September 5, 2008

"Being read your death sentence is like being a character in one of the old Bette Davis movies."

Bob Novak tells the story of learning about his huge brain tumor and his approximately 6 months left to live.

Here's the movie:



AND: Keep your eyes peeled at 6:06 for a special cameo.

65 comments:

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blake said...

I didn't watch the clip--flash video is back to locking up, actually now that I look at it, it's probably because I opened Opera, and all three browsers (Firefox, Opera and Chrome) use the same freakin' Flash engine--but I was thinking it was Humphrey Bogart.

There you go: Movie geek wrapped around tech geek.

LarsPorsena said...

The Prince of Darkness projects himself into "Dark Victory".

Paulie said...

Soeaking of death sentences, what about the dead horse that you keep beating -- the vow of "cruel neutrality." That died a highly visbile death the day that Sarah Palin was named.

Pity you can't give it a decent burial.

blake said...

We need a poll to figure out why people post here just to say "Nu-uh" vis a vis Ann's vow of "cruel neutrality".

bleeper said...

The horse might have a glioma, but it is not dead yet.

It is amazing to see how rich everyone was in the 30s. Democrats should be proud of their economic accomplishments.

Palladian said...

"We need a poll to figure out why people post here just to say "Nu-uh" vis a vis Ann's vow of "cruel neutrality"."

Well, in "Paulie's" case, he posts here because he's been doing it for years, originally under the name "AJD", but subsequently under a string of other names. Earlier today he was posting as "Hockey dad". But why, you might ask, would someone who seems to hate Althouse so much come here every day, using a multitude of different names, to post rather unimaginative little one-off insults and then leave? I'd suggest the answer lies at the intersection of sexual dysfunction and mental illness, but then I'm not a doctor.

Randy said...

We need a poll to figure out why people post here just to say "Nu-uh" vis a vis Ann's vow of "cruel neutrality".

LOL! When Megan McArdle announced her new commenter policy earlier this week, she said some joker in the UK had been using dozens of aliases to post repeated insults of the same kind. Makes you wonder how many commenters like this one are really the same lonely guy still dressed only in his underwear, toiling away at his computer, saying "I got you now, Althouse!" "She's ready to cave! No one can survive 300 snarky comments about cruel neutrality. Nobody." "Just one more time, and she'll fold up shop for sure!"

Peter Blogdanovich said...

I saw you on Blogging Heads with the blond chick arguing over whether to prosecute Bush for criminal activity. That woman is barking mad. You showed remarkable self restraint. It is galactically (Ok, you spell it) stupid of Obama or Biden to suggest this. I hope they do it again, but I doubt they will. I envied your glamorous blogging life until I saw you endure that nut ball. Jesus Ann, you're a saint.

Ann Althouse said...

Prognosis negative!

miller said...

Althouse's COMMENTERS seem to be right-of-center.

I still don't know about Althouse herself.

What leads you to believe that she, herself, is not neutral in the sense of "favor no side," not in the sense of "has no moral center & thus cannot make a decision on right & wrong?

Palladian said...

"I envied your glamorous blogging life until I saw you endure that nut ball. Jesus Ann, you're a saint."

At least Althouse didn't have to look at her the whole time.

Lem said...

..what about the dead horse that you keep beating -- the vow of "cruel neutrality."

In her head, you know it's Hilary...
But her hart now belongs to Palin.

More plainly and more distinctly?
I Have not come to New Haven to see the play, discuss your dreams, or to pull the ivy from the walls of Yale! I have come to tell you that you will not marry Lloyd - or anyone else - because I will not permit it.


All about Eve... or is it Palin?

Ann Althouse said...

Just looked up the full-length "Dark Victory" quote: "I think I'll have a large order of prognosis negative!"

Right under it was another quote, which would be nice to have as a YouTube clip: "I want you to have a party and be gay. Very, very gay!"

Actually, I have the movie on DVD, but I don't know how to take a little clip out of it.

blake said...

Yeah, you think they'd make all DVD playing software in computer allow you to mark and clip scenes.

