Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vintage Novels {By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept}

Elizabeth Smart's novel written in prose poetry was first published in 1945 and only 2000 copies were printed, but it built up a following until it was reissued in 1966. The novel is a fictionalized account of Miss Smart's on again, off again decades-long affair with the married poet George Barker, with whom she had four children.
By Grand Central Station is a beautiful and heart breaking book. The narrator tells the story of how she met and fell in love with a married man in a lyrical and dream-like stream of conscious style where words and sentences flow across the page. We feel for and understand the narrator as she defies all objects made by strangers and family to her affair and it is understandable why the narrator begins to find pleasure in the suffering that her status as an outcast from society brings her.
The book is so terribly sad, but the use of language is just so beautiful to read that you don't mind the sadness and the pain.
Try to find an edition with the forward by Brigid Brophy and read that first in order to understand the book better. I would recommend reading this book in one sitting, which is easy to do since it's only about a hundred pages and it is a masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {How To Murder Your Wife}

First, Terry-Thomas shall introduce the marvellous town house that Jack Lemmon lives in, which is an excellent example of combining early Sixties furnishes and gadgets while still keeping the decor very classic and a bit masculine. I should also point out that the film was written by George Axelrod, who also wrote The Seven Year Itch and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, among other things.

Stanley Ford is the successful cartoonist and the creator of Bash Brannigan -Secret Agent, a very popular comic strip read by millions for it's creative combination of fantasy with sex and violence, but still clean enough for family viewing.
Since Stanley sends never Bash on any assignment without testing it first,
Stanley gets to act out every little boy's fantasy
but of course taking Charles along to photograph every scene so that he can draw it later.
Stanley's other best friend is his lawyer Howard, who's very married. Howard is so married that he begins almost every sentence "Edna and I think..." while still envying Stanley for being a swinging bachelor.
My favourite room is Stanley's office, which is two floors, is nicely cluttered and even has a winding staircase.
I wonder how much a three storey Manhattan town house would cost these days, especially one with a nifty chandelier like that?
Anyway, Stanley goes to a bachelor party for one of his friends one night, which resembles a funeral until someone breaks out the booze.
How drunk does Stanley get? Somewhere in between smashed and falling down.
And then, the cake is brought out...

and Charles wakes up shouting "Don't do it Sir!"
Love the handkerchief in his pyjama pocket.
Too late. A wedding ring is one of the more effective hangover cures.
Unfortunately, Charles does not work for married couples and Stanley did know this.
So, Stanley drags Mrs. Ford to Howard's office and Howard invites Edna in her pink power suit along.
It turns out that Mrs. Ford was a contestant in the Miss Galaxy contest, but all of her clothes were stolen, except for a rather plain bathing suit and matching rain coat. But, she's blonde, has a hair style and makeup that strangely resembles a certain former co-star of Jack Lemmon's, her talent was cooking and she's clearly quite attached to poor Stanley. And she's Italian, so she wont agree to go to Reno for six weeks. Wait, it gets better.
She also does not speak a word of English. However, Edna can speak Italian, so she takes Mrs. Ford shopping before Stanley can force her on a plane.
Charles doesn't like Mrs. Ford taking control of the house.
And so he gives Stanley an ultimatum. Him or Mrs. Ford.
Doesn't a large vase of flowers immediately brighten up an otherwise sparsely decorated room.
So Stanley retools his comic strip, making it more popular than ever and settles into married life.
Where there's no cocktails.
He has to adjust to Mrs. Ford's habit of watching the television loudly at night.
I like her shopping outfit, very easy, very Sixties with the boots and very chic.
Mrs. Ford loves cooking. This is Stanley's lunch. Looks more like supper to me.
Stanley quickly puts on weight around the middle. And Mrs. Ford takes over the bathroom.
And the kitchen. And the hallway. And everywhere else. Fortunately Charles is sparred the horror.
And of course, there's also the nightly routine of setting one's hair.
I like the bedroom, but I think the cherubs and butterflies are too much.
Mrs. Ford gets all of her marital advice from Edna, who believes that husbands must be treated like children and controlled at all times. One morning, Enda tells Mrs. Ford that Stanley probably isn't at the gym in his club like he said, but is running around with a starlet in broad daylight.
So Mrs. Ford and her bubble fedora go down to the men-only club.
This doesn't go well for Stanley.
Thrown out of his beloved club, Stanley and Charles hatch out a revenge plan.
Murder Mrs. Brannigan!
Since Bash never does anything that Stanley hasn't done before, the Fords' have a party and Stanley slips his wife a goof ball.
And waits for the reaction.

He also slips one to Edna, just because.
While Mrs. Ford is passed out, Stanley slips out with the dummy. The actual murder plan is the only believable aspect of the movie, because it could actually be used as the perfect murder.
However, Mrs. Ford wakes up and sees the new comic strips following the death of Mrs. Brannigan and leaves.
When Stanley reports her missing, the cops tell him that she's probably visiting her mother, somewhere in Italy.
However, she's still missing when the comic strips come out and now 80 million Americans believe that Stanley really did murder his wife.
And a little thing, like not having a body isn't going to prevent his arrest.
Everyone at the trial thinks that Mrs. Ford has been murdered, particularly Enda and her hat.
The only one who's happy about it is Charles.
Poor Stanley! Luckily he has a plan.
Put Howard on the stand,
which Edna objects to.
How old is too old to be wearing a school girl's outfit?
Stanley then delivers his brilliant defence using only a piece of chalk.
So, how does he get off ?
What happened to Mrs. Ford?
Will Charles be allowed to resume chilling the perfect martini glass?
Does a piano fall on Edna?
For these answers and more, you shall have to tune in yourself!