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« Coffee and Seattle -- Why? | Main | Self-Help Linkage »

December 10, 2008

Cultural History Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* John McWhorter writes an impassioned introduction to the work and the life of an underknown giant, the early African-American composer Will Marion Cook.

* Brooks Peters writes a wonderful and informative essay about two big 20th century American "personalities," Cornelia Otis Skinner and Ilka Chase.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I ventured a few thoughts about Westerns.



posted by Michael at December 10, 2008


Your comments on 3:10 to Yuma:

"...subtle but burly pacing that ranges from the snappy to the quietly explosive; and tremendous non-Method performances from the main actors right on down through the cast-list."

Nailed it, Michael.

(The high-budget remake is, of course, badly-paced, operatic, enervating.)

And now I'm feeling a craving for Randy Scott and Richard Boone in Bud Boetticher's The Tall T...

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 10, 2008 2:41 AM

Cornelia and Ilka ... I'd quite forgotten them, so it was nice to be reminded. I must have become aware of them as a pre-teen, so they were already a little over 50. Impossibly old and dated so far as a 12-year-old was concerned. My foggy memory is that I linked Skinner to her writing (which I'd never actually read) and was aware of Chase more for her show-biz connections (guest appearances on radio shows, most likely).

Thanks for the nostalgia, Michael.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on December 10, 2008 3:56 PM

Michael, I'd forgotten it was Cornelia Otis Skinner as that lesbish headmistress. Mean!

Your unqualified praise for The Uninvited is justified. Setting, pacing, lighting, acting...and those ghostly special effects that are so hard to get right.

And at the base, a fine, fine plot: Who's your mommy? (No other spoilers from me. Go see it if you can, guys.)

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 10, 2008 4:32 PM

Whoops. I meant to say Peters' unqualified praise, not yours, Michael. But I'm sure you'll agree with us if/when you've seen the movie.

The ghost genre is so hard to get right, maybe the hardest. Robert Wise gave it a good shake with The Haunting, and I mean shake; The Innocents had atmosphere, malevolence, intrigue.

Recent efforts rely on fatiguing effects; or they're subtly revisionist, centring on a single plot twist (the protagonist was dead the whole time!) which makes for a thin, view-once affair.

But you don't get much flavour without character, do you? Which brings us back to Cornelia Otis Skinner in The Uninvited. Love that mean chick.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 10, 2008 5:10 PM

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