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Monday, September 30, 2019

When It Flies, Someone Dies

The Bat That Kept Coming Back

Remember the scene in Grand Hotel where Beery clocks John Barrymore with the telephone and kills him? There was sad mirror in the life-death of itinerant actor Rodney Ranous, who traveled with a touring company of The Bat, what critics called a “fright wig” melodrama even as they praised its capacity to chill. Ranous’ character was struck nightly with a rubber phone, his co-player not always pulling the blow. Much repeat of this ended with permanent disability for Ranous, whose actress wife ended up supporting the family with what parts she could manage. There’s a dark side to career acting, the price high even where there would be no fame. The Bat was hugely successful from 1920 bow on Broadway, ranking all-time #2 for attendance through most of that decade (#1 was Lightnin'). The Bat could be taken as scary-funny of funny-scary, depending on mood or delicacy of the viewer. It led off a series of old house mysteries like The Gorilla and The Cat and the Canary, the movies taking charge of these properties after legit wearied of them. The Bat for being Daddy of the bunch flew longer and highest, far flung high-schoolers likely as not to see it dramatized by peers. There was a 1926 movie from singular director Roland West, who it was said had money enough not to crawl for credits, but enjoyed chance the work gave him to put over offbeat visuals, which he did to startling effect for versions of The Bat both silent and talking.

The Bat comes off complicated, or maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention. Three tellings (1926, 1930, 1959) won’t yield full comprehension, but we are there for atmospherics, not mouse maze of narrative. The Bat has less repute among horror hounds because for years it was presumed lost, that a fact until UCLA turned up a print, minus the first reel, but they persisted, and by gift of fate, found it. I saw a bootleg off their effort, no way to experience The Bat, but till someone books it nearby or sends me a plane ticket, it will have to do. Evaluating any movie based on a dub is unfair. Better but somewhat is home experience with 1930’s The Bat Whispers, a first sound treatment and also helmed by inscrutable West. This may be the only 65mm feature from that odd epoch where elements still exist. UCLA is also custodian of these, and I believe Milestone owns rights. They released a DVD in yawning days of the format, before even anamorphic mastering was a given. I zoomed that image to fill my wide TV and got hint of The Bat Whispers at full punch, but again, won’t judge the show until maybe, hopefully, a Blu-ray comes along. Imagine such a thing direct from the 65mm source … a fresh horror classic could be born. West does his dynamic opener as in the silent version, only more so, and I’ve a feeling this old house is one you could step into given a truly wide format and clarity no film of the period could approach. Now that we have most thrillers exhumed (at least those that exist), how’s for fresh go at this one?

Roland West did one feature after The Bat Whispers and then quit. He ran a restaurant and lived above diners, sort of a pre-Bogart Rick Blaine. West also kept Thelma Todd in room and furs, but she ran him ragged with loose living and other men. West, nearing fifty, preferred staying home nights, but kept alert for when Thelma dragged in with the sun. It was an arrangement that couldn’t last to anyone’s benefit, though few figured a finish with Todd dead in the garage and West claiming no notion of how she asphyxiated there. Cops grilled him and it is understood that he confessed, but the industry didn’t need one of its high-profile own tried for murder, and so justice went blind and West was left to the verdict of his conscience. This foregoing is the account I believe, though there are others, including Todd being offed by gangland. The story, or speculation, of how she got in, then stayed in, the doomed carport, is one I’ll cede to books and websites that have gone the investigative distance.

The Bat had Broadway revivals in 1937 and 1953. There was sentiment for the property, even if it long since stopped scaring anyone. Old-timers remembered The Bat for nightmares induced. Vincent Price said in the late 80’s: “ … when I was a little kid, I had seen The Bat on the stage and it frightened me to death.” That experience may have predisposed him to take part in a 1959 remake generated by “veterans” Sam Dembow, Jr. (industry involved since 1913) and C.J. Teplin (active from 1917), their Liberty Pictures an indie firm started for purpose of updating The Bat for a new generation of chill-seekers. Allied Artists, having hit a million in domestic rentals with House On Haunted Hill in earlier ’59, agreed to distribute. Dembow and Teplin probably shook to live renditions of The Bat during the 20’s and figured the yarn would fly again. They got financing from kindred spirit Leonard Goldenson (born 1905) who ran the American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatre chain, latter having produced a few genre pics a year before without notable success. With a powerful circuit back of The Bat, chances were good they’d break even at least, so long as costs were held. Tevlin said this was a “shoo-in” thanks to the film being done “under budget and ahead of schedule” (Motion Picture Daily, 7-7-59).

