Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Andy Griffith: Before Mayberry, A Movie Monster

Andy Griffith: Before Mayberry, A Movie Monster:
Mm200Boing Boing recently presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series for several additional days. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. -- Mark

Andy Griffith: Before Mayberry, A Movie Monster, by Bill Barol

[Video Link] If for any reason you doubt the power of television, consider the long career of Andy Griffith, who died this week at 86. Griffith had one TV role that was merely successful and one that was almost archetypical. That’s a pretty good run for any actor. But TV didn’t just give to Griffith. It also took away, and it’s here that the medium shows its muscle in a really astounding way. Griffith’s long TV career effectively effaced a film debut that, fifty years later, is so vivid and visceral that it startles with every viewing. The facts that Griffith played a bad guy in his first film role, and that both the performance and the movie, Elia Kazan’s 1957 A Face In The Crowd, are largely overlooked today -- these are testaments to TV’s power to swamp any cultural phenomena that have the poor judgment to get in its way.

Hang on, there’s more. What’s doubly delicious about this is, A Face In The Crowd is a cautionary tale about the power of -- Anyone? Anyone? Yes: Television. Griffith, who came from nightclubs and the stage and had no resume as a dramatic actor in 1957, plays Lonesome Rhodes, a drifter who stumbles into national prominence thanks to the demagogic power of the then-young medium. A grifter and a charmer, Rhodes is sleeping off a hangover in a rural jail when a local radio producer (Patricia Neal, doing that hard-but-vulnerable thing she did so well) sticks a microphone in his face. He has no ambition to be a radio star or anything else, but once he grasps that a guy with a friendly demeanor can wield mass media like a club, and he grasps it very quickly indeed, there’s no stopping him. Rhodes shoots like a star from tiny Pickett, Arkansas to Memphis to New York, from radio to TV, from a singer and storyteller to “a force... a force,” he says with megalomaniac intensity. And from there it’s just a quick hop to politics, with a presidential candidate sucking around for his magic touch, and a madman’s dreams of power behind the throne.

It all unravels, of course, because that’s what happens in cautionary tales. But until it does Rhodes is a villain of Shakespearean scope and depth, and Griffith -- this is TV’s Andy Griffith, remember -- Griffith tears into the part with both hands. When Griffith as Rhodes laughs -- “I put my whole self into everything I do,” he tells the Neal character early on, equal parts seduction and threat -- the sound explodes off the screen like gunfire, and Griffith’s eyes widen and shine, and sweat dots his forehead like stars, and the tendons stand out in his neck. Understand: Rhodes is a monster, all appetite and ambition, and Griffith makes every second of his rise and fall queasily believable. That doesn't just apply to the operatic moments, though. There’s a great scene early on where Rhodes uses the power of his radio pulpit to turn the populace against the local sheriff, and Neal asks him how it feels to “say anything that comes into your head and have it sway people.” At first Rhodes is too busy enjoying the moment to grasp what she’s saying -- “I guess I can,” he says offhandedly, tears of laughter streaming down his face -- but then the weight of the insight settles on him and the laughter stops and his eyes go cool and appraising. “I guess I can,” he says again, and this time it’s all business. You can practically see the connections being mapped in his hustler’s brain. Later, leaving Arkansas to go to Memphis for his first TV job, Kazan has Griffith stand in the steps of a departing train, and as he turns away from the cheering crowds who’ve come to see him off and sets his gaze down the track toward his future, his face is a mask of hunger and calculation.

There are good actors in A Face In The Crowd -- Neal, Walter Matthau as a well-meaning good guy, and the underrated Tony Franciosa as a conniving office boy-turned-theatrical agent. (Franciosa has a hilarious moment when Rhodes improvises a commercial jingle for some prospective national sponsors, and the office boy/agent wings some backing doo wops to help close the deal.) But for all the starpower the film has, and that includes Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg working at the tops of their very considerable games, it’s Griffith’s film to make or break. And in much the same way that Rhodes seized his opportunity when it happened along, Griffith did too. In every frame his Rhodes is violently alive, for good or (much more often) for ill. Griffith never again duplicated the jet-propelled power of that first performance, and within three years he was a TV star, and he stayed one until Tuesday, when he died. Ask any ten people who know him from either of his long-running TV successes if he ever played a heavy and eight of them will look at you like you’re nuts. But the other two? The other two will nod in appreciation of what Griffith did 55 years ago, before a new medium set his nice-guy image in stone and wiped away the memory of Lonesome Rhodes’ grinning, voracious face.

(RIP, Andy Griffith)

Friday, May 18, 2012

(via bellecs)Sandy & Danny in Grease

(via bellecs)

Sandy & Danny in Grease

(via bellecs)
Sandy & Danny in Grease

Touring indie band picks up hitchhiker who looks like John Waters. It was John Waters.