It'd be a trivial addition.

Palladian said...

By the way, I finished Novak's essay wondering if he actually only had 6 months to live or if the prognosis was better after what sounded like a successful surgery. If he has glioblastoma multiforme then I suspect that the surgery was just to prolong his life in the short term and to offer a better quality of life for the time he has left.

Palladian said...

"Actually, I have the movie on DVD, but I don't know how to take a little clip out of it."

The person who posted the segment of the film linked in this post actually posted the entire film. You just have to find it.

Ann Althouse said...

What you need to understand about me is that I'm not interested in politics in the normal way. I'm interested in how human beings think and feel and I'm interested in writing about whatever I'm interested in. I want to make people laugh and think, and I want attention and to shake things up. Occasionally, there are some things I feel really strongly about. For example, I think it is a terrible idea for a new administration to prosecute the former President. So I'll say that, but as to the usual flow of issues, I want to be in a position to say all sorts of things. The lefties only assume I'm on the other side because they are such assholes about demanding orthodoxy. Which is why I'm so especially attracted to tweaking them.

former law student said...

It doesn't sound right. What oncologist would make a bald prediction without discussing options? Best case: immediate surgery + radiation, x to y years; worst case: six months to a year...

I believe I was able to withstand this shock...

Interesting that news of one's mortality can shock even a 77 year old man who survived cancer three times already.

I don't envy what he has to go through. I wish him the strength to get through it all.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian, I know, but I would love to embed a little clip. I'd love to be able to do a clip the way I can do a quote. Just a few seconds. I think that would be fair use. It's fair use to copy the quote, so why not the clip?

Ann Althouse said...

I should think that if you are 77, you would wake up each morning and think: Amazing! I'm still here! How bizarre! I lucked out once again.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
former law student said...

Ann

There are two policy principles in tension, and neither of you could persuade the other that yours (hers) was preferable.

Palladian said...

"It doesn't sound right. What oncologist would make a bald prediction without discussing options?"

Yes, strange. My uncle's oncologist would never answer that "how long do I have" question no matter how many times it was asked.

Palladian said...

"I'd love to be able to do a clip the way I can do a quote. Just a few seconds."

I could extract the clip if you'd just tell me where it is in the film. Then you could upload it.

miller said...

Ann, that's why I love this site - it's not about politics per se; it's about the conversation.

And yeah, the left really gets their panties in a wad at times, don't they? It's almost too fun to tweak them.

George said...

The guy is a journalist's journalist—A hard drinkin', fist fightin' gamblin' straight talkin' s.o.b. who would kick his momma's ass to get the story.

Son of a dry cleaner (?) immigrant. Started out on the sports beat at his midwest college paper, then to the AP in Fargo or some nowheresville burg, then to some other shitheel town before getting spotted by the big boys in DC and winning a slot there and busting his ass covering Congress before getting tapped to write a regular op-ed column by the Wall Street Journal when it was still a boring business rag.

He tells a great story in his autobiography that the Journal had the goods on Joe Kennedy buying the West Virginia primary. The paper sent a team of reporters there and got the dirt. And in spades. It was going to run the story immediately before the Democratic convention. But....the publisher spiked it, saying that he wasn't going to use his paper to change the course of American history.

Novak shoulda decked him, the wuss.

Lem said...

..if you are 77, you would wake up each morning and think: Amazing! I'm still here! How bizarre! I lucked out once again.

To McCain's mom that's an old cliche ;)

daveo said...

And the mystery actor is. Ronald Reagan

bleeper said...

I am not yet 60 and I am grateful for every day that I can wake up, walk over to the window and look out. Life can throw you the occasional curve ball, and we overcome until we don't. Until then, I am thankful and try to make the most of it.

Today I am enjoying a hurricane. So far Hanna is no Fran. I knew Hurricane Fran, I worked with Hurricane Fran, and Hanna, you are no Fran. Or Hazel for that matter. Not even close to Agnes, either. More reports as time allows. Does anyone miss watching Dan Rather getting blown around in these things? Yeah, me neither...

