Thursday, August 29, 2013


The cigarette girl (above) is Garbo, the famous Swedish American actress of the 30s and 40s. I've blogged about her before but this time I'd like to focus on her feet. She's reputed to have walked on what amounts to kayaks. You'd think this would be a career-ending flaw for a dramatic actress, but the public forgave it. They were all focused on her face.

'Lest you've forgotten, this...

...this is the famous face.

Some of my favorite Garbo films were the ones where she appeared to be studying the face of the person she talked to. Humanity was a puzzle to Garbo, something to be figured out.

Bye the way, how did she come up with that flat-on-the-sides hair style? It looked like her hair was carved out of wood and lowered onto her skull with chains.

Artists loved her. 

Men went nuts over her. She was so...mysterious!

Even the great Barrymore (above) fell for her. Look at that indecipherable look on her face. Fans clamoured to know, "For God's Sake, what is she thinking!!!???"

Maybe she was just bored, or maybe she had judged the human race and found us wanting. I prefer to think she was developing some great thought...some idea of cosmic significance that had the power to change the world if only she would divulge it.

Anyway, about the feet...She was a boon to women with big feet. She made it seem downright fashionable.

According to this artist (above) she had feet you could surf with.

It was a great look. Even fish tried to imitate it.

Who knows what influence she might have had on fashion had not WWII intervened?

Sunday, August 25, 2013


All men envy the handsome, square-jawed kind of man (above) referred to as..."The Leading Man." The term Leading Man obviously comes out of theater and film, but it isn't confined to that. A man can be a leading man even if he sells pizza for a living.  It's a physical type.

In the film industry I'd say Rock Hudson (above) was the quintessential leading man. He had the jaw, the physique and the self-confidence.

The jaw is important. No leading man.

Leading man is a rare physical type and film studios gobble up every one they can find; every one that can act, I mean. That's because you can do things with leading man types that would be implausible if done by anybody else. No behavior is too over-the-top for this kind of guy. 

In "Magnificent Obsession" Rock (above) becomes the greatest surgeon in his field just so he can operate on his girlfriend, Jane Wyman (above). When the time comes he throws his shirt on the floor and operates bare-chested. Lesser doctors in the room are fully clothed, but not Rock. Surrounded by admiring nurses, with superhuman concentration and with sweat glistening on his pecs, he saves the life of a woman who inferior doctors had written off as inoperable. 

Of course he did. That's what a leading man does. 

I digress here to explain that leading men, star-types and chick magnets aren't exactly the same. Chick magnets and stars like the young Brando (above) are merely handsome. Sure, they have appeal but they have to work at it, they have to..."turn on the charm." Leading men don't work at it. It just is. They have the jaw. It's something they're born with.

 One thing all leading men types have in common is that they're invariably really nice people to know. That's unusual because it defies the odds. Every group contains defective personalities, that's to be expected. How come leading men are the exception?

I don't know, but I'll hazard a guess. Leading men-types are nice because they're so universally appealing that, ever since childhood, everyone they've ever known has been kind to them. They've never seen the harsh side of life. They've never felt the sting of rejection.  Never having been treated badly, they naturally tend to be unguarded and friendly. After all, their only competition is other leading men and they're rare as hens' teeth.

'Just a guess.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


'Still on vacation. I'm back to post a few more cat pictures then I'll retreat back to my mint julep and pool.  

About cats: the new trend in cat ownership is to have lots of cats, rather than just one. Now, where did that idea come from? Maybe it's the fault of all those reality shows that make maverick pet owners look sympathetic. I'm not sure.

I'm a dog person myself but I have to admit that cats have advantages. If you're going to have huge herds of pets it's better to have multiple cats than multiple dogs. At least cats don't bark at the neighbors.  

Pet stores sell elaborate cat trails that you can attach to walls.

How do you like these cat book shelves (above)? I think they're great! I don't even have a cat and I want one. 

Some of the latest cat furniture (above) looks like human furniture. You could be in a house with cats and never know it.

Where do you think the idea for cat trails came from? Maybe from Dr. Seuss. I can imagine an indoor cat city along the lines of the drawings in his books.

Or maybe the cat trail fad started with Habittrails. Like Sara implied in a comment to the previous post, maybe people began to envy the cool space stations their hamsters lived in. 

