The Red Pony. Lewis Milestone’s uncommonly sensitive 1949 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s quartet of short stories about a fanciful boy and the ranch hand he idolizes is a “children’s movie” that adults can watch with enormous pleasure. The cast, led by Robert Mitchum, Myrna Loy, and Louis Calhern, is impeccable, Tony Gaudio’s Technicolor cinematography is quietly handsome, and Aaron Copland’s score is one of the major achievements of his middle period. Steinbeck wrote the script himself, proving yet again that his work plays better on screen than it reads on the page (TT).
Archives for February 12, 2008
Nancy LaMott, Ask Me Again (Midder Music, two CDs). Twenty previously unreleased cuts–airchecks, live performances, demo recordings–by the best cabaret singer of her generation. The songs include “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Easy to Love,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” and a medley of Stephen Sondheim’s “No One Is Alone” and “Not While I’m Around.” Nancy and I were good friends, so I can’t be objective about this one, but I’ll be very surprised if you don’t find Ask Me Again as beautiful and moving as the studio recordings that brought her brief but well-deserved fame. Also available is I’ll Be Here With You, a companion DVD of live performances and interviews taped between 1978 and Nancy’s untimely death in 1995 (TT).
This is what I wrote last February about my first visit to Los Angeles. Now I’m back in town, this time in the company of Mrs. T, and I continue to marvel at the infinitely puzzling place in which I once again find myself. I don’t know whether I like it, and I can’t imagine living here, but I’ve never been to a more improbable or fascinating city, and I’m more than glad that my duties as drama critic of The Wall Street Journal will henceforth be bringing me here once or twice a year.
Nothing much to report. I flew down from San Francisco, yesterday, drove to Hollywood, collected Mrs. T, checked into our hotel, and let myself unwind a bit. No sooner did we unlock the door than we discovered that we could see the HOLLYWOOD sign from the window of our seventh-floor room. That amused us both no end.
The fun starts today. We’re going to spend the afternoon driving around town, then meet our friend Stephanie Steward at the Pasadena Playhouse to see a revival of Orson’s Shadow, a play I reviewed very enthusiastically when I first saw it off Broadway in 2005. It struck me that I couldn’t do much better than to see a show about Orson Welles in Los Angeles, so that’s my plan.
As for tomorrow, I’ll get back to you….
“My theory is–we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and quickly ask if anybody’s there.”
Martin Amis, Money
“One should not play for the people who sit in the front row–they are usually ‘dead-heads,’ but play for those up in the gallery that pay ten pfennigs for their tickets; they should not only hear, but they should see.”
Franz Liszt (quoted in Carl Lachmund, Living with Liszt)