MadisonMan said...

And yeah, the left really gets their panties in a wad at times, don't they?

Thank goodness the right is so sensible!

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian said..."I could extract the clip if you'd just tell me where it is in the film. Then you could upload it."

Thanks. I'm not going to looks for it, actually. But I would just like to know how to do it myself.

vbspurs said...

Wow, this is amazing given (as he says) that Novak has never been a fan of his.

I'm told that George W. Bush has not liked my criticism, particularly of his Iraq war policy. But the president is a compassionate man, and he telephoned me at 7:24 a.m. on Aug. 15, six minutes before I went into surgery. The conversation lasted only a minute, but his prayerful concern was touching and much appreciated.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Take care, bleeper! Many prayers up your way, though I realise Hanna ain't nothing but the girl in the cafeteria who scrapes by you without saying sorry, rather than the girl who kicks your bookbag clear across the floor.

What, like it never happened to anyone else here.

vbspurs said...

Dark Victory is a great movie (I feel Ron breathing on my neck, nodding vigourously as I type).

Of course, it doesn't have that iconic scene between Bette Davis and Paul Heinried in "Now, Voyager" -- where he puts two cigarettes in his mouth, lights them, and gives one of them to Bette.

That gesture was copied for years by millions of men and women trying to look cool.

Unfortunately, that's why poor Robert Novak's generation made up the bulk of my Oncologist's dad's patients...poor Bob.

OldGrouchy said...

Dear Sweet Prof. Althouse, the only thing worse than growing old and achy is not growing old! Please remember that as you progress through these coming years. In many ways, those aches and pains are a blessing because they're God's way of saying: "You're still alive!"

I hope Novak has a longer life than the prognosis given him and that his operation is a success as I hope Sen. Kennedy's was successful also.

vbspurs said...

I was searching for that ciggie scene on Youtube, when I remembered the drag queen, Craig Russell, did a killer Bette Davis.

Drag queen impersonations are marvellous, because they get the gestures so perfect, but they also make me slightly nervous. Not sure why.

John Burgess said...

vbspurs: That gesture did more than 'look cool'. It was cool, for a time. It did, in fact, untwist some knickers in exactly the right way.

Today, not a useful device perhaps, but in the past, it worked its charms.

Ann Althouse said...

OldGrouchy, please understand that I'm not knocking growing old. I'm expressing genuine amazement to be here at all and expect that the feeling can only grow with the mounting years.

Joan said...

I should think that if you are 77, you would wake up each morning and think: Amazing! I'm still here! How bizarre! I lucked out once again.

I'm 45 and I pretty much greet each day with those thoughts. They help to put (and keep) things in perspective.

Palladian said...

"I should think that if you are 77, you would wake up each morning and think: Amazing! I'm still here! How bizarre! I lucked out once again."

I wake up each morning and think: "Oh no, not again..."

Ron said...

Dark Victory is a great movie (I feel Ron breathing on my neck, nodding vigourously as I type).

Why Vic, I can breath on your neck for...other reasons. I, Trevor Howard, you Celia Johnson, Althouse fisheye-lensing our Brief Encounter...

I think of Bette for another line, relating to the whole election: "Get ready, we're going to have a bumpy night!"

I guess it's apocryphal, but Bette looked at the backside of the statue the Academy doles out, and said "It looks like husband Oscar!" As good a yarn as any!

Ron said...

Vic, The Gipper, Doris Day, and Ginger Rogers fight The Klan in Storm Warning. Check it out!

Mark Daniels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Daniels said...

Davis was such a horrid actor, as this clip proves. She did turn in one great performance, in 'All About Eve.'

Otherwise, she makes me laugh with her ridiculous affected British accent and chronic overacting.

Mark Daniels said...

The Gipper...no wonder Novak alluded to this scene.

vbspurs said...

That gesture did more than 'look cool'. It was cool, for a time. It did, in fact, untwist some knickers in exactly the right way.