Selling Maestro Terry Turner In Charge of The Bat's Campaign
Dembow pledged two more “modernized versions of stage classics of the same popular scale as The Bat.” As if to grow their beard longer, Tevlin and Dembow hired Crane Wilbur (born 1886) to direct and write, him active since nickelodeon shorts and The Perils of Pauline, where he played hero to Pearl White. Did someone mention updating? The Bat departed from stage origin by making narrative, if anything, less coherent. Vincent Price was aboard before realizing “it wasn’t a good script,” this part of recollection he shared in a marvelous career overview for Cinefantastique in 1989 (Volume 19-Issues 1-2), “It’s a wonderful story, but it doesn’t really hold up. I thought they would revive it and bring it up to date …” The Bat was pallid follow-up to the hit from Haunted Hill that Price enjoyed months before, but as with that one, he duly hosted a trailer almost identical in format and pitch, then incorporated interviews and publicity into a forty day lecture tour he planned for fall ’59. Imagine being an actor, who like Price, felt obligation to give fans a best value for their admission, and here you are having to peddle merchandise you know is poor. Not that this was his first experience along such lines, but Price had to feel lousy being pitchman for a cheat like The Bat after pleasing all and sundry so recently.

Vincent Price Pitches In for The Bat's Theatrical Trailer

At Left Darla Hood About To Be Done In By The Bat

Helpful to us is The Bat being available on Blu-Ray from The Film Detective, a nice transfer and on original widescreen. The movie isn’t half-bad, if you go in knowing it’s bad, which is to say while it is bad, it isn’t half so bad as you expect. There is a good cast with Price: Agnes Moorehead, John Sutton, Gavin Gordon, and pleasingly, Darla Hood, who shocks us by being among Bat victims. Moorehead is especially good; I noticed this time what a pretty smile she had, and how glum she looked when she wasn’t smiling, a characteristic I’d guess she had to take into account whenever on stage or screen. I remember Victor Mature saying once in an interview how he had to enter parties with a big grin lest people think he was in a sour mood. It was an aspect of his natural expression that he couldn’t do much about, other than work to prevent its misleading people. The Bat by the way has a jazz theme by Alvino Rey and His Orchestra that is catchy. You can hear it on You Tube. The Bat is all over the place there as well, being PD.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Nothing Says It Like Lobby Cards

Judy and Bob From Felix to Eric

When someone gifts you with the portrait card from The Clock, it must be love. Most Classic Era lobby sets had a portrait card, being the stars in two-shot closeness. Of eight that made up the set, this would be a most desirable, after the title card. What adds dimension is where a reverse side has a note or sentiment to remind me that others owned the treasure before I had luck of finding it. This Clock card floated from hand to hand since 1945 … I could guess as to previous owners, and how many were in possession over intervening years, but can account only for “Eric” having gotten it for his 1971 birthday from “Felix.” Did Eric pass away since, or pass Judy along to recognize someone else’s birthday? Interesting to speculate what collectibles meant to those who were once custodians of them. Memorabilia for The Clock and other Judy Garland films are still sought after, as interest in her sustains thanks to evermore books and a new screen-bio with Renee Zellweger.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Gary Cooper Does a Last Western

The Hanging Tree (1959) Deals Harsh Hand

I Don't Recall Ben Piazza Being "Dreamy." Was He?
What makes me uncomfortable with The Hanging Tree? Maybe it’s crepe hung over Gary Cooper, his character, Cooper himself. There are signals from a start that the town will rise against him and he’ll be strung from the title tree. How he regards it, post-titles, is presage to Cooper being dragged there. Delmer Daves directed The Hanging Tree. He was at verge of new fame staging hysteria with teen stars (stars, that is, playing teens). They'd be characters misunderstood and victimized by gossip. A same happens to Cooper in rounder-bout ways, except thick pioneer tongues get murderous once driven by gold lust made intense by New York 50’s actors gone whole-hog (Karl Malden, George C. Scott, womenfolk mean to cores). Cooper meanwhile plays so close-to-vest that we barely get "Joe Frail's" backstory, how he burned up a plantation and presumably a brother taken up with his wife. The Hanging Tree is glum to extremes, Cooper tortured by the hinted-at past. Close-ups on his monument of a face show thirty years at persona building paid off by light of a cigar, flipping off a spent bullet to reveal character others could not convey with five pages of dialogue ... there was no such authority from any beyond Cooper and a handful with comparable backlog.

Delmer Daves Directs Cooper and Maria Schell

A Thrill for Maverick Boys When They Visit Gary Cooper
50’s-driven domestic drama bled into other genres, notably here with busy-bodies wrecking Cooper as healer and potential mate to Maria Schell, the blinded woman he rescues. I wanted Coop to strap on sixes and put drop to loose talk and never mind crooked card deals or would-be faster draws. What does The Hanging Tree have in common with likes of All That Heaven Allows? Plenty … in fact, too much. The 50’s, and not the 1850’s, was never so hot a bed of repression as here. Daves had found a niche and would develop it further. Lush as they are, his Summer Place, Susan Slade, down the line, are unrelieved downers. Unless babies catching fire are your bag (seriously, it happens in Susan Slade), stay off his grass. How were us 50’s-born conceived in shade-drawn, extreme sex-guilt era as depicted in these? Man Of The West, Cooper’s previous, had some of same taint, his and Julie London’s ordeal a sick ritual as woven into much writing of the period. Scribes graduated off tube-live dramas took liberties many had itched for, result unease for filmgoers. Did this hasten skid for westerns? Television dealt simpler per network standard/practices, but then look at Bonanza. They are depressing to a fault, save isolated episodes where Hoss overeats flapjacks or sees leprechauns.

He had the face work I know, but Cooper seems to have settled into tightened features by this point, for he looks fine in The Hanging Tree. Does countenance adjust to soften plastic surgery’s effect? Granted he was carefully photographed. There was back pain when Cooper got on his horse, director Daves later assuming that was start of cancer that felled the actor (Anthony Perkins observed a same problem during Friendly Persuasion). Characters Cooper played were laid low by gloom of late vehicles, tall trees everyone was intent to chop down. Did despair they project reflect Cooper’s own? He chose Ten North Frederick and They Came To Cordura after all (in fact co-produced the latter). Was it for Cooper to expiate our shared sins of the past? Frederick is lately out on Blu-Ray, which I applaud, but OMG, what a dampener, Coop as cuckold plus sire of neurotic offspring, a coin 50’s minted and reliable to make watching a chore. Did youth viewership regard themselves as misrepresented? I would have. Picture new-married couples coming out of shows like this and both saying, Honey, let’s never have kids. The Hanging Tree is not fun for me, much as I admire it, being like walk of plank other classics lately are. Maybe getting older for real makes grim films the grimmer. I keep wishing The Hanging Tree could be more a traditional western rather than trying to be something else, because that something leaves me in a slump. But then there is spectacular location plus a stirring Max Steiner score to link The Hanging Tree with westerns as once they were.

Look-Alike Visitors to The Hanging Tree Location

L.A. First-Run Saturation
I know a local front row kid who was visiting Washington state in ’58, stumbled across the busy site of Hanging Tree production (Yakima), and spent a day watching progress, being welcomed there, seeing stars, the whole kit. Heroes on TV could be heroic, but lead men in theatre westerns came on flawed and left that way, assuming they finished up whole. Cooper’s Joe Frail is a good man, if unapproachable, everyone piled on him where they should thank his saving their hostile lives. Did this come of 50's demand that males be sensitive to community need? James Stewart took a trimming for anti-social attitude in The Far Country. Shot up, his friend dead of villainous design, yet Jim still owes ingrates who withhold credit for his disposing of evil force that is John McIntire and minions. Nothing short of laying down guns and joining the Chamber of Commerce will do. He-men off prewar frontiers had to bend, or be broken. I get forbode for Cooper had he lived deeper into the 60's --- Gable too, let alone Bogart. These people not only belonged to their Classic Era, they could not trespass beyond it, except for revivals and late show posting of irretrievable past they stood for.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Whole Shows in Preview Nutshells