Where's all this leading? My guess is that we're psyching ourselves into building Habittrails for humans. Isn't that what Disneyland's "Tarzan's Treehouse" is really about? The attraction is leading millions to ask why hamsters should have all the fun.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013


(I'm still on vacation but I can't resist putting up just one post)

Jobs are getting hard to find but one business seems to be thriving: I refer to the cat hotel business. If you're willing to put up say, a dozen guest cats in your home, you can make what a beginning engineer makes. No kidding.

Of course it helps if you have a nice house and look like Aunt Bea. People like to think their cats are taken care of by a loving granny.

 A friend recently had to board his cat in a cat hotel for a few days. He didn't mind the expense because he thought the owner earned every penny. Taking care of cats isn't easy.

The hotel had automated litter boxes.

I'm surprised that cats use them. I mean, cats are usually so fussy.

Amazingly, the cats get along with each other. The older cats just lie on their backs all day and the kittens do nothing but play.

The hotel had a whole room full of cat trees. I wonder if they were as nice as the ones above.

Probably not. Most cat trees are weird modern art objects covered in rug.

I'd like to be around when people of the future dig up these things and try to figure out what they were for.

I imagine there's even more money to be made in the dog hotel business, but those would be hard dollars to make. Some dogs are aggressive...some are even psychos. Yikes!

Friday, August 02, 2013


Here's a question for the film buffs out there: what non-Hitchcock film most closely resembles the kind of film Hitchcock used to make? "Diabolique"? "Charade?" "Arsenic and Old Lace"? "Portrait of Jenny"? I say none of the above. For me the film that most approximates Hitchcock is the 1953 Technicolor thriller, "Niagara," directed by Henry Hathaway. 

Niagara had some classic Hitchcock icons: the imposing falls at Niagara, the hint of fate,  a menacing supernatural presence, and the characters who dare to venture into the abyss and are unable to extricate themselves. 

The film must have rattled Hitchcock. It must have seemed like the industry was on to him, that all his innovations were on the verge of becoming standard practice. It's tempting to speculate that his response was to remake Niagara, and do it in such a way that it would be clear to everyone that only Hitchcock could do Hitchcock. That remake would have been "Vertigo." 

I remind the reader that Hitchcock was famous for his use of monumental icons. Here, from Hitchcock's "Saboteur" is a shot from the fight scene on the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

Taking a page from Hitchcock, Hathaway staked his claim to Niagara Falls (above). For Vertigo, Hitchcock would have to find something else.

And he did...San Francisco and, in particular, The Golden Gate Bridge. It's a water motif again, only with a more art directed feel. The awe-inspiring bridge is made to feel like the creepy entrance to another world.

Hathaway also flirted with the idea of another world with a doorway into our own. From Niagara, that's (above) the monumental arch that used to grace the Canadian side of the falls. Arches are a classic surrealist symbol for the beckoning unknown.

Vertigo (above) employed a similar arch.

Niagara (above) is about a man's obsession for a woman.

So is Vertigo (above).

Niagara's climax takes place in a bell tower (above).

So does Vertigo (above).

Above, the corpse in Niagara

Above, the corpse in Vertigo. 

Niagara starred the openly sensuous Marilyn Monroe. For Hitchcock this was a mistake. He's quoted as saying:

“As for myself, I prefer a woman who does not display all of her sex at once – one whose attractions are not falling out in front of her. I like women who are also ladies, who hold enough of themselves in reserve to keep a man intrigued.... When a man approaches her, the audience should be led to wonder whether she intends to shrink from him or tear off his clothes.”

Hitchcock's lady was Kim Novak. I think he would have preferred Grace Kelly.

One final speculation: Vertigo was a marvelous film but I'm guessing that Hitchcock felt he'd lost control over it and made a film the public wouldn't understand. Even so, the taste of freedom and experiment was intoxicating and Hitch found he couldn't go back to the type of film he'd made before. At the threshold of old age, and at great risk to his career, he cast about for something new, and that search would eventually lead to "Psycho" and "The Birds." 

That's all I have room for here. Before I go let me thank Joel Gunz. Some of the opinions and pictures here are stolen from his excellent blog: