Showing posts with label murder she wrote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murder she wrote. Show all posts

Thursday, June 01, 2017


Haw! Here I am at the age when I'm expected to retire and, true to my demographic, I find myself watching late night reruns of "Murder She Wrote." You know that show, the one that takes place in Cabot Cove, the home of fictional sleuth Angela Lansbury, a.k.a. Jessica Fletcher.

Lansbury (above) is a terrific actress but, to judge from interviews, in real life she smiles a lot less often than her TV character. I don't mean to imply that Lansbury is joyless or humorless. She just doesn't smile unless she has a reason to. 'Nothing wrong with that.

Even so, it's a pity. When she does smile she lights up the room. The fact is, she has one the great smiles on film. It's world class...but it's a liability as well as an asset. What do you do with an actress who's mostly serious but who has the warmest smile around?

Old Hollywood's answer seemed to be, cast her as a beautiful but cold and calculating Jezebel who easily manipulates men.

Sure, she could handle that, but that's a young woman's role. What's an actress like that to do in mid-life?

Fortunately Lansbury found a new career in musical comedy. There I'm guessing that she learned to make the warm smile work for her.

The task assumed by the creators of Murder She Wrote was to come up with a premise that gave her the perfect ratio of smiles to drama...and they succeeded!

Angela's character plays a mystery writer who's instantly recognized and complimented by fans of her novels. Not only that but she travels frequently and is always staying with friends or accepting visits from friends. 'Lots of smile opportunities there.

She also likes to insinuate herself into police investigations and that requires more smiles to get co-operation from the law...once again, lots of smile opportunities.

A lot of the show is about smile delivery. By way of example, Jessica rides a bike because she doesn't drive a car. Why, the bike you ask?

They didn't give her a car because not having one forces her to ask others for a lift, or to be the beneficiary of others' kindness. Wow, that's brilliant! Far from handicapping the character it gives her an excuse to interact with the other characters and, most importantly, to smile and charm.

That includes half smiles, at which Lansbury excels.

The lesson I draw from this is that actors can't be cast according to their natural demeanor, but by what they're able to perform when the footlights are on. Everybody knows this already but it's nice to be reminded of it once in a while.

Friday, April 28, 2017


 I came across a fascinating book in the library called "The Sartorialist." It consists of casual photos of fashion minded people, all encountered on the streets by wandering photographer Scott Schuman.

That's Schuman above. He used to work in fashion but left to record how ordinary consumers interpret what's offered in the stores. He sees it as the street talking back to the industry. Wow! What an interesting idea!

 This (above) is my favorite of all the pictures in the book because it emphasizes the timeless appeal of shape and cut above color and graphic design. The color's great though, no doubt about it.

 Vests are still in style for men.

Geez, the problem with all these designs is that they're meant for trim people with good physiques.

 It's their reward for all the time spent walking to nowhere on treadmills and eating tasteless salads.

Schuman also devotes time to what he calls "curvy" people, but many of the pictures fail to excite. Let's be honest. Fashion is a thin person's sport.

It does have one unexpected asset, though. It can look almost as good on old people as the young.

Who'da thunk that nature would take pity on you at an age when you're watching endless re-runs of "Murder, She Wrote?"

This woman isn't old but she has white hair which is taken to be a sign of age, but which can look great.

I like the colors she's wearing: green, purple and yellow with blue and white stripes used as a neutral to set it off. It's a color scheme discovered by David Hockney.

I used to think of neutrals as grey and brown but really, they're anything that most other colors look good on top of.