Torrid Zone and Serving a Pre-Sold Plate

Trailers have long been means by which a film is characterized and sold, its entire appeal necessarily summed up in two or so minutes. They say a best concept should be spoke in twenty-five words, preferably less. If a preview won’t bring you back next week, then down goes the show it promotes. Same for posters out front, lobby cards in their frames (that was then, of course, as LC’s aren’t done anymore). The Studio Era hewed to formula because of time they did not have to promote elevated goods. Iconoclast stars like Cagney resisted a system which marketers knew was an only one that could work. A 1940 public brought certain expectations even to a trailer for Torrid Zone, of which scenes from the upcoming film had to satisfy. “Here Comes Triple Trouble!” is the starter gun, followed by cast names not announced, but exclaimed!!! (their emphasis). It is understood that excitement will surpass that of a hurricane, and with Cagney/O’Brien reunited, a Clash Again is inevitable. Warners had a best male team in these two, neither limited as to genre, either equal to most any part. They could do, had done, comedy or melodrama, be it service pictures, Angels With Dirty Faces, for which there was critic plaudits, Boy Meets Girl and rat-tat humor, or The Fighting 69th, which Boy Scout troops nationwide called a Best Picture of its season.

Torrid Zone was letting off steam accumulated by death finish of Cagney as Rocky Sullivan and the coward-turned-hero of the 69th. He resisted Torrid Zone via a memo Brother Bill sent to Wallis, but had to realize he would ultimately do it. There were but so many properties at any one time to put into work, and as it happened, this was ready and ideal for its cast. Cagney was not unaware of what customers wanted, for it had been essentially a same thing since Public Enemy. Like others bound by a persona, he feared folks would tire of a narrow act and stop buying tickets. Warners knew Torrid Zone was derivative, so left burden on Cagney to uplift what others would leave ordinary. His job was as much to transform as interpret, a given for Cagney which was why he conferred early and often with writers. Memorizing dialogue to a word, Cagney might then paraphrase or ad lib, depending on how instinct guided him before cameras, to which no one kicked because they too trusted that instinct. Wallis even complemented Cagney on liberties he took, a permit the producer did not grant to, say, Errol Flynn, who he warned against monkeyshines on The Sea Hawk (literal, as in scenes pirate Flynn improvised with a pet ape).

Cagney would provoke the head office by turning up with a mustache (first for Ceiling Zero, again here), which bosses thought undercut his toughness. He did these things mostly to aggravate them (hair in an ugly buzz cut for Jimmy The Gent), knowing they’d stand down. It was an assumption of risk, for what if the audience balked? Weight crept up too … from here on he’d carry a paunch, minimal or more, unless dancing was involved (Yankee Doodle is JC almost a boy again). Cagney liked sweets, his vice in lieu of alcohol and smokes (little of the latter --- I wonder if he lit up at all in private life). Jim was five foot six, stood on a box often, but never minded it. A scene where he roughs up George Reeves is not to be believed, but neither is balance of Torrid Zone, and that’s a whole point. Cagney’s lack of total commitment is woven into the performance, him and his mustache sharing a joke with viewership. Helping a lot was Torrid Zone being froth to begin with, crowds laughing with it while the star laughed at it.

To knowing of images and artifice, Cagney plays off Ann Sheridan as they spoof studio machinery and foolery this imposed on them. “You and your 14-carat Oomph” he says to her as a fade line, which I’d like to think the pair dreamed up just before shooting. Cagney was no way the banty rooster he played; public awareness of that made him seem all the better an actor (though he’d go hard on co-worker slacking, thus knot jerked in Dead End Kids who slowed Angels progress). Sheridan knew phony score that was movies (going public to ridicule the Oomph tag), sued regular for better money, robotrixes among WB glamour squad timid by comparison. Howard Hawks had to have seen Torrid Zone and resolved to use her some day (I Was a Male War Bride), Sheridan a natural for his kind of lead woman.