Oh yes, John. That it did. I hating smoking, but I have to admit, there are certain gestures when one smokes that are meltingly glamourous.

Like when an elegant woman tilts her head, whilst holding her cigarette between fore and middle fingers, elbows slightly raised.

Or when a man cups his 'rette from the wind in one deft twist of the hand.

Rrr.

vbspurs said...

Davis was such a horrid actor, as this clip proves. She did turn in one great performance, in 'All About Eve.'

I agree. And I love Bette Davis. :(

But she was much too mannered, even in a way that Katharine Hepburn wasn't.

OTOH, Bette Davis had excellent range. Did you see "The Letter"?

The best Old Hollywood actress was, IMHO, Joan Crawford. God, what a technician.

Otherwise, she makes me laugh with her ridiculous affected British accent and chronic overacting.

Heh. It's not a British accent. That's the way Americans sounded. See Myrna Loy, born in Montana. :)

Chip Ahoy said...

Do I win anything for guessing correctly?

Pity you can't give it a decent burial.

Pity you can't shut up already. What difference does the host's ambivalence make to you? Or is this your way of attracting people to your party?

Your many many many many many x ∞ remarks remind me of what fascism is really all about at the personal level.

Either that or a compulsion disorder. Perhaps both.

vbspurs said...

Why Vic, I can breath on your neck for...other reasons. I, Trevor Howard, you Celia Johnson, Althouse fisheye-lensing our Brief Encounter...

Oh my dear Ron. You just hit my film g-spot.

*g*

Palladian said...

"But she was much too mannered, even in a way that Katharine Hepburn wasn't."

There's no such thing as too mannered. The greatest film actors are those that are often dismissed as too mannered. The preference for
"naturalism" was the mortal blow to great film-making.

This is why people don't get Barry Lyndon and partially why they hated Eyes Wide Shut.

Davis was wonderful.

blake said...

Palladian--

Exactly! And now, to add something I fervently believe that others are going to think completely undermines the whole point-of-view: The original Star Trek would be unwatchable without Shatner.

vbspurs said...

There's no such thing as too mannered

That's only because we're starved for film stars of either sex who stand out today.

(For people who are weaned on the odious Strassberg as soon as they can emote, you can barely tell them apart at all. I blame James Dean)

In the days when all you had to do was to show up, hit your marks, speak your lines and go home (pace Spencer Tracy), having an idiosyncratic delivery allowed the audience to identify with the actor, rather than the part.

First-run movies lasted just one week, rather than being allowed to languish for weeks on the box office. It's difficult for that kind of system to produce a sense of anticipation about acting itself, or the storyline, without the anchor of the big stars.

(The opposite of the silent era, sadly. "We didn't need dialogue, we had faces". Swanson's Desmond packed a mouthful of truth in that)

Davis had more than her fair share of moments. She schooled Howard in "Of Human Bondage", but she pigeon-holed herself early, as did Cary Grant.

I love both, eternally, madly, absolutely, but come on now.

They became caricatures of themselves with every passing season -- a problem too with Mae West, the Queen of Mannered.

(Curiously, another drag queen goddess...)

Crawford, probably because she had demons driving her to perfection which even Davis didn't have as much (we have good ole Yankee superiority to thank for that), could act and transform herself each time.

The other brightest star in the Hollywood firmament, Canadian lass Norma Shearer, curiously was the only truly mannered actress who I didn't mind. Her Marie Antoinette is laughable today, but oh so wonderful.

BTW, speaking of Crawford and Shearer, I'm really upset they are re-doing "The Women". I've seen a trailer, and I felt sick to my stomach.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

First-run movies lasted just one week, rather than being allowed to languish for weeks on the box office.

What? What time-period are you referring to?

I gotta disagree regarding Joan Crawford. Ever see Johnny Guitar, a B-western from the '50s? Among Troop and my favorites, and she acts just like she did in those '30s melodramas and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? for that matter.

Stars have never successfully lost themselves in roles--because that would defeat the purpose of going to see them.

