Thursday, September 13, 2007

Movies Through the Years: Forgotten Treasures from Our Archives

I was recently going through some old papers and I came across this unpublished manuscript from 1987. It was written for a lunchtime performance at St. Peter's Church. Lee Feldman and I used to do monologues with live music that we called "Movies for the Ears." The people who were doing promo for the series botched the title and it was printed as "Movies Through the Years." I decided to turn the error to my advantage and wrote the following piece. I'm posting it now as a subtle reminder that Lee & I are performing together again this Saturday.

The Imperceptible Twitch, 1903. Overshadowed in its day by Electrocuting an Elephant, which was released the same year, this long-forgotten Edison effort is a true minimalist masterpiece.

William Henry Harrison, 1916. D.W. Griffith’s pioneering real-time chronicle of Harrison’s brief and uneventful presidency will be shown in its original, uncut thirty-day version. Look closely at Vice-President Tyler–yes, it’s none other than Lillian Gish in drag.

The Schvartzer Sang Kol Nidre, 1928. Early talkie about a black blues singer who turns his back on fame and fortune to become a cantor in a synagogue. Stars Blind Lemon Jefferson, with Fannie Brice as the love interest.

A Close Shave, 1936. Tod Browning’s hilarious screwball comedy about two bearded ladies and an unsuspecting barber. Jean Harlow and Bela Lugosi are the ladies and Cary Grant plays the barber.

Song of the Ring, 1941. Disney’s animated feature version of Wagner’s masterpiece. Features Jiminy Cricket as Wotan, Mickey Mouse as Siegfried, and Dumbo as Brunhilde.

And the Army Gets the Beans, 1944. Ronald Reagan, Andy Devine and Gabby Hayes star in this wartime romp about three misfits who peddle counterfeit war bonds door to door and end up making license plates for Uncle Sam.

The Spaghetti Thief, Italy, 1949. A young boy who has lost his way wanders the back alleys of Rome one Wednesday night as his mother relentlessly calls out, “An-tony!” After 2 ½ hours, frustrated and hungry, he steals a box of spaghetti from the basket of a parked bicycle.

I Married a Bolshevik from Uranus, 1955. A woman wakes up one morning to discover that the slimy red creature in her bed is not the man she married. In 3-D, with Forrest Tucker and Beverly Garland.

Miracle in Westport, 1958. Cecil B. DeMille’s final film, this bedroom farce with biblical overtones stars Doris Day as an unwed mother who claims immaculate conception and Rock Hudson as the repentant ad man who joins a suburban monastery. Gig Young makes a cameo appearance for no apparent reason.

Fists of Angst, Sweden, 1971. Ingmar Bergman’s only martial arts film, with Bruce Lee and Max Von Sydow representing good and evil.

Le Mouchoir Eternel, France, 1975. Bittersweet French comedy/drama about a young girl doomed to experience the joys and sorrows of first love over and over and over.

Back to ’86, 1987. Martin Scorcese directed this tale of an unbalanced insurance salesman (Robert De Niro) who travels one year back in time and can’t tell the difference.

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Hear Cherches & Feldman performing "Everything Reminds Me of You."


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