Today is Truman Day, a holiday in our state and for some people a day off from work.
Harry in WWI. Are his pants inflated?
I do not have the day off, but I will raise a toast to Harry nonetheless at the appropriate hour. A Missouri Mule, which was created by bartender Joe Gilmore especially for President Truman, would be nice. I thought a Missouri Mule was bourbon, lime and ginger ale, but when I looked it up, the ingredients are:
•2 parts Bourbon
•2 parts Applejack
•2 parts Lemon juice
•1 part Campari
•1 part Cointreau
Well, you learn something new every day, right?
Mother’s Day is on Sunday and I am hoping the wee babes will drop by for awhile to frolic in our yard. They came over on Wednesday and frolicked in the yard and we practiced social distancing while they picked flowers and threw rocks. It was a nice diversion.
After reading daughter #2’s blogpost yesterday about some “mildly captivating” recent films, I got thinking, of course, about classic films. I had just watched Juarez (1939) and really marveled at how good it is.
The film focuses on the conflict between Maximilian I, an Austrian archduke who was installed as the puppet ruler of Mexico in 1863 by Napoleon III, and Benito Juarez, the country’s president. It is not a story that particularly interests me, but as presented by Warner Brothers with all their bells and whistles, it was riveting.
Maximilian is the Hapsburg dupe who is used by Napoleon III to expand the French empire in Mexico. Jaurez, who idolizes Abraham Lincoln so we know he is a good guy, is the hero of the piece, but as played by Paul Muni, he isn’t half as interesting as Brian Aherne as the emperor and Bette Davis as his crazy wife, Carlota.
Donald Crisp, Brian Aherne, Bette Davis, and be-still-my-heart Gilbert Roland
The real Emperor with the unfortunate Hapsburg mouth
The screenplay by John Huston and Aeneas MacKenzie is, as you would expect, excellent and the Warner Brothers cast is terrific. How can you go wrong with John Garfield, Gilbert Roland, Claude Rains, Donald Crisp, Gale Sondergaard, Henry Davenport, etc. in supporting parts? You can’t. Handsome Brian Aherne is actually very sympathetic and believable as the overly trusting archduke and Bette Davis is thankfully limited to a couple of Big Scenes, so she doesn’t manage to take over and ruin the film. Paul Muni is stalwart as the Zapotec Man of the People. Sure the plot probably doesn’t have much resemblance to reality, but we don’t care. It is a good story.
They knew how to tell good stories and, indeed, make a movie in 1939. And they don’t seem to anymore. Is that because screenwriters and directors nowadays are too focused on their own genius to actually make anything worth watching, much less art?
I suppose I am a broken record, but with all this time on your hands and nowhere to go, you are much better served to find and watch some movies from the classic era of Hollywood. For instance, I also watched The Scarlet Empress (1934)–a movie which is nearly ninety years old!–starring Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great and it was really something–beautifully staged and photographed. The art direction was A++.
Marlene and the remarkably sexy John Lodge (of the Boston Lodges) who went on to be a congressman and governor of Massachusetts after he’d had enough of the movie biz.
And there is no one to compare with Marlene Dietrich these days. Seriously. Who can you think of?
Well, once again, I sound like an old lady.
But at least I’m consistent.
If you are looking for something a little more highbrow than old movies, I have something wonderful for you. I have been listening to the Norton Lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges at Harvard in 1967-68. I listen to each lecture (about 45 minutes) while needlepointing. It is very restful and I hope I am learning something from this brilliant man.
He was almost blind by the time he gave these lectures and so he used no notes. Can you imagine! He is just the best.
But what ho, it is the weekend. Have a good one!
The super moon was awesome!
*The Missouri Waltz (state song)