Consider Henry Fonda in Once Upon A Time In The West. He was great--villainous in extremis. And audiences rejected him. Because Henry Fonda was the regular guy, the good guy, the best in all of us. Him being a villain is just wrong.

The price of stardom is a certain monotone in terms of parts. (That's even true, if not especially so, of Meryl Streep, who won all kinds of accolades for dopey accents and hairdos.)

Joan said...

Victoria, what do you think of Gene Tierney? Her name is not as well known now as the others you've been discussing, but she was big in her day, and I can't get over how luminescent she was onscreen.

Blake: your comments about Henry Fonda being cast against type reminded me of how the original version of 3:10 to Yuma did the same thing to Glenn Ford. (I had some thoughts on both the original and its recent remake.)

Which brings me around to remakes, and the comment that they always suck, with the exception of His Girl Friday, the gender-switched remake of The Front Page. Other than that one film, I can't think of a single remake that was worth the film it was printed on.

vbspurs said...

Actually, no I haven't seen Johnny Guitar. But I have a feeling I am going to, now, Blake. :)

What? What time-period are you referring to?

Any time from the 20s to the 40s.

BTW, there is a funny anecdote about this.

Queen Mary, the present queen's redoubtable grannie, was invited to the premiere of the Puffin Asquith version of "Pygmalion".

The film contained the first uncensored usage of the rude word, "bloody", in British history. The stars, Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller (who uttered the profanity) were in attendance. Since everyone knew it was going to come, the tension built and built, all eyes straining in the darkness at how the Queen would react on hearing it.

They didn't know management had decided to cut that scene, to spare Her Majesty's ears.

(A riot, considering her late husband had been a salty old sailor)

A week later, when the film had moved into its second-run in the 'burbs, the Queen decided to motor up to Luton Hoo.

So she could watch the film and hear the curse word in full volume. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

I liked both 3:10s, but the new one didn't make much sense. True about Ford, though.

As for remakes, it depends on what you mean by "remakes". A lot of people like "High Society", which is a remake of "Philadelphia Story". I actually can't watch it, despite Princess Grace.

Of course, Hitch remade his ownThe Man Who Knew Too Much, with the later version being far superior.

The Thing was sort-of remade as John Carpenter's The Thing, which was one of the best horror movies of its time.

Horror movies are "remade" dozens of times and often better. The classic Frankenstein (1931) was hardly the first. The '30s Dracula was neither the first nor the best--in fact, they made a Spanish language version at the exact same time, using the same sets that's generally well regarded (but lacking Lugosi)--and there were many good versions that followed.

I can't think of a good comedy remake.

The 2000's Red Dragon was better than the '80s.

The new James Bond reboot is actually not inane and puerile, so that's something.

The '70s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was not well regarded at the time but has aged well.

Just off the top of my head.

Which of these are actual remakes versus reinterpretations, "reboots", etc., is a matter for debate.

blake said...

Any time from the 20s to the 40s.

Well, in the '20s, perhaps, because they were just cranking out crap, but feature films of the '30s?

Hard for me to believe Busby Berkeley's stuff ran for a week. Certainly, in subsequent decades things ran for months sometimes. Star Wars and Rocky Horror Picture Show ran for over a year back in the '70s in some theaters.

vbspurs said...

Victoria, what do you think of Gene Tierney? Her name is not as well known now as the others you've been discussing, but she was big in her day, and I can't get over how luminescent she was onscreen.

Wow, Joan, I only just mentioned Gene Tierney in one of those megalopolis threads of 700+ -- I mentioned that JFK dated her and once allegedly twirled her in the air, with his wife next to him (bogus, there's no way he could do that with that back).

I liked Tierney, but a little like Hedy Lamar, or Jennifer Jones, sometimes as a child they used to meld together into one gorgeous brunette. ;)

Blake, hehe, I concede the point. It might've been different in the USA at that time. I'm fairly sure they changed films weekly in rural areas though. But I don't have the data.

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Well, certainly the Saturday show changed weekly.

