Saturday, February 27, 2010


Don't you love close-ups on big movie screens? Having live silhouette heads between you and the screen makes the experience even better.

If you've never seen a Clampett cartoon on a big theater screen, then you've really missed something. His characters are always leaning into the audience and looking down. They plead with the audience, patronize them, almost pat them on their heads. You don't get that when you see the cartoons on TV.

I love the idea of giant heads and bodies looming out over the audience and looking down. You don't even need 3D to get the effect.

If you're Eisenstein or Richard Lester or Sergio Leonne then you love the technique where you show the audience an ultra-long shot then....

...then, on the same shot you have someone step in front of the camera for an ultra close-up.

I love it when monsters stick their heads out over the audience and look around, as if they're trying to figure out which person to eat first.

Amazing but true: on a big 2D screen you can give the audience the physical sensation of looking up at something. I don't mean a simple upshot, I mean a shot where you get a definite sensation of light-headedness and insecurity about your balance, as if you'd tilted your head way back. To see what I mean, click to enlarge.

It's not enough to tilt the camera up to get this effect. You have to have something very distracting to look at up there, else the audience's logic will kick in, and they'll talk themselves out of the vertigo you want them to feel.

Oddly enough, shooting a glamorous woman in close-up doesn't always work. You can convey personality and charm in a close-up, but not sexiness...not sexiness in the glamour meaning of the word. I guess visual sex cues have a lot to do with proportions, and you need to step back a little to take that in. The close-ups are just punctuation.

Okay, there are exceptions. How about "Rear Window" where Grace Kelly leans into the audience and almost kisses the camera? Watching this scene was what your grandfather did to cure erectile dysfunction in the days before Viagra.

I saw "North by Northwest" on a big theater screen and the experience was a revelation. On a big screen the close-up shots in the cornfield make you feel that Cary Grant wants to jump into your lap. He seems to be appealing to the audience for help. I never got that from seeing the film on TV.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


INT. MENS CLUB: Several Philosophy Boys relax near the hearth.

BERTRAND: "You really have to explain yourself Philip. Why do you buy into the idea that liberal arts courses should have as their goal the improvement of character and judgement? I'd have thought the quest for truth was more important."

PHILIP: "Well, it seems to me that only a person of character would recognize the truth when he found it."

PAULI: "He's got you there, Bertrand. Without character you're unlikely even to search for truth."

BERTRAND: "True enough Pauli, but truth still matters. You don't want to waste your life upholding assertions that turn out not to be true.

Um, Ira, what are you writing?"

IRA: "Just jotting down notes. Mainly I want to say that nobody can agree on what the truths are in the liberal arts. In the absence of certainty, character and judgement are all the tools we have to navigate the facts."

MACMILLAN: "But surely character is something you're born with. How do you educate for it?"

RUSSELL: "By the example of first-rate teachers and first-rate fellow students, and by studying the right texts. Since character counted for a lot in the ancient world, that means reading and discussing the Greeks and Romans. In addition to the standard authors, I'm thinking of authors like Homer, Xenephon, Polybius, Cicero, Plutarch, Marcus Arelius, Caesar and Tacitus."

WILLIAM: "Caesar and Tacitus? Those seem like odd choices, if you only had to choose a few."

SHERLOCK: "Ah, I get it. They're there as examples of manliness. It's a word you can't define, but everyone knows it when they see it, and it's universally admired. Combine manliness with intellect, vision, and the ability to do hard work, and you have something approaching the ideal."

GLADYS: "Yeah, manliness....I'll buy that."

PHILOSOPHY BOYS (ALL AT ONCE): "GASP!!!!!! A girl!!!! A GIRL in the MENS club!!!! How did she get in? We'll all be kicked out forever!"

THOMAS: "Wait a minute, wait a minute! I've got an idea! Gentlemen, I move that we regard this young lady as an honorary man for the night! What say you?"


THOMAS: "The motion carries! She's a man!"

JOSEPH: "Whoa, wait a minute! If she can be a man, then I want my dog to be a man, too. He's over there, under the 'No Pets' sign."

PHILOSOPHY BOYS: "What!? A DOG!!!?? No way! No way!"

DOG: "Hey, hey! If you don't want me in your stupid old club, then I don't want to be here. I mean...GEEEEZ!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Haw! I haven't visited the People of Walmart site for a while because I thought it would have run out of gas by now. Boy, was I wrong! It's still going, just as strong as ever!

I swear, I've seen this very woman (above) in every city I've ever been in.


Double ouch! Man, that's nasty!

Zulu leg warmers and hot pants (above)!

Thanks for sharing that (above).

A weird Lawrence of Arabia look (above). Amazingly his posture conveys such dignity that he carries it off.

A man (above) with high standards.

Nice long hair (above) but it'll look better with another yard or so of length.

The fluorescent turquoise shampoo (above) or the hot pink? The huckleberry fire or the lavender surprise? Decisions, decisions.

It's okay. She's wearing underwear!

Ouch! Ooch!

Ooch! Ouch! Ooch!

Another woman (above) that I would swear I've seen everywhere I've lived!

Underwear outside the pants (above)! I used to see black guys do that in the mid 70s. Now it's a girls' thing.

A Walmart family!

This (above) is my favorite picture of the bunch. Casper pajamas, witch boots, a big old sedated leopard of a housecat, and....what's that in the square bag? I'll guess tampons or cat food, but it might be marshmallows or cheesewhiz.

I have a feeling that graphic (above) doesn't wash off.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Here's (above) a Joan Crawford coffee mug. Unfortunately it's been out of print since the fifties. A larger version would have made a great front piece for a car or a locomotive.

Here's (above) the tortured Joan.

Her plans for conquest have backfired, gone awry.

Joan's husband is on the other side of the bathroom door (above), lying unconscious in a bathtub that's rapidly filling with water. She steels herself to listen to his final struggle if there is one. How much will the life insurance amount to? Did she remember to wipe her fingerprints off the rim of the tub?

Huh? What's HE doing in the courtroom? I thought Big Joe paid him off!

Sometimes Crawford's characters (above) grow weary of life. When will it be over, all this game-playing? Why can't the rich just give her their fortunes? Why must she have to work so hard for them?

Poor Garfield (above) should have known better. No man can have Joan for more than a short time. She's tired of him, but he can't take the hint.

You don't mess with Joan!

You're a man, and you're head over heels in love with Crawford...pathetic, because she won't give you the time of day. Normally she looks the other way when you're around, but it's just dawned on her that maybe she can use you.

Pretty as a cupcake, but there's larceny in those eyes.

Woken out of sleep by the sound of crying (above)! It sounds like the woman she used to work for, the one she deliberately drove mad so she could marry her husband...but she's been dead for weeks now! How can it be!?

Ha! It was almost too easy! Did that plain Jane of a girlfriend really think she could keep a man like David?

Joan relaxes (above) after cheating her deceased husband's daughter out of her inheritance. She'll send the girl away to boarding school and have the fine old house to herself. Ah, life is good!

Sometimes Joan played honest but rather cold women who worked hard to get where they were. These women were nobody's fool in the business world, and they dominated the men in their personal lives...that is, until they encountered...HIM.

You can buy dolls of Crawford and Davis, the way they looked in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" The Davis doll (above) came out the best.

Above, two Crawford look-alikes . I'd say the picture on the right comes closest.

BTW: I'm a guest on the latest ASIFA Animation Archive Podcast. The URL is on the sidebar.