Touring indie band picks up hitchhiker who looks like John Waters. It was John Waters.:

Indie band Here We Go Magic is driving across America on tour. Earlier this week, they spotted legendary director John Waters hitchhiking by the side of the road with a hat that said "Scum of the Earth." DCist has the story, and a followup interview with the band.

So what happened once the car pulls up alongside him and he gets in the van? We pulled up and we saw him and everyone went, "That's definitely John Waters." We opened the door and I said, "Hello how you doing? Where ya coming from?" And he said Baltimore. We were like, "Uh huh," totally knowing that he was from Baltimore. So we said, "Come on in!" He got in the van and he got all tangled up in the seat belt, it was really adorable. That was the first thing that happened. We're traveling in a van and there are all these seat belts that block your way. You know, the ones that go from the side to the seats in the middle.

So he was totally tangled and he didn't even remove himself. He just sort of sat down, entrenched in seat belts. He was a perfect gentlemen. We addressed the fact that we knew it was John Waters and he very calmly accepted that information. It sort of rolls on from there. The shock of the event wore off pretty quickly in exchange for the warmth and the kindness and cleverness of this human being that's now sitting next to you. He became a human being very quickly. He answered every single question and he was even a little shy about photos. Finally it was like, "My mom wants a picture" and "Do you mind if I Tweet this" and he was fine with it. We were like, "What on earth are you doing this for?" He was like, "I have a lot of control in my life and I just wanted to let go of the reins a little bit, have an adventure." He's such a true artist and it's so cool!

Hitchhiking Director John Waters Picked Up In Ohio By Indie Rock Band

Band Who Picked Up Hitchhiking John Waters Talks About Their Six Hours With The Director

(Image: @turnerjen, "Who knew I'd be tearfully leaving john waters on the side of the highway today...)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

IMDB Bio of the Day

IMDB Bio of the Day:
 - IMDB Bio of the Day

Much to the Internets’ delight, IMDB writer Jon Hopwood profiled Kim Kardashian in a thoughtful, well-argued roast of an IMDB bio.
Choice highlights:
Kim Kardashian is emblematic of the shallowness of American culture in the first two decades of the new millennium. While some cultural critics call her the prime avatar of the “famous for being famous” faux celebrity crowd, she along with Paris Hilton is a new breed of cat whose celebrity comes from the release of a sex tape and the canny exploitation of the resulting publicity. Like her good friend Miss Hilton (their relationship predates Kim’s “celebrity”, Kardashian is possessed of photogenic good looks but is short of any other discernible talents outside of the bedroom. Both expanded their celebrity by becoming reality TV “stars”.
Pr0n pioneer Harry Reems has commented how surprised he is at how pr0n stars like Jenna Jameson are accepted now in mainstream culture. His life was ruined by his participation in porn in its “Golden Years”. As for Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the release (accidental or not-so-accidental) of boudoir tapes didn’t result in shame but celebration. America like ancient Rome seems to have shuffled off the moral coil of virtue of the Republic and is now enjoying its Imperial self in an orgy of ignominy. It’s always more fun on the toboggan ride down the hill than it was schlepping up it in the first place.
Thankfully, a few screen grabs were snagged before the site was alerted to Hopwood’s shenanigans and took the bio down. Well played, Hopwood.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball:

Lucille Ball

nevver:How To Dress For the Kentucky DerbyGonna set this...


How To Dress For the Kentucky Derby

Gonna set this...

How To Dress For the Kentucky Derby
Gonna set this aside for the next Day at the Races.

May 6th, 1937 - “Oh the humanity”

May 6th, 1937 - “Oh the humanity”:

May 6th, 1937 - “Oh the humanity



Super Moon was, in fact, pretty super (big photo gallery)

Super Moon was, in fact, pretty super (big photo gallery):

REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

The full "super Moon", scientifically known as a "perigee moon", rises over Los Angeles, California May 5, 2012. A "super Moon" lit up Saturday's night sky in a once-a-year cosmic show, overshadowing a meteor shower from remnants of Halley's Comet, the U.S. space agency NASA said. The Moon looked especially big and bright, because it reached its closest spot to Earth at the same time it was in its full phase, NASA said. Below, the full moon rises behind a mosque as birds fly in Amman.

More photos of the "super Moon" as seen around the world on the night of May 5, 2012 follow below.

REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

A full moon rises over office towers in Dubai Media City in Dubai.

REUTERS/Darryl Webb

A runner makes his way along a trail on a butte in front of the "super Moon" at Papago Park in Phoenix.

REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The full "super Moon," scientifically known as a "perigee moon," is pictured over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

A view of the "super Moon" is seen above a cathedral tower in Guatemala City.

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

A full moon is seen behind the minaret of Mohamed Ali mosque, in Islamic Cairo.

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The "super Moon" rises over some apartment buildings in Toronto.