's Christmas Shopping List." Naturally, the Performing Arts section is my top destination, and this time around there are books I can't wait to read on page 17 ... and page 20 ... not to mention page 21 ...

You get the idea. Jump here to start browsing.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: Second Generation Sterling

If you're looking for a light, fun summer read, this isn't it.

Tisha Sterling, daughter of actors Ann Sothern and Robert Sterling, started life with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Growing up a beautiful young woman in the 1960s, she had a promising career as an actress. Her memoir, Why I Failed Charm School: My Mother, Actress Ann Sothern, and Our Lives Together (Bookstand Publishing), tells a troubling story of a life that proved anything but carefree and joyful.

The picture Tisha paints of her mother is not particularly flattering. But neither does it seem vindictive. Tisha writes, "Mother always seemed deeply perplexed that I was not a carbon copy of her, and [wondered] why I wasn't living up to her expectations." Indeed, both women come across as real, flawed human beings. By her daughter's account, Miss Sothern had an eating disorder that she was unable to curb, as well as an unwillingness to live within her means as she aged. For her part, Tisha, something of a Sixties wild child, had addiction issues that, as she acknowledges, strained the patience and understanding of those who loved her. Of the well-known people of whom Miss Sterling writes, it's probably her stepmother Anne Jeffreys who comes off best, though her part in the story is minor. It's certainly not Tisha's dad, Sterling, who is depicted as largely distant and uncommunicative. All in all, readers who have found themselves caught on either side of a parent-child contretemps may find this more interesting than those who want to know about Tisha's career, or those of her famous parents, about which relatively little is said.

Sterling's book would have benefited from tighter editing; her style is a bit rough in places. But the story itself, like the author's candor, is compelling. It's one that she has earned her right to tell.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Gale Comes Closer

I'm coming into the home stretch on my Gale Storm book, which should be out early next year. (Incidentally, that's only a working title for the book, and is likely to change).

Right now, it's proofreading, proofreading, and more proofreading, as you can see from the supply of red pens I've laid in. Hope four will be enough!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Miss Davis' Birthday

The one and only Joan Davis was born 105 years ago today. In her short life (she was only in her late forties at the time of her death in 1961), she produced a substantial body of work as a comedienne. She was successful in multiple media -- movies, radio, and television.

It was a labor of love to research Joan Davis: America's Queen of Film, Radio, and Television Comedy, published in 2014. I was pleased to be able to build on what was already known about her life and career, putting into print new information about her birthdate and family background, as well as the most detailed logs ever compiled of her radio and TV comedy shows.

If you don't already know her work, take a look. She's worth your attention.