March 11, 2010

"She's a' losin' her sight, boy," Merlin Olsen, 1940-2010

I can't quite explain my love for LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. Yeah, I'm one of those ironic hipster Gen-Y/Gen-X types who "loves" the show in a snickering ironic way, watching mostly to make fun of and laugh at it (Classic LITTLE HOUSE snark includes: "Mline? I'm going... mline?"; the mime who rapes Sylvia episode; the classic Laura "Turn and run away" maneuver; Albert's death by nosebleed; the baby battering ram; etc.).

But secretly... secretly I kind of love it in just an ordinary, sincere, genuine, straight-forward kind of way. Not jokingly, but for true. I might put up an ironic front when I tell friends I love LITTLE HOUSE, but on the inside, I love it for real.

So I'm sadden to hear today that Merlin Olsen, a.k.a. Jonathon Garvey, has passed away. Jonathon Garvey was the best. He never got sanctimonious like Pa sometimes would. He was always a good friend to the Ingalls. And, my God, the poor man suffered so freaking much (i.e.: his wife dying in the horrific blind school fire) and yet he still managed to keep on living and being there for others.

As much as I loved Pa and Ma, I really loved Jonathon Garvey. He was this huge guy (the real Olsen was a former pro football player), a giant among mortals in Walnut Grove, and yet he was so gentle and kind. Whether he was saving Walnut Grove from anthrax or telling Seth Barton about Mary's blindness, Jonathon Garvey was the quiet, unassuming best friend of Walnut Grove. I'd like to think that Charles Ingalls is playing his fiddle right now, welcoming Jonathon to heaven while Rev. Alden says a few comforting words. Yeah, I guess that's a little sappy, but I told you, I'm a sincere fan of LITTLE HOUSE. Sappy is allowed. Rest in peace, Merlin Olsen.

Retro Hottie of the Week!

Ava Gardner.

Via the fucking awesomely named Fuck Yeah Ava Gardner

March 3, 2010

This Week's Classic Cinema Obsession: BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (Edward A Blatt, 1944)

In honor of John Garfield's birthday, TCM is running his movies all day Thursday, March 4th.

As far as I'm concerned, any movie with John Garfield is worth watching. But the one I'm most looking forward to is an underrated gem of a movie that really affected me the first time I saw it and it continues to move me each time I've seen it since.

It's BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, playing on Thursday, March 4, on TCM at 3:30 PM EST. It's a strange sort of film that is part angsty-doomed romance, part metaphysical morality play, and part film blanc with a dash of film noir. It's about a group of passengers on an eerie ocean steam ship who think they are traveling across the Atlantic from war-torn Britain to America. But where they're really headed is the eternal destination, either Heaven or Hell. These folks are dead and they're all passengers on the ship "between two worlds," the in-between ship that traverses the divide between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It's the ship that sails an ocean limbo, shrouded in mist, somewhere between life and afterlife.

March 2, 2010

Retro Vision

Japanese poster art for GUN CRAZY (Joseph H Lewis, 1950)

Starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins as the perverse love birds, Bart and Laurie. Are they gun crazy or love crazy? Or is there any difference with these two? She makes him turn Clyde to her Bonnie 'cause she can't get enough of money and thrills. Forget the stardust. These two have gun powder in their eyes.