Monday, August 1, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Starting all over again

Kirk Douglas and Lana Turner in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) — "Oh, you're thinking, 'He's lying. He's cheap, and cruel.' Well, maybe I like Lilas. Maybe I like to be cheap once in a while. Maybe everyone does. Or don't you remember?"
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Celebrating — The end of the conventions! ... The Skivvies ... "Rock Carnival" ... and Kirk Douglas.

“I DON’T make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts,” said Will Rogers.
NOW THAT the conventions are over, everybody can get down to the really serious business of campaigning. Kidding! 

Although both sides generated some drama over eight days of self-congratulation and opposition accusation, I always find myself cringing a good deal as each party steamrolls its ideas and ideals, exploits various A B or C-list celebrities, carefully chosen families, military men and women, aggrieved or uplifted “just-plain-folks” who are meant to represent the party at its most unvarnished and genuine.
Then come the real politicians, pummeling the right or left message, making awkward jokes, odd faces and trying to convince us that the millions of dollars you are watching ebb away and/or fall from the ceiling in the form of balloons are worth it.  Why build a highway, finance better education or medical research when you can have balloons?

Although our political leanings are no secret, I tend to feel this way about both sides and all their cynical carnival antics.
Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.  Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.  Did anybody honestly think there would a different result, Ted Cruz’s melodramatics or the stubborn stance of some Bernie Sanders supporters notwithstanding?

Donald Trump told us the sky has fallen because of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Barak Obama and Hillary told us that the sky is where it’s always been, but the apocalypse is nigh because of Trump. 
Was anybody’s opinion changed?  No.  In four months, voters will decide who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The opinions of Scott Baio, Sarah Silverman, the Liz Smith column or the children, friends, spouses of the candidates won’t mean squat.

The only thing that matters is that the voting process is fair, uncorrupted and accessible to all.  When the result arrives we will either clutch our pearls frantically or toss our hats in the air.  And no matter the result, it would be best not to indulge in unrealistic optimistic expectations or fall into paralyzing fear and depression. 

We — just like Fred and Ginger — must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. 

PR man (and author of the sassy, delicious “Starflacker”) Dick Guttman, approved of the photo that the New York based version of our column ran of Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’ Sullivan a little while back: “Thanks for picturing one of the most powerful love scenes of all time.  Apart from its accompanying gorgeous nude water ballet which is rarely shown, Jane’s seduction of the childlike Tarzan seems to almost border on molestation, averted by the fact that his body is so obviously not pre-adolescent.  Directed by W.S. Van Dyke in 1932, pre-censorship, it matches in art and eroticism anything made after the Hays Code tamped so much down.”  I adore Dick for many reasons — but his knowledge and appreciation of classic movies ranks high.
... IN celebration of the 100th birthday of Olivia de Havilland, her charming 1961 book, “Every Frenchman Has One” has been reissued.  It’s sort of a casual biography, devoted mostly to her life in Paris, after marrying Pierre Galante.  This little memoir gives the reader an excellent idea of the sly, witty woman behind the famous Melanie Wilkes image.   Thanks to my old friend Kathleen Hearst for bringing this to my attention.
... IF you’re looking for something a bit different in New York cabaret this week, try Feinstein’s/54 Below on August 5th.  There you will find two talented Broadway performers, Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who bill themselves as “The Skivvies.”  The pair perform all manner of unusual music, utilizing the cello, ukulele, glockenspiel, melodica and other “under-used” instruments.  If a red-hot glockenspiel doesn’t lure you, maybe the fact that Lauren and Nick perform in their underwear, might.  I am certain they are talented (the famous “Running With Scissors” author, Augusten Burroughs directed a video for them), but on a hot August night what’s better than relaxing over a cocktail, some excellent harmonizing and well-toned abs?  Oh, and they usually have a famous guest star or two who joins them onstage and doesn’t mind displaying a ... well-turned ankle.  Call 646-476-3551.
... ”BRING The Whole Family!” This is how “Rock Carnival” which happens Sept 30 thru Oct 2nd at New Jersey’s First Energy Park in Lakewood, is luring audiences. What made me made laugh about this familiar expression, was the lineup.  Performers include: Alice Cooper ... Twisted Sister ... Monster Magnet ... Cycle of Pain ... Life of Agony ... River Monsters ... Bullet Boys ... Killcode.  Yes, indeed, bring the entire family, the tourists you’ve kidnapped and the chainsaws!  No, no — I’m just joking.  This is not my kind of music, but that’s all it is, music.  And actually, I like Alice Cooper. (Blue Oyster Cult and Sebastian Bach are also appearing.)   For tix info go to  Save me the entrails.
IF YOU are a fan of the legendary Kirk Douglas — who turns 100 on December 16th — there is plenty of time to catch many of his famous films at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village, Hollywood. (The UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program are presenting this celebration of Kirk’s career.)

The festival has been going on for a couple of weeks, but if you happen to be in L.A. you still see such classics such as “Spartacus” ... ”Champion” ... "Lonely Are the Brave” ... ”Strangers When We Meet” ... ”The Vikings” ... ”The Bad and The Beautiful” (and its bad but vastly entertaining sequel “Two Weeks In Another Town.”)
Kirk Douglas and Marilyn Maxwell in "Champion."
With Janet Leigh in "The Vikings" and Cyd Charisse in “Two Weeks In Another Town.”
With Van Heflin and Barbara Stanwyck in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers."
Also — two great noirs, Kirk’s first film, “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (Barbara Stanwyck, holding yet another gun on yet another hapless man) and the compelling “Out of the Past” — his second feature. In this movie, Douglas delivers what is one of the most realistic screen slaps ever, on the beautiful face of bad girl Jane Greer.

Her reaction is brilliant — and it was acting. (Some fans of the movie still insist Kirk must have surprised her!)
Contact Liz here.