Last week, Slate.com ran a fine appreciation of James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce which I managed to miss until today. Like the author, the Vintage paperback reissue served as my introduction to Cain. I was transfixed by how much more gritty and earthy the novel was compared to the movie. It was also interesting that Cain described Mildred as a petite woman with blonde curly hair and penetrating eyes — more a Bette Davis than Joan Crawford type. In the film, Ann Blyth plays the daughter (wonderfully) as a spoiled brat, but the novel’s Veda is a hundred times more insidious and manipulative. Plus, naturally, Cain supplies the story with a lot more evilness than anything the 1940s movie production code would allow. It’s a great read.
I also got a small kick out of this other Slate feature — classic lit book covers redone as pulp fiction. You just know that Lewis Carrol intended Alice to resemble a saucy little minx.
Best thing I’ve heard all day. The news is especially refreshing in this case, since Mission: Impossible has been so hard to find lately. The FX network used to air repeats back in the early to mid-’90s, but now it appears that the episodes are only being shown locally in the Los Angeles area. These DVD sets will be an opportunity for many to reacquaint themselves with one of the most acclaimed series of the ’60s. I’m just barely familiar with the Barbara Bain/Martin Landau/Peter Graves period, which turn out to be only two years of a seven season run.
P.S. I know this space is starting to turn into The TV Blog, but it’s hot out and I’m bored. Humor me a little.
We interrupt this weblog for a funky flashback from Sesame Street (or was it The Electric Company?). Have a nice Memorial Day? We just ate a huge lunch of BBQ hot dogs and cherry pie. I’m porked.
A.V. Club blogger Kyle Ryan singled out MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 as the most offensive show on television. I’ve managed to avoid that one, but now I’d like to see episode with the Scottsdale girl who dyed her pet poodles pink for a pink-themed party and got two brand new cars for her birthday. Her dad is a local auto dealer ’round these parts, and apparently the show has touched off a controversy after it was found that Daddy and his fellow super-rich Scottsdale auto dealers finangled a deal to promote their businesses using city taxpayer money. Read about it here and here.
Over on another channel, more details on Turner Classic Movies’ efforts at acquiring a more youthful audience (via TV Squad). I’m looking forward to Rob Zombie introducing cult horror films, and the one with young actors interviewing their older peers looks promising — if it’s done the right way. The other show they’re producing, Take Two, deserves to die a quick death. From the article: “This unique concept will give a young star the opportunity to act out (or completely re-imagine) an iconic scene from a classic Hollywood movie. The pilot for the series will feature Wilmer Valderrama re-creating a scene from The Lost Weekend.” Blecch!
Heads up — I’m selling off the remainder of my Russel Wright American Modern dinnerware in the ongoing Buy My Crap at eBay campaign. Recently I’ve pruned down my collection to just the white and grey pieces, along with a few token pieces in the rare glacier blue and common chartreuse colors. This setup looks really nice and chic, like something out of Dwell magazine; I’ll have to take a picture of it to share here soon.
Like I said before, it’s liberating to get rid of a lot of this stuff, but at the same time the lack of interest it’s generating can get frustrating. This week, I’m doing gravy boats and liners. Though I priced them fairly, it appears that these pieces aren’t doing too well — so if you want to get a nice set of nice cheap old dinnerware, here’s your opportunity. The All-Wright website contains lots of pictures of American Modern for the uninitiated (my prices are much better than theirs, however).
Check out this beautiful set of Terrytoons cartoon lobby cards presented by the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. Appropos of nothing, whatever happened to those Happy Little Elves on The Simpsons? I loved whenever they’d pop up on the early episodes, with “cheap” animation and helium voices; I even used to entertain thoughts of a Happy Little Elves Spinoff Special. Nowadays you’d be lucky to catch a glimpse of the elves hanging on Lisa’s bedroom wall. Bring back the Elves!