Here We Go Again! as spoke by the trailer was freighted with meaning for a public that knew import of another Cagney-O’Brien match-up. They are friendly enemies, a shift from last two times where Pat was the priest to Jim’s irredeemable misfit. Torrid Zone was different from these for letting Cagney live at the end. He and O’Brien achieved onscreen harmony that was guarantor of profit for projects wherein they were teamed. A same click was achieved by MGM with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, who were friendly off screen, but not close friends as Cagney and O’Brien were. The Hope-Crosby pairing at Paramount sustained the longest, and was a most lucrative. Below these, but as prolific, were Edmund Lowe often with Victor McLaglen for Fox and elsewhere, Richard Arlen and Andy Devine at Universal, plus, and generally for RKO, Chester Morris with action men Richard Dix or McLaglen. Cagney as laid-back pro getting through a job that for him is just a job, livens bloopers that survive from Torrid Zone. He may have underestimated how well the show would turn out, or forgot sharp writing, quick pace, dialogue by Richard Macaulay and Jerry Wald, from decades distance when interviewers asked about Torrid Zone. Like others dismissive of films they had made so long before, Cagney would not have sat and watched past work like fans who enjoyed Torrid Zone and others repeatedly on late shows.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

What Happened To 42nd Street?

Tony Hunter's New York

This post is about the first eighteen minutes of The Bandwagon. Fred Astaire, as washed-up musical star “Tony Hunter,” entrains for New York, and finds it a changed place. So, no doubt, did others of MGM staff who mourned a Broadway which gold was now brass, if that. These first reels sum up a point of view shared by most behind, and in front of, 1952 cameras (The Bandwagon released seven months after completion). This opener plays like old folks’ lament for show biz way of life that won’t be coming back, thanks to kids of base appetite (hot dogs w/o even mustard), and more inclination for peep shows than what used to be a Gayest White Way. Director Vincente Minnelli and writers of The Bad and The Beautiful earlier parodied a low-end of Hollywood with its Cat Men and Son of the Cat Man, but that was gentle beside this. To taste so rarefied as Minnelli’s, New York of The Bandwagon was sullied past rescue, so what comeback could a Tony Hunter hope for? Singin’ In The Rain dealt with changed times, but in reverse, outmoded silent movies given way to greater glory of talkies, a rough transition but worth it. Playing from the bottom up made Singin’ In The Rain a cheerful ride, as in good riddance to the old, and aren’t we happier with movies that talk and sing. Rain also had youth, at least appearance to that effect (Debbie Reynolds a closest thing to a newcomer among veterans --- even Donald O’Connor had been around longer than most people realized). The Bandwagon was maturity and their effort to cope, Tony Hunter eased aside and struggling to hang on, as perhaps were stars on board. Astaire romance with Cyd Charisse (b.1922) is occasion for us to feel his age (b.1899), an issue to 50's linger. Deserving as it was to be a hit, The Bandwagon instead lost a million to Singin’ gain of $1.6 million. We can treasure The Bandwagon in hindsight more than a 1953 audience to whom it spoke less agreeably. Who liked being told their popular culture was so debased?

The Bandwagon opens with an auction of “Tony Hunter’s Personal Effects.” Like Bette Davis in The Star of a previous year, we assume that Tony is broke and reduced to selling his possessions, but it turns out later that he has an art collection to underwrite revision of a Broadway play in trouble. The auction, like Tony’s career at present, is a flop. They can’t even get an offer for the top hat and stick he used in "Swinging Down To Panama," a title to humorously evoke Astaire’s own Flying Down to Rio, largely unseen since playing new in 1933. Star artifacts were sold to the public, often bid for as part of estate disposal, and I’ve heard much of what now would be valuable going for low dollars. That can happen when so much is dumped onto a market at once. We’re led to think no one wants Tony Hunter’s “popori” at any price. How many celebrity auctions came to such impasse? I’ve seen star mementos float from dealer to store and back again without generating interest. John Barrymore’s last wife used to sell his ties, handkerchiefs, cuff links, to whoever might care, and for surprisingly little, this a sort of 80’s annuity based on bric-a-brac she was astute enough to keep.

An aspect of gracious living still had in 1953 was club cars on trains. It was like crossing land on a cruise ship. Drinks served, conversation with strangers, these congenial because if they can afford the ticket and beverage, they must be congenial. Again we’re reminded of Tony Hunter’s downfall by a magazine ad he has done for cigarettes, but stars at a peak did such ads, had for decades, and would do so until the Surgeon General cracked down. Passengers discussing Tony don’t realize he is with them, a book in front of his face. “He used to be good twelve, fifteen years ago,” one of them says, at which point Tony reveals himself to their shocked embarrassment. Did (or do) celebrities have moments like this, as in civilians unknowingly (or worse, knowingly) insulting them in a public setting where there aren’t protective buffers? I’d commend good sport Astaire for playing a character many might mistake for the actor’s own circumstance. Like Barrymore in Dinner At Eight, or Bing Crosby in The Country Girl, the part of Tony Hunter goes close to Fred Astaire not as he was, but what he might become if his kind of musical should fall out of a public’s favor. Astaire would speak to such concern in his later memoir (Steps In Time), a point at which he was moving from dance to dramatic roles.