I'm trying to figure out the balance between fewer screens and fewer movies. I'll just ask someone who was there...

Joan said...

Blake, funny I was thinking of specifically mentioning High Society, which I also find unwatchable despite it's high caliber cast. It can't hold a candle to The Philadelphia Story.

You're right, of course that horror remakes are often superior to their predecessors, so I will concede that remakes can be successful in that genre, although most of them suck, too. Let's not talk about how stupid the newer House on Haunted Hill was, OK?

I also agree that we have to distinguish between a straight remake (shot-by-shot Psycho? What was the point?) and a "reboot", as they did with Daniel Craig Casino Royale. Craig's Bond is a wholly new character, and it worked very well for me... but that is more the evolution of a franchise, rather than a remake, so I think I'm still pretty safe in issuing a blanket condemnation with a few exceptions.

Regarding how fast movies turned over in between the wars: when my parents were dating in the '30s, they used to go to the movies every weekend for a double feature plus newsreels and shorts. (Movies were shorter (max 90 minutes, usually) in those days.) They lived in Boston -- maybe it was only in the cities that you got new flicks every week, with A and B level movies. But the studios really churned them out in those days. After they left the regular theater they'd go to a second-run theater for a while longer and then they would disappear entirely.

It's a totally different world now. Back then, movies were disposable, and now every schlockfest is with us forever, complete with its own "making of" documentary, director's cut, and snarky commentary from the cast and crew. Are we sure this is an improvement?

blake said...

All right, so if your parents were going to see new movies weekly, then it was probably television that killed that.

You would've been around for the '50s and '60s: Did movies have a one week lifespan back then?

Maybe I'm over-enamored of that era--late '30s, early '40s--but when TCM aired Philadelphia back-to-back with High Society, the latter seemed positively coarse.

The remake of House was a work of art compared to the vast swath of horror remakes now. Even though, I hasten to point out, most of them try more for "re-imagining" versus actual remakes.

Gus Van Sant said of Psycho that he remade it so no one else would have to. Mission accomplished there, buddy.

Oh! One good comedy remake is The Bird Cage of La Cage Aux Folles. English-language remakes of foreign film sometimes work: Quick Change, The Departed, Insomnia, some of the Asian horrors.

Caper flicks Ocean's Eleven, Italian Job, the aforementioned Quick Change....

Does The Fly count? The '80s version was classic. But that's basically horror.

How about historical events? The Titanic, the OK Corral, lotsa versions of that.

I sort of have a point here. Sturgeon's Law tells us that 90% of everything is crud. If that applies equally (but not especially) to remakes, then 9 out of 10 remakes are going to be crap. But so are 9 out of 10 non-remakes.

The land-mine with remakes is that they're usually of good movies and can't live up to those expectations.

Also, Sturgeon's Law may stack, so if you remake that 1 movie out of 10 that isn't crud, you have only a 1 in 100 chance of the remake not being crud.

Clearly I've entered the punch-drunk phase of the evening.

Heh.

Ron said...

Vic, if you read it over on Wikipedia, you can see what a difficult life Gene Tierney had...very touching.

rhhardin said...

So you put the death in the future that had already been behind you, to make it your own.

But some other death finally gets you in the end.

It's a grammatical crisis.

You go where you cannot go.

Joan said...

Also, Sturgeon's Law may stack, so if you remake that 1 movie out of 10 that isn't crud, you have only a 1 in 100 chance of the remake not being crud.

I think this is true. I also agree that English language versions of foreign films having a shot at being something decent. Translation always creates a new work which owes something to the original author and to the translator, but it's often difficult to see whose influence on the final work is greater. Translating films is such a huge undertaking because it's often not just the language but the setting that is changed, and the new culture will have effects that the original artist never intended, because of course he didn't set his work there.

I didn't realize The Departed was in that category, and I tend to obsess over Boston-based films. (I sometimes think I have terminal nostalgia.)

Clearly I've entered the punch-drunk phase of the evening.

Hee! I quit before you, but not by much.