Theodore Dalrymple is in a fine old change-and-decay-in-all-around-I-see mood in the current issue of City Journal, wherein he manages to blame everything from Marilyn Manson to S&M on the 1960 unbanning of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a book he describes as “radically humorless,” placing a few choice examples in evidence. To be sure, plucking dumb sentences out of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is like shooting dead fish in a small barrel, but Dalrymple goes unerringly to the worst line in the book, which also happens to be my personal candidate for the title of Silliest Sentence Ever Emitted by an Allegedly Major Writer: “Sir Malcolm gave a little squirting laugh, and became Scotch and lewd.”
If my memory is functioning correctly, this is the very sentence Max Beerbohm had in mind when he pronounced his immortal epitaph on the creator of Lady Chatterley and her lascivious gamekeeper:
Poor D. H. Lawrence. He never realized, don’t you know–he never suspected that to be stark, staring mad is somewhat of a handicap to a writer.
I really, really, really wish I’d said that.
Here’s a great fact–the film screened most frequently at the White House during the past half-century was High Noon. (Bill Clinton saw it 20 times.) Bravo is airing a documentary this Thursday about movies at the White House, and it’s full of similarly toothsome facts, courtesy of Paul Fisher, the official White House projectionist, who kept a log of the 5,000 movies he showed there between 1953 and 1986.
Another statistic worth recording for what it’s worth, if anything: Jimmy Carter watched 580 movies, more than any other president.