Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tony Curtis et al

Wellington’s September saw double the rainfall on the monthly average. At the same time there was slightly more sunshine than usual. It was a topsy-turvy month. October’s beginning with fine sunny weather.

I’ve mentioned the IBM group, the twenty-odd people who suffer from our particular form of muscular degeration. Two have had bad falls this week, one requiring five stiches in his head and the other two breaks in her leg. Their accidents put my concerns in perspective.

Anne made the same comment last night. We were eating our dinner when there was an almighty crash in the kitchen. The large wall clock had fallen off the wall, obviously not secured when taken down to alter for daylight saving. Its glass face was smashed on the tile floor. On the way down it broke the porcelain salt tub that has always sat on the kitchen bench. Anne bought the clock at Auckland farmer’s closing down sale and the salt piece when she was first newly married. Compared with the losses in the Canterbury earthquake these two were mere trivia, but the human capacity to invest meaning to possessions is very strong.

I’ve bought a second-hand walker for use outside. With summer coming on I want to be able to go out and enjoy the sunshine. But I didn’t want to use the good one on the lawn – moisture and mud. Helen, our school-girl gardener, is coming this afternoon, so I’ll supervise her weeding and planting from the garden chairs, decamping with the walker between sites.

I was ashamed to be a New Zealander when I read this morning that one of our TV reporters smeared mud on the wall of the athlete’s quarters at the Commonwealth Games village. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same reporter made a big hue and cry about drug cheating if there is a case. Talk of double standards.

There was a surprising comment on my blog site this morning. Someone had goggled the last line of the short poem ‘Last Run’ – ‘he thought it was fun/ when I lifted the gun.’ He was directed to my Stoatspring site 6/6/09. He commented on that long ago site.

Tony Curtis the heart-throb Hollywood actor died yesterday. ‘Some Like It Hot’ is in my opinion the best comedy film ever made. Curtis and Lemmon’s acting and delivery of lines are superb. ‘City Lights’ runs second but is streets behind. Curtis apparently complained that the director took Marilyn Monroe’s best takes ahead of his. That man knew his audience. I can recollect a group of young men enviously talking about the opportunity that Curtis had in kissing Monroe. ‘I wonder how many rehearsals they had’ one of the group mused. Years later I read Curtis had said it was like kissing Adolf Hitler.

Curtis was at the time married to Janet Leigh. ‘Psycho’ came out the following year. Again, I would rank it high in the list of films I’ve seen. I was teaching at Morrinsville College. Carless, I was negotiating to buy my own wheels. Jack Archibald, the head of the primary section, asked what I would do when I got the car. Go to Hamilton to see ‘Psycho’ I said.

Jack’s wife had just had their first baby in Hamilton hospital. Jack was going across to see her and had planned to go on and take in the movie. So I went with him that night. We had a fish and chips meal beside Hamilton Lake. He went and saw his wife and child while I read in the car. And we saw the movie. W drove home silently, two loquacious men shaken by what they’d just seen. Fifty years on ' Psycho' has spawned thousands of horror films. It’s pioneering impact was great. It has a thousand imitators but none reach its level.

Only once again did I see an audience completely silenced. It was ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ which I saw in Christchurch. The audience spilled out into the Square without a word. From the film’s beginning with Faye Dunnaway’s Bonnie boredly hitting her pillow with her hand until its end when her lifeless arm collapses out of the bullet-ridden car it was a gripping ride. Arthur Penn, its director also died yesterday.

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