Tony steps off the train and imagines a gaggle of reporters are there to meet him (“Thanks for the red-carpet bit, I didn’t expect it”). Ava Gardner, in a cameo, is who they want, her greeting to Tony a glimpse of how stars might interact when they unexpectedly meet. Do celebrities pretend to know each other even where they don’t know each other? The public assumes stars are all intimately acquainted. Ava’s conversation with Tony is interrupted by reporters wanting just one more shot. “Honestly, isn’t all this stuff an awful bore?” she asks him, a tactless question on one hand because Tony hoped these photographers were there for him. She “confides” to Tony because he too is (or was) a star and will understand. I’m guessing celebrities walk a tight conversational wire, even when talk is casual. It calls up memory of chat shows where a guest would go off promoting message and engage his/her neighbor on the couch instead of focusing on the host … next thing you know, there’d be a testy exchange and Carson or whoever had to cut fast to a sponsor.

Tony walks the platform “By Myself,” Astaire performing his first song in The Bandwagon. He’s holding a cigarette. Tony smokes a lot, more so than I’d think would be healthy for a dancer who needs every ounce of wind. How much did Astaire smoke off-screen, or did he smoke at all? For all of reduced circumstance, Tony is not morose. The Bandwagon would be a downer if he were. The bittersweet coda was twenty more years coming, when MGM did That’s Entertainment and had Fred Astaire duplicate his stride past a now dilapidated mock train, presumably one used in The Bandwagon. A first and only glimpse of real-life New York is an establishing one, a marquee featuring Disney’s The Story of Robin Hood, billed with The Half-Breed, both mid-1952 RKO releases. From this actuality, we cut to Minnelli’s soundstage depiction of what “used to be the great theatre street of the town,” says Tony, “What’s happened to 42nd Street?” He refers to “Noel Coward and Gertie” at the Selwyn, and his own success at the New Amsterdam, both venues having swapped legit for movies by 1953 when The Bandwagon came out.

Setting for The Bandwagon is contemporary, but beyond the establishing Robin Hood marquee, all other “movies” on Minnelli’s 42nd Street are fictitious. There is "Tears For Tomorrow" plus "Jungle Tigress," along with others posted on backdrop standees ("Money Talks" looks at least twenty-five years old). The biggest screen noise in New York when The Bandwagon filmed was undoubtedly This Is Cinerama, which did historical business, but was not representative of most attractions that were not attracting, thanks to continued inroads made by television. 42nd Street was in any case a haven for moviegoers in 1952, more “shooting galleries” than ten determined fans could cover in a day. Here was height for old and new, a brand new release as likely to be paired with what today would be called a 30’s classic (many of those still in circulation at the time). Who needed "Jungle Tigress" when King Kong was back in theatres for summer ’52 and stomping records?

Tony visits a Penny Arcade where there are kinetoscopes. I don’t know how many of these survive, but there were a fair number at arcades in Myrtle Beach when I was there in the late 60’s. One I remember showed the electrocution of an elephant. Wouldn’t these things have been collector items even then? I skipped school to go and see an old theatre man in a neighboring town during 1971. He had posters, trade mags piled high, but what I didn’t expect was the out building where he kept arcade games … not cheesy pinball, but gorgeous units that looked to date way before me, and I suspect him too. A lot of these had to be unique, or at the least rare and hotly sought-after by whoever gathers this sort of Americana. I’ve wondered since what became of that storehouse. No matter how, or when, you depict Broadway-42nd Street, it will be paradise to someone. There are even those who wish it were seedy and dangerous again as in a 70’s Taxi Driver epoch. Each to his own taste. You Tube driving up Broadway in 1929, with sound, is a time I’d most like to have experienced. The New York street life Tony Hunter explores may have been Minnelli and 1953’s idea of civilization in decline, but to me it is Shangri-La, a Gotham we could all wish still thrived.
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